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Chapter 9 - Family Matters
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“No!” Kicking up, Nemaro had his first piece of luck; he tagged Goru in the balls with his knee.
Goru’s pupils constricted, sharpening to pinpoints of black as blue took over the man’s eyes. His skin started glowing with fury even as he collapsed, crushing Nemaro, squeezing the air from his lungs. With a convulsive shudder, Goru’s claws tore at the bedding beside Nemaro’s head. Nemaro thrashed underneath him.
Fuck, he’s going to kill me!
He scrabbled desperately to get free, one arm pinned underneath Goru’s shoulder, the other beating at his head. His vision turned white around the edges from lack of air. Goru shifted, unfolding from his fetal curl on top of Nemaro, and Nemaro’s lungs heaved as he could breathe again.
Without another thought, he went for Goru’s eyes with his thumb, grappling blindly, hoping he could get lucky again. Nemaro wheezed in time to the clumsy stabbing of his fingers. “Get! Off! Of! Me! Off of me!”
A few clumsy scratches, one good punch to the head, and then Goru recovered, rising off Nemaro’s body with a snarl. His skin glowed bright enough to light up the room. Arm freed, Nemaro swung out with both hands, going for the throat, the eyes, whatever he could reach. Goru caught his wrists in one hand before he connected, slamming them down on the bed above his head. Bracing himself over Nemaro, Goru snarled again, deeper. He embedded his hand in Nemaro’s curls, yanking his head back.
Nemaro froze as Goru darted at his throat, fangs bared. He could feel dull pressure enclosing his windpipe, almost punching through his skin. One wriggle and the teeth tightened, digging in. A warning. Nemaro thought he might wet himself. He wanted to scream and rage, beg for his life if that would help, but all that emerged was a pitiful whine.
I’m going to die. Merciful face of the God, I’m going to be ripped apart.
When Nemaro stilled, not even his toes twitching, the tight grip over his throat eased back. Goru moved back far enough to stare into his eyes. He growled, low and feral, so deep in his chest that it sounded like a timber wolf rather than a god. It was so startling that even Nemaro’s skin jumped. The terror that kept him frozen cracked.
Struggling again, Nemaro opened his mouth to curse and nothing came out. Trying to get saliva back in his dry mouth, he flinched at another growl from Goru. The god growled again, lower, a few inches closer, like Nemaro was supposed to do something in response.
So he did the only thing he could think of: he growled back.
His throat was so tight with fear it emerged as a squeak of a sound.
Goru’s growl cut off abruptly. His skin’s glow dimmed, eyebrows going up in disbelief before he sniggered. “That’s the puniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Nemaro tried to swallow again, pulling at his wrists. The smell of clover drifted in the air between them and he suddenly remembered the other god. Toru stood next to the bed, watching anxiously. Talking.
“….Goru? Goru, are you hearing me? He’s just human; he doesn’t understand. He’s Horu’s mate. You can’t…”
Goru’s eyes shifted off of Nemaro and let go of his head. Finally.
“All right, already. I hear you. You can stop babbling like an old woman. The way you talk, you’d think I was going to kill the human or something.”
Toru closed his mouth. Goru turned his attention back to Nemaro. The god’s eyes still glowed dully, one fang exposed over his lower lip.
Nemaro didn’t say a damn word. His body trembled, stinging aches making themselves known again as he was examined with a slow up-and-down stare. The muscles of his arms felt too tight where Goru had them arched above his head.
He shifted his gaze away from them both, taking in the wall. The wood was smooth enough to be sanded, but not too polished. A strong scent tried to invade his nose, musky and hot, all around. The front flap of Goru’s loincloth hung down, brushing over Nemaro’s cock as Goru shifted above him on the bed.
He bit his lip, staring harder at the wall, trying to ignore his body’s response. The bed was soft and warmed, prickles in odd places from feather stuffing, and it was much, much less fascinating than the soft fabric sliding back and forth over him. Nemaro’s breathing quickened. His cock swelled, rising from between his legs into the cloth.
Goru glanced down and huffed loudly through his nose. “Hell, that didn’t take much.” The glow in his eyes ramped back up, shifted to something hotter. “Enjoying yourself, are you? Or would you like a hand with that?”
“No!” Nemaro shimmied desperately, rocking in between Goru’s legs as he struggled. His bandages started to unravel at the edges. “B-Back off!” He had to get away!
Goru held his arms, watching him squirm and strain. He rolled his eyes after a few minutes. “Might as well give it up. You’re not going to get free.”
