Shieldbrothers: Pride of the Kodiak

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 4871
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter One: Dowry Negotiations

“I think you’ve already tried on that vest.” Harper tosses a black mesh vest on top of a pile of similar garments on the bed. He sits on a corner of the bed in their quarters, watching as Tyr preens before a floor length mirror in a vest of bronze silk cords exactly like the black one. The silk cords frame the dark nipples and rippling muscles in a distracting way.

“I don’t remember this one.” Tyr smoothes the silk cords over his chest, flexing his pectorals. He studies his image with a faint frown. “I’m sure I would have remembered it.”

Harper sighs. He wraps his arms around himself and hunches tighter on the bed as he watches Tyr. All this trouble for Charley's skinny sister Diana. It looks suspiciously like Tyr wants her to want him. He is no longer certain that this is only business. Harper forces a casualness that he is far from feeling into his voice. “I’m not surprised you don’t. You’ve tried on every single thing in the closet except my stuff.”

Tyr makes a show of looking at the row of Harper’s tee shirts.

Harper grins despite himself. “Don’t even think about it!”

“Are you sure I tried this one on already?” Tyr adjusts the vest and studies his image carefully.

“Yeah. Pretty sure. You know, Tyr, I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. Why is the way you dress for this meeting so important?” Harper pulls his favorite bronze leather vest from the pile of clothes and lays it across his lap. The leather is still warm from Tyr’s body.

Tyr turns as if contemplating the fit of his pants in the mirror but his amber eyes are focused on Harper. Tight brown leather pants hug every muscle. Tyr slides his hands over his waist. His hands stroke slowly over the hard curves of his flanks as he watches Harper closely for a reaction. “Do these pants display my backside unfavorably?”

Harper does not look up from the vest lying across his lap. His hands flex possessively over the leather. “Is that the Nietzschean version of ‘do these pants make me look fat’? Please tell me it’s not. That’s just wrong.”

Tyr turns from the mirror to face Harper. He sighs softly. His ploy is falling sadly flat. He intended to use the necessity of deciding what to wear for Diana’s display as a subtle way of displaying himself in front of Harper in hopes of luring the human to touch him; in hopes that the display would make Harper want more from him. “It is very important that both parties take the display seriously.”

“Well, it’s easy to see that you’re taking it seriously.” Harper shakes his head. His eyes are wary. “Do you think she will? I mean since this is basically an arranged marriage isn’t it? Can’t you two just cut to the chase and do the deed and move on?”

Tyr moves closer to the corner of the bed where his lover is perching. “This is not about the clothes is it?”

Harper plucks a black leather vest from the pile and holds it up, pretending to consider it. “Of course it is. What else would it be about?”

Tyr pulls the brown mesh vest over his head and tosses it on the bed. He shakes his braids back over his shoulders. “This is about us. You and me.”

“So?” Harper whispers. He tosses the black vest on top of the brown one. He stares at the pile of garments without seeing them.

Tyr’s hand hovers over the blond spikes of Harper’s bowed head. His hand fists and falls away. He had promised to initiate no touching but he had not expected that to last so long. He had hoped that Harper would be more at ease with his touch by now. “We’ve gone over this before, Seamus. This marriage will change nothing between us. We’ll still go on the same way we have.”

“I can’t help thinking…what if…”

“What do you mean?” Tyr asks softly.

Harper looks up finally. Worry, pain and anger mingle in his vivid blue eyes. “What if she doesn’t want to share?”

Tyr sits next to Harper on the bed. “That is not an option, Seamus.”

“I know that’s what you’ve said…but…what if...” Harper looks away.

Tyr eases closer. He leans forward, trying to see Harper’s face. “Listen, little one, Diana and I are going to discuss the whole of our arrangement. She’s going to have to accept the part you play in my life. That is not negotiable.”

“What if she’s not willing to accept me?” Harper turns back, his gaze searching Tyr’s face. He reaches out, gripping Tyr’s hard thigh.

Tyr promptly places his own hand over Harper’s. He raises the pale hand to his lips and presses a kiss in the palm. “Then I won’t go through with it. We will return to Andromeda. I will not allow anything to cause you more pain. You’ve been through too much already.”

Harper leans against Tyr’s solid shoulder, nuzzling against his bicep. “I’m not going to stand in the way of you and your dream for Kodiak pride. I know how important that is to you.”

“You are important to me.” Tyr squeezes Harper’s hand. “Remember that.”

Harper nods. He kisses the bare skin of Tyr’s shoulder and sits back. “I’m trying.”

“You are a part of whatever I do. That’s why it is important that you take part in each phase of this. We are a team. Nothing will separate us. I almost lost you once.” Tyr looks into Harper’s wide blue eyes. His full lips harden with determination as he meets Harper’s gaze. “I’m not going to risk losing you again.”

“You’re not going to lose me.” Harper’s facile smile is not reflected in his somber eyes. He holds out the bronze leather vest that he had placed in his lap. “I like this one.”

Tyr glances from the proffered garment to Harper. “That one is one of your favorites.”

Harper shrugs. “Yeah.”

Tyr shakes his head. “I’ll not display in anything that I know is a favorite of yours.”

Harper drapes the vest back over his lap. He stares down at it and frowns. “Okay, Tyr. Run this whole ‘display’ thing past me one more time. I’m not sure I get it.”

