Luzar strode along the main corridor of headquarters and led him towards the outside. After a little he cast a glance back at him and stopped.
"Did he hurt you?"
"Yes. When you have power you don't need technique."
"You'd better go back home. I don't have my car, but I'll get my driver to drop you."
"That's an order." His voice was flat and bleak.
"I'm sorry, sir. I can't obey."
"I'm too scared."
"Don't be absurd. The worst is over."
"It hasn't started. I still have to get you over with, and if I don't do it soon, I'm going to throw up."
"That's just reaction. Alright. We can stop for a moment at my rooms here. But then you're going home. I'm getting tired of you never doing what I tell you to, and that's a fact."
Luzar said nothing more as they crossed more corridors and took an elevator up. Takamatsu felt sicker and sicker, until at last he had to speak.
"Are you angry at me because of- that?"
"At you? God, no. What for? We knew it would happen. It's you who should be angry at me."
"For not being able to keep you from that. For not being able to protect you. But of course-" he smiled unhappily- "you didn't need my protection, did you?"
"No-one could have protected me from that. I couldn't protect me. Here I was wondering how to keep away from him, and I find he's already inside me." He looked up at Luzar, misery dragging the corners of his mouth. "He doesn't do that to you, does he?"
They had come to a large door that Luzar unlocked. It led to a sitting room and a suite beyond it. "Sit down." Luzar pointed him to a chair, not a moment too soon, because his legs were shaking almost too badly to stand. Luzar sat in one nearby, his eyes on the floor, ignoring him. He wanted to cry.
"You are angry at me. Why don't you just yell at me and be done with it?"
"Why are you talking as if I were going to haul you over the coals when you know perfectly well I'm not? You haven't done anything. I'm not angry."
"You won't look at me, you won't talk to me--" Tears ran out of his eyes, and he buried his face in his hands. Luzar half stood up to go to him, but checked himself. Maybe the boy hadn't actually been raped- it wasn't always easy to tell, with Magic- but he had certainly been sexually used and humiliated. He might not want anyone touching him for a long time, if ever. Luzar could remember how it was.
"Takamatsu," he said more gently. "I'm not angry. It's just- I have worries..." Takamatsu had enough to deal with; he wouldn't burden him with his desperate fears. Servis was his friend- his lover- had been... it would be unspeakably cruel to show him that note, but he had it in his hand and was passing it over before he quite knew what he was doing.
"This," he said, watching himself, appalled. What kind of sadist was he...
Takamatsu read the three lines, and felt the world turn upside down. "The cow," he said automatically, amused and enraged by that 'good luck.' Well, maybe he'd meant it in a general sense. "He really did it. He went away. I never thought he would."
"You knew he was planning this?" Luzar said in surprise. He didn't want to give in to relief too soon, but if...
"I've been telling him he should for weeks, but thought he'd listen to me."
"You don't think- when he says 'go'- he doesn't mean permanently?"
"You think he'd kill himself?"
"He's not quite balanced, Takamatsu."
"He's not unbalanced, sir. And- he lent me some money back in high school, and just recently he asked if I could pay it back. I think maybe he has been planning to leave."
Luzar found he could breathe again. "When was this- that he asked for it back?"
"Ohh- about- my god, it was last night." That couldn't be right. "Why didn't he hang around long enough--"
Luzar turned his head away. "We had a fight. I hit him. Maybe he decided he'd had enough and just wanted out." He reached for the note back. "It was nice of him to write before he left."
"I'm sorry, sir. You'll miss him." Luzar looked up in vague surprise. Condolences- from Takamatsu?
"Surely you'll miss him more? He was the last of your friends from high school."
"I was never very close to the other guys. I don't get on well with military types." They were looking at each other. Those beautiful grey-blue eyes... "Yes, I'll miss him. I don't know why. He wasn't particularly nice to me. Just- he does that to people."
"Takamatsu-" Some obscure emotion was trying to express itself. "I keep thinking you'll take off too, when you finally can't stand us any longer. We've given you nothing but grief, and today was the last straw. Do you really think you'll stay?"
"You know perfectly well I'll stay. And if you don't know perfectly well why, you should."
Something that felt very like fear began in the pit of Luzar's stomach. "Your work-"
"Oh yes, my work. The facilities, the opportunities for research and advancement- all that." Was that scorn in his eyes?
"Does it make no difference, what happened today?"