“Fuck you!” Nemaro kicked his legs and Goru sighed and sat on them. Another round of fruitless struggles led to Nemaro lying just as trapped, but a hell of a lot more frightened.
The Gods were so damned strong.
Goru yawned, stretching his free arm as though taunting Nemaro about how pitiful his own muscles were.
“Finally figuring it out? You can’t win.” He ‘hmmm’d softly, brushing his finger down Nemaro’s cheek, then over his lips. “Pretty little thing, aren’t you, doe-eyes?”
“Don’t,” Nemaro whispered. The heat on his skin was too distracting, and it shouldn’t be. He didn’t want to be distracted with that.
Goru frowned. Toru grunted behind him. “I told you, he doesn't understand. He’s like a fledgling, flailing around blindly. He wasn’t doing it on purpose.”
“Guess not.” Goru’s lips twisted. “Pity. I haven’t had a challenge in years. Oh well. Better leave the fledgling alone for a bit before his heart stops from the shock.” He smirked at the last mocking words. Beginning to push himself up, Goru paused. The loincloth’s fabric finally slipped off Nemaro’s cock and left him bare to the room. Standing up, apologetically proud, his erection was the first place Goru’s eyes visited.
Fists clenched defensively in Goru’s grip, Nemaro couldn’t figure it out. What was the god doing? Was Goru going to attack him or wasn’t he? Was he…leaving him alone?
Goru finished looking him over and sniggered again. “Nearly unman me, and you’re just a weakling pup. Fuck.” His hand ruffled Nemaro’s hair before letting him go and getting off the bed.
Wait, that was it? Nemaro sprung up, flopping back against the wall when his arms gave out. He hissed at the pain that came with it. “You scared the crap out of me and then you’re just going to -”
Goru turned around and narrowed his eyes.
Dumbass! What the hell are you mouthing off for?
Nemaro was inspected from the short curls going crazy around his head down to his bruised toes. By the time Goru worked his way back up to Nemaro’s eyes, Nemaro was shaking again. He didn’t fucking understand what the god wanted, or what the hell he was doing, or why he was doing it.
Which meant he should learn to shut up until he could figure it out.
“You want me to come back and finish, human?” Goru asked, his voice soft for the first time.
With a shiver, Nemaro shook his head quickly.
Toru slapped his brother on the shoulder. “Don’t tease him.”
“Who says I’m teasing?”
“Horu hasn’t given permission.”
“I didn’t give permission, either. That sure as hell didn’t stop Horu.”
“It’s not the same thing-”
“It’s damn well close enough.” His voice was a low growl, not quite as terrifying as the real growl from before.
Toru answered in a sharp language Nemaro didn’t recognize and set off a flurry of loud yelling that was completely incomprehensible. Nemaro ran what they said over in his head as he inched along the wall down to the foot of the bed. The two gods ignored him, too immersed in yelling at each other.
All this anger was over Horu? Horu, having sex with someone else’s…whatever it was? That’s what it sounded like. And now Goru wanted revenge.
Please don’t let it be sexual revenge.
Although if it was, Goru was way off the mark if he thought sex with Nemaro would bother Horu at all. He’d been fine with Nemaro and Mosumato together, twice! It wasn’t like he’d have any problem if Nemaro was sexed up by another god.
Nemaro bit his lip, rubbing his hand over the feather blanket piled up against the wall behind his back. He was really worried Horu wouldn’t mind, as long as Nemaro wasn’t hurt. Horu protected his friends from injury, always. But sex…Nemaro really wasn’t sure. Except he knew that the thought of doing something sexual with either of these two was not a turn on at all. He didn’t want either of them touching him that way. No more sex with strange gods.
Nemaro chewed on the inside of his cheek, watching them continue the argument. If they could keep fighting for another minute or two, he could sneak to the door and maybe make it out. Away from Goru.
He put one foot on the floor and paused as Toru gestured widely. The man’s hair swirled around his thighs, shimmering like a rainbow made of gemstones. Nemaro swallowed heavily, staring at it. Goru growled, shoving Toru back, and the brief loincloth left the sides of his buttocks bare to the glow from them both. The mahogany swirl of the wooden walls brought out the red tones to Goru’s hair. It made Toru’s lilac skin stand out like a beacon.
No more sex with strange gods. Absolutely.
He licked his lips.
But watching them go at it with each other might be worth seeing.
