“I have a feeling I’m interrupting,” I say stupidly because I can’t think of anything else. “I can come later…?”
“He wants to run away,” Erik rolls his eyes.
“Indeed,” Gotrid seconds.
For two people who can’t be more different, they have quite a few striking similarities. They’re looking at me with the same expression and their minds seem to be in unison right now.
“Erik, I… I’m so sorry!” I blurt out.
“I’m the one who’s sorry,” Gotrid shakes his head. “I should have never approached Your Majesty like that. But I didn’t play games, I swear. I love you, my Emperor!”
Erik flinches hearing those words but his reaction isn’t as strong as I’d have expected.
“Gotrid went looking for me after you sent him away,” he says slowly. “Admittedly, he was the last person I wanted to see but he’s persistent, I have to give him that.”
“A-and?” I gulp.
“After I threw a few things at him he deflected with his telekinesis, we finally talked,” he sighs resignedly.
“And then we talked some more when we returned to the hotel,” Gotrid adds. “It turns out we’re both very stubborn but we had enough time to come to terms eventually. Zetraya helped a lot, he’s an excellent relationship mediator. We called him when we reached a dead end.”
“Ryuu, how often have you been forcing yourself to act more human around me?” Erik asks and sounds really sad about it.
“I… I didn’t… not particularly,” I say quickly, startled by the sudden question.
Erik shakes his head because he knows I’m lying.
“Let’s all sit down,” Gotrid suggests. “And could we have some privacy, please?” he looks at the guards. “I’m here and should count as a bodyguard.”
“We’ll be in the lobby,” Vermiel nods and takes the guards with him. They’re still very close but shouldn’t hear us at least.
I nervously look around where to sit. The sofa is full already and even though I could squeeze in, something tells me that we have to talk this through conventionally without resorting to telepathy which means no touching either of them for now.
There’s a fluffy carpet in front of an antique decorative fireplace so I land there and comfortably spread my wings only to wrap myself in them a second later. I’m just too anxious and this is a typically Celestial protective pose.
“One moment he’s the mighty Emperor impressing everyone at the conference, the other a feathered cocoon hiding into his own wings,” Erik can’t help himself and bursts laughing. I hope it’s a good sign. I mean… I don’t feel any anger coming from him.
“Cute, right?” Gotrid melts.
“You saw me?” I blush. “How was I?”
“We watched an edited footage of the most important moments. You were spectacular, love,” Erik praises me. “Okay, this doesn’t feel right,” he takes a pillow and sits down so that he’s on the same level as me.
Gotrid quickly follows. After all, it’s considered against the court etiquette to be seated higher than the Emperor.
“So,” Gotrid clears his throat.
“So,” Erik bites his lip.
“You’re staring,” I hide my face behind my wings. “It’s embarrassing.”
“If only those politicians knew how adorably shy the Celestial Emperor is in private,” Gotrid has another heart melt.
“Ryuu, look at us, please,” Erik pleads. “Why do you always expect the worst possible outcome?”
“Because?” I lower my wings. “What did you talk about with Zetraya?”
“We covered several topics,” Erik recalls. “From my jealousy issue, Gotrid’s stupid approach to love pursuit to your special needs.”
“Special needs? That sounds weird,” I frown.
“Well, you’re the Celestial Emperor AND a telepath,” Gotrid states the obvious. “Erik told me and Zetraya about your love history and according to our psychologist you actually might not be physiologically able to be in a strictly monogamic relationship since you’re a telepath.”
“Wait, Zetraya knows? Did you tell him?” I get pissed off.
“Nobody told him, Ryuu,” Erik calms me down. “He’s very bright and after a few sessions with us, he put two and two together. Liana’s right, we simply don’t talk enough when we’re together and he noticed something’s off right away. And considering everything that’s been happening lately, such a thing as telepathy isn’t a crazy guess anymore. We really have to be more careful. Someone else could easily find out as well.”
