Tepin ran his fingers through hair that was silky-soft, jet black, and just long enough to have some shag to it. He looked deep into eyes that were mesmerizing. He felt vaguely as if he were falling into an abyss made of whiskey and honey. An abyss he wouldn't mind living in. He had the rather inane thought that the intriguing mix of whiskey and honey color of Theodore's eyes may very well be his new favorite color.
No. It's Taz. He preferred Taz, he reminded himself.
Their faces were so close, his lips less than an inch above Taz's, their breath mingling. Tepin's heart was beating so hard, he was surprised the other man couldn't hear it. Then, fuck, his mouth was on Taz's, and they were kissing. The kiss was sweet and almost slow. The only part of their bodies that touched were their lips.
Tepin reached up to touch Taz's cheek, but a noise startled him. He looked away for a moment to see what it was, but nothing was there except his empty hotel room. He turned back to Taz, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, but he wasn't there. Tepin frowned, but before he could react the noise came again, and he realized it was the door.
Knock, knock, knock.
Tepin groaned as he roused. He pulled himself up into a sitting position, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he waited for his exhausted mind to wake up and focus.
"Tepin, open up!"
Blinking blearily, he leaned over and grabbed his phone from the bedside table. He touched the screen, making it light up. He groaned at the time displayed on the screen. It was four o'clock in the afternoon, which meant he'd probably been asleep for a couple of hours, yet he felt more tired now than he had before.
He closed his eyes, inhaled then wrinkled his nose.
“Come in,” he called.
The brass chain unhooked itself, and the lock quietly disengaged. The door opened, and there stood his brother, surrounded by guards.
"This better be good," he grumbled.
"Hey, big brother. You gonna let me in, or are you gonna make me and four guards stand out in the hall, drawing attention?"
Tepin resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his brother's melodrama. "Get in here, Dekklahn."
Once the door was shut, and Dekklahn and his guards were inside, Tepin waved his hand, and chain re-hooked itself. He nodded to the guards, acknowledging their presence. Then he turned his gaze on his brother.
"What are you doing here, Dekk?"
"Somebody had to come along and keep an eye on you, since you refused guards."
"I refused to bring guards along for a reason," he said, looking pointedly at Dekklahn's guards.
Dekk rolled his eyes. "Relax, Tepin. They're mostly here for me."
Dekk walked over to the single window of the motel room, waved the curtain aside, and looked out the window. Tepin noted that two of the guards stood to either side of the door, one near the bed, close to him, and one near Dekklahn.
He recognized the one closest to him. Amun Ta'amad was Taz's height, give or take an inch. He was built like a swimmer, and had nicely toned muscles. He had light brown hair cut short, a goatee, golden skin, and dark blue eyes. Amun was thirty-six years old, married, and had a baby on the way.
"How is Isis and the baby, Amun?"
Amun grinned, revealing slightly crooked white teeth. "They're both fine. The baby is due in about a month. We've decided to name her Lilith."
"So it's a girl, then?"
"You best bring Lilith to see me when she's born, you hear?"
"Yes, Sire," Amun said, his smile reaching his eyes.
Tepin turned his attention to his brother, taking in his stiff posture, the rigid set of his shoulders. His brother was half an inch shorter than himself, and his gray eyes had blue flecks in them. His nose was straight, if a little large. His mouth was just a little too wide; his bottom lip was full and lush, while the top was thinner, almost too thin.
His left ear was pierced from the lobe to the cartilage. The cartilage had a double piercing, connected by an electric green barbell. His hair was long and black, and currently tied back at the nape of his neck.
"Dekklahn," he said softly. "What has happened?"
With a heavy sigh, his brother turned away from the window, his eyes meeting his. "The palace is just so chaotic right now. Momma and Dad are both on edge, but they're not talking about it."
"Is that all, Dekk?"
"What are you thinking?" Dekk asked, his tone wary.
"How are things with Adio?"
"Things with Adio are...fine."
"Why don't I believe you?"
When Dekk wouldn't meet his gaze, Tepin sighed. "Why do you put up with his crap?"
"I don't know..."
"Did he call it off again?"
Silence met his question. Tepin didn't really need Dekk to say it aloud, anyway; the angst and despair he could see in his brother's eyes were answer enough.
Tepin got up from the bed, and went to Dekk. When he opened his arms, Dekk stepped into them, resting his cheek on Tepin's shoulder. Wrapping his strong arms around Dekk, he rested his own cheek on his brother's head and sighed. He hated seeing his brother so upset. He wanted to rip Adio to shreds. But more than that, he wanted his brother to come to his senses and wash himself of Adio forever.
"You know what I think about Adio," he said, softly.
"I know. Tepin..." Dekk's voice trailed off.
"Yes?" Tepin prompted.
Dekk pulled himself upright, away from the comfort of his arms. He looked around the room, before finally settling on Tepin. He looked him in the eye, took a deep breath, and said, "I want free of him. Tepin, I finally want free of Adio."
"It is about time, Dekk. Have you told him yet?"
His brother looked away from him, seeming to find something interesting to study on the ugly, worn brown carpet.
"I will take that as a solid no."
Looking up at him again, Dekk said, "No. I haven't told him yet."
"Good Gods, Dekklahn. Did you just run away from him rather than tell him it's over?"
He went back to studying the floor, his expression closed off now, his face pale.
A tendril of unease snaked around Tepin's gut. "Dekk?"
"He hit me," Dekk said, quietly.
At first, Tepin wasn't sure he'd heard right. But looking into his brother's expressionless eyes, he knew he'd heard right.
"He hit you!?" Tepin said incredulously.
"I am going to kill him!" Tepin said through gritted teeth, his eyes glinting dangerously.
"Tepin... Please, just leave it alone..."
"Adio hit you, and you want me to leave it alone?"
"Please?" Dekk implored him softly.
"Fine," Tepin said tersely. "I'm going out."
"I'm. Going. Out," he reiterated.
"May I go with you?"
"No. I need some air."
Something in his brother's tone made Tepin look back at him. He looked so . . . forlorn and vulnerable. He hated that look on his brother. It made him want to castrate the man who had hurt him. Despite his impetuousness, Dekklahn was sensitive. He brought out the protective side of almost everybody he met, and Tepin was no exception.
He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that his brother had never met Adio.
"Okay, fine. You may come." He turned back to the door, about to leave, but he paused. As an afterthought, he said, "You guys might as well come, too. Help me keep an eye on Dekk."