Wart was actually not sleeping yet, but he let Kay shake him awake as if he had been.
"Wake up, wake up, will you?" Kay's hands stripped away the blankets and shook him like the hunting party charging through the undergrowth, while Wart pretended to be limp as a boned fish and snoring soundly. It was a game that the sleeping party could never hope to win, but continued long beyond the point where he could realistically be expected to still be sleeping, out of sheer bloodymindedness. Wart feinted rolling over quite unconcerned as Kay pounded on his back with his fists.
"You're not sleeping, I can see your eyes winking!" Kay set upon Wart in earnest now, but still he resisted mightily. He lay as still as a huntsman in the woods will sometimes do, disciplining every nerve in his body.
It was a venerable game that had no doubt been played so long as there were at least two people on this earth, one to sleep and the other to awaken him, but there was an edge to it this evening, like the damp chill of the castle's bones. Wart was not yet made Kay's squire, as he always knew that he would be, but he knew now that the time was approaching very soon indeed when he would be, and then all would be changed. It was not that Kay was a bad chap, and Wart was sure that if he had to be a squire he would not want to be anyone else's squire, but he still wanted to be a knight, and those longings kept welling up whether he wanted them or no. Furthermore, when Kay had become a grand knight and Wart was his lowly squire, things could not help but be different. There would be no more jolly give-and-take, there would only be taking.
Wart did not think it all through like that, of course. He just saw that Kay was spending less and less time with him, and he grew sulky and snappish. The more he snapped, the less likely Kay was to ask him to do anything, and the lonelier he grew, the more Wart sulked. At the present moment he was sulking with a vengeance.
"You shall wake up, Wart, for I want you."
Kay's voice was fierce and low, and Wart was strongly tempted to open his eyes right then in order that he might see the expression on Kay's face. To save his own face, naturally, he pretended he was awakening naturally and of his own volition, with a stretch and a yawn and two fluttering eyes. Kay was leaning over him with an intense stare and a set jaw, dramatic in the low yellow lamplight. Some other emotion washed over his face and changed it when he saw that Wart's eyes were open, although Wart did not know what it was, and he didn't think that he had ever seen it before.
"What is it you want, then?" Wart tried to sound sleepy, but he didn't think it came off very well.
Kay laughed. His laugh was ragged, worn through in patches by nerves. "Just something you owe me as my squire."
"I'm not your squire yet, am I?" Wart snapped back, automatically, like a loosed bowstring.
"No, but you will be, so you have to learn."
"Learn what? You haven't said." Wart capitulated as he always did, such that Kay hadn't actually said a word about his parents in ages, but he was still surly about it, nevertheless.
"Just something," Kay mumbled. He hung his head a bit, staring at his own hands and picking at his sleeves, and something about the way he avoided looking at Wart at all made him realize for the first time in his life that he was naked. He felt his whole face going warm, and he wanted to pull the sheets back over himself, but he didn't. For a moment, he was too embarrassed to move.
"Look here, get out of bed," Kay ordered, and Wart tumbled out, self-consciously. Their heights were of a muchness now, or nearabouts, but Kay was still a good deal heavier, and not all of the dignity he tried to put about was wholly derived from his own bluster. Wart came out suddenly in goosebumps, and not just because the air in the castle was chill.
Kay pushed Wart back onto the bed, now sprawled over it head-first, like an erring hunter over the quarry. His hands were rough and awkward, and they were cold.
"What are you doing?" Wart twisted his head around to look. Kay was fumbling with the laces of his breeches.
"I'm taking my pleasure," Kay growled, "I suppose you are too stupid to know anything about it, but it is what knights do."
"I never heard anything about it."
"You wouldn't. It's unspoken. It's a tradition passed from knight to knight in secrecy on pain of death."
"Would you hush?" Kay cuffed Wart about the head and Wart held his tongue. He kept his eyes fixed on Kay. "And stop looking back at me." Kay demanded pettishly. Wart pillowed his head on crossed arms and waited. He closed his eyes, and the whole of his world whittled down to the rasp of rough linen on the one side, the hot prickle of shame on the other. When he felt Kay's two hands on his bum, rough and damp with nerves, he shuddered, convulsively, and he didn't know why. He was familiar with cycles of need and release, getting it off quickly in order to relax, drawing it out in order to savour the pleasure, but nothing like the bewilderment of emotions that swamped him as he hardened at Kay's touch, pressing his groin hungrily against the sheets.