Takamatsu's face went cold and remote. Oh god- "Takamatsu, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned it--"
"Sensei, you don't understand- you can't understand what happened today. So ok, it was disgusting in parts- but I knew it would be; and he was trying to hurt me, and he did, quite a lot- but-- He didn't rape me, you know. I wanted it. I wanted him. I'm not sure that rape wouldn't have been easier to handle. Now I know something about myself that I never wanted to."
"It can't be so terrible, surely, whatever it is. Just- I don't know- lust, presumably? It's part of the human condition."
Takamatsu shook his head. "It's more than that. What the Commander is, part of me is too. I could become like him- I wanted to... Before, what I wanted to be was you. And now I know I never will." A stray tear ran down his face.
"You have to be yourself first." He still didn't understand, but he offered what comfort he could.
"I don't know what my self is anymore. It's all mixed up with Magic. He has a hold on me now, like he owns a part of my soul. Well, maybe he always did. Only now I know about it, and I have to deal with it somehow. It's a fact. I can't ignore it just because I don't like it."
"You don't have to act on it either. It needn't affect your behaviour if you don't want it to."
"I know. But even if I don't act like him, that- resemblance-- it's still there. It makes me feel- divided. Split from myself. Like I have a cancer growing inside me."
"Takamatsu- we're talking abstractions here. On a practical level, what does all this mean?"
He had to stop and think.
"It's got nothing to do with my work. He can't touch what happens in my head. That's all mine. He can't-" a wave of shyness washed him, but it had to be said- "he can't affect my heart. I love you." He blushed furiously, feeling hopelessly adolescent. "But my gonads- any time he wants. He only has to raise a finger and I'll turn back into that mindless rutting animal you saw this afternoon. And I'll be happy to do it. When I'm thinking with my cock, he looks like god to me." The admission hurt. He dropped his eyes, not wanting to see Luzar trying to hide his contempt- or worse, his distaste.
"Is that all? I'm sure it's distressing for you, but-"
"Don't you mind? It means I'll never be entirely yours."
"You can't be entirely mine, and I wouldn't want you to. You belong to yourself first, whether you'll admit it or not. And if Magic has to own some part of you, well- that's definitely the least important one."
"For you, sir. You can take it or leave it. I suppose I'm envious. The rest of us just have to suffer." Luzar said nothing. He pressed his luck. "You're sure it wasn't a conscious decision? To live only in the parts of yourself that have no value for him? To say, this and this and this is Magic, and I'll have nothing to do with them?"
Luzar turned away. "Takamatsu-"
"I suppose I could do that too. After this afternoon, I almost want to. I feel ashamed to be myself. But that'd mean he'd really won- that anything we had in common, anything he could lay claim to, was completely spoiled and all I could do was throw it away." Silence. "That's the way you feel about me now, isn't it? I'm spoiled for you. It's what you were afraid of before-- not that I'd associate you and Magic together but that you'd associate me with him and be disgusted."
"That's not true," he said vehemently. "Don't think that. Don't ever think that. You're you- whether you resemble me or Magic or Servis or your mother whom I've never even met, I'm never going to think of you as anything but Takamatsu and my student."
"Prove it," Takamatsu said, and suddenly he looked very young. "Please." His mouth crooked in his sad clown's face. "I don't deny facts, but I don't have to like them. And just now I don't like myself very much either."
What else could he do? Takamatsu had a terrible talent for calling his bluffs. Well, he thought, he's had a rough time- it won't hurt just to hold him for a bit, comfort him a little... Luzar reached over and pulled the boy onto his own chair, half across his lap. Bending Takamatsu's head back against the chair arm he kissed him gently while Takamatsu clung tightly to his neck. And having begun, he found, with no little surprise, that he couldn't stop and didn't want to. It had been so long... The rough cheeks, a little stubbly at the end of the day, the wide firm mouth, the faint smell of cigarettes and carbolic from his clothes-- it was all so different from a woman. He's a man, Luzar thought, knowing the idea excited him in some obscure forbidden way but not sure why. He kissed him harder, and Takamatsu responded eagerly. Luzar's hands began to wander, feeling the hardness of the chest and the muscled back. No softness, no strangeness anywhere: only the strangeness of everything being the same as himself. Their clothes were such a hindrance... He pulled at Takamatsu's shirt. Buttons popped, and he ripped it open. The violence seemed necessary. Quickly, almost brutally, he stripped his assistant of his trousers and underwear and socks and held him, naked, on his lap. Takamatsu pressed tight to him, gluing his mouth to Luzar's own. The boy was already hard and completely erect. There was something so vulnerable about that nakedness, and his eagerness, and his need. He moaned and shivered whenever, wherever, Luzar touched him. The last thing he'd expected to feel in this situation was control: he was only too aware of his inexperience. But this went beyond control. It was power, exhilarating and seductive and-- dangerous. The realization sobered him, made him withdraw automatically. Takamatsu stopped and looked up at him apprehensively.
