Mirror, Mirror
Chapter 17 - Regret, Retribution and Remorse

Steve was awakened by the sound of crying. He turned quickly. Marcellus had his back turned to Steve, and his shoulders were shaking. Steve cleared his throat. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.

Marcellus heaved a shaky sigh. "I've hurt him," he said, his voice thick with tears. "I've broken... his trust."

Steve looked down at the bed, suddenly uncomfortable. It hadn't occurred to him to feel guilty until now, but now that he thought about it, he had broken a trust, as well. He'd been so hurt to think that Sherrie was cheating on him, and here he was cheating on her. It might have been excused before, when he was doing it to avoid detection, but now that Marcellus knew he wasn't the king, did he really have an excuse? Yes, Marcellus had held him down, but really, he was probably stronger than Marcellus. He might have been able to force him to stop, if he'd been interested in trying.

Steve sighed and reached out to tentatively touch Marcellus' back. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..."

"It isn't your fault," Marcellus said. He still seemed upset, and Steve began lightly stroking his back. Marcellus relaxed a little, then suddenly tensed. "Stop it!" Steve pulled his hand back quickly, and Marcellus got out of the bed. He whirled on Steve, raising a warning finger. "You must not do that anymore," he said sharply.

"Okay," Steve said nervously. He watched as Marcellus grabbed his robe, yanked it on, and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him. Steve stared at the door for several moments, and bit his trenbling lip. It didn't make sense to be hurt, but he was. Terribly so. Maybe I deserve it, he thought, remembering the way he'd treated Marcellus after their first night together. At least Marcellus was doing this because of the one he loved. But somehow, the thought wasn't comforting at all. He struggled to gain control of himself, but without success. His vision blurred as tears filled his eyes. He hugged one of the pillows to him, buried his face in it, and cried.

Steve managed to calm down by the time the servants came to draw his bath. He let them bathe and dress him, responding to any questions with a nod or a grunt. The attendants looked concerned, but they didn't intrude by asking him what the matter was. He went to breakfast at the usual time. Marcellus and Annette were both there. Marcellus bowed and Annette curtseyed, and they sat down to their meal. Although Steve could tell Marcellus was trying to act normally, he thought that Annette must have sensed the tension between them. She was quieter than usual, and she kept looking back and forth between them, as if she were dying to ask them what the problem was. When Marcellus told Annette that he and Steve would be busy for the rest of the day, she didn't pout as much as she usually would have. She politely excused herself and went back to her quarters.

Marcellus stood and Steve followed him out into the hall. "We should review your lessons this morning. Later, we will return to the gymnasium. I still have much to teach you about the staff."

"Yes, Your Highness," Steve said softly.

They returned to his office, and Marcellus reviewed the names of the various dukes, duchesses, courtiers, and foreign dignitaries that he'd been learning over the past days. He showed Steve miniature portraits of the dignitaries, and Pacificana's dukes and duchesses, each about the size of a regular sheet of paper, so that he would recignize them on sight at the meeting. Steve did his best to committ everything to memory, but he kept thinking about last night, and Marcellus' behavior that morning, and he couldn't concentrate. He made several mistakes, and he could see that Marcellus was having a progressively difficult time holding back his frustration. That knowledge only made Steve more edgy, and less able to concentrate properly. Finally, when Steve failed to match yet another name with the correct face, Marcellus slammed his fist on the desk in frustration. "You're not paying attention!" he shouted.

"I'm s-sorry, Your Highness," Steve said nervously.

"Sorry is not good enough! Do you realize what will happen if you make a mistake at the council meeting?? Do you?"

Steve drew back, made nervous by Marcellus' angry posture. "Yes, I do," Steve said, his voice quavering slightly. "I p-promise I'll try harder. Please don't yell at me."

Marcellus backed off and turned away. When he faced Steve again, he was visibly calmer. "I am sorry, Steve," he said. "We should go to the gymnasium. We can continue this lesson at another time."

Steve swallowed and stood up, dutifully following Marcellus to the gym. They hadn't given anyone any notice, and several sparring partners and excercisers were surprised by their presence. The various excercisers gathered their things and undressed quickly, so that Steve and Marcellus could use the gymnasium in private.

