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29 November 2011 @ 06:22 am
FIC: Crayfish and Auras, Part 1  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Crayfish and Auras
Part: 1/2
Rating: M
Configuration: m/m
Warnings: teenage sex, pseudoreligious technobabel
Word Count: 3.300 / 6.200
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Leesha/Drew, Uncle Stephen
Summary: While spending his ‘annum nobilis’ on Earth under the tutelage of Archbishop Stephanus, Leesha learns something new…
Feedback: Yes, please!

Brilliant, warm summer sunlight cast gleaming rays through the thick cover of foliage, leaving the forest around in deep shadows. A river meandered through the forest, cutting a brightly lit, winding path through the undergrowth. The sunlight glittered on the waves where the shallow water bounced over the rocks and pebbles the river had polished since ages. Occasionally, a dragonfly buzzed by, their wings adding a rainbow sparkle to the warm summer air.

It was late August in the Monastery of Aquila, summer residence to the Archbishop of Terra. And like anywhere on Earth, nothing dared to disturb the pristine pastorality of the surrounding forest.

Well, nothing but two boys wading down the river, laughing and shouting at each other.

They were wearing the simple blue tunics of Aroona novices, and apparently were out to gather crayfish in the muddy banks. Both had cloth satchels attached to the rope belts of their tunics, dunking them into the water every now and then to keep their catch fresh.

One of them, a handsome boy of maybe fifteen years, waded through the mud like he had never done anything else. He was tanned and sinewy, his hands muddy up to his elbows, his brown hair cropped down to practical, short curls. He had a friendly, open face, with eyes that at any given time were either laughing or flirting.

The other one was the same age, but different in almost every other regard. Tall and slender, he had a skin white like porcelain, as if only recently having seen the sun for the first time. His hair was long and dark, falling in a thick black braid down to his waist. His hands were neatly clean, and his classic, finely cut features seemed a little out-of-place in the rural setting. While he moved with the sure-footed grace of a trained fighter, he also walked more cautiously than the other boy, scanning the shadows of the forest as if searching for hidden predators.

“Goodness, Leesha!” the brown-haired boy exclaimed with mock exasperation. “You’re not on Serin anymore. Relax!”

“I know where we are.” Kicking water in the general direction of his fellow novice, Leesha none the less kept his watchful stance. “No need to remind me.”

“Well, you’re not gonna catch anything standing there with your nose up in the air.” Chuckling, the other novice took a handful of mud and flung it in Leesha’s direction, who almost absent-mindedly dodged the load. “And stop being such a spoilsport!”

Leesha blinked in confusion at the accusation.

“What did I do wrong this time?” he asked, the tone in his voice showing genuine curiosity. As his companion only rolled his eyes, he added: “You know I haven’t had much dealings with… people outside my family. I am here to learn, Drew.”

“Well, for starters, when I kick mud at you, you’re supposed to kick back. You yell and insult me and try to get me as dirty as possible. Not just stand there all cool like some boring noble.”

“But I am a Noble…”

Instead of an answer, Drew rolled his eyes, grinning. Then he knelt down and got another handful of mud up from the ground.

“Yeah. But you’re not supposed to be boring.”

This time, when Drew hurled the mud at Leesha, it hit him square in the chest, adding a nice array of olive freckles to Leesha’s otherwise immaculate skin.

“You bloody bastard!” Leesha exclaimed in his best ‘haughty Habichtswald’ accent, only partially playacting. “How dare you, you filthy commoner!”

Originally from Serin, a planet with extremely hostile flora and fauna, playing outside had never been even a possibility. Then, when his mother relocated their entire estate to P2 right after the coronation of Emperor Hyperion to serve as head of his secret service, he hadn’t seem much of nature, either. There were more ballrooms and illegal cage-fighting bars in Imperial City than trees, anyway.

But now Leesha had started his ‘annum nobilis’, his ‘year of nobility’, wherein young nobles all across the empire joined a different noble family for a year and a day to learn their customs. It was meant to be a time to forge new friendships and alliances, or cement old feuds and prejudices, and to give young nobles a chance to come to their own outside the sometimes stifling grip of their immediate family.

