It wasn't so bad with Dynast, Xelloss thought. His mind was calm now. His body had stopped shaking.

It really wasn't so bad at all. Fibrizo would slip in a few tricks, but Dynast was always there to watch me. I didn't like anything I did with Fibrizo, but there wasn't too much I hated. I even enjoyed myself sometimes when Dynast would join in. It was kind of like with the other partners I had before. Nothing like what I had with Gaav, but...I enjoyed it a little.

He wasn't that bad.

"It's like silk..."

Xelloss steadied his hand, flinching a little as he felt the ghost-trace of Fibrizo's fingers.

"Now that I think about're like silk too..."

He tried to hold out for a little longer, but he couldn't take it anymore. Xelloss closed the scissors, slicing through the lock of hair between his fingers.

A long violet thread slowly waltzed its way down to the floor. It settled into the nest of hair that was collecting, snip by snip, around Xelloss' feet.

The shivers faded away. Xelloss sighed. He'd warded them off.

He felt a little bad. He felt a lot bad, actually. But he needed...he needed to cut it off...when the words and the touches and the visions came...he had to cut them off. One by one. It made it better. He was so glad he had found the scissors. He had had to fight off the shaking and the hallucinations until then. He couldn't find a knife, and he had tried a long nail file that had been kept amongst the other things in the bathchambers. He had ground it into his hair, had pressed, had sawed...

But his head just couldn't take it. His head hurt so much. After the week and a half he had spent here his scalp still didn't feel better. He couldn't yank on his own hair without bringing tears to his eyes. But he had to...he had to cut hair off...

"..and if you make it feel real good, I'll take the knife away..."

Xelloss severed the next rope of hair without even blinking.

He had been right. The scissors made everything better.

Well, they made him feel better, at least. They...they wouldn't make it better for him when this month was up.

What was he going to do?

"Are you tired? Good. I like it when you're limp."

A rain of hair against the cold floor beneath his feet, and still. It wouldn't change what Fibrizo would do to him next month.

Barefoot. It was rude to walk in the bathchambers with shoes on.

Rudeness. Dynast was a polite mazoku, wasn't he? He cared so much about manners and ettiquette, about neatness and the standards of a good host. It was so strange. Xelloss felt as if he were staying in a particularly expensive bathhouse. Dynast served Xelloss more than Xelloss served him. So odd.

He's not really happy, though. I can tell. Even though he hides it.

...What if Dynast didn't want to keep Xelloss for a whole month?

He sheared through a thick clump of hair before he even realized what he was doing. Xelloss watched the mass of hair fall to his ankles. So much...he didn't realize he had cut so much... He didn't even realize he had been cutting it, half the time. He had just done what he could to make himself feel better. And now this much of his hair was at his feet.

Slowly, Xelloss looked up. He looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was in a disarray, spread over his shoulders, spilling over to cascade in front of them, weaving crazily over his back. Some of it was still at its original length. Some of it was short enough that it barely went past his shoulders. Most of it hung to his mid-back now. But it was very difficult to find two locks of the same length. His hair ended in little straight snips, flipping up, scattered around. Almost layered, but not really. Xelloss had never paid attention to how hair was cut, hadn't wet it, hadn't trimmed at the edges and rounded them. He had only cut.

And look at him now. Xelloss wondered if he should do something about it. But a little trickle of ice caressed his spine, and he knew he couldn't worry about that now. Now-

"Does your blood taste good? It's such a lovely color for your mouth. It makes your lips look even better when they're wrapped around my-"

A few more snips. A little more peace.

* * *

I'm not supossed to be bored like this, am I?

Dynast shook his head as he walked through his chambers, almost to the point of pacing to calm his thoughts. He was too level-headed for pacing, though. This was more of a purposeful stroll. No, it is not normal to be bored. I am not normal. He's in my chambers, has been in my chambers for over a week, and I'm bored.

I can't believe I don't know what to do with him.

