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The Games we Play by Fantasy Weaver


Hi there! For those waiting on "Something to Soothe the Mind", hopefully this one-off story will keep you occupied while I work on Part 5. I’m putting a lot of brain juice into getting the pacing just right.

This story is just something I’ve had in my folders for a while, and decided to finally post it here. Male romance is my thing, so if that’s not what you’re looking for in a haircut fetish story, maybe skip over this one as it’s quite heavy on the innuendos. And yes, it is a haircut, not a shave.

(Skip over this part if you want to get to reading)

-If you are more into barberettes, you may like "Lost In (Your Voice) Translation".
-If you like longer stories, then my series of "Obsession" and "Passion" may be for you.
-If you enjoy tension and have a slight penchant for humiliation, "Of Hesitation and Doubt" has got you covered.
-If you find yourself craving for a gentler, more emotional story with the theme of healing haircuts, check out my ongoing story "Something to Soothe the Mind".

-Fantasy Weaver

Note:

-Some adult content ahead

The Games we Play

XXXXX

He had noticed the shop before, across his own on the bustling streets of their small town, a quaint building with ornate windows which offered views of the patrons inside. Such a pretty parlor, sure to give off a humble feeling. He often pondered what the men thought, seated there, with the gazes of the many able to peer through the glass, all the while the owner of the barbershop caped and lathered and cut.

Ah, but he too had been noticed, had been regarded through the windows of his own pottery shop, gazed at with mirth and mischief from across the cobblestone path, through the throngs of passers-by littering the road, and Percival was well aware of it, and he made sure to let the barber know it every moment he could.

His pottery wheel, stationed as it was beside the alcove, made it far too easy to work and peek all at once. Turned by way of the peddle he pushed with his right foot, he could sculpt a vase or kettle or bowl all the while keeping a keen eye on the inside of the barbershop. Perhaps, Percival often wondered, the barber also did his work by the window, to offer him a view, a tease, a tilt of his lips, a slip of the gaze.

Oh? As we speak, the handsome barber was looking his way, chair turned to the street, client too enraptured by the latest newspaper to even care or notice that the barber was cutting a little more slowly, less focused by his patron than he was by the potter next door.

Percival rewarded the man, whose hair of gold shone like the midday sun, with a cheeky, teasing lift of his lip. What a sight he must have been, covered in wet clay from cheek to waist, dark copper hair pulled back with a scrap of a ribbon. But still, the barber answered him with a simper, and a miniscule nod of the head, a sure sign, Percival knew, of his undivided interest. After all, this is not the first they’ve played this little game.

He cupped his hands around the reddish-grey clay on the wheel, extending it upwards into a longer shape. He did it again, his body moving along with the press of his arms, feeling his muscles tighten and relax. Once more, he let his wet palms glide up and down the cylindrical shape in a most sensuous manner, and it had the intended effect immediately on the proper man in his parlor, as this one flashed a wickedly sinful grin his way.

Percival’s eyes slipped to the clay, tongue just peeking out of his teeth in what he hopped would amuse the barber. The man shook his head slightly, just for him to see, as his hands worked his silver scissors in his client’s hair.

"A success I would say" Percival gloated at his antics, quite pleased with himself. Honestly, had anyone cared enough to look, they could have the priest on him in a second. There weren’t many like him and the barber, or if there were, they hid themselves, assuming the acceptable nature of man loving woman.

But he, no. His eyes were set on a man. Not a woman, not a girl, not a boy, a MAN, and by God he would have him.

But of course, looks and personal preference aside, he had other interests in regards to the gentleman across the road. You see, from a young age he has always had a fondness for the tonsorial trade, especially that which relates to men’s hair in particular. Perhaps it was because of his trips to the barbers with his father, how he had no say in the outcome of the trip, or maybe it was those big, imposing and utterly beautiful chairs he would sit in.

Or perhaps the talc had gone to his head. He laughed at this, stifling the sound as his shoulders quaked.

Truly, it was a blessing to be able to work alone in his mother’s shop. Had he worked alongside his father, with his two older brothers, he would never have had the chance to see -though not yet formally meet- the barber in his shop. Besides! He had no interest in his father’s business, banking, of all things. Writing and arithmetic were just not his strong suit -or his cup of tea- but since his mother’s joints had started to ache more, he had gladly taken up the pottery shop.