Joining the church during that time usually was out of the question; as such a decision was never taken temporarily. But in Leesha’s case, there was the loophole of the Archbishop Stephanus of Terra having been a noble before he took up the cloth himself, and a very close friend of both Leesha’s mother and the Emperor.
So, officially Leesha was spending his annum nobilis with his uncle Steven of House Dracon. Which effectively meant that he was spending his year with His Holiness Father Stephanus of Temple Aroona, the Archbishop of Terra, as one of his hand- picked novices.

Consequentially, that also entailed that he was sent out to gather crayfish for dinner in the muddy banks of some nameless river with some fellow novice. No politics, no bodyguards, no expectations to him other than arriving in time to cook dinner from what he had caught. Not that anyone would have cared much if he hadn’t caught anything – life at the monastery was peaceful to the point of boredom, food was plenty, all around in the forests and orchards and on the fields of the surrounding villages.

Compared to the aggressively omnivorous nature on Serin, the forest on Earth was disconcertingly peaceful. Leesha and Drew had been out here for almost two hours by now, and the most dangerous animal they had encountered had been a swarm of mosquitoes, playing in the sunlight over the riverbanks. There hadn’t even been any poisonous plants to watch out for, even though Leesha had tried hard to make Drew point out at least one.

All they had to do was walk down the river and look for muddy shallows. There Drew would dig around in the mud until he pulled out one small crustacean after another, laughing at Leesha’s horrified expression. It had taken the young noble a small eternity to accept that Drew wasn’t suicidal, but that there actually couldn’t be anything harmful lurking in the water, and that Drew was just acting perfectly normal for this place.

It was Leesha’s annum nobilis, after all, and he had come here with the firm intention of learning how people outside his family and House Dracon lived.
And apparently, that included walking around the forest without heavy armour and weaponry, picking up wild animals with bare hands and occasionally hurling mud and insults at each other.

“Didn’t think I would dare that, did you, professional pervert?” Drew shouted right back at Leesha, adding another hefty load of river mud to his insult.

Slightly taken aback at the fact that ‘professional pervert’ actually constituted an insult, Leesha knelt down and tried to find some mud of his own. But even though the river was still no more than knee-deep where he was standing, it was running too swift to have anything at the bed other than river pebbles. And as throwing stones at each other would surely defy the playful character of the situation, Leesha decided for another approach.
Using his well-trained combat reflexes, he charged through the river right at Drew, slamming into the other novice and shoving both of them into the muddy shallows at the riverbank.

“Ha!” he exclaimed, still only half-mocking, “I bet you didn’t see this one coming!”

First, Drew’s expression was plain surprise, then he broke into wild laughter. Before Leesha could ask what he had done this time, Drew had grabbed a hand of mud on both sides each, slamming them against Leesha’s neck in a full broadside.
Equally surprised and just a little grossed out, Leesha only growled furiously, returning the attack in like as he now finally had sufficient ammunition as well.

For a good while, both boys fought and giggled in the mud, until they were so dirty that the sand was crunching between their teeth.

Catching their breath again, they sat next to each other, smiling and spitting.

“You really think this is okay?” Leesha finally asked, doubtfully looking at his sludge-covered fingers. “No parasites? What about bacteria?”

“It’s fine, Leesha, relax.”

Carefully, Drew removed his bag of crayfish from his belt, checking on the little critters before he cautiously washed off the mud. Wordlessly, he gestured Leesha to hand his bag over as well, cleaning his catch with equal care.

“We really shouldn’t bring them home dirty.” Drew said with a wide grin. “Steven might just cook’em like this.”

The Archbishop actually did a lot of the cooking himself, whenever his other duties allowed. And he was truly a great chef, just not always entirely concentrated on the details. Like snails on the salad or mud on the crayfish.