It wasn't as if he were unsure of Xelloss' abilities, were he to call him into service. Not only had Dynast witnessed a little of what the priest could do, he had heard stories. Xelloss was quite well-known for his abilities in bed.

For that matter, isn't he well-known for abilities that have nothing to do with the bedroom arts? Dynast shrugged. Was that really his concern right now?

I know he enjoys it. He seeks it out. It's entertainment for him. He even prides himself for what he can do...and well he should. I'm envious.

I wish I could approach people in that way at all, much less give them the kind of pleasure that he can.

This was really kind of useless, wasn't it? Dynast wasn't able to perform on his own. If he could invite someone else in, then perhaps things would work out...but he and Fibrizo had made this arrangement in the first place because they couldn't coordinate their schedules. And any other being besides Fibrizo would start to wonder just why Dynast participated so little, or why he needed to share Xelloss at all.

And Xelloss. He's probably already noticed it. He'll tell Zelas when we give him back. He might tell others besides her...tell them that I...that when I have a willing and able servant in my manor just for the purposes of sex, I can't even think of the first thing to do with him.

Dynast sighed. This was just too complicated. He was going to take a bath.

* * *

Xelloss' wrist shook as he raised the scissors again. Cutting worked, but he didn't know how long he could keep it up. By no means was he running out of hair. But...he couldn't stand here in front of the mirror in Dynast's bathroom forever. He couldn't just snip--

"If you try to run away again, I'll break your ankles."

--once he left the bathchambers. But the visions would keep coming, and he would have nothing to keep them at bay!

He was shaking more now, and the cutting wasn't stopping it. But it really wasn't part of the visions. It was just that when he banished them, the sensations left, but the fear still remained. Just a shadow of it. But the shadows were growing darker now. He was beginning to cringe. The shaking was part of the fear, and part of the weariness it caused. He was getting tired. His nerves could only handle so much. He had trouble steadying his hand. He had to lean against the counter in front of the mirror now. He had to pause. He had to worry.

This wasn't much different than when the visions took him. But it was was still better than...

"Such a sweet boy...give me a little smile--"

Xelloss let out a little whimper and grabbed the next strand to be sheared. As he reached for it, a shadow behind him caught his eye.

He cried out and turned around, the small of his back pressing against the counter's edge.

Dynast. Dynast was staring down at him. Staring down...he was Fibrizo...oh gods, he was in so much trouble. Caught cutting his own hair. In Dynast's bathchambers. His hair all over the pristine floor. The stolen scissors in his hand.

Oh gods, he was in trouble, and he'd break apart if he were punished one more time--

Dynast's hand reached for him, and Xelloss turned his head, flinching away. He closed his eyes, couldn't stop his shoulders from shaking, couldn't help but tense up against the oncoming blow.

Oh gods, he was going to cry before it even started.

But there was nothing.

Xelloss slowly opened his eyes.

The Supreme King merely stood there, holding a thick lock of Xelloss' hair in his hand, examining the straight-sheared ends. His face was as regal and impassive as ever. Maybe disdainful, if it weren't so emotionless. Maybe curious, if it weren't so hard to read Dynast. It was a look that Xelloss knew well - Dynast had been wearing it every time he glanced at Xelloss, this past week or so.

He only stood there, holding Xelloss' hair and looking at it with that most confusing of expressions.

* * *

So strange...

Dynast realized he'd almost said the words aloud, and then focused on holding his tongue. It was improper to spit out whatever leaped into his mind, and the statement was rude.

Why did he cut it like that? It makes no sense. It's so square and straight at the ends.

He'd walked in to take his bath and seen the boy standing at the mirror. As he approached he saw the hair, but it took him a few moments to realize Xelloss was cutting it. Right before he could put a hand on the boy's shoulder, Xelloss whirled around, startled. And Dynast stood there, feeling a little foolish but feeling even more like he should say something. Like perhaps he should chastise the boy. But for what? Cutting his own hair? Sure it felt like it should be wrong, but Dynast couldn't actually think of a reason why. So he was just stuck there, wondering what to do about this.