Tyr stands but remains close, taking care to remain well within the human’s touching distance should Harper feel the wish to touch him again. He feels dangerously starved for his lover’s touch. Tyr picks up the chain mail vest, absently turning it over in his hands.

He thought that he could manage with whatever Harper chose to offer but the situation becomes more difficult each day. He suspects that Harper has never considered what sort of instincts had been imprinted on his very genes. He wants Harper where he can protect the human but his very bones ache with increasing levels of need for more and more. However sweet and treasured, Harper’s occasional caresses are, they are not enough to sate him.

Tyr drops the vest. There was no reason to discuss such things with Harper before and, now, after what happened to Harper, he fears to scare Harper completely away if the human ever realized just how hard Tyr is fighting against instinctive drives. Diana will share his drives and will provide a safe outlet for those needs until Harper is able to deal with them. Tyr picks up a cream colored silk shirt from the pile. “The male must attract the attention of a potential mate by exhibiting qualities she will find interesting or attractive.”

“I’m not sure I like the sound of that.” Harper grouses.

“This display is more ceremonial than anything. Charlemagne has already spoken with his sister and she has indicated interest. My display will merely show her that I respect the bonds of our arrangement and that I take it seriously. Nothing more.” Tyr glances at Harper, trying to read past the sudden blank blandness of the blue eyes. Does Harper suspect how much he is not being told? Some details, such as the fact that Diana has a shield sister, he has not mentioned to Harper. That, like his constant fight against his primal needs, is something that Harper does not need to know. It was Harper’s perception of Diana as a threat that returned his shield brother to his home and bed.

“So this is just the two of you strutting around looking gorgeous?”

Tyr laughs. “Not exactly. I must display physical prowess of some sort. Mental agility. Emotional stability…that sort of thing. But, bear in mind, that she must also exhibit the same.”

“She’s beautiful,” Harper admits reluctantly, remembering the compelling image that Charlemagne had shown. Considering whose sister she is, the woman is probably highly intelligent as well. His mouth tightens as he remembers the sensual speculation on Tyr’s face as the Nietzschean stared at Diana’s image that day on the command deck. “You want her. I…saw the way you looked at her picture.”

Tyr nods. He holds Harper’s gaze. His amber eyes half close as he strokes the creamy silk shirt draped over his shoulder. “She is pleasing to look upon.”

Harper frowns and looks away. It hurts to see that look on Tyr’s face – the darkening of the amber eyes, the parting of the full lips – and know that Diana’s name put it there. He rubs his arms. It suddenly seems a little too cool in the room. “What is she getting out of this? I mean I think you’re hot and I love you…but why is she doing this?”

Tyr stretches out a hand, almost touching the vulnerable line of Harper’s nape before drawing back. “Charlemagne has had some pride problems…family problems for the past year. This union will put to rest some troublesome rumors.”

Harper looks up. “What kinds of rumors?”

“He didn’t say.” Tyr shrugs.

“Is something wrong with Diana?” Harper leans toward Tyr with a frown. “Has she got a genetic defect or something?”

“There is nothing wrong with her. Her genes are excellent.” Tyr pulls on the cream silk shirt, leaving it open over his chest.

“So why hasn’t she already chosen a male?”

Tyr turns to view his image in the mirror but his eyes remain watchful on Harper’s face. “It’s complicated.”

“What?”

“The Bolivar…family…relationships have come under pride scrutiny.”

Harper’s eyes narrow with temper. “This is starting to sound much too complicated for a simple kludge to understand.”

“You are not a kludge.” Tyr turns to frown at Harper. He sweeps his braids forward to lie over his shoulder. “You are my shieldbrother.”

“Okay. It all comes back to trust. I trust you, Tyr.”

“Thank you.” Tyr stares warily at his human. He doesn’t like lying to Harper but will use whatever tool he must to keep Harper with him.

“But…I don’t trust Charlemagne…or his nifty sister.”

“Neither do I.”

“Then why are you willing to go through with this?” Harper asks. He tosses the bronze leather vest onto the pile of discards with an exasperated gesture.

Tyr strokes his braids and tilts his hips subtly forward as he stares at Harper. “It’s complicated.”

“Isn’t it always?” Harper sighs wistfully as he eyes Tyr. He offers a pair of dark brown pants. “I also like the cream. It makes your skin look yummy. If yummy is what you’re aiming for. It will look great with these pants.”

“You think I look ‘yummy’?” Tyr’s voice deepens as his amber eyes darken.

Harper smiles shyly as he continues to hold out the pants. “Well, yeah…I do. You do yummy better than just about anyone.”

Tyr takes the pants. He kneels in front of Harper. “Seamus…I want you to take a part in the Helix ceremony.”

Harper narrows his eyes in suspicion. He knew it. He just knew it. There is something else going on. “Why?”

Tyr leans closer, his lips parting. “I want Diana to understand that what we do meets with your approval. I want her to know that it is with your permission that I take her.”

Harper cups his hand over Tyr’s cheek. He leans forward. “So this means…what…that I’m best man or something?”

“No…the closest analogy could be…First Wife.” Tyr nuzzles the cool palm. He kisses the palm, delicately nipping the mound of flesh just below Harper thumb.