“He actually might.” Still looking at his mud-covered hands, Leesha silently wondered despite better knowledge why where was no burning sensation of amoebae trying to eat his skin. If he had done this back home on Serin, they’d both be dead within an hour. With a visible effort, he rose, starting to clean himself. “We shouldn’t show up all grimy, either.”

“Right you are,” Drew replied. He carefully secured the two bags under a stone on the river bank, then took two giant steps back into the river and dropped into the water face-first. A heartbeat later, he reappeared, laughing and coughing and mostly clean again. Even his tunic was looking blue again for the most part.

“Are you alright?” Leesha asked, part worried, part envious about the carefree attitude that came so naturally to Drew.

“Water up my nose,” Drew replied slightly choked, but then dropped back into the water again. Laughing, he returned, shaking himself like a young dog, water flying everywhere.

Joining in the laughter, Leesha slipped his mud-crusted tunic over his head and waded back into the deeper water as well. This late in summer, the water was pleasantly warm, barely cooler than the air, and crystal clear. With swift, efficient motions, Leesha had himself mostly cleaned and his tunic soaked. Sitting down on a flat stone in the river, he loosened his braid and allowed his hair to flow along with the stream, hoping this would get most of the sand out of it.

Leaning back until the back of his head was touching the water, Leesha revelled in the sensation of nature all around him. Sunlight and trees on both sides above him, the water of the river all around him, gently tugging his hair along like kelp in the tide, all of nature perfectly at ease with his presence here. With sudden clarity, Leesha realized what people meant when they talked about the ‘cradle of humanity’.
It was beautiful, peaceful and as far removed from reality as possible.

When he sat up again, Leesha realized that Drew was staring at him, his expression frozen.

“Drew? What’s wrong?”

“You… hurm.” Laughing insecurely, Drew raked a hand trough his hair, making streaks of lightly muddy water running down the side of his face and neck. “You’re naked.”


It took Leesha a long moment to realize that Drew most probably was embarrassed.

Growing up a Dracon meant that, even in the nicest of households, you were exposed to naked people and sexuality all your life. Leesha rationally was well aware that his concept of shame was very different from that of almost any other citizen of the Empire. But this was the first time he stumbled across the difference personally, and he was slightly at a loss on how to deal with it.

“You… want me to dress again?” he asked, not really sure how the short tunic could possibly make any difference.

“No, it’s okay.” Drew replied with a shrug and an ever so slightly forced smile. “You’re very beautiful.”

This time, it was Leesha who laughed insecurely. Growing up with a mother who was renowned as the most beautiful woman of all the empire and her equally gorgeous husband and their dazzling array of pets left some scars, after all.

“You’re kidding. I’m skinny. And bland.”

“I think you are beautiful.”

This time, Drew’s remark had enough conviction to make Leesha believe he meant it, and the young Dracon was happy he managed not to blush at the compliment.

“Thank you. That is very kind.”

Still a little at a loss on what to say, Leesha gathered up his hair that was still drifting in the river behind him and started to wring out the water. He loved his hair, and wanted to let it grow as long as possible. But outside the comforts of the civilized world, it was proving a real effort to take care of it. If he didn’t find some other solution, he would have to cut it short before going to Kalidor, Leesha realized with an inward sigh.

So Leesha wrung out his hair with mixed emotions. Looking up, he found Drew still standing there, staring at him.

“What is it?” he asked the other novice, trying to sound as non-threatening as possible.

Instead of an answer, Drew shrugged again. “We probably should be going.”

It was obvious to Leesha that there was something Drew wasn’t telling him. Yet, he wasn’t too sure about what it was. Drew had been a field slave here on Terra before he had become a novice of the Temple. He didn’t always make sense, in Leesha’s eyes.

Slowly, Leesha rose from the stone he had been sitting on, gathering up his tunic. Then he turned around to fetch his bag of crayfish that was still lying neatly secured on the riverbank. Passing Drew on the way there, he noticed the other boy making a half-hearted effort to hide a significant bulge between his legs under his tunic.

“You really shouldn’t do that,” Leesha playfully admonished. “As Aroona novices, we always should be proud of our bodies, and show our excitement like the compliment it is.”

