Chapter Eight

They reached Merry's house and Quinn followed Merry up the steps of the porch to the front door. Merry dug the house key from his pocket and shyly glanced up at Quinn, nervous. He'd never had anyone over before and certainly not a boyfriend. Or a non-boyfriend, as the case may be. "Um, if-if you can't be my boyfriend, then what are we?"

"We be friends."

"I know, but we like each—"

Quinn silenced him with a chaste kiss. "Say naught aloud, me Merry," he whispered against his lips.

"'Kay," Merry breathed, a bit dazed. Man, Quinn's kisses did something to him. It was as if even his mind could tingle. "Do you want to, um, come in?"

Quinn smiled, his brilliant green eyes filling with mischief. "What ye think?"

Merry giggled and his cheeks heated. He wasn't used to laughing, let alone giggling like a girl, and it embarrassed the crap out of him.

Quinn chuckled softly. "I like to hear ye laugh."

Merry giggled again. "It's not a laugh," he said lamely. It took him three tries to insert the key in the lock. How freakin' typical. He finally managed to open the door and stepped inside, tripping over the doorsill in the process.

Quinn caught him with a firm grip on his arm before he face-planted into the worn carpeting. "Ye be a right muppet, ye be."

Merry withdrew his arm from Quinn's grasp and set his backpack on the coffee table. "Which one?"

"They be more than one?"

"Ah, yeah, quite a few, actually."

Quinn went to the front curtains and opened them with a flourish. Dust filled the air as afternoon sunlight filled the room. He waved it away. "Be a century since ye let sunshine in?"

Merry sneezed twice. "It's been a while."

"MbeannaĆ­ dhuit." Quinn moved to the second window, did the same, and dust billowed in the air again. "Ye need sunshine in ye life, Merry. Open 'em every day."

Merry rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, okay. What's many-gich mean?"

"Bless ye. C'mon."

Quinn walked down the short hallway, and Merry idly wondered why Quinn seemed to be so confident in where he was headed.

Merry entered his room as Quinn opened the curtains above his bed. He sneezed again, reached for a tissue, and knocked the box off his milk-crate desk. He bent to pick it up, smacked his head on the corner of a crate, and couldn't prevent the soft "ow" that escaped him.

"Ye be as clumsy as a drunken gnome," Quinn said as he picked up the tissue box and set it on the offending milk crate.

Merry sighed. What could he say? It was painfully obvious he was uncoordinated in the extreme. He sat on the edge of the bed, blew his nose, then threw the tissue at the trashcan in the corner of his room. Of course, he missed. He hadn't expected to hit it.

Quinn picked it up, put it in the trashcan, then plopped down on the bed beside him. "Ye room always be neat as a pin?"

Merry nodded, suddenly nervous again. He was sitting on his bed. With...Quinn.

Quinn chuckled softly as he drew Merry into his arms and fell backward on the bed bringing Merry with him.

Merry ended on top of Quinn and his traitorous dick didn't fail to react. He couldn't roll off Quinn fast enough and, in doing so, his elbow connected with Quinn's chin, a shoe tangled in the blanket, and he fell off the bed. He hit the floor with a dull thud, bruising his sore side even more, and mentally shook his head in disgust. He was more of a liability to himself than Rick was.

Quinn laughed outright as he turned onto his side and peered over the side of the bed at Merry. "Ye be fierce in ye awkwardness, mo chroi."

Merry's cheeks may as well have gone up in flames. He had no idea what to say or do, and he was scared to death the blanket would turn into another toilet paper situation. With his luck, the blanket would come alive and try to eat him, and Quinn would have to rescue him from that too. He kicked at it angrily, trying to dislodge his foot, and Quinn reached down to help him. Mistake. Merry's foot connected with the side of Quinn's face.


Quinn burst into laughter. "Blessed be, Merry! Be still!"

Mortified, Merry froze. "S-s-sorry."

Quinn only laughed harder as he dislodged Merry's foot, pulled his tennis shoes off, and set them by the bed. He sat up, pulled his own shoes off, and set them next to Merry's. "C'mere." Quinn lifted Merry as if he weighed nothing, and brought him back onto the bed. He settled Merry beside him, with Merry's head resting comfortably on his shoulder.

Merry's dick had deflated during the blanket fiasco, but it made a quick and embarrassing recovery. He tried to turn onto his back and almost fell off the bed again. Quinn caught him in time to keep him from falling, but his lower half still did a slow slide off the bed until he hit the floor again.

Quinn broke into a full-bellied laugh. "Goddess preserve us. Why layin' on ye bed be such an impossible task for ye?"

Merry was defensive and beyond embarrassed. "It's n-n-not." He tried to stand, his socks slipped on the polished wood floor, and he landed on his ass with a soft grunt.

Quinn got off the bed and stood over him, shaking his head. "Hold ye whist, Merry," he said through another laugh. "Be still. Don't move a finger." He bent, lifted Merry, and set him gently on the bed. "Ye think ye can manage to lie back without breakin' somethin' or I need help ye with that, too?"