“First Wife? I thought that’d be her title.” There is a dangerously sharp note in Harper’s voice.

“Technically…yes.” Tyr’s eyes are wary now.

“But wait. Mariyam was your real first wife. Whoa, wait, she didn’t count because she was human, right?” Harper fists his hands in the long braids and yanks Tyr’s head back. His blue eyes are darkening rapidly with temper. “Oops then there was Freya…what was she…your first Nietzschean wife? I keep getting pushed further down the mate totem pole, don’t I?”

Tyr closes his eyes and murmurs to himself. “What was I thinking?”

Harper tightens his hands on the mass of braids. “So I’m like, what your “current squeeze” is that it? Or would that be, ‘bed mate of the moment’. How about best kludge, male in a supporting role? Huh? Better yet…”

“Harper…Seamus…listen to me.” Tyr opens his eyes and meets his lover’s hard gaze. He turns his head, pressing a row of kisses along Harper’s bare forearm. “You alone have my heart. Don’t you understand that?”

“What’s to understand? She gets everything and I get whatever is left.” Despite the sharpness of his words, Harper’s grip on the dark braids eases and turns into a caress.

“I need you to do this for me, Seamus.” Tyr looks up into the pale face bent over him. He presses his hands firmly against his thighs, fighting back the urge to seize Harper and pull the human down to him.

Harper sighs. “Okay. Alright. So what’s involved? Do I have to carry the helix or something?”

“Yes. And you must witness the coupling.”

Harper shivers. His hands clench possessively on the long braids. It’s bad enough knowing what is going to happen without having to watch the main event. “Way too much information, Tyr. I don’t want to think about that. Are you saying I have to be there when you…when you and she…do it?”

“Yes.”

“I…I’m not sure I can watch you fuck her…” Harper closes his eyes against the image. His hands tremble.

“I need you by my side through this…I need to know that you will protect my back.”

“Why?” Harper asks. His eyes open and he meets the dark amber gaze.

“I don’t trust Charlemagne Bolivar. I trust you.”

The one thing he cannot evade or argue against. If it is a matter of Tyr’s possible safety, he must agree to do this. Harper sighs. “Okay...alright…I’m with you.”

“Through everything?”

“Everything.” Harper bends to press his lips against Tyr’s.

***

Diana Bolivar steps out onto the ceramic tiles of the terrace outside her bedroom at the Bolivar compound. The tiles are pleasantly cool against her bare feet. The first of three moons glows softly against the night sky. Where is her shield sister? She glances quickly around the moonlit area and sees Cerys sitting perched on the terrace wall.

Cerys sits with her back to their bedroom as she looks with apparent fascination at the garden below. A soft breeze tousles her long, loose chestnut hair. Diana longs to tangle her hands in it but knows that Cerys is not receptive to her touch right now. Cerys had stalked away right in the middle of a discussion about whether the slit in a leather skirt revealed too much thigh. Diana had looked up and her shieldsister was nowhere to be seen.

Diana sighs and walks over to stand behind the small human. The breeze carries the sharp scent of Cerys’ anger clearly. “What’s the matter?”

“You know what the matter is.” Cerys tosses the words angrily over her shoulder. She continues to stare down at the garden. “Don’t pretend you don’t.”

Diana places her hands on Cerys stiff shoulders. “It’s not what you think.”

Cerys shrugs away. “Oh? What do I think?”

“You think that I’m excited by this arrangement. You think that I want this male.” Diana presses a strand of chestnut hair to her lips, breathing in her lover’s scent.

“Don’t you?” Cerys snaps. She glances quickly over her shoulder and then away. “I saw the way you looked at his picture when Charlemagne sent you his image.”

“He is easy on the eye.” Diana smiles. If she must do this with a man, the Kodiak is more pleasing than most. How odd that as long as Cerys has lived among Nietzscheans the human does not understand that it is not the man that she lusts after but the opportunity to pass on her genes. It will also accomplish other things for her family and brother.

“It’s more than that. You desire him.” Cerys scowls at the moon.

“No…no. He is just a means to an end.”

“What end? What are you doing, Diana? Why are you doing this? Why now, after all this time?”

Diana sighs. “It’s complicated.”

“Then un-complicate it for me.” Cerys turns and points a finger at Diana. “And don’t give me the speech about complicated family relationships. I don’t buy it.”

“Little one….” Diana strokes her fingertips over the silken fall of chestnut hair.

Cerys glares over her shoulder. “Don’t you ‘little one’ me! Don’t you dare talk to me like I’m a stupid kludge.”

Diana gasps. “I never talk to you like that. In all the years we’ve been together…I’ve never…”

“Yet you look at him…at…what’s his name…Tyr Anasazi…and your eyes go soft. I know that look. You want to fuck him.”

“Don’t be crude.”

“I’ll be whatever I like.” Cerys glowers even as a tear slides over the smooth line of her cheek. “You are my shieldsister. We have been together since we were children. We are more than lovers we are soul mates. The thought of you under him…of him touching what is mine, what has always been mine…is too painful to bear!”

“Cerys…I need to know you’re with me.” Diana grips the slender shoulders. “If you don’t want me to do this, I won’t.”

