Chapter Forty-Three – That’s How A Prince Does It
“Pepin, you too? Did Tani put some strange ideas in your head?” Kai winced as he took in his mom’s expression. She seemed pretty upset with Pepin at the moment.
However, Pepin didn’t seem fazed by it. Instead of backing down, he walked slowly toward the table. “Tani says the truth, and I can prove it.”
“You can?” Kai and Tani both shouted at the same time. “Do you have magic?” Kai added. “What kind? And why didn’t you tell me?”
“Not magic, not like Sebastian,” Pepin replied. The adults in the room were staring at him, completely baffled. “But I have this,” he said and opened the buttons of his shirt to reveal his chest.
Kai had to crane his neck to look. “Wow, Pepin, is that--”
His mom and Milo’s parents jumped from their chairs and began to speak all at the same time. “What is this? Why is his chest glowing? Is it a prank? Kids, you should know better--”
“No, it is not a prank, I assure you,” Pepin continued.
Not only that part of Pepin’s chest was glowing, but Kai could clearly see the shape of a tiny child inside what had to be the shell of the shard from which he was supposed to get born. And he was breathing, his tiny eyes blinking from time to time.
“This is my and Kai’s child,” Pepin added.
“Mrs. Martin!” Milo’s mom shouted in alarm.
Oh no. Kai hurried to catch his mom, who had dropped into the chair, on the point of fainting. He held her, and she stared into his eyes. “Do you want to give me a heart attack, son?” she asked, but, beyond the shock, Kai could read tenderness. “Is that a child, or just one of your strange ideas of shocking me so that I buy you some crazy computer build for Christmas?”
“No computer build,” Kai promised solemnly. “I’m a grownup now. I need to work to support Pepin and the baby. So maybe you should keep whatever you wanted to spend on my Christmas gift for him.” He helped her back into the seat, and she got a hold of her bearings. She ran her hands through her hair and stared a little more at Pepin’s chest. “Is it possible to touch him?” she asked.
“Yes, he is protected until birth by the magical shard from which he will be born,” Pepin explained.
“He has your hair, Kai,” his mom said. Indeed, the mop of dark hair on the baby’s head looked pretty much like the mess he had to tame each morning without much success. “But Pepin’s eyes, I think,” she added, as she looked closer when the baby blinked. “He’ll be a stunner.”
Not only Kai’s mom but Milo’s parents, as well, moved closer to touch his chest. “It’s warm,” Milo’s mom said in disbelief. “We’re either going to wake up soon, or this is all real. Are you from outer space, Pepin? From a different galaxy than ours? Did you come on a spaceship?”
Milo’s dad pulled her back a little. “Darling, aren’t you asking the wrong questions? What I’m more interested in knowing is whether my son is getting pregnant some ice prince from a fantasy land this very moment.”
“Are you sure this is okay?” Milo asked softly as he moved between Sebastian’s legs, rubbing against him with all his body. “Once I start, I’m afraid that you’ll have to pour ice water on me… or freeze me with your magic to stop me.”
“Why would I want to stop you?” Sebastian whispered and ran his fingers through Milo’s hair, eliciting small moans of pleasure from his lover.
“Because you’re in no shape for this, and I somehow manage to be just a horny dog, regardless of circumstances. Ah, I should just blame your aunt for putting strange ideas in my head.”
“Don’t talk about my aunt when we’re like this,” Sebastian chided Milo and shivered when another kiss planted on the side of his neck made his pleasure soar. “And this feels so good, I wouldn’t stop you for the world.”
“It feels good? Are you starting to heal?”
“It’s not about that. I don’t feel anything else but you, here, with me.”
Milo bit his ear and licked it. “You’re a romantic, aren’t you? And you’re a hunk… and are you sure you’re only into bottoming?”
Sebastian wrapped his arms around Milo’s waist and helped him further. For a moment, he squeezed his eyes shut and hissed as his body opened to welcome the other. Milo groaned. “Damn, I think I’m losing my mind.”
“What? Why?” Sebastian asked, unsure of what Milo meant by that.