“Smartass.” Drew quipped in return, now making an effort not to hide his erection. “So what. You’re pretty, I am horny. I should get over it, right?”

“That’s roughly how we’re supposed to see things here.” Looking at Drew for a moment, Leesha scratched his neck, then put down the wet satchel again. “But I think Father Steven didn’t mean us to ignore our feelings. Just not to be embarrassed by them.”

Doubtfully, Drew cocked an eyebrow at Leesha. “And what is that supposed to mean, now?”

Smiling, Leesha walked over to the other novice, stopping only half a hand away from him. At least, this was a field where his Dracon upbringing put him at a clear advantage.

“That’s supposed to mean that if I get you horny, we should try and get it on.”

Not waiting for any reaction from Drew, Leesha swiftly put a hand onto Drew’s neck, pulling the other boy into a close kiss. At the same time, Leesha’s free hand sneaked up Drew’s wet thigh, under his tunic, until he could cup his balls, warm and pulsing with desire.

“You mean – here? Now?” Drew seemed to be genuinely surprised, but far from objecting. He was an Aroona novice, after all, his body instinctively pressing against Leesha’s. “Just the two of us?”

“What’s wrong with that?” Leesha asked; smiling as Drew’s reply somehow got lost in a soundless moan. “We’re supposed to act with neither shame nor compulsion. None of which I can detect here…”

“Oh, you are…” Drew’s answer once again faltered, but then he pushed Leesha away, gently but with resolve. “Damn, are all Dracon that naughty?”

“No, most of us are merely perverts,” Leesha replied cockily, wriggling his eyebrows. “And you are still way too dressed, my dear.”

Without hesitation, Drew slipped his dripping wet tunic over his head, flinging the soaked cloth in the rough direction of their satchels.

“Better now?”

“Much better.”

Once again, Leesha pulled Drew close to him, their bodies leaning against each other, their cocks hard and full of anticipation.

For a while, they just stood there, kissing and touching each other, exploring their bodies, as if their skins could tell them things their respective owner would not. They were so lost in each other’s touch that they only noticed the approaching man in the very last moment.

“Oh here you are.” Smiling widely, Archbishop Stephanus of Terra waded trough the river towards them. “I had a feeling I should come looking.”

While Drew couldn’t suppress a vaguely guilty look, Leesha only laughed light-heartedly. His uncle was many things, but most importantly, he was guileless to a fault. Father Stephen couldn’t lie to save a life, and he looked absolutely happy to see the two boys fondling each other. So from Leesha’s point of view, everything was perfectly fine.

Father Stephen walked up the last steps to them, smiling. Like every Aroona, he wore blue clothes of simple cuts and sturdy, natural fabrics. Right now, that was a pair of wide trousers that he had rolled up to above his knees, and an unbuttoned shirt that he was wearing loosely like a jacket over his bare chest. His whole body basically oozed with good health, and even though he was well above forty years by now, he didn’t look as if he were out of his twenties yet.
There was a special magic around Aroona priests that seemed to keep them from aging, and Father Stephen could claim the remarkable position of being the second oldest Aroona priest ever, right after the sect’s founder, Father Rasputin of Serin.

“We were practicing…” Drew explained lamely, almost sounding as if he wondered himself why he was trying to find an excuse at all. “We lost time.”

“Really?” Father Stephen chuckled deeply, an appreciative twinkle in his chocolate brown eyes. “Looks to me like you were fucking.”

Drew blinked at that blunt assessment, but Leesha laughed out loud.

“You’re right in time to join us, Father.” Leesha suggested. “If you want to.”

“No, not this time, I think,” Stephen replied, still smiling and eyeing the boys as if looking for a clue to a riddle he had been pondering all the way here. “But don’t let me keep you from anything, either. Just go on.”

“Is this going to be, like, a private lesson?” Drew asked, biting his lower lip in a curious mix of embarrassment and excitement.

“A lesson?” Father Stephen genuinely looked as if that thought hadn’t crossed his mind yet. “Oh, why, what a smart idea! Sure!”