Cerys looks away toward the hills in the distance. Her shoulders droop. “You want a child. He is fertile and from good stock. He is handsome, though unnecessarily muscle-bound, and intelligent, from all accounts and strong. His DNA is excellent. You don’t have to worry. I will not stand in your way.”

Diana moves closer and wraps her arms around the tiny waist of her lover. Her arms slide under the lush weight of Cerys breasts. Cerys bosom is a delight, her nipples like berries. The thought of the promise of the soft weight makes Diana moist with longing. Diana nuzzles Cerys slender throat. “Come inside. We’ll share a bath and I’ll braid your hair.”

Cerys sniffs. She stiffens in Diana’s embrace. “Don’t you have some more items in your betrothal wardrobe to select? You want to make a good impression on that steroid enhanced Kodiak.”

Diana laughs. “Steroid enhanced? Don’t be nasty to my future husband.”

“I’ll be whatever I like.”

Diana kisses Cerys’ temple softly. “Come inside. It’s becoming chilly out.”

“Does he know about us?”

Diana’s voice is firm and reassuring. “I will make sure that it is one of the first things we will discuss when we meet.”

“He may be a typical male. He will want you all for himself. I may not be allowed to be a part of your…”

“That is not something that is up for discussion, Cerys.” Diana nuzzles the cool, smooth skin of Cerys’ shoulder. “I will make it clear to Tyr that you hold my heart. If he will not accept that then he can get back on the Andromeda and find himself another brood mare.”

“You are no brood mare.” Cerys smiles. She turns to look up at Diana.

“No?” Diana presses her lips lightly to Cerys’. “One more thing…I need you there…for the coupling.”

“Diana…” Cerys shakes her head. “Don’t ask that of me. Don’t make me watch while you and he…”

“I don’t think I can bear his touch if you aren’t there.”

Cerys wiggles free of Diana’s embrace. She hops down from the wall. She frowns up at the tall Nietzschean female. “Alright. Fine. I will witness the coupling.”

“Thank you.” Diana bends to kiss her again.

“I will also talk to this male and let him know what is and is not expected of him.”

Diana smiles. “I think Charlemagne can handle most of that. I just need you at my side so I can focus on you while he…takes me.”

“You’ve never been with a male. What if he hurts you? I’ll slit his barbaric throat!” Cerys clenches her fists.

“Cerys…Cerys…that won’t be necessary.” Diana cups her palms around Cerys’ delicate face. “All will be well, as long as you are by my side.”

“I will stand by you.”

“Through everything?” Diana asks softly.

“I am your shieldsister…that is a given.” Cerys wraps her arms protectively around Diana.


***

This is going to be so amusing. Charlemagne Bolivar smiles as he waits for his guests to enter the room. He glances over at his sister. Diana is looking remarkably feminine in a long leather skirt with a slit up to almost her hip. The matching gold leather corset makes the most of her narrow waist and small breasts. Her shoulders are perhaps a trifle wide and muscular but as large as the Kodiak is, Diana will appear deceptively delicate next to him.

Has his sister spoken to her ever-present companion? Charlemagne studies the delicate human standing next to his sister’s chair. Her dark green leathers match her eyes. The ample breasts threaten to spill over the edge of her tight vest every time she shifts impatiently. The stern look in her eyes as she stares at the doorway and the determined set of her mouth hint that she has not yet been informed of Tyr’s situation. As possessive as the kludge is of his sister, it should be interesting to watch her reaction to the display.

He is certain that Tyr has not informed his human of Diana’s matching situation. The little fellow had seemed quite perturbed about it that day on the command deck. How delicious this first meeting will be. To preserve his entertainment, he had arranged for his dearly venomous wife, Elssbett, to have a little something to occupy her attention far away from the home world. This will go so much more smoothly without his mate’s poisonous input.

Charlemagne watches as his guests are announced and allowed to enter. Tyr strides into the room, followed by his companion. The Kodiak looks strapping in a black leather vest and pants. His small companion is most…colorful. Charlemagne blinks at the brilliant crimson shirt and loose pants. Where had the kludge found such a virulent shade? Looks like Tyr has no more control over his companion than his sister does. Dylan, in his usual boring High Guard uniform, walks beside them.

“Ah. My guests have arrived.” Charlemagne rises as they walk toward him. He smiles warmly.

Dylan steps forward and smiles. “Always a pleasure Archduke.”

“Captain.” Charlemagne nods. He turns to Tyr. “Tyr Anasazi. May I present my sister Diana Bolivar?”

Tyr faces Diana and bows slightly. His amber eyes sweep over her. He smiles slowly. “Your picture did not do you justice, lady. I am pleased to finally meet you. Your brother speaks highly of you.”

“Greeting, Tyr Anasazi.” Diana nods with a smile. Her cool, gray eyes warm as she looks at him.

Harper frowns. She looks even better close up than she did in her picture. She certainly seems to like the way Tyr looks as well. He doesn’t like the way that they are looking at each other. Not one bit. A little formality here, please. The two of them had just been introduced and already they are doing some industrial strength ogling. Tyr seems to have forgotten that he is even there.

Harper scowls. He follows Tyr as the Nietzschean takes a seat next to Diana. He stations himself behind the chair, doing his best to glare a hole in Tyr’s thick head. He transfers the glare to the back of Charlemagne’s pale blond head as the Nietzschean talks softly to Dylan. Oh, doesn’t the big man, look a vision in all that dark gray silk and silver? How flashy.