“You feel so good, Sebastian,” Milo whispered. “I’m totally topping a gorgeous guy… the most gorgeous guy in Ifigia and any other world I know. And it feels amazing.”
Sebastian didn’t protest as Milo held his hips and began moving slowly to a rhythm they both knew so well. Only that now it was right because they were in the bodies that belonged to them, and there was no strange magic at work, not anymore.
Except for the kind magic that had allowed Milo to come to him and hold him in his arms as if he belonged there for all eternity. Milo stopped from time to time and kissed him for minutes. Sebastian huffed as his frustration was slowly growing. His body demanded satisfaction, but just as he was about to get there, Milo thought it a good idea to take those kissing breaks.
Not that he minded them that much, but his need became imperious with each thrust. Sebastian dug his fingernails into Milo’s shoulders. “Milo, please,” he begged.
His lips were taken again. Their kisses were loud in the silence of a room that had once been the scene of so many sensual trysts. None of them mattered now, Sebastian realized as his lover increased the rhythm of his hips, moving them closer and closer to the release they both desired.
“Seb, I gotta ask,” Milo asked breathlessly. “If I come inside you, will you get pregnant?”
Sebastian groaned and grabbed his naughty lover by the hair. “I’m not a Lelian, you beautiful fool.”
“It was worth checking. Then your mom would have had no choice but to welcome me into the family.”
Were those just the words of a young man prey to pent-up desires? Sebastian no longer had time to think as Milo pressed their mouths together and brought their bodies slowly to the point of no return.
It was morning again, and Sebastian felt solid on his feet as he got out of bed and walked toward the window. He welcomed the chilly air and inhaled it repeatedly. By habit, he touched his chest, and only then, he realized. The wound was no longer there. Incredulous of it, he rushed to the mirror and stared at his body. No traces of the wound could be seen anywhere.
“Milo!” he shouted and turned toward the bed.
A groan was the immediate reply. “Why are you up so early?” Milo complained. “I guess it shows who did all the work last night.”
They had ended up rustling the sheets for a good part of the night, and Sebastian felt responsible for it. He hurried to the bed and kissed Milo on the forehead. “The wound is gone,” he whispered into the wavy hair.
Milo’s head shot up. “For real? Your aunt really said the truth.”
Sebastian laughed. “What did she tell you, anyway?”
Milo snorted. “In a much more colorful language that I’m using right now, she told me that I should keep you awake all night long, and not by reading horror stories to you if you catch my drift.”
“I think I catch your drift quite well,” Sebastian replied.
Milo snickered and hid his face in Sebastian’s lap. “You’re so funny.”
“Funny how?” Sebastian asked airily. “Milo,” he said, only then realizing the situation, “wouldn’t your parents be worried over your disappearance?”
“Oh, shoot,” Milo exclaimed and jumped out of bed. “What time is it? I should be in school!”
“Not for one hour or so,” Sebastian said, well aware of the schedule Kai and Milo had. “I’ll have Adhe take you as close to your world as possible. Ah, and you might have to take that other visitor with you, the one with the discharged phone.”
Milo was putting his school pants on. “So the battery was dead, huh? Listen, Seb,” he said as he buttoned his shirt quickly, “you’ll have to do right by me.”
“Of course. Name anything you want. You healed me,” Sebastian said tenderly.
Milo grinned, hurried to him, and kissed him shortly. “I’m not talking about that, Your Majesty. You’ll have to make an honest man out of me.”
Honest man? But Milo was honest enough, wasn’t he? Sebastian wanted to ask what he meant, but an energetic knock on the door interrupted his train of thought. He pulled the blanket over his naked body. “Come in!” If it was some emergency, it couldn’t be postponed. And now, it looked like he had all the power back, so taking care of the kingdom problems was mandatory.
Reya, Luna, and Fiana rushed into the room, all three talking simultaneously.
Luna was the first to sit on the bed and pulled him to her. “How do you feel, Sebastian? Is your chest still hurting?”