Much to Steve's dismay, Marcellus headed directly for the staffs. Steve would have liked to start with swords, so that he wouldn't have to feel totally inadequate right off the bat. However, considering Marcellus' recent outburst, he thought it would be best to keep his mouth shut. Marcellus tossed him a staff and assumed the attack position. Steve took on the defense position, and the lesson began. The practice started off normally. Marcellus attacks were controlled, and Steve managed to block most of them. When he failed, Marcellus gave him advice on how to block more effectively. However, as the session progressed, Marcellus' instructions grew more terse, and his attacks more violent. Soon, Steve felt that the simple practice match was turning into a real fight. Marcellus' helpful instructions ceased altogether, and his blows grew faster and more forceful by the second. Steve blocked what he could, but Marcellus was moving far too fast for Steve to keep up. The staff jarred his hands and arms painfully when he was able to block at all. When he couldn't, he ended up sprawling to the floor more often than not.

In just a few minutes, Steve was panting, drenched with sweat, and sore in several places despite the padding. He struggled hard to defend himself, but he was just no match for Marcellus' superior skill. He was tired, and his defenses were getting weaker, while Marcellus' attacks were getting stronger. Finally, Marcellus knocked Steve off his feet for about the twentieth time, but instead of giving him a moment to get back up, Marcellus struck him with the staff again. Startled, Steve backed away and struggled to get to his feet. Before he could stand, Marcellus hit him again, knocking him back to the floor. Marcellus raised his staff and brought it down again. Steve barely managed to get his own staff up in time to block the attack. He couldn't catch the next strike, which landed so hard on his arm that he couldn't keep from crying out. His arm hurt so much that he couldn't hold the staff properly, and Marcellus was already preparing for another blow. Steve edged away, and Marcellus struck him again, this time on the leg.

"Ah!" Steve cried. "I'm down, I'm down, okay? You win!" Marcellus didn't seem to hear. He brought the staff down again, and Steve barely managed a one-handed block. Marcellus struck again, too fast for Steve to block this time. Marcellus raised the staff again, and Steve started to panic. Marcellus was clearly out of control, and Steve had no idea what to do about it. The next blow came, and then another, and another. "Stop, please!" Steve cried, scampering away and tossing his staff to the floor. "I'm unarmed, okay? I give up!" He held up his hands, hoping Marcellus would accept the surrender. Marcellus didn't even seem to notice. He advanced on Steve, staff raised in attack position. But it wasn't thick, three-foot long weapon that had Steve's heart racing. It was Marcellus' face. His mouth was twisted into an angry snarl, and his eyes were glazed over, filled only with pure fury. It was as if he could see nothing else. Steve's fear grew by leaps and bounds. He backed away, but Marcellus didn't let him get far. He struck Steve again, hard enough to make him cry out. Marcellus raised the staff again. Not knowing what else to do, Steve curled in on himself, hoping that he could at least keep his head protected. Marcellus hit Steve again and again, dealing heavy, bone jarring blows.

Steve rode it out, gritting his teeth and trying not to cry from pain and fear. Sometime during the beating, Steve started panicking again. How many times was Marcellus going to hit him? What if he suffered internal damage? What if Marcellus didn't stop until he was dead?? Eventually, Steve couldn't take it anymore, and he really did start to cry. He begged Marcellus to stop, his sobs growing louder when his pleas were ignored. Then, suddenly, the beating stopped. For several moments, there was no sound except that of Steve trying to get his sobs under control. Then Steve heard Marcellus gasp, and the sound of his staff clattering to the floor. Steve stayed still and held his breath, afraid that if me made a move, Marcellus would start another onslaught. He heard a few slow footsteps, then the sound of running feet. A door slammed, and there was silence.

Steve stayed on the floor for several minutes, trying to calm down. When he was able, he got up and walked slowly to the changing area, wincing with every step. He peeled off his various pieces of padding and put them back where they belonged. Then he got up and left the room. He made an effort to walk normally in front of his guards, but as soon as he was alone in his room, he collapsed onto the bed with a groan. His whole body ached, and his emotional state was even worse. He was badly shaken by Marcellus' attack. He knew that Marcellus couldn't have meant to go that far, but the knowledge wasn't at all reassuring. It meant that Marcellus had completely lost control of himself. If it had happened once, what was to stop it from happening again? And if it did, what was Steve supposed to do about it? What if Marecellus didn't stop next time?