“So when we called him today,” Gotrid takes over. “He already had a possible conclusion in mind.”
“But physiologically incapable? For real?” I don’t believe it. “We were managing just fine.”
“By being literally inseparable,” Erik reminds me.
“We were training to be separated for a couple of hours,” I oppose. “I thought it went rather well.”
“Ehm… sorry to break it to you but our experiment failed,” Erik has to disappoint me. “Liana told me just yesterday in case something went wrong at the conference that each time we were separate, you connected to her instead. I bet you weren’t even aware of it. She just didn’t have the heart to tell you because you were trying so hard.”
“Oh,” I hug my knees. “Dammit.”
“I’m sorry, Ryuu,” Erik is saddened, “in my chronic jealousy, I totally disregarded your special needs. I think I knew deep down but I didn’t want to see it. I wanted you all for myself but you’re simply not cut for monogamic relationships.”
My voice fails me. Is this the part Erik is going to break up with me? Maybe it was me who refused to see the truth all this time. I thought that my previous polyamoric tendencies were connected to my insecurity to fully open up to someone but that might not have to be the case. I needed more connections so that I wouldn’t have to cling only to one person.
“I won’t be able to do it straight away,” Erik slowly continues. “I’m a possessive person, remember? But I’m willing to change. For you. For us.”
I look at him, dumbfounded. What is he even suggesting?
“His Majesty doesn’t get it,” Gotrid slaps his forehead.
Erik takes three deep breaths; his emotions are fluttering like crazy as he has to fight his very self. I admire him for that because whatever he’s attempting to say, it goes against his learnt patterns and inner principles.
“I reconsidered and Gotrid isn’t so insufferable after he sincerely apologised to me,” he says. “I think I can endure him. I genuinely want to see you happy, Ryuu, and if that’s the compromise I have to accept, so be it.”
“Endure? Accept?” I still don’t get it. Or I do but I refuse to believe what he’s implying.
“His Majesty is so cutely slow in these things,” Gotrid giggles. “My Emperor, Erik is suggesting we’re both your official Royal Consorts.”
I’m left speechless and hide into my wings again. Is such an outcome even possible? Can I be so greedy? Lore-wise, there’s nothing in the way. The Emperor is free to have as many partners as they want. There’s no way I’m taking the shady harem path as in some stupid anime but maybe two isn’t a bad idea?
I love Erik with all my heart but at the same time I’m pretty confident that I can love more people equally. I already love Liana and even though it’s not erotic kind of love, it’s not smaller than my love for Erik and he knows that. Maybe that’s why he’s not that afraid I’ll start preferring Gotrid.
“You’re not worried my attention will be divided between you two?” I confide my biggest concern.
“I’d be lying if I said I’m not,” Erik says honestly. “But I trust you. Besides, there already are occasions when I can’t accompany you like flying.”
“Your Majesty, you’re not looking at us,” Gotrid points out and lightly touches my feathers.
I immediately get goosebumps when I receive a full dose of his love. I have to forcefully pull my mind out so that we can continue with our conversation.
“Erik, are you really okay with it?” my eyes start watering. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Franky, I’m not thrilled about it but you’d hurt me only if you stopped loving me,” he assures me. “If you treat us equally, I’ll take it as a training to overcome my chronic jealousy. Sorry in advance that it won’t be quick. I’ll probably cause a few jealous scenes before I get there.”
“You stupid, don’t apologise,” I can’t hold myself anymore and jump into his embrace.
I connect to him immediately and moan when his love hits me. I’m astonished how much progress he was able to do in such a short amount of time but then I find out that he was working on himself all this time. The results just didn’t have a chance manifest because he needed a rite of passage that would literally drag him out of his comfort zone.
“So… do you think I could join now?” Gotrid asks innocently.
“A few rules,” Erik has to push me back because I want to kiss him all over. “First, we’re sharing Ryuuto so there’s no way you’re touching me, is that clear?”