“Seb is fine,” Milo pointed out as he smoothed down his high school jacket. “It looks like your advice worked, Fiana.”
His aunt smiled, full of importance. “Of course, it did. I knew exactly what my nephew needed.”
Reya hurried to him and pulled at the blanket to examine his chest. She felt his skin in what seemed utter disbelief. “It’s gone; it’s truly gone!” Then she pulled Sebastian into a hug, making him stop breathing for a few moments. She released him abruptly and then headed toward Milo, who seemed in a big hurry to be out of there. Sebastian couldn’t blame him. Math was the first class that day, if he remembered correctly. After the stunt from the previous day, Milo was probably in for a lecture and even detention.
“Young man,” Reya said in the most royal voice she could muster, “name your reward. You saved my son, so I am in your debt.”
Milo grinned broadly and looked directly at Sebastian. “No worries. I already did that. Sebastian will just have to make an honest man out of me. Now, for real, Seb, I need to take your dragon to school.”
“Yes, Pepin left that scale somewhere…” he began. He stopped as right at the window, Adhe was hovering, flapping her wings happily. Great, any moment now, the entire palace would rush in and congratulate him while he was still as naked as the day he had been born.
“Off I go, then,” Milo said cheerfully and opened the window.
Sebastian watched as the young man who had healed him and stolen his heart at the same time jumped from the sill of the window directly on the dragon’s back like he had been born to do that.
Too late, he realized that he had forgotten to remind Milo to take the other visitor to him. But a proper means of transportation would be arranged for that young man, as well.
“What does he mean by that?” Luna questioned. “Why does it depend on you for him to be an honest man?”
Sebastian didn’t know, either. But he knew exactly who to ask.
Kai hiked Milo’s backpack on the other shoulder and walked into the courtyard. Next time Milo rushed to Ifigia, he better take his phone with him, he thought. Eventually, he had appeased Milo’s parents and convinced them to go back to their home and sleep without worries. Of course, that hadn’t happened for a solid two hours, time during which Pepin had to offer a thousand of one tidbits of information on Ifigia.
That had definitely worked a lot better than he could have ever dreamed of. His mom had taken Pepin with her to have a talk after Milo’s parents had left, and Pepin was secretive about that conversation. Apparently, it had to deal with what being pregnant meant and stuff like that, so Kai didn’t even pretend that he understood why Pepin and his mom had to be so hush-hush about everything. On the upside, they seemed to get along in the most remarkable ways, and he had heard his mom laughing while she and Pepin were in the kitchen, making breakfast.
Now, he really hoped Milo wasn’t crazy to miss school. Okay, maybe for one day, he could, but then he might just get in too much hot water with his folks. Was it enough for him to heal Sebastian, though? He yawned. With all the excitement last night, he hadn’t managed to get his usual number of hours of sleep.
As he tipped his head back, his eyes grew wide. “No way,” he whispered. “Adhe!” he cried out happily.
The entire student body stopped and stared at the sky and then broke into a frantic run, screaming from the top of their lungs.
“Guys, guys,” Kai tried to calm them down, “you won’t get shish-kebabbed or anything! This dragon lady is really nice!”
His voice was too weak to make itself heard over the frightened voices of all the others, but soon, the court was empty, and that allowed Adhe to land without a problem. Milo jumped from the dragon's back, his face all a grin.
“Dude,” Kai whispered, “you took Adhe to school?”
“Fastest way, Seb said,” Milo said with a shrug like it wasn’t a big deal. “Adhe, thank you. The ride was awesome.”
“Goodbye, Milo, Kai,” Adhe said and soared into the air.
Kai waved at her, but his arm was like made of wood. “Man, I bet that the entire city is--” He didn’t continue his thought and pulled out his phone. “You’re on the news,” he said and showed Milo the screen.
“I see,” Sebastian said and pondered as the visitor continued to explain all kinds of useless things to him. He had what he needed. After all, Milo had given him enough hints about that, and only a deaf and blind man wouldn’t have understood by now what had to be done. “I will accompany you so that we establish the connection between our worlds,” he told the young man and dismissed him for the moment. There were so many things to be taken care of and only so much time.