But enough fiddling around with the clay. He set about actually working it properly this time, shaping it into a proper vase, which, he thought, would look lovely with some painted blue flowers with pale green leaves.

After a few more hours of work, and with his latest projects in the kiln, he went to work on a set of plates he had made, which were now dried after the glazing, and he could finally paint the details on them.

As he began the minute work, brush dipped in yellow paint and smoothed over the surface, the door to the shop swung open, and without lifting his gaze from his brushwork, he gave the client a "Welcome, have a look around, I will be with you shortly."

"Perhaps you would work quicker if you knew who were standing in your shop."

Percival halted his motion, his mind quickly going through every possible person that could be here, but none of them could be, not with such a rich, dark voice, like the sound of a well-tuned piano in an empty room. And when he turned to look upon the unfamiliar voice’s owner, all blood rushed into his head and blocked out all coherent, sensible thought that could have been.

A head of gold, eyes of amber, skin of porcelain, and a sinful smirk he knew all too well.

The barber.

All at once, he felt a flustered mess of butterflies and unresolved tension. Could this truly be? After all these weeks, MONTHS, of constant back and forth exchanges from across the street, from behind glass, of secretive smiles and fleeting looks, of movements and cues known only to them, of this dance of subtleties, could the barber truly be standing here, now in front of him?

He had contemplated, he had, of going to the man’s parlor as well, but the handsome barber had beaten him at his very own game.

Or…had he? The game was only lost if he gave up now and became a blubbering mess of nonsensical words.

And oh, how he hated to lose.

Giving the barber a sideways glance beneath his lashes, Percival countered elegantly, "Perhaps I should work slower, if only to draw the moment out."

A gleam of mischief glittered in the barber’s gaze then, and Percival answered it with a simple tilt of the corner of his mouth.

But the barber was ever quick to counter. "Why draw it out? After all, the longer you wait, the more your customer will fret."

"I suppose that would be the customer’s trouble" he replied back, glancing the barber’s way to see him bow his head in acknowledgement.

"Touché" he conceded, voice soft and playful.

Smiling at his small victory, Percival finally set his brush down and wiped his hands on the cloth for that purpose. He took this time to inspect the man, noticing how well-fitted his barber’s tunic was, and how flattering it was on his tall frame. The appraising gaze did not go unnoticed by the barber, but he said nothing, for now.

The barber approached him, extending out a hand in proper greeting. "My name is Thane Allbrook, but you may call me Thane."

Percival took the hand in his own, giving it a squeeze, "Percival. A pleasure."

Thane pulled him closer then, where the wall hid them from the view outside, and boldly let his lips brush the tender skin of his hand, the hills and valleys of his knuckles. Percival pushed back an indecent sound, letting the devilish barber’s lips stay where they were, and stared into the amber irises peeking from beneath soft lashes. The lips left then, to speak softly, "A pleasure indeed."

His hand was let go of, free to fall back to his side. He must admit, he rather enjoyed the bold nature of the man before him, but after so long teasing each other through glass, did they not know each other enough to let trivial things such as socially accepted friendliness be rendered moot?

The copper haired male sauntered back towards his work station, fingers brushing over the surface of his pottery wheel, asking over his shoulder, "and what brings a barber to a potter on this fine day?"

"I was simply curious to see what goods were offered," Percival could hear Thane walking around the room, and from the sound of his footsteps, concluded that the man wore heeled shoes. "But now that I am here, I wonder if I could call upon your expertise."

Percival turned, regarding Thane with a raised brow. "What could I offer you, then, Thane?"

The taller man seemed glad to have captured the potter’s attention. Swiftly, he answered with a lilt, "I would be in dire need of a new shaving mug. The one I have is…Well it just doesn’t do any more now does it?" Percival let a small puff of air escape him, smile still firmly plastered to his face, just as it was for Thane. "Would you be able to make one?"

"Perhaps," he answered, toying with a stray piece of clay. "I have never made a shaving mug before, so I could not tell you how much it will cost."

"I’m sure you could make one. You seem to have skill," the barber said this, pointing to a particularly oddly shaped kettle Percival had made as a personal project. "And as for the cost…" Percival held his breath here, gazing deeply into Thane’s eyes, which had grown dark and alluring, "Trust that you will be paid handsomely…"

The unspoken promise behind those words seemed to sing to Percival, beckoning him like the sweet song of a siren. "Handsomely", he said. How so, he dared to wonder with a delightful twist in his loins.