"Takamatsu." I can do what I want with him. Anything I want. Half of him was dizzy at the thought, half insisted that they stop now and put this thing on a more rational footing.
"Don't stop, sir, please. Please." It was a whisper, begging, pleading. With his split vision he could see that the boy meant it, that Takamatsu's soul was on its knees to him, and the sensation in his groin was unspeakable. But it was wrong to do this to another human being- afterwards Takamatsu would hate him for it, as he hated Magic for what he'd done to him.
"Takamatsu- I'm using you. It's-"
"I want you to. I lost myself back there. I need you to help me find me." He pressed himself against Luzar's groin, a hand slowly massaging the hard bulge between his legs. "Do you know what it was like- when you walked into the room- it was like seeing my father suddenly and knowing everything would be alright. I could remember the lab again, and those DNA analyses, and that damned photosynthesis experiment I've been slaving on for the last two weeks- it all came back, like waking from a nightmare. I love you." His mouth met Luzar's again and he murmured in his ear, "You've got me naked and hard and sitting across your lap and if you don't lay me down soon and screw me into the ground, I'll go crazy."
"That mouth of yours, Takamatsu-kun, it's going to get you into trouble one of these days."
"So shut me up."
He didn't do exactly that. He took hold of Takamatsu's penis and manhandled it up and down and back and forth so that the boy cried aloud, grinding his buttocks into Luzar's lap. The ache there soon grew monstrous as well. But he was in control of this and he beat Takamatsu off until he came, yelling, in Luzar's hand. He brought his fingers to Takamatsu's mouth and his student obediently licked them clean. Only then did he help him to his feet and half walk, half carry him into the bedroom.
"Will you fuck me?" Takamatsu asked in a low voice.
"You mean, take you anally? You can't want me to, surely? After this afternoon?"
"I can. I do. I need you inside me- if the idea doesn't bother you."
He wasn't sure if the idea bothered him or not. Part of him rather wanted to try. And it was, in any case, the way things were done here, part of the package he seemed to have bought. No point in being more virginal than he could help. "No, not particularly. But I've never done it before. I don't want to hurt you."
"We can use cream.
"For lubrication. There's none in the anus."
"How true. What kind, then?"
"Vaseline is best. Hand cream will do in a pinch."
"I don't think I have either. No, wait." He pulled out a drawer. "I think- yes, here it is. Gunma's nurse likes to keep duplicate supplies around. Will this do?"
He had to smile. Baby oil. It would be a first. "Yes. And we should use towels, unless you don't mind stains on the sheets. I'm sorry- there are a lot of preparations. I should have mentioned before we got in the mood."
"Don't worry. It's no different from having to stop after you've got in the mood to put on a condom, or wait while she puts in her diaphragm. There's always something."
Takamatsu grinned. "Did you use towels?"
"I sometimes thought it would be a good idea. You know how wet it gets."
"I don't, actually."
"I've never done it with a woman. It's been boys' boarding schools all my life. And knowing what I do, prostitutes were never an option." He shrugged. "We all have our virginities."
That was a consolation, except- "I'm the virgin this time, and I'm the one who should know what he's doing."
"There's only one way to learn. Practical experience, sensei." He came close to give him a hug.
"You'd know. No, I didn't mean it to sound like that. I'm sorry."
Takamatsu put his head on Luzar's shoulder. "Is that jealousy, sensei, or just nerves?"
Luzar held the warm, naked body. "How many men have you slept with?"
"How many have had me, do you mean? Counting backward, Magic and Servis-"
"I've been having problems lately. I couldn't do him, so he did me."
"Somehow I thought-"
"It's a preference, not a hard and fast rule. And Millefeuilles, and a guy ahead of me in high school called Anders, and another guy, an asshole, called Remy- he was in my class- and my friend Ferenc in junior high. He was the first- we sort of dared ourselves to do it to each other and we didn't know anything and it hurt like hell. So that's, what, six in all?"
"And the ones you've had?"
"Others, a few more. And the guys I've gone down on and the guys who've gone down on me and the guys I've jerked off, and vice versa, even more. And it doesn't matter a bit. Really. It's my first time with you and I might as well be fourteen again and bending over for Ferenc and not knowing at all what it'll be like. It's that scary. Ok, scary and exciting. Can't we start?"
