Skin of Stone Part 3
Something was not right.
Zelgadis stilled, releasing his cock, the purely physical need which had so overpowered each and every one of his senses easing.
Something was not right, but what?
Confusion and uneasiness slowly bled into the pleasure Zelgadis had been experiencing. The nauseating mix of sensations grew stronger, shattering his fantasy, as he tried to order his thoughts. What was wrong? The fortress of his solitude had been breached.
As Zelgadis catalogued the evidence, his tension increased.
The tips of his stiff hair kissed his cheek with all the hesitancy of a timid lover, stirred by breath as sweet as the first spring breeze after a long and barren winter.
A band of blazing heat circled his torso, restraining him, searing him as surely as if he were being branded by a white-hot iron.
His breath catching, Zelgadis forced his eyes open.
He stared blankly at the forearms which were crossed over his chest for a long moment, unable to comprehend just exactly why they were there. The forearms were well muscled, were covered by a fine spray of golden hair, and tapered down to end in long, slender hands. Very familiar hands. Very familiar hands which were undoubtedly real and not a part of any fantasy.
The understanding of who it was that was holding him struck Zelgadis with an elemental force as powerful as if it had been wrenched from the bosom of the earth herself, rocking his very foundations and releasing molten panic into his veins.
Though he still couldn't quite believe that a man normally so wary and suspicious would lower his guard so far, Gourry was not about to question his good fortune.
He had been gifted with a period of grace during which he could observe Zelgadis. The slow, sure motions of the shaman's hands as they stroked the swollen flesh of his cock were fascinating, and he would have been very disappointed when they hesitated and then slowed to a stop if he hadn’t wanted to replace them with his own hands so very much. Gourry had been granted a priceless gift: a few minutes during which he could prepare himself.
When Zelgadis’ eyes fluttered open, when his muscles bunched and strained beneath his arms, he was ready. Feeling disjointed and uncoordinated, Zelgadis feebly pushed against the arms which were trapping him.
Gourry could not see him like this!
He would rather face Shabranigdo in all his horrifying glory again before allowing Gourry to see him like this!
He had to escape!
But, his fingers could not seem to gain a purchase on the smooth skin of the arms which were wrapped around him and his much vaunted strength seemed to have deserted him.
Leaning forward, Gourry placed his lips to Zelgadis’ nearest ear and whispered, “Shhhh, it’s all right.”
“Noooo,” Zelgadis moaned, twisting his head away from that soft voice.
God, no, it was not all right! It would probably never be all right again!
“Zel, stop. I want-,” Gourry abruptly swallowed his words. Think, if you can! Blurting ‘I want you to fuck me silly, so stop struggling’ probably would not go over very well at the moment, not given Zelgadis’ initial reaction to his presence.
He groped for words that would be a bit less risky, yet no less true, and finally managed, “Zel, stop squirming. I want to help you.”
Zelgadis froze, shock, outrage and indignation chasing away his panic and confusion. Pity the poor freak you discovered masturbating, eh? Damn you for your concern! Damn you for your consideration!
Damn you, Gourry!
Gourry’s hope that he had actually gotten through to Zelgadis grew as the man in his arms suddenly went absolutely still. It was dashed the moment the shaman’s struggles resumed, more intense than before, his movements becoming the sure, concerted efforts of a man determined to free himself. He was such an idiot. Why had he thought that this would work?
Gourry closed his eyes as all his dreams went up in smoke. Why had he thought that Zelgadis would welcome his advances, would want him? Because he was as stupid as everyone always said he was! And, now he had ruined everything! He had even destroyed what little he’d had to begin with: his friendship with the shaman. A friendship which he had grown to cherish.
Twisting in Gourry’s grasp, Zelgadis wormed his right hand up underneath the swordsman’s arms and pushed outwards. He could have accepted the other man’s disgust at finding him in such a situation, would have actually expected it, though he wished with all his might that this whole mess had never occurred at all. What he could not accept was Gourry’s pity.