“A pity, you’re handsome for a human,” Gotrid winks and gets Erik’s ostentatious eye roll. “Just kidding, my heart belongs to my Emperor and no one else.”
“Second, respect my private space,” Erik continues and shoves his feathers away. “Third, I won’t tolerate if you’ll start usurping Ryuuto for yourself. Fourth, no silly jokes on my account.”
“Got it,” he nods and tries to be serious about it but his lips are twitching in a suppressed grin. “Erik, really, I actually like you. Sure, you’re my rival but that’s healthy competition, right?”
“I don’t want you to be rivals,” I purse my lips and I still can’t wrap my head around it. I’m not dreaming, am I?
“Ehm…!” somebody coughs loudly, startling us. “Why are you on the floor, Your Majesty? Stand up, please, it’s unbecoming.”
It’s Cien, coming with a cart that’s carrying our dinner.
“Also, Her Excellency is dying to know if you talked it through and what sort of conclusion you reached. And possibly send damage control.”
“I think we’re fine,” Gotrid produces a wide smile and finally hugs me.
I gasp for breath because his touch makes me connect to him but since I’m already holding Erik, it ends up in a telepathic loop.
“Whoa… okay, maybe not the best idea right from the start,” Gotrid lets go, astonished.
“Definitely not before dinner,” Cien frowns at us but I can feel that she’s overjoyed seeing us together.
It’s not that my subjects were disapproving of Erik, they really do respect and value him. They just saw clearly what I was refusing to see for months—that my nature craves a Celestial partner. So I guess this is the best possible outcome for all parties.
“What about we invite Liana?” Erik suggests and helps me on my legs.
“Sure, I wouldn’t want her to be alone anyway,” I say even though ‘alone’ is a vague term in our case. She’d still be accompanied by her maids and guards. But that’s obviously not the same.
What an unexpected turn of events. Just an hour ago I was afraid Erik will want to break up with me and now I’m sitting at table with two partners. They’re gazing at each other with narrowed eyes but the fact that they don’t fight anymore is good enough for now.
“Erik, stop clicking your tongue and you, Gotrid, stop provoking him with your feathers,” I scold them. “I’m starting to think you’re going to be a lot of work and I have a lot of work as it is so chill, guys.”
Erik puffs when Gotrid finally pulls away his wings but for now they’re both behaving. It’s a miracle that they didn’t get into a fight. Oh, wait. They kind of did. Erik mentioned he was throwing things at Gotrid who had to resort to telekinesis.
“You made up?!” Liana blurts out the moment she appears in the door, changed into a comfortable night robe.
“Made up suggests we were friends who had an argument which is not the case,” Erik grumbles. “Let’s say we agreed on a reasonable arrangement.”
“You did?” she claps in celebration. “Oh, Erik, I knew you’d put Aefener’s happiness and wellbeing first. I never doubted you.”
“What about that guy?” Erik points at Gotrid. “You never doubted him either?”
“Oh, there was never really an issue from Gotrid’s side,” Liana waves her hand. “He knew Aefener would never give you up so he agreed to become the second Consort from the start.”
“Sorry about the teasing, I couldn’t help myself when I finally met my beautiful Emperor in person and went totally overboard,” Gotrid apologises again.
“Right, Ryuuto would never give me up,” Erik says proudly.
“Wait, you planned all this?” I find out. I want to get angry at her but I can’t. I’m too happy right now.
“Not exactly planned, no,” she shakes her head. “But Gotrid’s motives were clear from the very beginning and since it was obvious you fancy him… I simply agreed that he can try to win you over and persuade Erik. If you refused, however, I’d send him away.”
“Send away,” Gotrid cries. “You’re merciless, Your Excellency.”
“I have to be,” she shrugs and puts salad on her plate. “I’m working for the benefit of our people but first and foremost my Emperor. As both his Viceroy and closest friend, I want to see him happy, whatever that might entail.”
“You’re not eating, love,” Erik nudges me.
“Because I’m too busy processing what happened and watching your interaction,” I say but realising I’m actually hungry now that the biggest stress is over, I bite into my falafel.