"Alright. But let me get at my clothes." Takamatsu stood back a little while he undid the fastenings of his uniform and took it off. He heeled and toed his way out of his shoes, then braced himself to remove his trousers.
"You don't have to take everything off," Takamatsu said. He grimaced. Damn the boy's observant eyes. "I used to have this fantasy where you did it to me in the lab, bent over a stool with my pants around my ankles. What really turned me on," he said smiling, "was that you were dressed and I wasn't. So- you know- I wouldn't actually mind if you wanted to keep something on-"
He was shocked, but a little aroused as well. "Any others?"
"Oh, lots and lots. The one where you jerked me off in the main corridor of headquarters- we were at the side, no-one knew what was happening- and the one where I was under your desk, going down on you all morning, and the one where you gave me a lift and buggered me in the back of your car, and the one where you had me up against a wall- that had two versions, front and back- and, well, some kinky ones we don't have to go into, with paddles and ropes and things-"
"Takamatsu!" He was laughing helplessly, but a subtle fire ran through him as the images formed in his mind.
"I've been waiting a long time, sir," he said plaintively.
"I only hope I can live up to your imaginings. It doesn't seem likely."
"You've already done it," and the arms were around him again, the black thatched groin rubbing up against his own. He had to get his fly open or go crazy, and when Takamatsu's fingers found him, all his other concerns vanished. They rolled onto the bed together, mouths kissing, thighs embracing, and for a heavenly long interlude that was all they needed to do. He would have been content to leave it at that, but as his excitement mounted, Takamatsu threw a leg over his, murmuring, "In me, sir. Please," and guided Luzar's penis between his cheeks.
"The oil-" he groaned, reaching out a hand and finding it somehow on the table. Takamatsu turned onto his back, knees bent and thighs lifted, and Luzar realized he wanted to do it face to face. He hadn't known men could- but then, almost all of this was new to him.
"On you or on me?" he asked.
"Both. I'm a little sore still."
A certain squeamishness kept him from looking too closely as he slipped his finger in gently and spread oil around the opening, hearing Takamatsu catch his breath as he did so. It felt good- if he didn't think about what he was doing... He covered his penis as well, and readied himself. Takamatsu pulled his legs back to his chest, laying his thighs open. "Takamatsu, I don't want to hurt you-"
"It's ok, sir. I need you inside me. It doesn't matter if it hurts a bit." His hand caught hold of Luzar's cock and brought him up to the spot. "Do it fast. It hurts less that way." There was no help for it. He pushed in steadily. There was minimal resistance from Takamatsu's body and none at all from his will, but his face went white and tears ran from his eyes. Luzar was aghast, but Takamatsu caught his shoulders, pulling him down for a kiss that brought Luzar fully inside him, sheathed to his length in the hot tight narrowness.
"Takamatsu-" Specks danced in front of his eyes. His concern for his student had to fight for space in his head with all the new sensations that were threatening to dissolve him into a million pieces. Takamatsu was clinging to him, his breath sobbing a little, all hot tears and hot wet skin under his mouth and hot breath speaking into his ear.
"I love you," he was saying blindly. "I love you, sir- you don't know how much- how long-" Their mouths found each other again, and Takamatsu's legs met across the small of his back, his feet drubbing gently on his buttocks and the base of his spine. That steady beating sensation was too much. Oh no- not yet, he thought, but he couldn't stop his climax once it had begun. His back arched. Takamatsu's nails digging into his shoulders became the one sure point in his spinning universe as the convulsion claimed him.
Luzar's limp cock slipped out of him. Even that small action hurt abominably. Not that it mattered. The burning pain in his ass was a mere obbligato in the huge symphony of triumph playing gloriously in his soul. And even the pain carried its own solid satisfaction, being at once redress, cauterization, and exorcism. Magic owned what Magic owned, but this belonged to Luzar from now on- if only Luzar would claim it. If only... In the middle of his joy he was aware of one last cold area of emptiness, like a wound that might not heal. He wept torrentially, in happiness and pain and relief and despair. Luzar kissed him urgently, as if trying to dam the rivers with his lips, which was sufficient reason to keep on doing it, and spoke his name with an intensity Takamatsu had never heard him use before.
"I'm sorry, Takamatsu-kun, I didn't mean to hurt you- don't cry, please- Takamatsu-"
He shook his head, flicking tears from his eyes. "I love you," he said, "I love you and I don't know what to do about it." He sobbed out the source of his pain. "I love you more than you love me."
