The Lingam was a little shorter than the one in the Longhouse. The top came just to my eye level.
Before it stood a sizeable table set with a bowl. As in the alcoves, a flower floated here as well.
I could see clearly now that the surface of the shaft was even more elaborate than the gatepost outside. Here there was no abstract interlace. The figures of men, larger in scale than outside, teemed around its circumference, so densely that it seemed entirely composed of them rather than merely decorated on its surface. Rather than the chains of figures I'd seen outside, here they piled on top of one another in complex, irregular knots. At the very base, the Staghorn Lord sat in lotus position, his stand jutting from his lap and grasped from either side by an attendant. At the top, two elongated torsos formed the the ridge on the head. Their arms stretched toward the slit carved in the top, which held a deep silver insert borne in their hands.
From further back, I heard soft laughter that I recognized.
The centre aisle ended behind the Lingam with another curtain stretched across the middle of the room, leaving a wide opening to left and right as far as the outside walls, where tall, narrow weavings hung, one worked in brilliant reds and blues, the other in green and violet. Behind the curtain to the left, I found another single, central row of partitioned spaces. Curtains hung at either side of these, separating them from each aisle, but drawn back partway on the first two I passed. The curtain of the third was almost fully closed, open only an inch or so at the nearer end. I heard a deep sigh, and a whispered, "Oh, yes. There. Right there."
My breath caught. I inched forward to look between the curtains. Two men sat naked on the bed, their legs entwined. Yellowwood was facing me, arched back with his arms braced behind him. His nearer leg sprawled toward me. His fingers curled through Yarrow's unshorn red hair as he pulled my uncle's head to his chest. Yarrow's jaw rolled, and Yellowwood gasped. Between their bellies, their hands lay curled around each other's stands.
"Lord of the Dance! Please don't stop. Suck it harder," Yellowwood pleaded. Yarrow slid his hands from the younger man's flanks further around his back. The muscles of his shoulders went taut as he pressed his face tighter into Yellowwood's pale flesh.
Then he pulled back, and I heard his soft laugh again. "You really like that, don't you, sweet boy?" he whispered. "I like hearing you beg me to do it." He laid the pad of a thumb against each of Yellowwood's tiny, tight pink nipples, then caught them with a forefinger. "Do you want me to go on?"
Yellowwood collapsed forward, whimpering into Yarrow's shoulder. Yarrow responded by burrowing back into the flesh of his chest. Yarrow's hand flashed into a blur on Yellowwood's stand, stopped abruptly, flashed again, stopped.
"I need it. Please, I need it. I'm so hot for it. Suck on it. I love you, Yarrow, and I want you to please lick it forever. Till I merge into Lord Cernunnos."
My stand rose rock-hard watching them, but despair churned in my chest. I hated my own arousal. I wanted to to tear the curtain apart screaming. I wanted to part it gently, steal upon them and kiss Yarrow on the back of his neck. I wanted to pound my fists into the hunched muscles of his shoulders. I wanted to slap Yellowwood's face. I wanted to be Yellowwood and feel my uncle's mouth on me, as he felt it. I wanted to be Yarrow and feel Yellowwood's hard shaft in my hand. I wanted to be myself and do to Yarrow what he was doing to Yellowwood.
Unconscious of my action, I'd unknotted my lunghi and taken myself in hand. I looked down to see the thin, clear flow of my excitement drooling from the tip onto the floor below, then back up to find Yellowwood's eyes gazing directly into mine. I gasped, and Yarrow turned.
The slap of my shoes echoed from the walls as I ran toward the door. I remembered my nakedness only as I pushed it open into the glare of daylight. A man passing the gate looked across the garden court as I stood on the threshold. In embarassment at what was left of my stand, I slunk back into the dormitory.
Yarrow and Yellowwod stood near the Lingam. Holding the lunghi I'd dropped, Yarrow came toward me as I began to weep.
I jerked away as he reached out to touch my shoulder. I heard my own wailing as if it were coming from outside my own body.
"Brightsong--" he began again, and pulled me into his embrace. He was still naked, as was Yellowwood as he watched from further off. "Oh, Brightsong. My sweet, sweet boy."
"I'm not your sweet boy," I shouted. "That's what you called him." Yellowwood stood looking miserable and helpless without coming forward.
I wanted to push Yarrow away. Instead I collapsed on his shoulder and sobbed.
"So much to take in all at the start," he said, and stroked my hair. "It's all too fast."
"You said you wanted me to come. You said how glad you were I was here." I choked the words out in short gasps.
"It's alright. I meant every word of it," he whispered, and rocked forward and back as he held me. "I love you more than I can tell."
"But it's him you were with like that," I blurted back. "Go back to your sweet boy and finish chewing on him till he sees his god." I regretted the venom in my voice as soon as I spat it out.
He pulled back from me, visibly stung. "Leave Yellowwood out of this," he said, his voice gone cold. "This is about you and me."
"I came here to be with you, and you hardly took your eyes off him to look at me when we met you in the forecourt." I felt sudden humiliation at the thought of what Willowwind had said he remembered of me with Yarrow. "I'm not a puppy waiting for you to pet him. I'm a man. I don't need you if you're so busy with him."
"Then you were a child."
"And you like your boys grown up."
He slapped my face. I recoiled from the sting of it. "Oh, gods, Brightsong, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he said at once, reaching out to me again.
I grabbed my lunghi from where he'd dropped it at our feet. In the garden, I sat down weeping into the fountain.