The three women in his life, plus Galien and Conrad, turned their eyes on him.
“It must be done the proper way,” Reya began. “This is no trifling matter.” Then, she started to shout instructions. “Who’ll take care of the white stallions?”
Galien promptly put his hand up. “I will.”
“Make sure that it’s not a single dark hair on their backs,” Reya warned him. “I will take care of the flowers, so I’ll have to hurry, so the rest of you decide which of these you want to do,” she addressed Luna and Fiana.
Sebastian no longer paid attention to the conversation. Without a doubt, the preparations will take days, but Reya was right. Everything had to be perfect.
“I cannot believe we’re finally graduating.” Kai held the phone high for a pic with Milo, who put both thumbs up and smiled, but only half-heartedly.
He knew exactly what was eating Milo. After the dragon ride to school, everything had happened at the speed of light. Sebastian had even been on the news to explain to everyone how the kingdom of Ifigia was now open for establishing agreements with Earth via the gate that had opened between the two worlds. The gate wasn’t really a gate, though, only if one counted the forest at the edge of their city as being that.
All the media had blown up. They had been interviewed, asked all kinds of things by the authorities, even inspected by medical personnel with stern faces, but, in the end, all was fine. Kai was thankful to his family and Milo’s for keeping Pepin’s magical pregnancy a secret. It wasn’t like that kind of thing was regular, even in Ifigia, and humanity had to earn the right to learn of all the fantastic things that the kingdom could offer.
Back with their feet on the ground, Milo had been grounded until graduation day, and Kai had visited him every day so that they would study together. But that wasn’t what was bothering his friend. Ever since he had been to see Sebastian, Milo had been waiting for his prince to make an appearance.
Only that, for some unfathomable reason, Sebastian hadn’t cared to come to see Milo yet, and Kai had no idea what to say. Tani told him that the forums were already betting on who would snatch the handsome prince of Ifigia, who had been declared, instantly, the most eligible bachelor in all the known universes.
Milo sighed. “Yay,” he said, but his heart wasn’t into it.
“He’d just been crazy busy, you know, with all those shows on TV and meeting presidents and stuff,” Kai began.
Milo pursed his lips and waved. “Don’t defend him. The next time I see that asshole prince, I’ll give him a piece of my mind.”
Kai didn’t dare to ask what that meant, but Milo looked pretty scary, something that was entirely out of character for him. “I bet there’s a good explanation for everything.”
“Yes. That he’s an asshole,” Milo said promptly. “Do you think he got himself a new concubine by now?”
“No way had he done that. Sebastian’s not like that, and you should know him better.”
Milo hunched his shoulders and let them drop. “Do I really know him? Like, for real, I was just joking about that mother-in-law thing. I guess he just got cold feet because I joked around.”
Kai stared at his friend. “You joked about wanting to become his husband?” Hmm, but Sebastian seemed somewhat incapable of understanding jokes, at least, according to Pepin. Like there was some unique sense telling him that he needed to check his phone for the latest news, he grabbed it. The hashtag was blowing up again. “Milo, my dude, you need to get home ASAP.”
“What? Why? Hey, weren’t we supposed to hang out with the rest of our classmates?”
“Trust me. This is far more important.” Kai grabbed Milo by the shoulder and began pushing him toward the exit. “Thank me later.”
Sebastian accepted the small glass with a murmured thanks. Mr. Bennett was sitting across from him, his tie loose, his eyes darting at the fully armored guards behind Sebastian from time to time. “Bottoms up,” Milo’s father said, and Sebastian nodded.
The drink burned his throat, but not in an unpleasant way. Well, he hoped the Earth protocol demanded no more than just one drink since he was not one to indulge without the traitorous substance getting to his head.
In hindsight, maybe he should have left half of the prince’s guard at home. The spacious living room felt cramped with everyone in there. Outside, the carriage with the four white stallions had to be already the most photograph thing on the Internet during the last twenty-four hours, and Sebastian thought vaguely that maybe Ifigia customs, as Reya saw them, were just a tad overboard for Earth.