To top it all off, there was another feeling nagging at Steve besides the anxiety. He was hurt. He knew that it didn't make sense. Marcellus couldn't have been in control of himself when he'd attacked. But it didn't matter. Steve liked Marcellus very much, and he wanted desperately for Marcellus to like him back. In fact, now that he thought about it, Steve realized that he'd liked Marcellus ever since that very first afternoon, when he'd been so shy and nervous because of Steve's anger at the wedding. He'd continued to warm to Marcellus after that, even though he'd been so busy trying not to be discovered that he almost hadn't noticed. He'd wanted to kick himself every time he hurt Marcellus after their first night together, and he'd been elated when Marcellus forgave him and they made up. When he was discovered and Marcellus stopped treating him like a lover, he'd been sorely depressed. Then, after Marcellus discovered the truth and agreed to help him, Steve found himself feeling immensely pleased every time Marcellus praised him, or showed him even the slightest hint of kindness.

Steve didn't even feel guilty for cheating on Sherrie anymore. He knew he probably should, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Sherrie was having an affair and barely bothering to hide it. She'd shown him several times lately that she just didn't care about him anymore. He was nothing more than a meal ticket to her now. Hell, she probably hadn't even noticed that there was an imposter in the house, even though Steve knew that it had to be much harder for the king to impersonate him than it was for him to impersonate the king. At least Steve knew what most of the things around him were called. He couldn't imagine what it must be like for the king, getting stuck in the '80's and not even knowing what a television was. And even with that kind of a disadvantage, Sherrie probably still hadn't figured it out.

More than once, Steve had felt envious of King Stephen because of the love Marcellus showed for the him. He'd wished that he could be the one Marcellus was in love with. He still wished it. He wanted someone to care about him like that. In fact, he wanted it so desperately that he was willing to borrow King Stephen's pseudo-husband even if it was only while he was stuck here, if only Marcellus would let him. But after this morning, he thought he would be lucky if Marcellus didn't attack him on sight. The very idea made him shudder.

Steve lay on the bed for a long time, feeling utterly miserable. When he was finally able to move again, he got up and rang for his attendants. He ordered another bath to be drawn, and when it was prepared, he told all the attendants to wait outside so that he could bathe alone. The attendants seemed surprised, but he just repeated the order, and told them he would call if he needed anything. He didn't want them to see his bruises, should any of them be visible already.

He soaked in the tub, trying to convince himself that everything was not shot completely to hell. When the water was cold, he dried off and went back to the bedroom. The attendants tried to dress him, but Steve ordered them to leave. They looked surprised again, but Steve shooed them away, telling them to see to it that he was not disturbed by anyone for the rest of the day. Then he got into his night clothes and got into bed. It was only the middle of the afternoon, but he didn't care. He had no intention of leaving his room for the rest of the day if he could help it. He was in pain, he couldn't call Dr. Rivell to do something about it, and he was still depressed about Marcellus. Steve sighed heavily. I want to go home. The thought came automatically, and it wasn't the first time he'd had it. But this time, he wasn't sure it was true.

Steve was awakened by a knock on the door. He sat up quickly, regretting it immediately. He was still sore all over, and now he was stiff as well, from having laid in the same position for several hours. It was dark in the room, and Steve wondered just how long he'd been asleep. He rubbed his eyes groggily and got out of bed. He slowly made his way to the door, trying not to bump into anything. An attendant stood in the doorway holding an oil lamp. Steve squinted, holding his hand up to shield his eyes from the sudden light. When he could see again, the attendant was straightening up from a bow, looking apologetic. "Please forgive me for disturbing you, Your Majesty," he said. "But Prince Marcellus wishes to see you." Steve swallowed and gripped the doorknob. He couldn't speak, and after a few moments, the attendant bowed again, slightly. "Forgive me, Sire. I told His Highness that you asked not to be disturbed, but he insisted that I try. Shall I..."

"No, no," Steve said hastily. "Don't turn him away. Let... let him come in."

Steve stepped back from the door, and the attendant moved aside so that Marcellus could enter. The prince stepped in, and Steve could feel himself starting to tremble. Marcellus didn't look angry anymore. He looked serious, and a little sad. "Please light the lamps," he said to the attendant. "If that is all right with you, my Lord," he added.