It was a daily torment that the humiliation inherent in his skin of stone caused him to suffer at the hands of others; the imperviousness of his cursed hide failed all too often when struck by the words he heard or the looks he received whenever he dared to show himself in public. It was intolerable that Gourry had proven himself no better than all the other perpetrators. Zelgadis welcomed the fury which now flowed through his veins, embraced it.
He would escape Gourry’s arms, and yes, he would flee…as far and as fast as his sorcery would carry him. Only then would he allow himself the luxury of wallowing in despair, of mourning the mutation of his deepest yearning for acceptance and friendship into a living hell which far surpassed his worst nightmares.
How could he release Zelgadis and still escape the room intact?
Gourry had no clear idea. He was no longer as certain as he had been before that the shaman thought enough of him to refrain from some sort of magical retaliation. The muscles of his legs tensed as he prepared to dive for the door, and he almost relaxed his arms, until Zelgadis turned his head and his gaze was arrested by the sight of one delicately tapered ear.
Could he manage one taste before fleeing for his life?
Though it would forever torment him with regretful thoughts of what could have been if he had gone about this in a more thoughtful manner, Gourry knew one taste would also fuel his fantasies for the rest of his life, might even make the rest of his life tolerable. Could stealing one taste make matters any worse than they already were?
Gourry thought not.
As Zelgadis turned his head once more, Gourry whispered, “I’m sorry,” then leaned in and quickly swiped his tongue up the backside of the shaman's ear.
Savoring the explosion of flavor in his mouth, it took him a few precious seconds to realize that the man in his arms was no longer struggling.
Oh, dear god.
Zelgadis’ desire flared as brilliantly as kindling which had just been thrown onto a fire, flowing like lava from his ear straight to his groin and renewing the erection which had flagged upon discovering he was no longer alone.
Not trusting his initial interpretation of Zelgadis’ response, Gourry held his breath and waited.
When the shaman’s eyelids fluttered shut and stayed that way, becoming as still as the rest of his body, he threw caution to the winds and allowed the memory of the sensual taste of the other man’s flesh to draw him close again. More slowly this time, he ran his tongue along the outer edge of Zelgadis’ ear, then sucked the pointed tip into his mouth and bit down.
“Ah!” Zelgadis drew in his breath with a sharp cry as Gourry’s teeth sank into his ear. Unable to remember ever experiencing pleasure so intense, he crumpled helplessly back against the swordsman’s chest. The heat in him was growing, was becoming as uncontrollable as a grass fire in the middle of a drought and was so very near to burning away all his resistance.
After one last, lingering swirl of his tongue around the tip of Zelgadis’ ear, Gourry released it. A soft half-smile curved the corners of his mouth as he gazed down at the face of the man whose head was pillowed on his shoulder. The shaman’s eyes were still tightly shut, his lips slightly parted, his breath coming in soft pants.
Though he did not think even he could mistake the other man’s expression for anything other than one of enjoyment, he asked, “You liked that?”
“Y-, yes.” The pleasure-filled hiss slid through his lips before Zelgadis could prevent it.
“More?” Gourry whispered, so afraid, but compelled to ask. Would Zelgadis permit? Would he not? So many ups and downs and turn-arounds that he was beginning to feel dizzy.
He forgot to breathe when deep turquoise eyes opened. His nerves began to scream when Zelgadis did not speak, but only looked up at him. Endless sapphire engulfed Zelgadis as soon as he opened his eyes, beckoning to him, tempting him to answer with an unequivocal affirmative.
He fought to think clearly. He would not be slave to the sensations which were ravaging his body. For an infinite moment, he considered his answer to that murmured question, weighing his desire against his pride. It seemed that all his life Zelgadis had been denied his heart’s desire.
Admittedly, his past had plainly shown that, at times, he did not know his own heart: case in point, his dealings with his grandfather, but, this time he was sure.
He wanted Gourry with a fierceness that denied any rational attempt at explanation.
How many times had Zelgadis promised himself that he would give anything, do anything, to gain what Gourry was offering?
Too many times.
Did ‘anything’ include sacrificing his pride and suffering a touch offered solely out of pity? He had already admitted he was an addict and, as such, he had sacrificed what little pride he had still possessed long before Gourry had entered his room. What further harm could come from indulging himself this once? What harm could come from obtaining a memory which would sustain him long after the swordsman was gone, something more solid than the fevered imaginings of his fantasies?