“So,” Mr. Bennett said slowly and took his wife’s hand like he was holding on to her than to assure her. “Um, Your Majesty, you’re here because,” he cleared his throat for a moment, “you want to ask for our son’s hand in marriage.”
“Yes,” Sebastian replied stiffly. These people appeared to be overwhelmed by the display of power in their living room, but at any point, they could say ‘no’. And if they did that, he would have to kidnap Milo and take him to Ifigia, which wouldn’t sit well with the budding relationships between Earth and his kingdom. While he was willing to go to war, it would have been much better if they hadn’t gotten to that point. Maybe Milo’s parents weren’t aware of what hung in the balance. Would it be a good idea to point it out to them? But no, that would very much feel like he was pressing them into accepting, and they had to be free to do so by their own conviction.
“He’s a bit young,” Mr. Bennett mumbled and stole another nervous glance at the guards.
“Nonsense, dear,” Mrs. Bennett intervened, in a strained, a bit high-pitched voice. “My cousin married at sixteen!”
“And divorced at seventeen,” Mr. Bennett pointed out patiently.
There would be no divorce in their case. Sebastian was sure of it.
“Why do you have to focus on the negative?” Mrs. Bennett asked and made a face that caused Mr. Bennett to pull away like a frightened rabbit. “Your Majesty--” she started.
“Please, call me Sebastian,” Sebastian said.
“Sebastian,” she continued and smiled, “we would be honored--”
“But we should let Milo decide,” Mr. Bennett said quickly and then withdrew to his side of the table like he was afraid of some instant retaliation.
Mrs. Bennett seemed on the point to say something as she turned her head toward her husband, but there was a commotion at the door, and a very disheveled Milo made his way through the guards until he reached the table. “Sebastian, what are you doing here?” he asked.
Sebastian had to keep himself from grabbing Milo and kissing him on the spot. Everyone back home had insisted that he should show a bit of restraint until he brought his husband-to-be to the palace for the wedding ceremony. So he stood and buttoned his ceremonial jacket. “I am here,” he said solemnly, “to make an honest man out of you, as you asked.”
Milo’s eyes grew wide and traveled to his parents. He waved at them as if they were sitting at a significant distance from him. “Hi mom, hi dad,” he mumbled. “I graduated today.”
“Congratulations, son,” Milo’s father said.
“And now you’re getting married,” Milo’s mother said promptly.
Sebastian could feel his head pounding. Why did his future father-in-law like those stiff drinks so much? He groaned as Milo pushed him on the bed and took off his boots. “We should travel to Ifigia soon. They’re waiting with bated breath for me to bring my beloved home,” he drawled the words. They were in Milo’s room while the guards were housed at a nearby hotel. The carriage and horses were still photographed, but an army of veterinarians and volunteers who loved horses were on the grounds to offer the best care for the beasts.
“And they’ll wait until you’re no longer hangover. Man, you sure know how to propose.”
“That’s how a prince does it,” Sebastian declared and held one hand high. Milo grabbed it and kissed it.
“My parents are beyond themselves. My mom doesn’t know what to wear. My dad wants to know if you have enough alcohol.”
“Luna will take care of your mother’s wardrobe. You can tell your father that there is alcohol in Ifigia, although maybe nothing as vile as what he gave me all afternoon.” Sebastian didn’t protest as Milo turned him on all sides and undressed him completely. “Are you sure they’re all right with my sleeping in your room although we’re not yet married?”
“You have some really funny moral principles all of a sudden. We already did all kinds of crazy things, right? And mom wants to make sure that you’re not changing your mind.”
“What about your father?”
“He’s not going to go against my mom. By the way, you should have asked me first.”
“What?” Sebastian rubbed his face against the pillow and groaned.
“You know, the marriage stuff.”
“For real? But I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t have to start a war.”
“What war? Sebastian?” Milo pressed against him, covering him with his body.
“A war against Earth, for you,” Sebastian explained, and his eyelids closed. He would never drink again.