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Khoram turned the iron shackle on his wrist around and around as he read. It was more of a fidget than anything. He was Atash's slave, little more than property, but Atash treated him like a prized stallion. He was pampered here, and deep in his heart, Khoram admitted that he enjoyed the attention. Regular baths, lush food, two Ohiri within speaking distance ready to provide him with anything he asked for--it was a far cry better than his position as Zoya's enforcer.

Zoya was paranoid and swift to meet out punishment. Khoram hadn't realized how much stress that had put on him until now. And he was surprised to find that perspective while tied in slavery. He'd meant to escape and retaliate, but he wondered if simply disappearing into black space was a better option.

A soft step in the doorway drew his attention. Atash filled the frame, all shoulders and frustration. "Parliament has declined my request for a meeting. Again."

"I'm sorry," Khoram said sincerely. He closed the book he hadn't really been reading and sat up in the plush chair. He didn't entirely understand Atash's political position, but gaining an audience with the Parliament or whoever ran it was important to him. And if it was important to Atash, it was relevant to Khoram. Practically speaking he needed intelligence on Atash and this desert planet if he had any chance of escaping... but more personally Atash was a curious man of contrasts that Khoram found he was unable to distance himself from. He was being pulled into Atash's orbit like a stray comet succumbing to a star's gravity and he didn't want to break free.

Khoram stood. He was tethered to the wall by a heavy iron collar and chain, but Atash only rarely stepped outside of Khoram's range. He remained at the edge of it now. "Did they say why?"

"No. They didn't need to. I submitted the request and it wasn't even acknowledged. I'm not significant enough for a direct answer." Atash sighed, some of his frustration bleeding out into a resigned shake of his head. "I'm lucky they let me into the building at all."

"Because you're single-bodied." Khoram said, following the logic. Atash nodded. The dominant species on this desert planet was lizard-like, and had a curious mental evolution that grouped lovers into a single consciousness. He'd come to quickly understand that Atash was nearly an outcast for not having other members, physical bodies, that were a part of his mind.

Khoram reached for Atash. He gripped his shoulder and pulled him closer, a firm instruction that Atash obeyed without hesitation. Their roles were confused and Khoram worked to tangle them further.

"Can you link with someone else?" Khoram whispered. "Become two or three like them?"

Atash turned his head away. "No. That place in my head where someone belongs is empty."

"Have you tried?" Khoram brushed his knuckles down Atash's cheek and when his slaver looked up, Khoram pressed their lips together. Atash opened easily before him, his body yielding into a curve, silently relieved. Twenty years of control faded under Khoram's touch despite the chains on his body. In some ways, Khoram wondered if Atash was as much a slave here as Khoram was.

Khoram gripped Atash's neck and when Atash melted against him, the heat between them flared. He inhaled deeply, settling Atash's scent in his lungs and memorizing it. Desert sand and sun had driven his skin dark, a warm brown. The blue tones in Khoram's black skin stood out by contrast, a highlight of the differences between them.

Khoram pushed Atash gently against the wall of the office so he could better lean into him. Atash groaned against his lips. It was the swell of anticipation that brought Khoram's hands down to Atash's hips, hiking him up for the right angle. Khoram pressed his swelling erection to Atash's and teased his legs wider.

Atash gripped Khoram's arm in one hand and his hair with the other, mouthing along Khoram's lips and jaw like he was drowning and Khoram was sweet air. He hitched his legs up, letting Khoram take his weight, and arched. They both groaned under the building wave. Khoram couldn't breathe, didn't want to breathe as long as Atash kept kissing him like this. Their stations didn't matter, only this need and the way they could meet it. A closeness tied them together in a way Khoram didn't understand. He could feel Atash around him and inside, pressing on the edges of his awareness, begging for entrance.

They moved against each other, quickening, gasping, shuddering. Khoram's crisis unfolded in soft layers. Exposed. He held his breath to feel Atash rut and strain. When he came, he pulled Khoram's head back and curled into the juncture of his neck and shoulder, shaking quietly.

The experiance was too raw, like the iron against his wrist and neck. Khoram couldn't meet Atash's eyes and Atash, mercifully, didn't press the issue. When Atash pushed Khoram gently away, Khoram tightened his grip just a fraction.

"Let me go."

Atash pressed his lips together. "You know I can't."

Khoram growled and shoved away, letting Atash catch himself on the wall. This wasn't going to last. Atash was a political man, not a slaver. He couldn't keep Khoram, trained and practiced Khoram, chained down forever.


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