Nemaro put his other foot on the floor, still sitting on the bed, and stared. They really would look sexy together. Toru’s hair alone must look amazing, spread out across a bed as he looked up at his lover. And Goru, all dark and menacing, pounding into him, both of them glistening with sweat.
Nemaro swallowed heavily, pulling the blanket over his groin and holding it there. He inched closer to the edge of the bed.
Would they do that in front of someone else? Ignore Nemaro and caress each other like that? Nemaro could sit back and watch, until Horu came. Maybe Horu might even play with Nemaro at the same time.
Nemaro’s breath hitched.
Horu would kiss all the welts and scrapes Nemaro had picked up, lick his way up Nemaro’s chest, and then he’d nibble on the side of his neck as Mosumato-
“No!” Nemaro dropped the blanket and clamped his hand over his mouth. The Gods stopped arguing and swiveled his way in one motion. Nemaro’s budding erection flagged.
“And where the hell do you think you’re going?” Goru growled.
Nemaro shook his head, silent.
“Did you forget your last ‘challenge,’ human?” Goru grinned. “Or are you looking to have someone pin you to the bed again?”
Nemaro shook his head again.
“Goru, leave him be. You can smell all this is scaring him. You and your tantrums are enough to scare even me, sometimes.”
“My tantrums?” Goru growled at his brother before a quick glance at Nemaro. “Get back on the bed, doe-eyes. You aren’t going anywhere.”
Nemaro cursed at himself – he was such a coward – but he tucked his feet back on the bed. There was still time. All he had to do was wait until they left, and then he could go after Horu. There weren’t any other guards. He could do it; if he ran fast enough, maybe they wouldn’t even catch him.
“Goru! Stop it! All that talk of pinning him, Horu having to go through you to get to the little hummingbird. You know you can’t really keep Horu’s mate-”
“Of course I can!”
Toru glanced at Nemaro and his lips thinned. “I know you’re angry, but you can’t use his mate against him like this!”
Goru smiled at Toru and the other man’s hair seemed to wilt against his head. “I can do exactly that and it’s nothing more than Horu deserves.”
Goru pushed past him and came up to Nemaro again. “What, you didn’t really think I’d let Horu’s mate go if the bastard was stupid enough to leave him unattended?” He let his fingers drift over the blanket still covering Nemaro’s groin and Nemaro slapped it away.
“No.” He wasn’t sure he said it aloud.
Goru turned his attention to him fully, leaning down. Nemaro ground his teeth to keep anything stupid inside, where it wasn’t going to get him killed. Goru’s face filled his vision.
“Look at him,” Goru whispered, breathing against Nemaro’s skin. “You want me to let something like this out on its own? When it’s so young, too. Helpless as a newborn colt.”
“I am not helpless,” Nemaro whispered. He drew in a sharp breath as Goru blinked in surprise.
Goru smirked. “Yes, you radiate competence and maturity.” A snort escaped him. “Hell, you shouldn’t be away from your mother’s teat yet. Are you even forty?”
Why did nothing these two said make any damn sense? “I’m twenty,” he muttered. “Almost twenty-one.”
Goru’s face twisted. “Fucking hells, my brother’s mate is barely out of swaddling.”
Nemaro stared, mentally stuttering. He looked more closely at Goru’s face, then at Toru’s. The eyes. That was it. That was why they looked so familiar. They looked just like Horu’s. They really were… “Brothers?”
Toru smiled sadly, stepping into Goru’s space, leaning against his back while he looked over his shoulder. “He didn’t tell you about us? I had hoped that when he found a mate, maybe….”
“But if he’s your brother…. You need to help him! He’s up at the Keep looking for me and -”
“He can look after himself,” Goru said.
“No, you don’t understand, Lord Lanosh – he’s insane.” Nemaro didn't know how to get it through to them, but if they were Horu’s brothers, they had to help. They could fight later, as long as they helped Horu first. That’s what all the stories said families did, aid each other like that. “Anyone in the Keep will do what he says, and Horu was…with him.”
Toru shushed him gently. “Don’t worry, hummingbird, he’ll be fine. Our brother would never be overtaken by a human.” He frowned. “Although I hadn’t realized he was so far from you. I think Goru’s right; you should stay here, where it’s safe. Horu will be here soon, I’m sure. And then we’ll talk.” Toru jabbed at his brothers back with a glare. “And that’s all.”