"Of course, I am quite busy," Thane continued, almost mockingly, "It was sheer luck that I have been able to visit your shop today. Would it be impolite of me to ask you to deliver the finished product to my parlor?"

Percival jumped then, eyes slipping lower, to the man’s waist and beyond. "How…handsomely…would I be paid for my troubles?"

Thane took the few steps towards him, standing a foot away, knowing that they were standing in front of a window with a view of the busy street outside. It was an acceptable distance, but the gaze he sent him was most certainly not, neither was the twisted smile he offered next. "As handsomely as you wish it."

XXXXX

It had taken a few more minutes of Thane’s and Percival’s time to establish what the shaving mug would look like. After a few different sketches and approval from the barber, Percival set out to work. And soon enough, it was like Thane had never been there, had stayed on his side of the street in his shop, cutting and shaving as he usually did. They were back to their old antics, all the while he worked at the potter’s wheel, molding and shaping the clay that would make up the shaving mug he had been asked to make.

There were four distinct parts to the mug. A bottom reservoir which could hold hot water, a spout in which to pour it, an above part for the lather and a handle to hold it. Despite having never done one before, it was not a task he could not take on, in fact, it felt very similar to making a kettle, with a few key differences. And while he sculpted and turned the wheel, his eyes never failed to be dragged to Thane’s barbershop, always seeking to catch a glimpse of the man working on a patron.

He would enjoy watching from afar as the man expertly ran a sharp razor up a man’s throat, or how effortlessly he would part hair in a perfectly straight line, and could not shake the feeling of restlessness when the man cut and clipped hair with such ease and control. To be such a client, to have Thane fiddle and intertwine his fingers in to his locks; utter bliss, certainly!

He felt particularly fond of watching the man lather and shave a client’s neck after said client had been brutally barbered, given a proper short back and sides, hair at the nape sheared close to the skin, tidied up with such skill it made his normally loose trousers feel far too constricting.

Thane seemed to know what effect this had on him, made sure to turn his client just so, enough so that Percival could gaze unabashedly, completely in awe of the barber’s actions.

But then, as Thane could send him into a mental frenzy over such a thing as a good haircut, Percival could do just as much with a simple slide of his palms on clay, a ludicrously indecent motion here, a good squeeze or tilt of the sculpture there, and Thane would give him the most wonderful come-hither gaze. He thought perhaps the man wondered how good his hands would be for other purposes, put to use on something far more interesting than CLAY.

It took all of three days to finish the mug, a beautifully simple and elegant one in pure white, emblazoned underneath with the shop’s sigil, and, a personal touch, of his initials, so that Thane may always know who made it.

And as promised, he would deliver it today to the parlor, a notion which set his loins ablaze and his stomach aflutter. He would not be on his own territory, no, he would go willingly into the wolf’s den, and he hoped, expected even, to be devoured.

He locked his shop on the way out, knowing he would not be back for a while, and made sure he had not forgotten to put the closed sign in the window. Afterwards, he needed only to cross the cobblestone street, carrying the mug in a protective layer of browned paper. It was merely a few steps between both shops, yet the trip felt like an eternity. And his eyes did not deceive him, when they saw Thane glancing his way with a smile to his lips. How truly wonderful!

The door opened and hit a brass bell as it did, announcing his arrival with a sweet chime, yet announcement needed not be made, as the barber already knew of his presence, and, Percival was certain, had been just as eager as he was of his impending visit.

"Have a seat, I will be with your shortly" the barber called out, in a manner so similar to Percival’s own greeting a few days ago that he was sure the man was playing with him. Nevertheless, he sat in the lounge, beside an elevated chair for the purpose of shoe-shining, though the shoe shiner was nowhere to be seen.

The shop was impeccably kept, but the floor had quite a bit of hair scattered about. He supposed that had to be a sign of a great business, if Thane was too busy cutting hair to pick it off the floor. Other than the hair, everything was clean, even the wood stove which had a steaming kettle set on it. The mirrors shined and the counter was orderly, implements of the trade placed neatly on a folded linen towel.

The barber had his hands busy combing and cutting an older gentleman’s hair, styling it in a slick, short wave that perfectly caressed the top of the man’s head, accentuated with a perfect part which Percival suspected had ben shaved into. And still Thane snipped away at any stray hair that did not know or wish to stay in its assigned place; any hair out of line was disposed or taken care of in quick fashion.