“Gotrid, we have to watch if Ryuu is eating properly,” Erik tells him in all seriousness which makes me almost choke. “Because more often than not, he isn’t.”
So now both of them will be watching my diet? Is this turning into a nightmare?
“Understood,” Gotrid grins and tries to put two more falafel balls on my plate. I kick him under the table but he isn’t backing off.
“Two lovers, twice as much troubles?” Liana sings, evidently amused.
We eat and chat merrily until it’s high time for bed. Liana winks at us and leaves, yawning. And then another problem presents itself. Gotrid has no intention to leave for his room.
“We agreed to take things slowly,” Erik reminds him irritably. “Besides, the bed is too small for the three of us.”
“You can take the sofa then?” Gotrid suggests cheekily. “You were enjoying our lovely Emperor every day until now.”
“I will do no such thing,” Erik retorts and his jealousy emerges.
But I’m not worried. It’s not as strong as before and I knew he wouldn’t change overnight. And it hasn’t even been a night, only a couple of hours. It’s a miracle that Erik is okay with Gotrid entering our bedroom.
“Ehm, gentlemen,” I cough. “What about asking what I want? Maybe I just want to sleep, it’s been a long day.”
“Then you both go on the sofa,” I decide.
“Maybe we can squeeze somehow after all,” Erik is suddenly very busy measuring the bed.
“I’m going to brush my teeth until you work it out,” I choose a tactical retreat and quickly close the door to the bathroom behind me.
I sigh because I can hear them arguing and feel their emotions flutter. But they’re at least trying to cooperate. Poor Erik, it must be very hard for him. Gotrid was prepared beforehand that he won’t be my only lover and his thinking is Celestial so he counted on not being the only partner to the Emperor but Erik must be going crazy.
I think my love for him grew even more. He’s willing to change for me and work on his biggest issue. If our relationship survives this, then it survives whatever may come. I feel weirdly tense and relaxed about it at the same time.
On one hand, I was forcing myself into monogamy—something that’s unnatural to my telepathic brain as it turns out—but on the other hand, two partners mean twice as much relationship drama and commitment. Will I have time and energy for that?
I flush my mouth, wash my face and return to the bedroom. I find Erik and Gotrid sitting on the opposite sides of the bed and they both look offended.
“Go brush your teeth or I won’t kiss you good night,” I give them a condition.
They look at each other and sprint to the bathroom. In the meanwhile, I’m trying to solve how to get out of my ceremonial robe. I could call Cien but I want to be able to at least undress myself. How did she tie that? How does that hang there? Why the hell are royal clothes so complicated?
“Let me, Your Majesty,” Gotrid returns first and hugs me from behind as a pretext to untie my robe.
I get goosebumps again when our wings touch.
“T-timeout!” I push him away.
“Did I do something wrong, my Emperor?” he tilts his head, confused.
“Maybe he doesn’t like you that way after all?” Erik smirks and helps me instead.
“That’s not it… it’s just… we never really even kissed before and now we’re supposed to share a bed?” I mumble nervously.
Erik’s hands are shaking when he’s undressing me. Gotrid’s presence makes him anxious. Just yesterday he wasn’t even dreaming of letting Gotrid as much as touch me and now his rival is standing in our bedroom. I have to admire him for his self-control.
“W-wait,” I jerk away when Erik and Gotrid lean to touch me at the same time. “I don’t think I’ll be able to keep you separate in my mind.”
“Meaning?” Gotrid asks curiously, having no practical experience with my telepathy so far.
“I make a deep telepathic connection with my partner,” I explain, hoping I’m understandable. “It’s like two minds fusing with each other. Only this time it’ll be three minds.”
“Will I still be aware of myself?” Gotrid scratches his chin.
“Of course, but you’ll see my mind as well as Erik’s,” I rather tell him straight away. “Are you both sure you’re okay with it?”
“Is there an alternative?” he asks.
