This is Where (Adel) Goes Berserk, Part 2

…And finds out that he should have maybe kept his mouth shut because Bathasar is just a little too astute for Adel’s comfort.

Adel didn’t like the smirk on his friend’s face. “You know how to stop that, don’t you?” he asked, and Adel tried, he really did, to keep the glare contained. He guessed by the grin that he failed.

“I do not take slaves.”

“So, you have said.” Bathasar raised his eyebrows. “And, even to save Ghalib from “those men,” you wouldn’t consider it?”

Adel frowned. “I…that’s not fair.” He shook his head. “This… I don’t understand. Perhaps I should talk to him, instead. Maybe he can see reason. He is, as you say, intelligent. There must be a better way to handle this.”

Bathasar shook his head, poorly containing his widening grin. “I believe talking to him might help.” He sighed and sobered a bit. “But you might go into it with the idea of trying to understand him. He is lost. He does need something more. But this way of serving is… yes, I told you before I don’t understand it completely. But they would not harm him. Cyrus and Nadir are very good at what they do.”

Adel looked up, pursing his lips. “Harm him? What is that supposed to mean? He’s a slave! It’s harder to harm someone more unless you kill them.”

Bathasar sighed again. “He is… much like my love Teman, he is a slave in name only. He chose to become part of them. He wanted to explore this part of himself. I saw no reason to deny him.”

“He’s just a boy!” Adel burst out. “He hardly knows—”

“Ghalib is a man. Fully grown and more than capable of making his own decisions. Tell me, Adel, if he were not a servant, knowing his age as I know you do, would you have hesitated to spend time with him? Take him to bed?”

Adel looked away. He didn’t need to answer; Bathasar already knew it. He’d spent more than a few sleepless nights thinking about that very thing, wondering what Ghalib would feel like, taste like. Hints of the man’s scent had been haunting him for weeks. “What about him being a slave makes you hesitate now? Is it because others will have touched him?”

Adel snorted before he could stop it. “I am hardly that hypocritical. That would be exceedingly unfair, would it not?” He refused to examine the small thought prodding him in the back of his mind, telling him that was exactly the problem, that he wanted to be the only one touching Ghalib, he wanted to be the one to bring the man pleasure.

“Then what?” Bathasar tilted his head, looking genuinely puzzled.

“I…” Adel frowned then shrugged. “I don’t know exactly. I suppose the thought of slavery always chafed. But you say he is a slave in name only?”

Bathasar nodded. “Yes. I have asked him to give it a chance, see the training through but if he was truly unhappy, I would not make him stay.”

Adel shook his head. “Even so. There must be another way. I… I need to talk to him, try to get him to see reason.” He started to stand when Bathasar held a hand out.

“Please. I am quite sure he will talk to you, but give him a couple of days. He will have a lot to deal with in the beginning. Let him get settled a bit before you go. And do me a favor.”

Adel raised an eyebrow. “What is that?”

“I will talk to Cyrus and Nadir. Watch him, just for a short while, before you try to talk him out of it.”

“Watch him?”

Bathasar nodded. “Yes. There are places you can observe what is going on. Watch him, see how he handles it. Then talk to him.”

Adel frowned. He wanted to talk to Ghalib now, wanted to stop this foolishness, but he wasn’t about to go against Bathasar’s wishes. “Two days. I can wait that long. And I will watch.”

He didn’t like the smirk hidden behind Bathasar’s wine goblet. “Two days,” Bathasar agreed, sipping.

Adel narrowed his eyes. That had been too easy, but with no better idea for how to argue his point, he kept his silence and focused on his wine.

Two days suddenly felt like an eternity.

* * *

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