While Leesha wasn’t too sure about that offer, Drew seemed to be thrilled at the prospect. Unsurprisingly so, as Drew was something like the teacher’s pet in their current group of novices. He grasped the spiritual ideas they were bombarded with with enviable ease. Leesha, on the other hand, was a little too rational. And while he was perfectly committed and could remember everything almost photographically, the subtle and sometimes very flowery explanations of their teachers most of the times just went over his head.

“Can’t I just jerk him off?” Leesha suggested, even managing not to sound petulant. “I mean, if we put in another lesson, now, we’ll be late for dinner, won’t we?”

“Ah, never mind dinner,” Stephen replied with a dismissing gesture. “They’ll start without us if they’re hungry, and if not – who gives a damn?”

On the one hand, Leesha found it hard to argue with Father Stephen’s proprietary logic. On the other hand, having grown up a very structured household, this free-wheeling attitude was just a little unsettling. But maybe this was exactly one of the things he was supposed to learn during his time here – that there were other ways of doing things right.

jouet89jouet89 on November 29th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I love it!
A small question: Did L. choose where to go on his annum nobilis?
A second: timeline messed up in my head. emperor hyperion? shouldn't it be gregorius? i remember Leesha's mother worked for Gregorius. or Hyperion had the trone just for a few years? But then there should be a war in a few years before Gregorius become the emperor? I remember you wrote about some war when hyperion dissapeared... Or not? O.o

"more ballrooms and illegal cage-fighting bars in Imperial City than trees" -> everybody finds what he/she looks for :)))
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on November 29th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
Gee, thank you!

Yes, Leesha picked where to go for his annum nobilis. It is not unusual for noble children to have a significant say in where they will go, but of course parents and the host have to agree with their choice. Leesha's sister, for example, chose to spend her time with the founder of the Aroona, Father Rasputin.

And about the Emperors - you're right, it is a little confusing as we have no proper history timeline (yet). You can read some of it out of my Nobles of the Empire (see previous post), but I'll gladly run the Emperors for you here in proper order:

Emperor Alexander Habichtswald - The First Emperor, and the one who disappeared, causing the Second Sucession War
Emperor Hyperion Dracon - The first Dracon Emperor, who abdicated after a few years in favour of his son.
Emperor Gregorious Dracon - his son and successor.

So Leesha's Mother was appointed head of the ISS by Hyperion when he had just conquered the throne, and is still working under Emperor Gregorious.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Edited at 2011-11-29 07:17 pm (UTC)
talomor on December 10th, 2012 11:33 am (UTC)
Just checked the timeline: When Lady Lilith moved to P2, Leesha can't have been older than one year, so of course no running outside in the woods on Serin for him - at least, not that Leesha would remember it ;-)

God, you got me so hooked, I NEED to figure out where Jay's father appeared, and where that new Phoenix Knight appeared incognito twice, so I'm rereading everything...
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 10th, 2012 11:46 am (UTC)
You are right, of course, Leesha never went outside while he was still living on Serin. But growing up with two Serin natives as parents and occasional visits does make you a little paranoid.

And Leesha is still very reasonable about this. We just the other day talked about the time Hyperion was studying on Guild Central and his flatmate brought a potted plant... Anyway. :D

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, we're completely giddy that we managed to hook you. ^^ But just so you don't cry false advertizing later on - there is basically no chance that you can spot Jay's father. He has just been mentioned, and without any context that you could use as a clue. Not that we mind you searching, but I thought I'd say it again.

That mysterious Phoenix Knight, on the other hand... ^^
talomor on December 10th, 2012 01:05 pm (UTC)
Pity about Jay's father, though I won't give up quite yet.
As for the Phoenix Knight, did he happen to use an actually quite horrible cover story during a certain pleasure cruise? Not that I thought it might have been lies/a cover the first three times that I read it, but yesterday evening I noticed as how unlikely Robert considers everything about Mattis, without ever really questioning anything...
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 10th, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
This is fun!