Wart was for the briefest moment reminded of when they were younger and nearly inseparable and Kay often carried an apple on him. Often he crunched them noisily for himself and Wart pretended to ignore him, but sometimes he would cleave the crisp white flesh with his thumbs and give part to his half brother, and they would share in the sweetness, and spit the seeds at each other. It seemed to him, though he could not see, that Kay was trying to split him open with his thumbs, just so.
Wart didn't realize what Kay was trying to do, what he could be looking for, until he found it. Wart gasped, and jammed his first finger between his teeth to prevent himself from doing more than that. Kay's fingers were rough, and awkward, and they hurt, but that was not what made it so difficult for him to keep from crying out; he was used to covering worse pain with a stoic face, but unprepared for feelings like this.
He felt Kay pressing up against him, felt the soft hot snub wetness of him and that strange pleasure that made him shake. He felt Kay's hunger, and his frustration; he felt pain again as Kay pushed blindly, and hard. He felt his own teeth sharp on his finger and heard a whimpering noise, more puppy than boy. He realized, with an agonizing writhe of embarrassment, that that puppy was himself.
Kay froze. He pulled away, leaving Wart stretched out over the bed, hiding his red cheeks and his confusion.
Wart waited for Kay to start what he had been doing again, or to say something, or to in some other way show him what he ought to be thinking, but Kay left him with nothing but silence. Finally, Wart wriggled and craned his head around to look, tugging on a quilt to assuage his newfound modesty. Kay stood still, his breeches still unlaced and forgotten. His head was bowed, uncomfortably, as if it were unaccustomed.
"You don't have to do this," Kay said, after a moment. His voice was low and tight, his hands spread in defeat. "I lied. I just...I just wanted..."
Wart heard how close Kay was to sobbing. He was filled with a great tenderness, as if he were the older, the stronger, the wiser of the two. He saw Kay, saw the bad and the good alike and loved him for it nonetheless. He rose as Kay looked ready to bolt from the room, trailing the quilt like a cloak as he did so.
"What if I asked you to?" Wart said, very quietly. Kay slowly tilted his head back to meet Wart's eyes before him. "You can try it again," Wart suggested, scarcely knowing how he dared.
Kay laughed, uncomfortably, still perilously close to tears. He did not move from where he stood.
Wart reached out one arm and pulled him onto the bed, letting the quilt slip to the floor. For a moment they were tussling, pure reflex, arms and legs flailing, and then Kay was on top again, winning out by dint of strength and weight, just like he always did. His palms pinned down Wart's bare shoulders and his cock bobbed greedily against Wart's naked thigh. Wart reached with his left hand and wrapped his fingers around it.
The angle was wrong and his grip was awkward and he hadn't any rhythm to speak of, and it was perfect, to judge by Kay's low, hungry moan. Wart had never heard anything so good. He clung fiercely to Kay as Kay rolled off of him, but Kay wasn't running away; rather, he lay on his side and reached over to reciprocate, to share the sweetness. And, with the revelatory conviction of the young who are discovering sex for the first time, Wart knew that nothing had ever felt so good as Kay's hands, Kay's rough, thick fingers, when they found his cock.
Kay closed his eyes, and kept them shut; it made him look innocent and young, incongruously so. Kay's lips were pressed firmly together now, not a sound escaping them, and Wart knew that the tiny, puppyish sounds that matched to the syncopated rhythm of their jerking came from him, but he was beyond embarrassment. He wound his right hand through Kay's straw-straight hair and tightened the grip of his left as Kay bucked, skittishly, out of control. Wart felt the mess all over his hand and Kay's breeches and the sheet that was rucked up underneath them, and he didn't care; he threw his arm around Kay and pressed up close to him and he was perfectly happy with who he was, and where he was, even before the fireworks exploded.
For some time they lay still, curled up together in the thoroughly-debauched bed; perhaps for a space of a minute or more. Kay was, naturally, the first to break the silence. "Aren't you going to clean up the mess you made?"
This was, of course, monstrously unfair, as well as clearly intended as provocation. Wart felt that he deserved some sort of recognition, perhaps in the form of a knighthood, for merely responding, "It's my bed you've ruined, you know. You could just get out of it."
Each ignored the other's suggestion. Wart sat up and looked thoughtfully down at Kay, who rolled away from the wet spot and stretched out, joining his hands behind his head. "What was it you were going to do with me?" Wart asked, finally.
"Can you really be that stupid?" Kay snorted derisively.
"I thought you said you were going to teach me."
"Perhaps I will."
Wart could see that Kay would go no further that night, and so, reluctantly, he left it at that.