67. Laying Down Pipe

The Magnificent Five still ride out at least weekly, so time is scarce. Even so, to Inglorion’s surprise, he’s intrigued and humbled, and feels compelled to be drawn, just like he used to seek out mirrors to study his Drow eyes. He’s also seen enough to know that if he intends to collaborate with Lawrence, he’ll have to hang around the studio for several hours a week, drinking coffee, bumming cigarettes, arguing with the artist, and educating his own taste. Improbably, this is exactly what he does.

Lawrence’s drawings capture Inglorion’s features, but he also has an eye for quirks of expression and gesture that are so accurate as to feel insulting. In a single afternoon, the artist will reduce Inglorion to a cluster of features and anatomy; sketch a profile that’s breathtakingly fierce and regal; then fixate for an hour on some distressing trick of shade or texture.

During a coffee break, as they’re looking over a particularly technical study of Inglorion’s shins and ankles, Lawrence asks, “Why do you sit for me?”

“God knows it doesn’t serve my ego,” says Inglorion. “I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t interest me. The real mystery is why it interests you.”

“That’s easy. You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

Inglorion understands that Lawrence is half in love with him, but his interest is purely aesthetic and physical, and his perceptions are clear to the point of cruelty. Flirting with Ajax would be mean; with Lawrence, it’s a form of self-defense. Inglorion winks, then, and says, “You should have met Tereus. Six foot two, strong as an ox. Twelve or 13 stone of hot elf. And they say he was a dog if you got him drunk.”

Lawrence dismisses Tereus Shelawn with an impatient gesture. “Tereus was a thug.”

“So am I.”

“Break time’s up,” says Lawrence. “Time to take a pose.”

Inglorion is perched on the edge of the chaise lounge, wearing his breeches and nothing else. “Anything special?”

“How do you see yourself?” Lawrence often asks some version of this question, which Inglorion finds incoherent.

“I don’t, you know. I think it’s a Drow thing. I know my looks exist from their effects on others, but it doesn’t feel personal to me.”

“Why not just pose as Tereus, then?”

Inglorion waits a moment before answering, then says in quiet, level tones, “Because I loathe everything he stands for. That whole fucking thing of worshipping a man in a uniform on a horse. He sickens me, and it sickens me to see him eroticized.”

Lawrence looks at him thoughtfully, glances down at his charcoal and paper. “What is hot, then?”

Inglorion laughs, throws himself back on the chaise lounge. “Don’t ask me. I’m a pussy hound. All that masculine posturing is bullshit, though. It’s beside the point. What’s hot is desire.” He reaches over to his dressing gown, fishes out a cigarette and matches, lights it. He takes a drag, savors the combination of throat hit and nicotine rush. His next words are smoke-laden. “You want to know what’s hot?”

He settles into the chaise lounge to stare at the ceiling, cigarette in hand, free hand resting at his belt line. “What’s hot is when a girl is blowing you, and she’s only taking the first few inches. You can tell she wants it — her ass is in the air and she’s got a good grip on your cock. She wants to fuck, but she doesn’t want to get dirty. She’s being prim about it. So you cup the back of her head and grip her hair by the roots — it doesn’t hurt, it’s just to guide her. She’ll try to go faster to show that she’s into it and make you come. You hold her head still and push it in, just another inch or so, until she chokes on it. Let her come up for a breath. Her eyes are watering and her nose is running, and suddenly she wants your fucking dick in her throat more than she wants to look pretty or keep her composure, and she just chokes herself with it. That’s fucking hot.”

He laughs, flashes his eyes at Lawrence demurely. “Looks don’t matter, my friend. It’s all just workmanship, laying down pipe.” His cock is visibly hard through his breeches.

“Don’t move,” Lawrence hisses. “Don’t even breathe.” Inglorion reclines tamely while Lawrence scratches away. He mutters, “What’s that bruise on your neck? It’s perfect.

“I was sparring.” 

Lawrence adds a few more lines, says, “Keep holding it. I’m going to get some color on this.” As he’s setting out pastels, he adds, “You’ve hit it — Tereus’s expression.” He draws until the daylight begins to fade, then stretches, lights a branch of candles. Inglorion joins him at the easel. “I couldn’t show it. It’s too raw. But there’s something there.”

Raw is the right word. The bulge in the front of his fawn-colored breeches juts out heroically against a dark backdrop. One thumb is hooked in a belt loop, dragging the fabric down and away from his hipbone. Inglorion doesn’t doubt he was sprawled in exactly that manner, but it’s a distraction. The soul of the drawing lies elsewhere: The hollow between his clavicles, the etched line running through his navel, the light filigree of scarring on one wrist. Inglorion’s too thin, and Lawrence has caught a shade of almost juvenile awkwardness. Most of all, though, the mark-making is deft, assured. Each stroke and smudge flows into the next, leading the eye to hurry and dwell just as the artist’s did, and to savor a contradiction: Inglorion’s mix of brazen assurance and fragility.

Finally Inglorion says, “It’s not a pose I would choose, but you’ve found something. It makes me think of a few things I want to try.”

They regard the image with quiet satisfaction until the sunlight fails entirely.

For the first episode of Inglorion’s adventures,click here.

For a linked table of contents, listing all of Inglorion and Valentine’s adventures, click here.

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