A peek at himself in the mirrors afforded him a view of his stained shirt, faded vest and unkempt hair. A wicked idea formed in his mind, of Thane coaxing him into letting it down and then, ah, he wondered…

When finally it seemed the barber was happy with the cut, and an approving nod came from his patron, Thane went in with the final touches. He lathered the gent’s neck, and proceeded with the tidy up, purposefully being overly dexterous in an attempt at getting under Percival’s skin. But the copper haired man simply watched, amused that the barber still played their little game, even when both of them were in the same space.

And it was over. Thane splashed the man with a bit of cologne, rubbed a bit of talc on his neck and removed the white cape, a stiff brush dusting off any stray hairs that may have escaped. Pleasantries between the men were exchanged, the payment was made, and the gentleman was off in the streets outside, among the many people strolling about.

Percival glanced at Thane, lips stretched out in a seductive simper.

Swaying slightly, arms crossed and heeled shoes taping lightly against the hardwood floor, Thane walked leisurely towards the door, a smile of his own answering Percival’s. "It’s a pleasure to see you again" he started, simply, innocently. Far too innocently.

But Percival played along, allowing himself to be unacceptably comfortable and stretch out in the wooden chair, feet coming to rest on the lounge’s table in a most impolite way. "It is, isn’t it?" Thane gave him a nasty look then, seemingly entertained that he would say such a thing.

"I trust you have the shaving mug I ordered?" the barber said this, leaning suspiciously, yet no less handsomely, against the shop’s door, arms lowering from the crossed position they had been in.

Percival lifted the secured package. "Of course."

"Excellent" the statement was made even more satisfying with the click of the door’s lock being put into place. Now, Percival removed his shoes from the table, his attention fully focused on the barber. The man removed himself from the entrance, making a grab for the closed sign by the window. "I have been quite eager for the delivery, after all." The sign was gently placed in the glass, and with a sauntering, swift motion, the dark curtains were drawn shut, leaving them in the warm lighting of the oil lamps.

Percival lifted himself to his feet, taking the few steps necessary towards Thane, eyes glinting in the dim light. "Indeed?" he uttered, the space slowly closing between them.

Thane moved in closer, invading his space, the knowledge that they had privacy making him bolder. "Of course. After all, I’ve wanted to try it out…" His hand lifted, fingers brushing against Percival’s cheek, peppered lightly with stubble, the small resistance of dragging skin creating a barrage of wonderful sensations.

The potter stared into those burning amber depths, finding the same passion he felt deep in his soul. The barber’s fingers continued their path, thumb finding Percival’s lips, and subsequently rubbing the bottom one in a most delicious manner. A small sigh left his lips, fanning over Thane’s skin like a gentle caress, before Percival spoke, quietly, to not disturb the air around them, "And how, exactly, would you try it out?"

A row of straight, pearly teeth showed themselves to him. "I was thinking, perhaps, you would help me in that regard."

The hand left his face, sliding down to his neck, circling his Adam’s apple, molding to the dip of his collarbone, before resting at the button of his dress shirt. "And what would that entail, then, Thane?" he purred the name out, sending a shiver down the barber’s spine which he could feel in the man’s fingertips. He smiled at him, pleased.

The fingers at his collar fiddled with one of the buttons there. "As a barber, I’m inclined to believe you are in need…" the fingers loosened the button, popping it free, and did so to the next one, opening the collar, allowing his hand to roam the bare skin there, "…of my expertise."

This time, a shiver went through Percival, his voice quivering ever so slightly with the effort to keep it even. "And what would you recommend?"

Thane grabbed his chin between his fingers, tilting his head just so, carefully inspecting the growth on his face, turning him further, and analyzing the length of his hair. "Perhaps you would be so inclined to allowing me the pleasure of shaving your face, of cutting your hair, of perhaps recommending a pomade or a cologne?" He drew his face closer, eyes staring deeply into the potter’s blue ones.

The restlessness of watching the man work his scissors on a client now grew tenfold, knowing he would be the patron sitting ever so quietly in the chair, under the care of Thane and his charming way of being, his complete control of everything on his head. "Well then, as a barber of skill, I’m certain I can trust your judgement."

A wicked smile was thrown his way, and finally Thane removed himself from Percival’s space, stepping towards the beautiful chair in which Percival would be seated. The potter marveled at the beauty of the seat, made of ornately crafted wood, a frame of gold-plated brass and cushions of dark red velvet. Before sitting, he strolled around the chair, eyes slipping towards the receptacle of his constant pinning, allowing his fingertips to caress the armrests approvingly. "A throne fit for a king" he remarked casually, seeing Thane nod slowly.