Very softly and with infinite care, Zelgadis replied, “Please.” He closed his eyes and surrendered to his insanity.
Oh, thank you!
Gourry was unsure just who he was thanking, but there was no denying the relieved amazement that swept through him as Zelgadis granted him permission to proceed.
Afraid that if he so much as breathed wrong the shaman would change his mind, he slowly bent and nudged Zelgadis’ jaw with his nose.
As the other man’s head lolled to the side, he whispered, “You like this, too?”, then fed his growing hunger with the flesh of Zelgadis’ neck.
The meaning of Gourry’s soft question was made clear only when Zelgadis felt the warm wetness of a mouth on his neck. Yes, he liked it; yes, it was good, just… it was not enough. If he had not already sensitized his flesh before the swordsman had arrived, he would have barely felt such a gentle bite.
Did Gourry not understand what he was?
Skin of stone did not require such a delicate touch. Zelgadis’ nails raked the skin of his thighs as he fought not to raise his hands and twine his fingers in the thick golden hair of the man behind him to encourage Gourry to increase his pressure. He had fantasized doing that very thing; however, this was no flight of fancy and he had no right to touch anything so fine.
Instead, Zelgadis simply breathed, “H-, harder,” the word not an order, but a plea. Gourry hesitated for a brief instance, then closed his teeth firmly on the flesh where Zelgadis’ neck met his shoulder, half expecting the shaman to cry out in pain or wince away from him.
The ache in his groin intensified when a shiver shuddered its way down the length of Zelgadis’ spine instead.
Won’t hurt him.
His teeth tightened convulsively at the sudden realization, wrenching a pleasure-filled groan from his partner and tearing an answering moan from deep within his own throat.
Loosening the arms which he still had wrapped around Zelgadis, Gourry continued to spread bites from the other man’s shoulder all the way back up to his ear. He was certain, now, that the shaman was not going anywhere and his hands were itching to explore every beautiful inch of the exotic terrain they now found themselves free to wander over.
Raising one hand to Zelgadis’ surprisingly smooth chest, Gourry sought the shaman’s nipples.
Remembering the other man’s previous order, he dragged his fingernails as he circled one, raked them across it, then pinched the erect nub and rolled it around between his two fingers.
“Ah!” Nothing like it.
Never had Zelgadis been able to pull such pleasure from his cursed body with his own hands. Practiced as it was, his touch could not compare to the sheer sensuality of Gourry’s.
Perhaps it was the simple fact that it was Gourry who was touching him which heightened his sensitivity to such an extent.
Zelgadis sucked in a deep breath, then let it out in a soft moan as Gourry’s fingers raked his nipple the same time his teeth closed on the lobe of his ear.
God, so close!
If Gourry kept this up, he would orgasm before his cock could receive the same sort of attention from the swordsman.
No! To make this experience complete, that was one touch he could not forsake. He must have that one memory above all others to carry away with him.
He drew in another deep breath, attempting to calm the terrible flames searing him from the inside out, then shifted his hips, begging with his body for Gourry’s hands to stray lower, using his body to express the question he did not dare ask with words.
Gourry continued to caress his partner’s nipples, moving one hand back and forth between the two. He ignored the nearby rocky clusters, having already determined that touching them did nothing to stimulate Zelgadis.
He lost himself, fascinated at the tiny cries and moans he was able to wring from the man he held, until Zelgadis shifted restlessly, hips pressing against the arm he had draped over them.
Glancing down, Gourry was captivated by the flesh that thrust forward with Zelgadis’ movement. He slowly smiled, knowing exactly what the other man was seeking. It would not be long, for moisture leaked in a steady stream from the tip of the shaman’s penis, pooling on the wooden slats of the floorboards.
His anticipation grew as he slid his free hand over and down. Just as he had with the shaman’s nipples, Gourry used his fingernails on Zelgadis’ cock. He ran them around the base, marveling at the lack of hair, then up the underside, following the large vein there. He circled the head, one finger dipping into the slit at the top to spread the moisture there. He repeated the circuit several more times, until a soft noise, almost a whimper, escaped Zelgadis’ lips, encouraging him to wrap his fingers firmly around the shaman’s erection.