"It... it's fine, Your Hi- Marcellus." Steve cringed at the mistake. He'd addressed Marcellus the wrong way in front of the servant. Shit. What if the servant noticed it? What if Marcellus got mad? Shit! The attendant seemed oblivious. He went around the room, using his lantern to light the other lamps in the room. Marcellus kept his eyes on Steve the whole time. When the attendant was finished, he stood near them, waiting for instruction.

"You may go," Marcellus said. The attendant bowed and left them alone.

Marcellus came closer, and Steve's trembling grew stronger. "I'm s-sorry, Your Highness," he said. "I didn't mean t-to c-call you..."

Marcellus shook his head. "Please do not apologize," he said, his voice low. He sighed shakily and looked down. "It is I who must apologize to you." Then, he shocked Steve completely by dropping to his knees. Steve stepped back, and Marcellus looked up at him, his eyes filled with guilt and sadness. "Please forgive me. I... I don't know what came over me. I've never... I don't know what happened. I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me."

"It's... it's okay, Your Highness," Steve said hastily. "You're under a lot of pressure, that's all. Anybody would lose control."

Marcellus shook his head again, and Steve thought he could see unshed tears shining in the prince's eyes. "You are kind to make excuses for me," he said. "But this... I could have killed you. And you are not to blame for any of this. My behavior was inexcusable. I... I know that you are not the king, but... I am willing to accept any punishment you chose to mete out."

"Punishment?! No, I'm not going to punish you! It wasn't your fault." Steve took hold of Marcellus' hand and tried to raise him. "Please stand up, Your Highness." Marcellus made no attempt to move, and so Steve knelt in front of him. Several tears had fallen, and were now trailing down Marcellus' cheeks. "It wasn't your fault," he said again. "You were upset, and you lost it, and I forgive you, okay? At least you didn't drag me through the mud for days, like I did you. And you forgave me for that." Steve brushed away Marcellus' tears, and looked him directly in the eyes. "I... I like you, Marcellus. A lot. I wish... I... I don't want you to feel bad about this anymore. Okay?"

Marcellus smiled. "Thank you, Steve," he said. "You are a kind man, with a good heart. Just like Stephen." It was Steve's turn to smile. They stood up, and Steve was more than pleased when Marcellus kept hold of his hand. "Have you been tended to?" he asked. "I should have sent someone to see to you, but I was too upset to think clearly. I'm sorry."

"It's all right, Your highness" Steve said.

"Please. Call me Marcellus."

Steve smiled again. "All right. Thank you. I had a hot bath, and I got some sleep."

"But Dr. Rivell has not seen you?"

"No. I... I didn't want him to see."

Marcellus frowned slightly. "You should have something to ease the pain at least." Marcellus immediately called an attendant, and ordered a large jar of the pain relieving salve to be brought up, along with several towels and a pitcher of water. "Are you hungry, my Lord?" he asked, before the attendant left. "Did you eat?"

"No," Steve said. "And now that you mention it, I'm starving."

"Have dinner prepared as well," Marcellus said. "Two settings, here in the bedroom."

"Yes, Your Highness." The attendant left to carry out his orders, and Marcellus came back to Steve's side.

"You shouldn't be on your feet," he said. "Here. Sit." He ushered Steve to a chair and Steve sat. "How can I make you more comfortable? Would you like a pillow? A foot rest? Are you cold?"

"I'm fine, Your... Marcellus," he said with a smile. "Please, have a seat." Marcellus sat in a chair near Steve's, and they waited for the attendants to return. "We could go over the pictures of the courtiers again," Steve suggested.

Marcellus shook his head. "You do not have to study anymore tonight," he said. "I would like to just sit and talk, if you don't mind."

"Of course not. What do you want to talk about?"

"I would learn more of your world. You are learning more and more about Pacificana, and my world, but I do not know much of yours. I only know that there are many things there that Stephen does not understand."

"I'm not surprised. My world looks nothing like this one. Like I said before, I thought this was the Middle Ages. We've made a lot of advancements that you guys haven't made yet. Probably because we didn't have some giant reign of fire and brimstone trying to destry civilization," he added. "We have motorized vehicles, electricity, radio, television... tons of things the king has never seen before."

Marcellus leaned forward. "Tell me more of these things." Steve spent the next few minutes trying to explain the concept of radio and motor vehicles to a person with no knowledge of electricity or complex machines. They were interrupted by attendants, who brought in dinner, as well as the jar of salve Marcellus had requested. "You may leave us," Marcellus said, when the attendants had set their places. The attendants bowed and left, then Marcellus turned to Steve. "Shall I apply the salve now, or would you like to eat first?"