"And fit for a potter. Sit now." He said this in a manner to not be argued with, one strong hand leading Percival to seat himself, which he did, gingerly, savoring the moment.

Thane slowly swiveled the chair towards the mirror, allowing Percival an unhindered view of them both, him, seated comfortably in the barber chair, and Thane, hovering over him like a hawk circling its prey. The barber drew the moment out, allowing himself deliberately slow movement, so that Percival may catch every action, and untied the tattered navy ribbon keeping Percival’s auburn hair in place. The strands, which untied went down to the top of his shoulder blades, were clean enough, apart from the day’s grime of working in a potter’s shop.

Percival had been careful to not touch it too much today, having thought of this very situation, wanting to make sure the locks were not caked with dried clay. Dust was inevitable, but whatever precaution he could take he had taken.

Thane held his hand out expectantly, one brow raising. "The shaving mug?"

"Ah, yes," Percival handed it over, watching closely as the barber took it out of its protective barrier of paper, delighted to see Thane was pleased with the outcome. He set it aside for now, placing himself at the back of the chair.

He inspected his hair at first, eyes glancing at every strand, every shift in color and texture, and then buried his fingers in the locks, searching, questing for the scalp, finding it, and giving it a gentle press, an action which caused a gratifying hum to escape Percival’s lips. Surely the strong caress could only be an indicator of his expertise in such things as MASSAGES.

"A tad dusty," Thane commented, in allusion to the clay particles present in the auburn hair, "but nothing a spray of water can’t get rid of." Percival continued watching the barber as his head was turned and tilted as though he were a puppet and Thane his puppeteer.

Fingers caressing the soft material of the armrest, Percival dared to ask, "Do I have a say in the outcome?"

Thane pinned him with an impish grin, one that turned Percival’s knees to jelly. "Trust that I will do you justice" he reassured.

All the better, Percival supposed. His current situation could not be more alluring, and yet the fact that he could not even weigh in on the haircut gave it an ever more forbidden palate. Would he come out looking relatively similar, or on the complete opposite spectrum, did Thane plan on leaving him as sheared as a sheep? Either way, the potter supposed, hair grows back.

"Right then," Thane said, hands leaving behind his scalp to unfold the linen cape. "Shall we?" The words, like an invitation to dance, were accompanied by the cape being swung around the potter in good show of showmanship. It was closed tightly around his neck, and smoothed over his shoulders by Thane’s hands.

Percival settled in the chair, intent on cheerfully watching the handsome man work his magic on him, fully aware of how intensely it would make him feel. Such an innocent thing a haircut was, but paired with Thane, and the way he turned whatever head of hair he touched into a piece of art, Percival could only think it was the most seductive thing in the world, except, of course, for the man himself.

The barber started by wetting his hair, massaging the strands to ensure the moisture seeped through every tress. When he seemed satisfied the hair was soaked through, his hands took up his silver comb and scissors, which Percival followed with his eyes, watching as Thane’s fingers fit perfectly in the handles, and how deftly he held both tools in one hand with ease. His eyes nearly closed at the sensation of the comb’s teeth running through his hair, scraping his scalp, spreading the copper locks evenly.

His eyes did not close, in fact they flew wide open in shocked delight, when Thane combed out a strand around his face and closed the scissors without so much as a second thought.

A gasp nearly left Percival, but his lips were far too busy grinning like a madman at the utterly terrible sight of the TRAGIC incident. The strands which had once been seven or eight inches long now looked as though they were at most two to three.

The barber gave a hearty chuckle at the face Percival was pulling, deliberately pulling another strand out and snipping it off again. "Not what you expected? You don’t seemed too phased, or at least," the barber leaned closer, hands bracing on the chair, lips almost touching the man’s now exposed ear, "you seem rather delighted that I’m hacking it off without much restriction on my part."

Blue eyes slipped towards the barber to his left, before turning fully to be eye-to-eye with the gleeful barber. "I almost thought you would shear me like a sheep," he sang, voice but a quiet whisper.

Another laugh answered him, before Thane lifted himself away. "What a charming notion. How dangerous it is to give me such ideas." Another lock pulled, another lock lost, the sound of the shears snapping closed filling Percival with contentment, and a want for more. The barber continued, glee in his very voice, "But such beautiful hair deserves to be put on display at least once, wouldn’t you agree, Percival?"