Zelgadis cried out, his hips thrusting forward, and Gourry could not suppress an answering moan, didn’t want to.
He left off toying with his partner’s nipples, dropping his hand instead to Zelgadis’ hip and pulling back, pressing the shaman’s bare backside more firmly against his own straining, cloth covered front.
He left that hand where it was, pulling whenever Zelgadis shifted his hips back, increasing the tantalizing pressure on the ache between his own legs, grinding himself into the other man’s buttocks.
He forced his eyes to remain open, avidly watching as Zelgadis moved. He would not close them and miss a single nuance of the shaman’s expression as the furious storm of pleasure mounted in him, would not until long after the moment the storm broke.
The slick slide of his cock through Gourry’s strong fingers was exquisite, yet it was sensing a hardness which equaled his own nestling in his cleft with each backward movement, the image of that hardness impaling him, which drove Zelgadis to surrender the last shreds of his control.
The orgasmic firestorm spread from nerve end to nerve end, mercilessly driving away all thought until he helplessly shuddered out his release, overwhelmed by that most fundamental of sensations.
Skin of stone?
Hardly! Gourry smiled softly to himself, ignoring the rigidity of his own cock as he tempted the last few drops of pearly white from his partner’s.
Unable and unwilling to stop, he continued to stroke and pet the shaman long after it was clear that Zelgadis was spent.
Why had Lina compared Zelgadis to stone?
She could not have been more wrong. Superficially, Zelgadis might seem to share many of the characteristics of stone, for his skin was hairless, as cool and smooth as polished marble, and possessed a firmness that went far beyond mere muscle tone. Yet, his skin lacked a stone’s insensitivity. The shaman had responded beautifully to Gourry’s every touch, straining to meet his exploring fingers and lips, moving with him.
Perhaps, Lina had meant the stony, emotionless demeanor which Zelgadis habitually presented to friends and strangers alike. Once, Gourry would have been tempted to agree with her if that had been her implication, for seldom had he seen the taciturn shaman loosen his iron control on his emotions. Once, perhaps, but not anymore.
Lovemaking had proven Zelgadis a different individual, a remarkably vocal individual whose cries, gasps, and moans clearly conveyed all that he was feeling.
Gourry ran his tongue over his dry lips, his pulse quickening as Zelgadis flexed, a slow, almost sleepy, stretching of his shoulders, and the shaman’s eyes opened. Was it his turn to be touched? Maybe, maybe not. It really didn’t matter, for he could wait. He would be content if he could just continue to explore Zelgadis for the time being.
Yes… that ear, for example, needed to be examined once again, every cranny and crevice, until he had memorized every minute detail and had determined exactly which teasing touch could pull the deepest groan from his lover.
Eyes closing to slits, Gourry lowered his head.
The delicious, curtain-like haze enshrouding Zelgadis in the wake of the most intense sexual experience of his life slowly parted, allowing reality to intrude.
What was he doing!?!
Heart lurching under an onslaught of sudden shame and despair, Zelgadis nearly flung himself to his feet, nearly bolted, but did not.
He could not, for the long fingers which still moved over him kneaded the tension out of his muscles before it had the chance to gain control. Even as he settled more deeply into Gourry’s embrace, Zelgadis knew in his heart that he should brush aside the swordsman’s hands and rise.
He knew that the reality of the situation called for him wrap the shreds of his dignity around himself, then thank the swordsman and allow the other man to escape gracefully.
He knew that he should make good his own escape, for it would be impossible to continue in the company of Gourry and the girls now, no matter how desperately he needed their help.
But, god help him, Zelgadis wanted to deny reality!
The arms which were holding him did so willingly, the first to ever do so, but he wanted to pretend that they also did so tenderly, that they did so because Gourry wanted him.