Harper glances over at the short woman standing next to him behind Diana’s chair. A human, too. Huh. Who is she? Looks like she could be extremely pretty when she isn’t wearing such a venomous scowl. What’s her problem? Oh, wait. Duh. She’s living with a Nietzschean pride. That would give anybody issues. Still, very nice boobs.

The deep rumble of Tyr’s voice draws his attention back to the table. Diana is smiling and batting her lashes at him. Oh, puhleese. Now, she’s leaning forward and flashing her tiny, little, anthill breasts at him. Like any man is gonna be impressed by…Well! Tyr is looking! Harper scowls. A flash of deep green at the edge of his vision distracts him. He turns his head to see that human woman leaning back and giving him an appraising stare.

Harper turns his scowl on her. “What?”

“Are you the Kodiak’s servant?”

“NO! I am not the ‘Kodiak’s’ servant!” Harper snipes. His scowl deepens. “Are you the Jaguar’s servant?”

Cerys sniffs. She folds her arms under her chest. “Of course not.”

“Then mind your own beeswax why don’t cha.” Harper stares at the metal gauntlets that she is wearing. Sharp, steel faux bone blades jut out of the gauntlets. Okay. He has seen it all now. “What’re those? Trying to pass as a Nietzschean? You’re a little short for that.”

She stiffens and glares at him. “How dare you!”

“So what’re you gonna do…gut me?” Harper smirks provocatively.

“Don’t tempt me, kludge.”

Harper rolls his eyes. “Who’re you calling kludge, half-pint?”

“I’ll make you eat those words.”

“Yeah?” Harper sneers. “You and what army, tinker bell?”

“Harper!”

“Cerys!”

Harper’s eyes widen as he glances back to discover that the whole table is staring at him and the half-pint. He shrugs and looks sheepishly at Tyr. “Hey, big guy, she started it.”

Cerys huffs and glowers. “Don’t look at me like that, Diana. The human is…insufferable!”

“Harper, you are going to have to try to be civil.” Tyr speaks in a weary tone. The tone of someone repeating something for the hundredth time.

“I will if she will.” Harper glances sharply at the short woman.

“Cerys?” Diana shakes her head in disapproval. “Don’t embarrass me with this behavior.”

Cerys sniffs and gives Harper a haughty look. “It’s not my fault that he has height issues.”

“Height issues?” Harper repeats incredulously. “You’re shorter than I am!”

“Yes, but it doesn’t bother me.” Cerys smiles with faux sweetness at him. Her green eyes are full of unspoken taunts.

“I oughta just…” Harper leans closer to the tiny woman.

“You and whose army, short stuff?” Cerys draws herself up.

“Harper!”

“Cerys!”

Charlemagne smiles broadly. He claps his hands and servants begin bringing in trays of delicacies. “Perhaps a bit of food will lighten the mood.”

Harper smiles smugly at Cerys as Diana selects some of the choicest delicacies and places them on Tyr’s plate. Ha. Take that, half-pint. You wouldn’t see Tyr doing something so…Harper’s eyes widen in shock as Tyr spears a bit of fish and offers it to Diana. She accepts the fish and leans close. Diana murmurs softly to Tyr and laughs. Tyr’s throaty, seductive laugh follows. Harper glares as Diana reaches out, stroking back the long, black braids. Harper forces his hands to unclench. He isn’t sure if he wants to smack Tyr or Diana more.

“Well, they seem to be enjoying themselves.” Harper mutters sullenly.

Cerys’ frown deepens as she watches her Diana flirting with that overblown barbarian. She looks over at Harper. He does not appear any happier than she is about this. “They do, don’t they?”

“Do we get to eat anything?” Harper asks. He turns his back on the whispering couple and smiles at Cerys. “I’m starved.”

Cerys glances at Diana. Her lover is stroking the barbarian’s arm, praising his muscles. She sniffs. She would prefer anything to watching Diana make such a fool of herself over that…that male. “I am hungry as well.”

“Do you think we can talk without biting each other’s head off?” Harper asks in amused tones.

“Well, we are supposed to be civil.” Cerys grins suddenly. “I guess if I don’t get indigestion I can try.”

Harper laughs and sticks out his hand. “Seamus Harper, super genius and you are?”

“Cerys Darwin out of Sophia by Benjamin.” Cerys shakes his hand. “Are you really a genius?”

“Yeah.” Harper tilts his head. The bright blue eyes are openly curious. “Why did you just give your lineage like you’re a Nietzschean?”

Cerys frowns in confusion. “Doesn’t everyone?”

“No.” Harper shakes his head. “I don’t. Most humans don’t.”

“I’ve lived with Nietzscheans all my life. I’ve never lived around other humans,” Cerys explains as she leads Harper over to a small table covered with dishes. She glances over her shoulder and sees Diana gray eyes on her. Cerys tosses her hair and turns her attention to surveying the selection of food.

Harper picks up a tiny bowl filled with rice and small crustaceans. He quickly empties it. “Is that why you wear the fake boneblades?”

Cerys glances down at her forearms. “I’ve had them for so long that most of the time I’m not aware I have them. Do they bother you?”

