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    By Order of the Navarch

    Lieutenant Yaevin Felix's tail clung tightly to his leg as he made his way to Navarch Lawrence's stateroom, the Ambition's maintenance crew pausing their repair efforts on a reluctant bulkhead door to instead quickly step aside and allow him passage. He could have taken the portal transit network and halved the length of his walk, skipping to the corridor directly outside the Navarch's quarters rather than cutting through the hot maintenance passageways separating his cot in the Special Forces berthing from the newly installed officers' quarters on the other side of the diplomatic destroyer, but he'd decided the extra few minutes to compose himself were not only welcome but necessary.   Reviewing the summons he'd received from his superior, Felix couldn't help but tense further at thoughts of the disapproval awaiting his arrival. The Navarch's Telepathy had been biting cold with an underlying urgency. Scout. The unquestionable authority the Navarch had poured into that single word, the nickname he'd awarded Felix when claiming the katanoj as his sole bodyguard upon the then-fifteen-year-old boy's elevation to Navarch of Mordena Public Relations all those years ago, had woken Felix from a deep and welcome sleep and sent him scrambling into his uniform, much to the annoyance of his fellow bunkmates.   Felix paused before the Navarch's doorway to straighten his collar and smooth his whiskers, trying to push the memories of his dreams from his mind. The last thing he needed was to be thinking about that during this meeting. Private audiences with the Navarch were difficult enough these days without actively dwelling on the pointless ramblings of his subconscious.   His eyes caught the sudden change in color as the passageway lighting shifted from orange to purple. Fourth Watch. Another six hours and he'd be on duty. Hopefully he could grab more sleep after this confrontation, but the adrenaline already coursing through Felix's veins told him that would be unlikely. Damn.   Still, the Navarch had summoned him and it was his duty to answer regardless of his own personal preferences on the matter, even when he'd rather remain wrapped in the warming comfort of his impossible dreams. Smoothing whiskers yet again as he drew his shoulders back, Felix typed in his access code and entered the room.   The Navarch looked up from his crowded desk, dark green eyes meeting Felix's own with a smoldering intensity. The katanoj turned away but not before noting the disheveled state of his human superior, tousled brown hair framing the worry lines cutting deep across his face, uniform jacket only partially buttoned, revealing not the typical undershirt but the Navarch's bare chest. Felix found his pulse quicken at the thought of running his fingerpads across that chest and pulled himself to attention instead, hoping against hope the Navarch hadn't noticed the sudden ragged edge to his breathing.   He saluted. "You wanted to see me, Sir?"   "It's just us here. There's no need for the formality."   The soft loneliness lining the Navarch's words sent desire rippling through Felix's fur but he pushed it off, instead standing stiffer even as he dropped the salute. When had the boy grown into a man? And why hadn't Felix been able to suppress his growing attraction to this individual he'd pledged to defend with all his lives?   He heard the Navarch sigh at the prolonged silence, followed by the scrape of a chair and the whisper of socks against the deck until the fur on his left cheek rustled with the warmth of the Navarch's breath.   "You're affectionate with everyone else on this ship, and yet nothing but cold and distant when I'm nearby. I've officially pulled you from duty until we solve this. Why are you afraid of me, Scout?"   Felix swallowed at the question, his hands clenching at his side even as his tail began to whip behind him in an irregular pattern the katanoj couldn't even begin to guess himself. He felt his heart pound faster as he squeezed his eyes shut. Fear? Void, yes. What if the Navarch–   "I shouldn't have to ask," the human continued, the sorrows in his voice almost masking the threats in his words. "I know I promised I wouldn't invade your privacy, but you promised me you wouldn't keep important secrets. And whatever this is between us? I need to know."   His composure fracturing, Felix glanced to the door only to realize the Navarch had blocked his path. I really need to learn Portal Magic.   Not that it would help. He briefly considered breaking his Oath, sworn to the Navarch on the insistence of his overprotective father. The necromantic spell not only bound the katanoj's soul to the Navarch's but his mind as well, granting the young man full access to every last thought and memory courtesy of the telepathic link woven into the spellwork. Felix held the power to break the Oath at any time but the Grand Navarch had warned that by doing so he'd also sacrifice his access to the Navarch forever, and the thought of losing the presence of this man not only in his life but also his mind sent sharp pains through Felix's chest. And yet surely even that would be better than–   He heard the Navarch's sudden intake of breath the same moment he felt his back hit the wall behind him. Too late. Squeezing his eyes even tighter, Felix braced for the impending rejection.   "How long?"   The quiet question revived old, unbidden memories, the parade refusing to subside even as Felix desperately fought to bury them deeper within his mind. The times he'd kept watch over the Navarch as he slept, wishing he could pull the young man into his arms and run fingers through his hair. The lust and admiration he'd fight to quell as the Navarch held his ground during difficult negotiations. The evenings spent in the arms of others wishing they were the dark skinned human currently breathing in the stunned silence between them. And that fateful day over a year ago, when the dawning light on the balcony outside their adjacent rooms on Janikk had caught the Navarch's shadows just right, and Felix had realized with a start that the boy who'd once peeked into his thoughts with frustrating impunity had grown into a young man whose very presence set his veins on fire.   "Why... Why didn't you say anything?"   Felix looked at him then, the Navarch's form before him hazy through the tears threatening to spill from his eyes. The katanoj bowed his head, heart still racing as his thoughts scattered through a collection of memories of the Navarch diligently burying his thoughts in his work with no attentions to the romantic preludes of others, coupled with imaginings of the Navarch's rejection and the Grand Navarch's fury at the betrayal of trust.   "Scout..."   He felt his ears pull backwards in a sudden flinch as the Navarch's fingers danced lightly through the fur at his snout, tracing their way over his jaw and down his neck.   "Sir... Please..." Felix tried to pull away but between the Navarch before him, the wall behind him, and the questing fingers sliding along his skin he found he could do little more than swallow.   "Please. Just call me Jake."   He could never do that. Jake was the precocious young boy who'd reveled at peeking into Felix's mind during his romantic evenings with others. Who'd come to lean on him to spot trouble before it happened. Who'd grown up into the intoxicating adult before him. Things will never be the same as they were.   "Good." The Navarch's voice held a calm smugness now, and Felix felt his pulse grow uneven at the sultry desire lurking beneath it. "This is better."   Tearing away from his superior's distracting fingers, Felix closed his eyes. He was the Navarch's bodyguard. It wasn't his place to lust after the Navarch, only to take orders and–   "Take off your shirt."   What? The authoritative command caught Felix off guard.   "You heard me. You want to follow orders? Take off your shirt. Now."   Meekly, Felix did as he was told, his fingers stumbling against the buttons until he felt the Navarch's touch join in his efforts. The offending fabric was unbuttoned in short order, Felix shrugging it to the deck, shivering with a nervous apprehension as he stared at the floor unable to meet the Navarch's gaze, his tail once more curled around his leg.   He felt the Navarch's fingers before he saw them, the nimble digits now seeking out Felix's favorite places even as the katanoj discovered himself unable to protest, one hand scratching the fur along his neck where it always rubbed against the collar of his uniform, the other reaching behind to worm its way beneath his shoulder blade and dig into the infuriatingly difficult to reach places of his back. Willing himself to relax beneath the unexpected attention, he realized with a start he'd never mentioned any of these spots to the Navarch.   "I've watched you interact with the others," the human explained. "Wishing for my turn."   The last words were quiet, Felix only catching them with his instinctive use of Anemancy to heighten the volume for his ears alone. He found himself longing to surrender to the Navarch's attention, to give himself over to the cravings he'd done his best to hide, to run his fingers over every inch of–   No. It pained him, but the Navarch was only nineteen to Felix's more seasoned twenty four. The age difference was too great, and the Navarch hadn't ever–   "Touch me, Lieutenant."   The Navarch's order sent a thrill through Felix's veins and he found himself responding, reaching for the human even as he desperately hoped the Navarch hadn't recognized the reaction stirring between his legs. Hesitating, he felt the Navarch's fingers cease their patterns through his fur to instead grip his wrist, forcing the katanoj's fingers to splay against the Navarch's bare chest – When did he take off his shirt? – the human's heart beating a sternly possessive rhythm beneath Felix's palm. Felix made a half hearted effort to remove his hand, but the Navarch's grip tightened, pinching at his fur and tugging him closer.   At long last Felix met the Navarch's gaze, the former loneliness in the man's eyes now replaced with a fierce eagerness as he backed toward his bed. Blinking, Felix noted that while the stiff mattress offered more space than his own bunk it was nonetheless not intended for two people. His thoughts immediately filled with images that weren't his own, imaginings of the Navarch wrapped in his embrace, head on Felix's chest as their legs tangled together.   He felt his breath catch again. He's thought about this, too. It took a moment for Felix's minds to register the Navarch's words.   "–if we cuddle. I hope that won't be a problem?"   The Navarch's voice filled with uncertainty, and at the hesitation Felix found himself pulling back from the promised fulfillment of his dreams. I'm his security chief, not his lover, I shouldn't–   The Navarch's voice turned hard again, his authority radiating from every syllable. "Love me, Lieutenant."   Okay. Yes. Felix was a soldier, an experienced advanced scout trained to follow orders. He could follow this one, too. He already belonged to the Navarch, his mind and soul sworn to service long ago, his heart following that fateful day on the balcony.   "That's right. You're all mine."   The ferocity in the Navarch's words held a strange comfort, as if this was the permission Felix had always needed. The katanoj felt himself relax into a compliant eagerness, allowing the Navarch to guide him to the small bed, enjoying the human's faint inhale as the katanoj stole a light lick against his cheek to savor the saltiness of sweat against his tongue. It was good the Navarch had already pulled him from the active roster. The things he'd dreamed of doing to this man...   "Show me."   Felix shuddered, thoughts drowning in the promise of pleasures to come, his eyes now holding the Navarch's with a trusting wonder. Yes, Sir.

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    Generic article | May 25, 2022

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