“Lanosh has too many men.” They both looked at him blankly. “Archers? Troops? Men with halberds big enough to gut a horse?” The two gods exchanged a look. “Dark face of the God take you, Horu can’t fight an entire castle! You said you were his brothers. If you won’t help him, at least let me go and do it, then!”
“You’re not leaving.” Goru growled as punctuation.
“Then...then lock me in here or something and go up to the Keep yourselves and use whatever powers you two have. ”
“He’ll be fine.” Goru cut Nemaro off as he tried to talk again. “Arrows are still made from wood, aren’t they? Wood likes Horu. And if he can’t fight his way through a little resistance, he doesn’t deserve to keep his mate in the first place.”
Toru’s softer voice cut in. “What if his mate is right and there are too many for him?”
“Golden boy won’t have a problem.” Goru flexed his claws. “He never has a problem, now does he? With anything.”
“But Goru -”
“Do you really think anything a human could do would really hurt Horu? Really?”
Toru paused a long time before he shook his head. “Probably not. But…if he doesn’t show up in a few days?”
“Yeah, yeah. Then we’ll go see if they someone managed to throw him down a pit or something, unlikely as that is.”
Nemaro clenched his fists. “I guess this is why Horu never said anything about having a brother,” Nemaro said, hoping it might piss them off enough to change their minds.
“He didn’t say anything about us because he’s a selfish bastard, as always,” Goru growled. “He still has a debt to pay and he will fucking pay it. Or his mate can pay it for him.” A dark, hungry look shot back up to Nemaro.
Pressing even harder against the wood at his back, Nemaro cursed all the gods…and then the word Goru used finally sank in. He’d said that more than once now: mate. Nemaro thought he meant lover, but something about how Goru used the word was different. Like there was more significance to it.
Casual lovers weren’t usually involved in paying debts.
Or was ‘mate’ just their way of saying ‘the human that Horu screwed thoroughly with another god in a three way?’ And if it did…did that give other gods rights to Nemaro, too? His belly quaking, Nemaro tried to pull more of the blanket over his body, hoping to hide it from Goru’s heavy stare.
Toru yanked on Goru’s hair and the look disappeared. “Stop that. And stop acting as though Horu didn’t try to make things right.”
“Not very damn hard.”
“You wouldn’t talk to him for fifty years!”
“He deserved longer.”
“Goru, you are so stubborn.”
There was a shrug and a soft growl. “If I’m so unreasonable, why don’t you go to Horu, then. I’m sure he’d be happy to see you.”
Toru stood very still, tense, and Goru actually turned to him before the brightly colored god would speak. “Don’t be childish. I won’t leave you, not when you still need me. I told you that. But I can love you and think you’re wrong at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.”
Was Nemaro hallucinating, or did some of the tension drop from Goru’s shoulders?
“Fine. But Horu has a lot to make up for; this is a start. I’m keeping his mate.”
“I won’t argue with you,” Toru said softly. “because the little one obviously needs protection. But you need to promise to quit pestering him so much that he nearly faints from fear.”
Nemaro swallowed, not wanting to bring attention to himself, but if he had a way out of this, he had to take it. If they were only keeping him because they thought that he and Horu were connected, maybe when they found out he wasn’t, he could go. “I’m….I’m a friend of Horu’s, not…not anything more.”
Goru snorted “Yeah, and I'm a pretty pink bunny. You smell of Horu and sex so strongly I’m surprised even that stinking mud could hide it.”
Nemaro squirmed. “So we’ve been…intimate. But that’s all it was. There’s nothing more between us. Nothing serious.” It surprised Nemaro how much it hurt to say that, but it was true. Good friends – no, Horu was his closest friend – and lovers, but that was all. Neither of them had made any claims beyond that.
Nemaro blinked his eyes, squeezing them shut to get control of himself, until he heard Toru sigh. The clover smell of him strengthened, overcoming Goru’s animal musk. “That’s a good attempt, hummingbird, but we can smell the mark. It’s still relatively new, so I didn’t catch it right away, but it’s definitely there.”
“I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.” Nemaro’s voice was hoarse.
“Your mark, dumbass. Where Horu connected you both?”
“Where he connected us?” His voice went up into another squeak. Remembering Horu surging into him while he sucked on Mosumato, Nemaro flushed.
Goru watched the color fluctuating over his cheeks and suddenly grinned. “Not that kind of connection. Though you do have a nice ass.”
Nemaro tried to ignore the ass comment. “Th-then what…what are you talking about? Because you’re mistaken, whatever it is. Horu and I aren’t… We’re friends.”