No, the Phoenix Knight had quite a great cover story, imho. Yes, he appeared during a certain pleasure cruise. Mattis? No.

PM me if you have a theory.
talomor on August 3rd, 2013 08:51 am (UTC)
Hah! I knew there was something fishy about Mattis!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 3rd, 2013 01:44 pm (UTC)
idolme922idolme922 on November 29th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
Lovely as always. What a tasty treat, to look into Leesha's past. I can see this boy in the man he became, quite beautifully. You clearly know him well and therefore so does the reader.

I couldn't read or comment before now as LJ was acting up quite a lot. But, now I can and will just say, I always eagerly await all story parts in this verse. I think I'll go back and read your other Leesha stories again with this insight.

Looking forward to the rest of this and everything else due to pour out of you and Beryll. Can't wait!!! :D Alana

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on November 30th, 2011 08:12 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Alana. We know Leesha for a very long time by now, and I am very happy to hear that it shows in the stories.

And yes, LJ's been acting up again - you really don't want to know how many attempts I needed to get this posted!
idolme922idolme922 on November 30th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
It more than shows! Your readers know your characters as well as you do because you write them that way. Last fic when I saw 'Yaden' in the story my heart just jumped. OMG IT'S YADEN!! And then the story told me about that young Yaden. Each time either of you mentions a character your readers are right there!!!

Again, thank you for sharing such richly woven stories with such amazing characters that we love.

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 1st, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
Now you actually made me blush. Not a mean feat, I tell you.

Thanks, dear, that's going to keep me motivated for a long time to come!
sexkitten426: ME2sexkitten426 on November 30th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
Hi, I'm new to the Phoenix Empire, but I think I'm hooked! The Timeline & Index is most helpful. I look forward to reading the second part of this story, as well as more of the series in general!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on November 30th, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
Well, then, welcome!
Beryll and I are currently discussing how to add a history timeline, too. We're just not sure how to avoid some major spoilers, so it might take a while. ^^

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. If you have any questions or something seems unclear, please let us know. We're living in this universe for so many years by now, we might not always have all information in the texts, and we highly appreciate all help making our stories better.
BerthaBlueberthablue on November 30th, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
I wish I could have spent a year in Aroona training...

Leesha is just as adorable as a teen as he is grown up - the preoccupation with threats and dirt attacks just makes him that much more human! Love it, as always!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on November 30th, 2011 08:23 am (UTC)
Hehe. Yeah, Aroona training is something rather nice, if they let you join. I wouldn't mind a year on Terra, either.

Well, Leesha wasn't always that cool, self-confident noble he is in 'How to start a Household'. There was a time when he was a cautious, rather brainy boy, as we see. *sigh* The little ones grow up so fast, don't they?
stregamaristregamari on December 2nd, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
To get a glimpse of young Leesha. I first met him when he woke up his pet Josh in such a lovely way ;) maybe Drew and Leesha can give us a glimpse of a a bar fight in a near by town, or involve us in more private lessons. Do the novices own slaves?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 2nd, 2011 07:31 am (UTC)
Re: Wonderful
Well, there definitely will be no barfight. Not on Terra, anyway. But the next part will be a very private lesson with Uncle Stephen, so, there you go.

And no, novices don't own slaves. The church in general could, but the overwhelming majority of slaves is owned by the nobility and commoners.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
hab318princess on December 11th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
lovely story, nice to learn more about Leesha
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 13th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad you like it!
triptyxtriptyx on December 17th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
‘professional pervert’

I think this is my favorite description of Dracons EVER! >:D And LOL that Leesha is taken aback that its meant like an insult! :D :D

Very nice to see young Leesha and having met him later on, I think this time on Terra really did him good to not become a typical Dracon, even if his family isnt the typical Dracon family either!

Uncle Stephen looks very nice and easy going also for being a Dracon! :)
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 18th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
Hehe, thank you! It's quite a culture clash for Leesha, coming to Terra and seeing things being so different here in such unexpected ways.

Very happy that it came across as I wanted it to, so thanks a lot!