"It's always that way," he said from the vast experience he didn't have. "One always loves more than the other." He stroked his hair and kissed the hot face again.
Takamatsu looked up at him, sniffling. "Do you love me- even a little?"
"Yes," he said, "I think I do." It occurred to him how feeble that must sound, but he could only state the facts as he saw them. "It's not something I'm much good at," he said apologetically. "Maybe I don't really know what the word means. But I want to have you with me- in my life and involved with my work and-" he hesitated.
"And here?" Takamatsu asked.
"And here," he said. "Definitely. Will that be enough? It's all I've got to offer."
"It covers most of the territory," Takamatsu said, sounding more like himself. "It'd be nice if you'd promise to love me forever; but I don't think I'd believe you if you did. You're too good a scientist."
"Yes," he said, "I'm afraid so. You know my work will always come first?"
Takamatsu sighed. "That's why I fell in love with you. I suppose I wouldn't want you any other way." He mopped his face, looking not unsatisfied. Buoyant, that was the word for Takamatsu's ego. He'd better get their positions straight while he still had some leverage.
"It's not just first, Takamatsu, it's separate. Nothing changes at the lab. We're a team. I can't afford special relationships, or even the suspicion that you're getting favoured treatment in return for sex. So- no intimacies at work. Understand?"
"I understand, sir. No kisses, no little smiles, no lunches together- no presuming on the relationship."
"That's right. You're the youngest of us, and you'll keep that fact firmly in mind. And if your work suffers because of this-"
Takamatsu grinned. "You'll stand me in the corner?"
Luzar wasn't smiling. "I'll end the relationship."
"You would too, wouldn't you?" Takamatsu eyed him consideringly. "You like to deny yourself things. Is it because none of the others does?"
"Possibly. I could also suggest that from now on you keep your opinion of my family more to yourself, Takamatsu-kun."
"You could. Or you could think of me as the court jester, entitled to say the things no-one else is allowed to."
"I take you too seriously for that. It's time you did too. I expect you to mind your mouth, young man."
"Umm. I'm not used to that; it may take a while. Magic and Servis and Harlem don't take me seriously at all."
"No, I don't imagine they do. You play the clown too well. I wonder if even Servis suspects how much contempt you hide that way."
He reddened, rebuked. "I didn't know you knew. I'm sorry, sir."
Luzar relented. "Don't apologize. I do the same thing myself. It's hard not to when you're dealing with people less intelligent than yourself. But it doesn't pay. It looks too much like envy; and maybe it is."
"Envy? What of, for god's sake?"
He looked over at him, mild amusement in his face. "Beauty. Power. Strength. All the things they have and we don't."
"But what good are they without intelligence? They're like natural disasters- typhoons and tornadoes- a mass of energy going nowhere and accomplishing nothing. Except a lot of damage, of course." He leaned up on his elbow to look down at Luzar. "And it's not true that you don't have it. You're the most beautiful man I know. Servis doesn't even come close."
"The eye of the beholder, Takamatsu." Personal compliments were new to him, and he felt awkward.
"Precisely. It always is." He ran his hand across the wide muscles of his chest. "And you're strong."
"Harlem could always beat me in any kind of fight."
"Not if you know a little strategy. I've done it. Only very basic judo, but he never bothered to learn it. And anyway, there are other kinds of strength. Harlem can't deny himself anything, Servis can't be relied on for anything, but you-"
"I'm not powerful. I'm no match for Magic."
"Except where I'm concerned. You've got it all over the Commander there. The best of me- my intelligence, my talent, whatever I've got of them- they're yours. I'll become whatever you make of me."
"Don't exaggerate." He was moved in spite of himself.
"I'm not exaggerating. I know I'll never be the scientist you are. Too much of me goes into other things. But whatever I achieve will be your doing. I supply the raw materials. You do the shaping. It's not much. It's not the same as commanding an army. But it's something Magic will never have."
Luzar pulled him back down and kissed him again, touched and a little embarrassed. But he knew Takamatsu was right. The boy was a romantic, and romanticism was always at war with science. As Magic needed to command others and Servis needed to be desired, so Takamatsu needed to love and be loved. And he himself- as long as he had his work, he needed none of those things: certainly not to the extent the others did. A very little of each was enough. And that was what he had. Enough: lying here warm and tired in his arms. He relaxed into contentment as into a hot bath. He had his work and he had Takamatsu, and what more did he need than that?
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful...
...Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.