Toru smiled softly. “And lovers.”
He nodded jerkily. “And that.”
“This is bullshit. We already saw it. It’s right here.” Goru pulled Nemaro away from the wall and patted the back of his left shoulder. Nemaro shoved at him, trying to get the chocolate-covered bare skin away from his face. And the heavy smell.
Goru’s hands tightened and he inhaled deeply. His fingertips peeled the bandage from Nemaro’s shoulder blade, sliding it down his torso again, fingering some small wound on the back of his shoulder. It made Nemaro feel…odd. He shivered uncomfortably.
Toru interrupted. “Goru…not without Horu’s permission. You know that.”
“But if the little one likes it, Horu should ‘shut the hell up.’ That’s what he told me, wasn’t it?”
Nemaro tried to pull away. “I don’t like it.”
“You could.” The finger swirled over this shoulder again. It was soft, different than Goru’s voice.
But it still wasn’t Horu, and Nemaro really wanted it to be. “I don’t.”
“You’re missing out.” Goru’s hands held him fast, still fiddling with his skin.
“I’m surprisingly fine with that,” Nemaro said hoarsely. Please let him stop. He’d already proven Nemaro couldn’t do anything to actually stop Goru. Please let him just stop.
Goru let him go.
Nemaro pulled the gleaming blanket up to his neck and pressed back against the wall. He couldn’t hold the god’s stare and finally glanced away, to the door and the freedom he wished he had the guts to simply run for. “I don’t know what that was you thought you saw, but it’s just a love bite. Not something of significance.” Nothing at all. “S-So you don’t need to try and hold me here as some sort of lure. It won’t work. Horu won’t come here, and if you let me go, I’ll just be going to help a friend.”
Except using him as a lure would work. Nemaro worried that Horu couldn’t make it out of the Keep, but if he did and he thought Nemaro was in trouble, he’d come. They’d fight. And in a fight against two gods, Horu could get really hurt, even more than against men.
He could get killed.
Nemaro bit at his lip, rubbing his fingers obsessively over the edge of the blanket. He had to help Horu, and he had to get out of here. Just needed to remember that Goru was fucking with him, that was all. Nemaro wasn’t sure how far that would go, but the god wasn’t like Lanosh.
Nemaro could live through this, he was almost positive.
So Nemaro needed to focus on getting to Horu first. “Horu won’t come. You should just let me go, because he won’t come. But…if I see him, I’ll tell him to come and see you. Like you want.” When the hells turned to snowy white clouds, he would.
Toru and Goru stood together, staring at him, heads cocked to the left. Nemaro had seen Horu do the exact same thing when he was really puzzled by something the humans were doing in the nearest village.
“He doesn’t know,” Toru said softly.
“How can he not know? Horu had to receive permission or it wouldn’t work.” Goru sniffed again as though checking something.
“I don’t know, but look at him. He has no idea.”
“I don’t know what?”
Goru stared, sniffed, and eventually, his grin grew. “You belong to Horu. And whatever he did, you have no clue, do you? Horu really screwed this one up.”
Toru frowned. “That’s not fair, Goru.”
“Shut up.” Goru stared at Nemaro again. “You’re staying, so you better get used to this room, doe-eyes. We’ll be spending the next few days together until Horu can find you.”
“And then we go after him, if he hasn’t come,” Toru added softly.
“Yeah, I agreed to that, didn’t I? He’ll come, though. And when he does…well, we’ll see how things go.” Goru cracked his knuckles. “Maybe after he’s had a month to heal, he’ll be well enough to give his mate what he needs. Or maybe you’d rather I give it to you.”
“I don’t want you,” Nemaro said clearly, testing. His bowels unclenched as Goru shrugged. Toru murmured in his brother's ear and they started talking again. Ignoring him.
Nemaro took a long deep breath, glancing at the door and dismissing escape for the moment. Goru was watching him out of the corner of his eyes; there would be no way to move off the bed undetected. Maybe they’d let their guard down in a little while. Or Nemaro could find another way out once they left the room.
And then he could get back to the Keep, and away from Goru, and make sure his friends were safe. They had to be; deep down, he had to believe they were safe. He only needed to be sure they didn’t need his help.
Away from the Keep, it would be easy to avoid these two so Horu would stay safe. They’d stick to their side of the mountains and…
…never get the Eye of Forshar because it wasn’t on their side of the mountains.
Nemaro watched the two brothers continue their discussion and wondered what in the world he was going to do.
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