Snip. Another strand fell to the white cape, which was becoming increasingly redder. "I am in your care."

"Good to hear it." Snip, snip, the sound sending shivers coursing through the potter’s body.

It took but a few minutes to rid him of most of his longish locks, leaving a scraggly mess of an unfinished haircut on his head. He felt like touching it, and so he did, hands leaving the confines of the cape to run up his scalp, feeling the shorter hair at his nape and the longer locks at his crown. But a slap on his hands from Thane made them flinch away from their task, as Percival pinned the barber with a questioning glance and a raised brow, lip twitching.

The barber met the gaze with his own. "Save it for when I’m done. It will feel even better."

An amused sound left Percival’s lips, his hands obediently returning to the armrests as Thane started measuring the strands, mapping out where and how he would clip, what part to make, what product to use, if any at all.

After all, he pondered, hands fingering the damp tresses, what good would it be if he could not feel the hair’s exceptional softness.

Seemingly decided on what to do next, Percival watched as Thane exchanged his scissors in favor of his clipper, a beautiful tool with two handles which one would squeeze and release to clip hair quite short. But paired with a comb, he supposed various lengths could be achieved.

"Nervous at all?" Thane asked, having been used to men being more guarded in the face of getting their hair cut with a clipper, but Percival was not your regular customer, and with him, Thane did not feel like your usual barber.

"As I said," Percival responded, smiling softly just for him, "I am in your care."

"Hm." The approving sound was all that was said before the barber placed his comb at Percival’s nape and closed the clippers on the strands.

While Thane worked at his nape, which he exposed by tilting his head down onto his chest, Percival allowed himself to close his eyes and enjoy the feel and sound of Thane working, immersed himself in the atmosphere of the shop, inhaled the different scents coming from the various products on the shelves. What more could he ask for? Such a wonderful day should be savored. It wasn’t every day he could get pampered and teased like this, by a handsome barber no less.

The sounds of the clipper shearing through his hair, the sensation of said hair releasing from his scalp…He felt light headed in many ways. He split an eyelid open to peek at Thane, to see the man completely focused on working his hair, shaping it as Percival would a block of clay. They were similar in those regards. Just as Percival was an artist who made beautiful vases and plates, Thane was an artist who brought out the beauty of a person with a clip of his shears.

The barber laced the comb through his hair numerous times, brushing the potter’s scalp as he did. At one point, the handsome man took a step back, as though evaluating his work, mulling it over, looking for faults which Percival could not believe existed, what with Thane being so skillful.

The barber’s hands brushed and pat the hair at his nape, up to his occipital bone, sending a rush of new sensation inside Percival. It had been some time since his hair had been short; the difference in feeling was noticeable.

"You have a beautiful natural hairline" Thane commented lightly, fingers drawing the shape of the hairline, from either side of Percival’s neck into his spine. "Perfectly symmetrical, not a bit of sparseness."

Percival’s eyes fluttered closed again at Thane’s ministrations, humming amusedly. "I do believe that’s the first time anyone has complimented me on my hairline."

Thane’s lip twitched, momentarily, before resuming his work, beginning to shear the left side of Percival’s head. Tremors wracked Percival’s body as the clipper sheared through his hair, so close to his ear the sounds of the hair being severed echoed in his mind. What a truly exquisite sound! The same treatment was given then to the other side, and Percival watched, and could not help but feel rather excited whenever a clump fell to the linen covering his body, gathering at his shoulders, in the dip of his lap.

Looking in the mirror now, Percival remarked how tidy his hair was already looking, without even having touched the longer hair still remaining atop his crown. It was clipped close to his skin, but faded into longer strands near the top of his head. A smile lit his face, quite happy with how this was going.

Finally, the barber switched back to using those long silver scissors, combing the hair at the potter’s crown at different angles, holding it there, and running the scissors through, with such dexterity Percival found it hard to keep up with Thane’s movements. All he could do was listen intently to the careful "snip snip" of the scissors and watch the flurry of auburn hair that rained down on the cape and floor.

Thane removed at most an inch or two off the longer strands, making sure to blend the sides seamlessly. It would afford Percival the pleasure of playing with and styling it as he pleased, in different ways depending on the occasion. The barber continued sculpting his hair, now paying attention to his fringe, cutting it at an angle, teasing it, cutting again, placing it, all so that it would look good from any angle, any position.