"We can eat first," Steve said. "I don't want the food to get cold." They sat down to eat, and Marcellus asked Steve to tell him more about his "realm". He found the idea of cars and "fireless lanterns" disturbing. He wasn't so sure of the television either, nor of video cameras. The radio seemed to be his favorite of all the "magical wonders" of Steve's world. Marcellus thought Stephen would probably love radios once he figured out how to use them.

After their meal, Marcellus asked Steve to take off his gown and lay down so that he could put some of the salve on. Steve felt a little self conscious about taking off his clothes, especially after last night, but he did as he was told. Marcelus gasped sharply. "Oh, Great Waters," he whispered. "What have I done to you?" He sighed, and Steve thought he could hear a quaveriness to Marcellus' voice.

Steve looked down and saw that the bruises on his arms and legs had gotten darker since his bath. His back had taken the brunt of the attack after Steve had given up and curled into a ball, and he was sure it must look awful. Marcellus looked like he wanted to cry. "I'm all right now," Steve said. "As long as you're not really angry with me, I'm fine. Okay?"

Marcellus sighed again. "All right." Marcellus took care of Steve's arms first, smoothing the ointment over his bruises with extreme care and gentleness. He put some on Steve's legs as well, then helped Steve to lay down on the bed so that he could start on Steve's back.

The salve relieved the pain immediately, and Steve heaved a contented sigh. "Thank you," he said, when he could feel that Marcellus had covered everything.

"You're welcome," Marcellus replied, but he made no move to stop. He continued to rub Steve's back and legs, using slow, steady strokes. Steve was surprised at first, but he didn't protest. He liked Marcellus' touch, and if the prince wanted to keep going, he wasn't going to complain. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the massage.

Steve wasn't aware he'd fallen asleep, until he was awakened by the sound of someone talking beside him. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around. The lamps were out, and the room was lit only by moonlight. He was under the covers and Marcellus was in the bed next to him. How in the world had he missed that? He was surprised and pleased that Marcellus had decided to stay, until he saw that the prince seemed to be in some distress. His eyes were closed, but he had a concerned frown on his face, and shifting slightly. Then, suddenly, he opened his eyes and sat up. Steve started to speak, but stopped himself when Marcellus got right out of the bed. He didn't even look at Steve. Instead, he was looking at a spot in one corner of the bedroom. Marcellus' walked over to the corner, knelt down and reached out a hand. Steve's eyes widened. He must be sleep walking, he thought. He stood up and moved a little closer to Marcellus, wanting to be near in case he needed help.

Marcellus moved his hand up and down slowly, as if he were stroking something. "Please don't cry, my love," he said.

Steve was startled. Marcellus spoke softly, but he didn't sound like someone talking in his sleep. He sounded like he was speaking to someone in the room. In fact, the impression was so strong that Steve actually looked at the spot Marcells seemed to be speaking to as if he would see someone else there. The room was empty except for the two of them, but Steve still thought that he could feel the presence of someone else. The feeling frightened him.

Marcellus shrank down a little and lowered his head. "Please forgive me, my love," Marcellus said. "Please. I know I hurt you, but... but you must know that it is you that I love, not him." Stephen, Steve thought. Marcellus must be dreaming about King Stephen. He considered waking Marcellus up, but he decided against it. Wasn't it supposed to be harmful to wake up sleepwalkers?

Steve slowly and quietly lowered himself to the floor and watched the errily realistic, one-sided conversation. "I would never hurt you, my love," Marcellus continued. "I..." A pause. "You do?" Marcellus looked relieved. "Thank you, my love." Then he looked concerned again. "It isn't? Then why, my love? Why do you cry?" There was another pause, and Marcellus' frown deepened. "Don't say that! Of course you will!" Marcellus reached out with both hands, and his fingers curved around something invisible. Steve swallowed. This was getting scary. Without seeing him, he knew that Marcellus must be holding onto Stephen's arms. Marcellus shook the invisible king slightly. "You will! Magic took you to that place, and magic will bring you home to me... Yes!" It might have been a trick of the light, but Steve thought that he could see impressions in one of Marcellus' sleeves, just as if someone were holding onto his arm. He shivered and backed up slightly.