“You go sleep on the sofa?” I shrug.
“Except for that,” Gotrid chuckles. “We don’t have to have sex if you want to take things slowly, Your Majesty.”
“I think Ryuu wasn’t thinking of that at all considering the circumstances,” Erik corrects him. “But he’s used to falling asleep connecting to my mind.”
“Oh, right,” Gotrid is taken aback. “I’m sorry. I’ve presumed too much, Your Majesty.”
And then it hits me. Gotrid is still addressing me with my title!
“As my partner, you can use my name, you know,” I point out. “So use it, please?”
“But that’s… I don’t know… I mean… you’re still my Emperor,” Gotrid gets more bewildered that he should have. Is it such a big deal for Celestials?
“You want to do lewd things with me but you’re not able to call me by my name?” I raise my eyebrow but I actually find it quite adorable.
“Ryuu,” Erik tenderly pronounces my human name and pushes me to bed.
I don’t really feel like having sex and Erik certainly isn’t thrilled about Gotrid joining us but he knows I’m always in for cuddling. Gotrid doesn’t stay aside for long and quickly gets behind me, caressing my wings.
I gasp for breath and call for a timeout again.
“T-too intense,” I’m trying to even my breathing. “Gotrid, you’re too excited. Erik, your distaste for Gotrid is pouring out.”
They both sit down in front of me, biting their lips. Just how can they be so similar?!
“What do you suggest, love?” Erik eyes his rival.
“I’m confident that I can handle you but you need to calm down,” I say. “I have to get used to double telepathic load first and until I do, I’m afraid I have to put a ban on sex.”
“Don’t make my headache worse, guys,” I massage my temples. “Plus, I’m seriously tired after today.”
“Sorry, we have no consideration, do we?” Erik repents. “Lie down, hon, I’ll give you a massage.”
“Does Your Majesty often suffer from headaches?” Gotrid is concerned because my health issues are strictly confidential so he doesn’t know anything about them yet.
“Only when I have to face a lot of humans with turbulent emotions,” I explain and take off my under-robe. Gotrid melts at the sight of my naked body but I quickly lie down on my stomach, spreading my wings to the sides.
At first, it’s only Erik gently massaging my back muscles but soon Gotrid dares to join as well. Because they managed to calm down a bit, their minds don’t hit me as strong. It seems I can keep them separate if I’m not aroused myself.
I gently bring them closer but only to the extend I think they should be able to handle. I’ve never done it before—bringing two minds together like this. I can feel Erik resisting when he gets a taste of Gotrid’s emotions but he holds on bravely.
I try to show him that despite being too eager and competitive in the beginning, Gotrid means well. Then I try to show Gotrid that Erik is antagonistic because he wants to protect me. When their resistance mitigates, I delve into Gotrid’s mind.
I’ve always took him for a cheerful guy who can make a joke out of everything so it surprises me twice as much that it’s something he developed as a coping mechanism. I ask him for a permission and go deeper into his memories.
I find out that he grew up in a very traditional family and when he came out as gay, they disowned him. He had to take various odd jobs while studying at college to support himself and developed his unique sense of humour and self-confidence back then.
It’s quite embarrassing, he tells me when I catch a glimpse of the 21-year-old him working at a pizza place under a terrible boss.
Embarrassing?! I just have to admire him for being able to finish his studies despite taking several student-loans and then working it off. He started as an intern but he gradually made it to a high-class manager. And all that without any support from his family. He’s simply amazing!
What I felt for him in the beginning was mainly physical attraction and fascination. That’s not true anymore. My feelings towards him are rapidly transforming into something much deeper and meaningful. I was right when I said that one deep telepathic connection and I’d fall for him. I’m falling for him now.
I switch for Erik’s lap, feverishly kissing him. I have to let him know that nothing has changed between us. My love for him isn’t any smaller just because there’s Gotrid now. I can love them equally, I’m sure of it. And for the first time ever I’m happy that I was born a telepath.
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