“I just wonder why you wear them, that’s all.” Harper picks up a tiny bowl of diced meat and vegetables. Not bad. Similar to Tyr’s stir-fry. Harper glances over at the big table. Tyr is looking back at him. Harper snorts. He makes a show of turning his back. The food is suddenly bland and tasteless.

Cerys nibbles delicately on slices of pink melon. “I grew up around Nietzscheans. Bolivar’s father, the old alpha, gave them to me when I was a child. I suppose it amused him. I learned to use them. I don’t think he counted on that.”

“Do they move like real boneblades?” Harper samples a slice of the pink melon. Mild and sweet. He tries a slice of something purple. Very nice. Tart and refreshing. He helps himself to a second slice.

“No.” Cerys holds up one arm. “But they can do some damage all the same. They also have protected my forearm from breaks and bites. It’s not much but it helps.”

Harper follows Cerys around the table, nibbling and discussing the food. A giggle draws his attention back to the main table. The dark and fair heads are bent close together, whispering, touching, feeding each other bites of this and that. Tyr kisses Diana’s fingers as he accepts a bite of fruit. Harper scowls. He glances at Cerys. “What do you make of the love birds?”

Cerys looks over her shoulder briefly and scowls. She rolls her eyes. “I didn’t think they would hit it off.”

“Me neither.” Harper admits. He glances glumly back at the table. “I thought we’d be back on Andromeda and on the way out of here by now.”

Cerys turns her scowl on him. “Diana will make a wonderful mate. She is of good lineage and strong. She is fertile.”

“Well, Tyr’s a great catch too. He’s very intelligent. He’s compassionate. He’s a good father and his lineage ain’t too shabby either.” Harper lifts his chin and glowers.

“What do you mean he’s a good father?” Cerys narrows her green eyes. Her white teeth snap off a bite of purple melon. “He already has a wife?”

Harper clamps his mouth closed. “Never mind.” He turns to go back to the head table. Cerys catches his arm.

“Is he already married?” She demands.

“No.”

“But you just said…”

Harper yanks his arm free. “I know what I just said. Just never mind what I just said, okay?”

Harper stalks back over to the main table. He takes up his position behind Tyr’s chair. Tyr laughs and leans over. His long hair brushes Diana’s shoulder as he murmurs something. The amber eyes are smoldering. The full lips brush against Diana’s smooth cheek as Tyr whispers something else to her.

He knows that expression. Harper’s mouth hardens in temper as he edges nearer. His eyes narrow as his gaze drops to Tyr’s hips. The thick cock is swollen and pressing against the leather pants, barely contained. So. It is just as he suspected. In spite of all that talk about political alliances and pride politics, Tyr wants her. Tyr is already hot to bed the Jaguar Ice Princess. His hands fist on the urge to grab those long braids and yank Tyr right out of the chair.

Cerys takes her place behind Diana’s chair. She notices a delicate blush of arousal easing over the exposed tops of Diana’s breasts. She scowls as Diana encourages the barbarian, leaning close to him, toying with the long hair. Well, isn’t that just dandy? Diana’s ready to spread her legs for the Kodiak brute. And the display has barely begun.

Just watching this is hard enough. How will she manage to be present at the coupling? To have to actually see and hear that barbarian cover her Diana. To see his hands and mouth on her lover. To smell his scent on Diana. She will already have to smell him on Diana tonight after the shameful way the two fondled each other all through dinner. She glances sidelong at Harper. His thin, pale face looks pinched and unhappy. The blue eyes are sparking with fury.

She looks him over carefully to distract herself from what is going on in front of her. Harper isn’t bad looking for a male. He, at least, is of a reasonable size. Unlike that looming pest of a Kodiak. Harper seems like a sensible sort too. She wouldn’t mind speaking further with him. Besides she needs to find out more about that father comment that he made about Tyr. She tosses her hair. It might do Diana good too, to see her paying attention to a male. Let Diana see what it feels like.

Charlemagne lifts his wineglass in a toast to Tyr and his sister. His eyes twinkle with merriment. The two little kludges are really quite outdone with Diana and Tyr. They’ve pouted and bickered through most of dinner. Charlemagne is half-hoping that Tyr and Diana don’t tell the humans too soon. They make a most entertaining couple.

***

Cerys struts from the bath with a mint green towel clinging damply to her curves. She glances sidelong at Diana and walks right past the bed. She sits on the low bench in front of the vanity table. In the mirror, she can see Diana posing nude on their bed. The gauzy gold curtains do not hide a thing. Cerys sniffs and pretends not to notice. She slowly unfolds her towel and spreads it across the seat. Cerys picks up a brush and begins brushing her hair with sharp, angry motions that set her breasts swaying.

“Cerys.” Diana sits up. “I won’t know what’s wrong unless you tell me what has happened to put you in this mood.”

Cerys scowls and clenches her hand tightly around the brush. For a moment she is tempted to throw it at Diana. Hard. “Of course it’s my fault.”

Diana pushes the sheer curtains aside and moves off the bed. She walks over to stand behind her lover. She takes the brush and gently strokes through Cerys chestnut hair. “I didn’t say that.”

“You certainly seemed to enjoy the Kodiak.” Cerys sits stiff and unyielding.