Prudence and caution warred with lust and longing deep within Zelgadis, churning his mental state into a confused mess; however, the battle had no power to prevent his body from responding once more to Gourry’s skilled caresses and to the undiminished firmness of the flesh which still brushed his backside with the swordsman’s slight movements.
It was readily apparent that Gourry remained unsatisfied.
Was that it? Was that why the swordsman continued to stroke him?
Zelgadis softly sighed, his mind slowly calming. Things really could not be more simple. He would pleasure Gourry, allowing the swordsman to use him in any way he desired; he owed him that much and as long as Gourry could disregard just what it was his hands moved over, then he could as well and would submit himself willingly.
Perhaps, Zelgadis reasoned, if he performed his duties well enough, some good could even be salvaged from this night. There was a chance, maybe even more than a slim one, that he would not have to be alone again, that he could still accept the others’ aid in finding the Claire Bible.
Gourry would not talk, for what sane person would admit to sleeping with an abomination, so Zelgadis doubted that Lina and Amelia would ever discover what had happened between them. He doubted they would even notice, let alone wonder about, the inevitable estrangement he expected between himself and Gourry as a result of this night.
So, the question was, could he live with that, with the loss of the friendship between himself and the swordsman?
Yes, if he could but stomach his shame, Zelgadis knew he could remain for the time being and continue to satisfy his addiction. He could live with the loss of Gourry’s respect and consideration, for he knew that regardless of their conduct this night, he had not earned the swordsman’s outright contempt. The other man’s very nature would not permit that.
And, if they succeeded in finding the Claire Bible, then, perhaps, there would someday be a chance at a real relationship.
But, first he must pleasure the swordsman.
A shudder of anticipation traveled from Zelgadis’ stomach all the way up to his throat at the thought of Gourry inside him.
Was what he was doing wrong?
He no longer knew and as the fire swept through him with ever increasing strength, he wasn’t sure he cared.
He shifted his head lower on Gourry’s shoulder and looked up in an attempt to see Gourry’s eyes, wondering if, given the swordsman’s highly aroused state, the other man would consent to a kiss.
Gourry hissed in surprise as, instead of the expected mouthful of turquoise flesh, pinpricks of stinging fire blossomed on his cheek. He jerked back, eyes flying open, hands releasing Zelgadis to rise to his face.
Suddenly bereft of Gourry’s support, Zelgadis flailed for half a moment, but managed to catch his balance before he went sprawling.
Dear god, what had he done to wrench such a pain-filled sound from Gourry?
Dread gripping his soul, he slowly shifted out from between the swordsman’s legs and turned. Even more slowly, he dragged his eyes from the floor.
God, what an idiot he could be!
Though smooth and pliable when stroked in the right direction, the tips of Zelgadis’ hair were sharp!
Gourry had just been forcibly reminded of that.
Talk about bad timing!
Well, he would be more careful in the future. After he pressed his cheek one last time to soothe away the remaining stings, he lowered his hands and reached to draw Zelgadis back into his arms, but stopped dead when the shaman flinched away.
Zelgadis’ vision narrowed until all could see were the tiny crimson specks on the palm of the hand which reached for him.
He recoiled from it, not able to bear to let it touch him, but then stilled when it stopped moving towards him. Against his will, his eyes traveled up the length of the arm attached to the hand until they could see the matching pattern of crimson flecks on Gourry’s cheek.
“Zel?” The voice was soft, yet sparked such a strong fight-or-flight response in Zelgadis that he was on his feet and wrapping his cloak about himself to cover his nakedness before he could even begin to struggle against it.
“Zelgadis? You okay?” Gourry clambered to his feet, wondering what the hell had gone so horribly wrong just at the moment everything had finally seemed to be going right.
Zelgadis stood a few paces away from him, back turned, head bowed. He could see the fine tremors which were shaking the shaman’s body.
Zelgadis closed his eyes against a sudden burn, pulling his cloak about himself as tightly as he could.
He was a fool!
He was a fool for thinking he could disregard what he was! What he was had just caused Gourry to be injured! Of course, what he had done was wrong. It had been unforgivably selfish! One such as he must never forget what he was! One such as he must never forget his place or overreach his boundaries!