He's so shy. He always flinches away.

It was just like all the other times Dynast laid eyes on Xelloss. He had no idea what to do with the boy.

He frowned. "Did you mean for it to look this way?" It had a rude tone to it, but what could he do? There was no avoiding it. The boy's hair was a mess.

Xelloss looked up, startled. He really didn't know, did he? "I-I'm sorry..."

Dynast only looked at the hair between his fingers, silent for a few moments. "It's alright. Here. Let me see this." He put his hand on Xelloss' shoulder and gently turned the boy so that he was facing the mirror, his back to the king. Was that the first time this month that he'd touched the boy? Maybe it was. "You have it almost to your chin in places. Is that the length you want it?" The boy nodded, after a little deliberation. "That's a good choice. But you shouldn't cut your hair by yourself, Xelloss. There's a method to it. Here. Let me show you."

* * *

In a way, it was Dynast's complete lack of anger that caught Xelloss off his guard. It was much more disarming than violence or strong words. A month with Fibrizo had driven him to his wits' end already - he had trouble reacting to even normal greetings or gestures without flinching. But the way Dynast spoke and acted was so calm, so completely composed...Xelloss didn't know what to do anymore. It was this that kept him still as Dynast's hands reached towards his hair. His precious, wounded hair. But it wasn't merely that gravity hanging about Dynast that kept him quiet and calm. He had, after all, trained himself to keep still when Fibrizo demanded it. His voice and his fear were still maddeningly beyond his control. No, it was the mirror that stilled his heart and tongue.

Dynast had turned Xelloss to face the mirror before he focused his attention on the boy's hair. That meant that Xelloss could see most of Dynast's movements as he made them. They felt distant, however. It felt as if Dynast were attending to someone else, because Xelloss could watch it happen. If he got afraid at any point, he could even remind himself of that to keep himself calm. But he probably wouldn't be paying attention to that, because from here he could see Dynast's face. He could see all the king's reactions and thoughts as they rippled across his features, buried under layers of discretion. It was engrossing. He was afraid before, when that regal, aloof mix of emotions had been aimed directly at him. But now he was watching it directed someone else - at that copy of him in the mirror. And seeing that face shift ever so imperceptibly, those ecsquisitely subtle emotions transform so vaguely that it was almost impossible to tell thought from shadow...

This was what kept him still as Dynast reached his hands into Xelloss' hair.

Xelloss felt it before he could see it. Dynast was behind him, so he couldn't see everything the king did. He felt his hair move, felt the tension from where roots met scalp. As he felt it, he finally flinched. But it seemed to be for nothing. There was no pain, even with his scalp as tender as it was. Dynast's hands were so gentle as he parted Xelloss' hair that the boy had to supress a gasp. He considered something, almost discarded the notion out of hand, and then caught himself. But it couldn't be true. Someone was touching his hair...could he enjoy that? Not after that month with Fibrizo. Not after that.

His eyes still tracked Dynast's face. Even as his hair was being touched, he tracked the expressions, the thoughts on that face. As Dynast's fingers stroked his hair, Xelloss saw pleasure hiding there, and wonder. He dwelled on that for a bit, but his thoughts were wiped clean away by Dynast's hands. It was like feeling water trickle over his scalp and seep into his hair. Every strand the king touched tingled with pleasure. Dynast's hands were against Xelloss' scalp, curling into the hair, smoothing it over, feeling through it. Xelloss didn't know how the king could touch him without hurting him. But his hands were so cool, and they touched him so softly...and before Xelloss knew it, he was leaning back against Dynast. The king's hands had relaxed him so much that he'd fallen backwards.

Surprise hid in the shadows of Dynast's face. Xelloss could see it looking down at him now. Not through the mirror, but right above him. He had the presence of mind to blush.

"Why don't...why don't I get you a chair?" The king asked, an eyebrow upraised.

* * *