Marcellus seemed to be listening, and as he listened, tears started to fall. After a long time, he started to speak again. "No," he said weakly. "I don't want to. I don't want to allow the possibility! ... But I can't. How can I live without you?" After a moment's pause, Marcellus turned and looked directly at Steve. "Yes, he is," he said softly. "And you are right, my love. I have a fondness for him because of it. But he is not you." Steve's heart started to pound. Now, they were discussing him. This was too weird. "I... Yes, my love... Of course I do! I love you with all my soul as well! ... Yes, I know you do, but... Yes... Yes, my love, I... Thank you. ... I will try. And you must try as well. If you find... anyone... you... you should..." Suddenly, Marcellus threw his arms around the absent king, and buried his face in his invisible chest or shoulder or something, and sobbed. Steve started to edge away again when he saw Marcellus' hair move slightly, as if someone were stroking it. It's just a trick of the light, Steve thought. Has to be.

After a few minutes, Marcellus sighed shakily, and wiped away his streaming tears, only for more to take their place. "I will try, my love," he said. He nodded a few times. "Yes... Of course I will." He looked up sharply. "I love you! Be careful of the cars and the lightning cords! I love you!" Marcellus reached out, and grasped at nothing. Then he buried his face in his hands and cried.

Steve slowly moved closer to Marcellus. The feeling that there was someone else in the room with them was gone now. He reached out slowly and touched Marcellus' shoulder. After a while, Marcellus looked up. "Are you all right?" Steve asked.

Marcellus sighed and nodded. "I will be fine. Thank you, Steve." Marcellus still looked weepy. Steve rubbed his shoulder for a few moments, then looked around the room until he found a handkerchief. "Thank you," Marcellus said, accepting it.

Steve sat on the floor near Marcellus and waited for him to calm down a little. Marcellus stood up, and Steve ushered him to the bed so that he could sit down. "What... what just happened?" Steve asked after a moment. "Were you dreaming about the king?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes," Marcellus said. "It's called a Bondtrance. It is very rare, but sometimes when bondmates are separated, they can communicate with each other through the Trance."

"So... you were really talking to Stephen?"

Marcellus sighed and wiped his eyes again. "Yes. But more than that. He was here with me. And I with him. We saw each other... held each other..." Marcellus' eyes started to water again, just when he seemed to have gotten the tears under control. "And now he's gone again."

Steve looked down. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

"Thank you."

"Do... do you mind if I ask what you talked about?" Steve asked.

"No, I don't mind. Stephen told me that he fears that he may never return to me." Steve nodded, having gleaned that much from Marcellus' half of the conversation. "He says that he wants me to be happy, even... even if he doesn't come back." Marcellus' voice cracked, and he had to pause and wipe away more tears. Obviously, he hated even thinking about that possibility. "He knows that I am fond of you, and... he told me that if I... if you are the one who makes me happy while he is gone, then you have his blessing."

Steve's eyes widened. "He... he gave me his blessing!?"

"Yes," Marcellus said.

"He's not jealous?"

"He wishes me to be happy. He knows that part of my fondness for you stems from the fact that you are very much like him. He will not be jealous of the things I like in you that are different from the things I like in him."

"Wow," Steve said, thinking about his morose thoughts that afternoon, and how he wished he could "borrow" Marcelus until he went home. He'd never thought he might actually get the chance.

Marcellus reached out to touch Steve's hand. "Please do not feel pressured," he said. "I know that you may have someone waiting for you in your home. I will understand if you do not feel the same way about me as-"

"No!" Steve cried. "I do!" He smiled and covered Marcellus' hand with his own. "I really like do you, Marcellus. I want you to be happy, too. I know I'm not Stephen, and I'm sure he will come back to you somehow. But in the meantime, I... I would love the chance to keep you happy until he does."

Marcellus smiled and wiped away a few stray tears. "Thank you, Steve." He rubbed Steve's hand a few times, then looked out the window. "We should get some sleep before the sun rises," he said.

Steve grinned and nodded. He pulled the covers back and half tucked Marcellus in before laying down beside him. Marcellus drew close, putting his arm around Steve, and resting a head on his shoulder. Marcellus still seemed a little sad, and Steve stroked him and rocked him gently until his breathing regulated. Steve was fairly exhausted himself. Before long, he too was fast asleep.

Chapter 16
Chapter 18

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