“Tyr really is a remarkable man.”

“Oh, it’s ‘Tyr’ now?” Cerys snipes. Her green eyes flash with anger.

“I don’t want to talk about him. I’ve been thinking of you all night.” Diana drops the brush on the table. Her hands settle on Cerys’ slender shoulders. She drops a line of kisses down the delicate curve of Cerys’ shoulder. “Did you know how delectable you looked in that green leather? Did you know how tempting you were with your breasts pushed up like that?”

“I didn’t think you noticed.” Cerys frowns but the stiffness eases out of her spine. “You were so busy giggling at the Kodiak’s every word.”

“I did not!” Diana nips her lover’s shoulder. Her hands slide down to cup the rich curves of Cerys’ breasts.

“Oh, but you did. I’m sure he could smell your arousal.”

Diana traces circles around the pale pink nipples, encouraging them into aching peaks. She smiles as Cerys shifts restlessly under her slow caress. “Then what he smelled was my arousal for you.”

Cerys leans back against Diana’s lithe frame. She turns her head to press a kiss on Diana’s smooth skin. She breathes deeply but all she can smell is Diana. “You were aroused by me?”

Diana pulls her lover’s head back and kisses her softly. “I still am.”

Cerys yields to her lover’s urgent hands, allowing Diana to pull her up to kneel on the bench. She leans back against Diana, her hips tilted forward and her thighs spread as Diana’s hands slide lower. Both women stare into the mirror, watching as Diana’s hands dance softly over delicate folds. Cerys rolls her head back against Diana’s small breasts, pressing eager kisses on them. Cerys hands move down Diana’s forearms, drawing firm circles around the bases of bone blades. Diana’s lips part and her breath quickens as her bone blades snap erect.

“Cerys…” Diana gasps. She pulls the smaller woman into her arms and carries her to the bed. She sets her lover down on the gold sheets. “Don’t make me wait.”

“Come here.” Cerys murmurs huskily. She moves over Diana, pressing damp kisses down the line of the arching throat. She moves lower, caressing Diana’s breasts, smiling as the large nipples harden eagerly under her touch.

Diana moans. “I need you so much, Cerys.”

“I’ll remember you said that, love.” Cerys kisses her way lower. She rubs her cheek over the flat lines of Diana’s waist. Her fingers stroke through the soft, gold hair, seeking the hidden folds. Diana spread her legs wider and whispers Cerys name in a pleading voice. “Cerys…please.”

“Not yet…soon.” Cerys positions herself between her lover’s long legs. Her fingers stroke softy, insistently, making Diana moan and tremble. Cerys spreads the lips wide with her other hand, admiring the soft shading and delicate colors. Diana is so beautiful, like touching a flower, stroking a rose petal. Cerys leans closer, inhaling her lover’s scent. She slides a finger inside and smiles as Diana clenches around it. She slides another finger inside and presses a kiss on the exposed flesh. Her tongue flicks out, tasting. Cerys begins to stroke her lover slowly, languidly. “This belongs to me. You belong to me.”

“Yes, Cerys…always.” Diana gasps. She spreads her legs wider. Her hands tangle in her lover’s long, chestnut hair.

Cerys sets to work with a will, sucking, licking, kissing. Allowing the moans and sighs of her lover to guide her. Her tongue glides lovingly over the delicate folds, exploring the subtle textures and tastes. Her fingers slide in and out, stroking the damp velvet, driving Diana on to more frantic moans and pleas.

“Like that! Oh, yes…yes. Oh Cerys! Cerys!!” Diana tenses suddenly, her body clenches tightly around Cerys’ fingers for a moment then she relaxes against the bed, panting.

Cerys rubs her chin over the soft skin of Diana’s stomach. She smiles at the sight of her flushed and trembling lover. Top that performance, over-sized barbarian. She crawls up Diana’s body and curls close with a smug smile. “What’s that brute’s name?”

“I have no idea.” Diana murmurs in a dazed tone. She wraps her arms around Cerys and kisses her ardently.

“What are you doing?” Cerys murmurs against Diana’s lips.

Diana fills her hands with the richness of Cerys lush breasts. Her muscular thigh slides between her lover’s legs and presses against the damp heat of Cerys’ mound. Diana alternates between Cerys’ breasts, sucking hard on the pointed nipples as Cerys arches back over her arm.

Cerys moans and moves against the hard muscle of Diana’s thigh. “Oh please. More…oh…”

Diana chuckles. She continues to suck firmly on the pink nipples, swirling her warm tongue damply around the tip. Diana slides her hand low, gliding a fingertip over Cerys’ most sensitive spot. Cerys moans and her legs clamp around Diana’s strong thigh.

“I’m unlocking your treasure…quiet.” Diana slips her other thigh between her lover’s legs and spreads them wide. Cerys rolls over on to her back at Diana’s silent urging. Diana strokes her fingers over the velvet heat, pressing deep inside as Cerys arches against her. Her thumb moves insistently over the sensitive bud.

Cerys writhes under her lover gasping her name. Diana feels the tremors in Cerys’ thighs and knows her lover is almost ready to explode. Her fingers increase their pace as Diana whispers in her lover’s ear. “Come for me Cerys. I love you.”