Zelgadis stood still, thoughts running in vicious, self-damning circles, until he heard the sound of a footstep. Gourry froze as Zelgadis whirled around and sank into a defensive crouch.
Stomach tightening at the level of menace in the shaman’s low growl, Gourry barely managed to force the dry rasp out through his suddenly parched throat.
“I said, get out!”
“Bu-, but-,” Gourry stammered, feeling more confused than he had ever felt before in his life. What was happening here?
Zelgadis couldn’t be so upset just because his cheek had been poked, could he?
No, he couldn’t be!
He’d cut himself worse hundreds of times while shaving! He must have done something else wrong to cause the shaman to have such an extreme reaction!
One could never evade reality indefinitely, and Zelgadis knew that he had run out of time.
Gourry must be protected.
It had to end.
It must end while he could still function.
“I always thought you were stupid, Gourry. This just confirms it. What part of ‘get out’ do you not understand?” Zelgadis rasped, deliberately placing just the right amount of sneer into his voice.
He hardened his heart against Gourry’s reaction as his words struck home.
Leave Gourry! For once, don’t be so stubborn. I never wanted to hurt you, don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have. Please, leave?
Gourry winced, his eyes dropping to the floor. So he was stupid. Big news there! But, why did hearing that particular condemnation from Zelgadis make him feel as if someone had set fire to his innards when he could just shrug off the same from Lina?
“God, you’re such an imbecile!”
“I am not! I understand every part of ‘get out’. I know I’m not smart enough to keep up with you, but give me that much credit.”
Gourry half suspected that Zelgadis was trying to hurt his feelings in order to drive him away, for the shaman had never spoken to him this way before. At least that was what he hoped.
He kept his voice soft as he stretched one hand towards the other man and pleaded, “What I need for you to explain is why.”
“Why is unimportant!”
“It is important! Is it because of my cheek? Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little? Of all the idiotic, stupid-,”
“Yes! It is stupid! This whole evening has been stupid! Get out, Gourry!”
Zelgadis slowly straightened from his crouch, voice rising in proportion with his increasing desperation. The swordsman had to leave!
“You had no right to enter my room to begin with!”
Try as he might, Gourry felt his own temper fraying. Zelgadis was just plain being unfair!
“I heard you moan! I thought you were in trouble!”
“Oh, sure, I was in trouble all right! And, you thought you could just waltz right in, take pity on the poor freak, and make it all better, didn’t you!?!”
Ohmigod!! Gourry felt his mouth drop open. Was that what Zelgadis really thought?
Zelgadis slowly raised one hand high. He had said too much. Far too much!
He had no intention of blasting Gourry, he just hoped that, given his reputation, Gourry would finally flee rather than call his bluff. With the ease of long practice, he channeled the amount of magical energy he needed, shaping his spell with his first whispered word.
A kind of numbed amazement held Gourry frozen in place as he watched the first red-golden flames swirl to life around Zelgadis’ hand. The shaman wouldn’t actually do it, would he? Not when they had so much to straighten out.
Hell! He would! Damn!
Gourry was no master strategist, but he knew when it was time to retreat. He would run for now, but as he turned and sprang for the door, he vowed that this was not over by a long shot. He fumbled with the door’s lock for what seemed like an eternity, the skin between his shoulder blades itching as if a great big target was painted there, but finally got it open just as the first syllable of ‘arrow’ fell from the shaman’s lips. Only when he stood in the cool dimness of the hall with the door safely shut behind him did Gourry breathe again.
How could he have possibly messed up so badly? How could he ever hope to fix things?
Almost as if it belonged to someone else, Gourry watched his hand rise until it rested on the door’s handle.
He almost slid the door open, but flinched and drew his hand back as if stung when he heard a muffled sound coming from the other side, something which sounded like what one of Zelgadis’ moans of pleasure would sound like if mutated by despair.
Very slowly, Gourry sank to his knees, his forehead coming to rest against the door and one hand returning to the door handle as another soft moan wormed its way through the wood. Somehow, he had to fix things. Problem was, he didn’t know how.
Back to Skin of Stone or Back to the Thorned Roses or Back to the Secret Garden?