In spite of his utter humiliation, Merry let out a small laugh. "No, I'm good," he said as he lay back against the pillow with his hands tucked safely to his chest.

Quinn nodded his approval. "Now, put ye arms and hands at ye sides."

Merry complied.

"Now, we be makin' a bit o'progress. Hear now, no matter what happen, ye not move a muscle. Ye take me meanin'?"

Did his dick count? Merry nodded.

Quinn pulled his T-shirt over his head and let it fall to the floor.

Ohmygod! Quinn was half naked! Merry's breath sped, and his heart began to dance in his throat.

With a wary look at Merry, Quinn climbed onto the bed and carefully lay over Merry. His long red hair cascaded around them and cocooned them in warmth and sweet smell. Quinn smelled of flowers, and cinnamon, and his own brand of musk. When their bodies met, Merry began to squirm, certain one final indignity of epic proportions would take him and he'd die right there on the spot.

"Whist, Merry," Quinn said softly, and right before he took Merry's lips in a blistering kiss.

As with the first time Quinn had kissed him, Merry's head spun. His embarrassment died away as he melted into Quinn's magical tastes and textures. He no longer felt humiliated, afraid, or worthless. He felt cared for, and wanted, even special, for the first time in his life. He belonged in Quinn's arms and Quinn belonged in his, and... Oh, no, oh, no, oh, no! Crap!

Too late.

Against his will, Merry succumbed to one long, shiny moment of bliss.

Quinn laughed softly into another kiss. "Whist, Merry, be still."

Be still? He just made a big freakin' mess! There was no be still about it!

Quinn looked down at him, his emerald eyes bright with silent laughter. "Why ye think ye dick be public enemy number one and ye must use all manner of force to contain it?"

Somehow, Merry found his voice and dragged it out kicking and screaming. "Ohmygod, I can't believe you just said that!"

Quinn chuckled. "Well, ye do. I be fearful what ye do to it with a sword."

Merry gaped at him and Quinn silenced him with another glorious kiss before he could reply. Only the need to breathe forced them apart, and Merry was left breathless and dazed once again.

"Ye be all right?"

He was better than all right. And the mess no longer seemed to bother him. Then realization set in. "You're doing it."


"You're making it so I don't feel bad."

"Am not."

"Are to."

Quinn rolled to lie next to Merry, his head propped on an arm. A small sadness seemed to take a little glimmer out of his eyes. "Nay, Merry, not be me. Ye begin to grow a wee bit. Ye be so preoccupied with feeling worthless for so long, some of ye maturin' be left behind. Ye confidence not grow as it should."

Merry knew he was preoccupied with feeling worthless. Who wouldn't be with a life like his? He just hadn't ever considered that it would mess up his development. Though, being stunted in yet another way didn't surprise him. 'Stunted' may as well be his middle name.

Quinn traced the side of his face with a fingertip and his cheek tingled beneath Quinn's touch.

"Whist, Merry, stop ye self-criticism."

Merry reached for Quinn's hand and held it against his chest. "What's wisht mean?"

"Hush, calm ye self, be still."

Merry rolled onto his side to face Quinn and looked into his beautiful eyes. He had so many questions. Questions that he couldn't ask for fear the Queen would hear him. He knew he and Quinn were more than friends, but what, exactly, did that make them? Friends with benefits?

Quinn laughed softly and shook his head.

"You can read my mind," Merry whispered.

"Every twice in a while."

Merry mustered his inner strength and thought his question hard. Are we boyfriends?

Quinn winced. "Ye needn't shout, Merry."

Merry half-laughed. "Sorry."

Quinn kissed the tip of his nose. "Ye may think of me as ye wish, mo chroi."



A boyfriend! He had his first, honest to goodness boyfriend!

Quinn winced again. "Ah, Merry, don't shout."

It was Merry's turn to laugh. "Sorry. That thought was, ah, meant to be just for me."

Quinn smiled warmly. "If ye wish it, so be it."

Quinn's face suddenly took on a surprised and pained look, and he sat up quickly, his face held in his hands.


Quinn struggled to speak and Merry sat up quickly. "Quinn, what's the matter? Are you okay?" Stupid question, it was obvious he wasn't okay. Merry reached to put a hand on his shoulder to comfort him but hesitated when he saw the muscles in his back flex and twitch. "Quinn? Are you gonna—" How did he ask this politely? "—are you gonna change?"

Quinn's entire body abruptly stiffened, his back arching away from Merry as if he were in pain.

Panic quickly built in Merry's veins. "Quinn, what's happening? What is it?"

Quinn stifled a cry as his body tensed and arched again.

"Quinn! What's wrong!"

"I must—"

Quinn's answer was cut off with another jerk of his torso. A gruesome welt streaked his back, and blood began to run.

Hysteria filled Merry at the speed of light. "Quinn! What's happening?"

Another welt appeared, and another, and yet another, and Quinn's back swiftly became a red ruin.

"I must go, Merry." Quinn's choked words ended in a cry of pain right before he disappeared.

Chapter Seven                                            Table of Contents                                                 Chapter Nine
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