Cerys clenches around Diana, panting and moaning. She relaxes and cuddles against the damp body of her lover. Cerys kisses Diana softly. “That was wonderful.”

Diana smiles. She strokes the graceful line of her lover’s spine. “What was the Kodiak’s name?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Cerys mumbles sleepily as she presses closer.


***

Harper lies on the gold sheets of the big bed in the quarters they’ve been given in the Bolivar compound. He glances toward the bathroom. He can hear Tyr in the shower. He is glad that Tyr went in to shower. He doesn’t want to smell that Diana on his lover. Harper scowls. And the way the two of them were all over each other at that damned dinner, Tyr would have smelled like her.

Harper runs a hand over his white tee shirt. He wants to give Tyr something to think about; something to take the Nietzschean’s mind off that damned Diana and her display. Without giving himself a chance to think, Harper yanks the shirt off and tosses it across the room. He hasn’t slept bare since…well, since then. He feels oddly defenseless without the cotton fabric hugging him.

He fingers the waistband of his navy boxers. He isn’t sure if he can bare more yet. Maybe later. His mouth sets in determined lines. Whatever it takes to remind Tyr that he has a shield brother. Harper looks up as Tyr walks out of bathroom in bronze silk pajama bottoms. He knows from the sudden warming of the amber eyes that Tyr instantly noticed his bare chest. Harper’s gaze drops to the drape of the clinging fabric over Tyr’s swelling shaft. Is that for him or Diana? Harper scowls. “Well. Someone was certainly excited by the Ice Princess.”

“What are you talking about?” Tyr drags his hungry stare from Harper’s bare chest to the pale face.

Harper gives him a sullen look. Tyr better not even try to pretend that he doesn’t know perfectly well. “You were sitting there and your cock almost jumped out of your pants.”

Tyr preens and swaggers closer. “You noticed?”

“I couldn’t help noticing.” Harper slides over on the bed, making room.

Tyr lies down, carefully making sure not to touch Harper but his gaze slides with longing over the smooth, cool skin of his human’s chest. His voice is deep and velvet soft, coaxing. “I was thinking of you.”

“Sure you were. You were looking down her front at her teeny little boobies.” Harper eases closer. He runs a finger down the center of Tyr’s chest. The rich feel of skin, makes him suddenly hungry for touch. His palms spread over Tyr’s chest, feeling the dark nipples hardening into tight beads. Harper is surprised to feel the slow build of tension in his thighs and stomach. For the first time in a long time, he wants more. Not penetration. His mind still flinches from the idea but he wants Tyr to touch him again.

Tyr slowly licks his full lips. “What do you desire from me tonight, Seamus?”

“I desire you. I want you to touch me.” Harper glances shyly at Tyr. His hands drop to his boxers and slide them off. He lies back, bare and trembling. Holding Tyr’s smoldering stare, Harper takes the big man’s hand and places it over his thickening cock.

Tyr’s eyes darken as his hand closes gently, possessively around Harper. “What do you want, Seamus?”

“I want to feel you, bare, next to me…like before.” Harper bites his lip. A tremor runs down his spine as Tyr slowly slides free of the bronze silk. He flinches minutely as Tyr moves closer and the Nietzschean instantly freezes in place.

"Seamus? Are you certain?”

“Yes.” Harper holds himself still this time as Tyr moves closer. He relaxes as Tyr kisses him softly on the mouth and nuzzles his throat. That felt nice. Good. The caresses were gentle, loving, reassuring.

Tyr pauses over the pale chest, tracing slow circles over the peach nipples until they harden into tight beads. He kisses them, moving slowly lower.

Harper shivers as the long braids slide across his skin, draping softly over him. The soft stroke of the braids contrasts with the heat of Tyr’s mouth as the Nietzschean blazes a trail of kisses over the tensing muscles of his stomach. Harper moves his legs restlessly as the soft kisses begin slowly shading into something more aggressive.

Harper arches, crying out inarticulately as the damp heat of Tyr’s mouth settles over him. His hands clench around the braids tickling his flanks. He has not allowed Tyr to do this since….since before and it feels so good to have Tyr make love to him again. The scrape of Tyr’s beard against his sac. The warm, wet pull of his mouth. The velvet caress of Tyr’s tongue. The combined sensations are almost too overwhelming. Harper cries out Tyr’s name and collapses limply on the bed.

Tyr presses an affectionate kiss on the relaxed shaft. “Thank you.”

Harper looks down into Tyr’s face. “For what?”

“For allowing me to make love to you…again. For trusting me.” Tyr nuzzles his way up Harper’s stomach and chest.

Harper traces the lines of Tyr’s beard. “Enough talk. Hold me.”

“Shall I put my pajamas on?” Tyr kisses the corner of Harper’s mouth.

Harper shakes his head. He pulls Tyr down against his chest. “No. I want to feel you.”

Tyr smiles, nuzzling contentedly against the smooth, cool skin.

Harper strokes the long hair, sliding the braids through his fingers. Tyr’s head is a warm, solid weight on his chest. Tyr’s strong arm lies over him. He can feel the cool prick of the bone blades against his skin. Harper waits for fear to come but he feels warm and relaxed. He feels right. Harper drifts off to sleep, his hand resting slackly on the braids spread across Tyr’s wide back.

TBC


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