"Where do you usually part your hair?" Thane asked, hands holding Percival’s head, eyes so completely focused the copper haired male dared not disturb him more than necessary.

"I don’t have a part. I leave it to you." A simple approving grunt was all that Thane gave, before his fingers were once again moving faster than Percival could care to focus on.

The comb slid through his hair with ease, creating a line so straight it might have been traced with a ruler, but no, that was simply how skilled Thane was. Hair was combed and placed, tucked and gently nudged into place, before the barber stepped back, one hand holding his chin in thought. A moment passed, and a nod confirmed that this was a suitable style, but it would not be held into place just yet, as they still had much to do.

"Now that your hair is looking tidy," Thane started, putting aside his tools and strolling to the right side of the barber chair, "What do you say to a few minutes of bliss with a nice, hot shave?"

Percival concluded that the only thing hot in here was him, what with how flushed he felt from the gaze Thane sent him. "Bliss you say? What kind of person would I be to decline such a generous offer?"

"Some men are nervous at the thought of another man at their throat with a SHARP object." The barber set him a wicked look then, as he unfastened the cape and shook it out, before returning it to Percival’s neck, though this time the cloth was tucked into his open collar.

A derisive sound escaped the potter. "Some men are WEAK."

A booming laugh resounded in the shop, coming from Thane who was taking up a white towel. "Indeed! I take it you are not weak, then, Percival?" He came closer, lowering his face to be level with the potter. "Not even for…" he trailed off, one hand caressing Percival’s coarse cheek.

The man didn’t have to finish the phrase for Percival to understand it’s meaning, but pride -and a need to draw this out as long as possible, to savour the enjoyment of their game- prevented him from succumbing to the heated amber irises. He stared at him with his own intense gaze, teeth showing themselves in a most sensuous manner. "For what, Thane?" he purred. Or rather, for WHO, he thought with a twist in his loins.

The barber’s hand removed itself, as the man stood up from his bent position. He did not answer, for he did not need to, mirth present in his features still as he tucked the towel in with the cape. Percival adjusted himself, just as cheerful as the barber, fully enjoying himself.

Thane cranked the hand lever on the side of his ornate chair, lowering the back in preparation for the shave. Percival let his head rest comfortably on the soft velvet lining of the headrest, and allowed his barber to elevate his legs onto the footrest. It was quite luxurious, how cozy he felt in the barber chair, on par with the softness of his own bed. He supposed it was only the best for Thane’s customers.

"Now then…" Percival followed the barber’s movements as this one mused to himself. He went over to the woodstove, taking hold of the kettle upon it with a rag, and moved back towards the mirrored station, where he then proceeded to empty the boiling contents of the kettle into a porcelain bowl, which, now that Percival looked at it, had two rolled towels nestled in.

After putting the kettle back on the stove, Thane came back to the bowl, and plunged his fingertips in the water, retrieving a steaming towel. Percival could not help but marvel at how the barber could withstand the heat from water which only a minute ago had been bubbling away in a cast iron container. But still, he managed to swiftly wring the towel of the water, once, twice, thrice, until it was moist, but not dripping.

"A good shave starts first and foremost with a perfect preparation of the skin" Thane explained, unfolding the cloth in his hands, steam still lingering around it. He stood behind Percival’s head, as his blue eyes followed the towel in his hands. The barber gave him a soft simper. "Close your eyes, relax, enjoy the lemongrass oil I infused into the water."

As he finished his phrase, the towel came to rest on Percival’s face, slowly, gently, bit by bit to accustom his skin to the heat, like how he would gingerly lower himself into his bath after a hard day’s work. As Thane demanded, he drew his eyes closed, finding himself in the dark as the towel was wrapped around his head, leaving only his nose to peek through. He was immersed in the faint, but pleasant odor of lemongrass, as fresh as the fruit, yet as herbaceous as the plant it came from. He could not help but sigh in contentment, to the great pleasure of the barber.

To add more to the blissful feeling on his skin, Thane pressed his hands to the towel, allowing for the steam to permeate deeper into his skin, and a quiet hum approved of such action.

Of course, Percival couldn’t feel irked when the hands left him, as he was certain the handsome barber had many more things to prepare. His suspicions were confirmed when he heard the distinct sound of Thane stropping the blade of a straight razor, the soft yet sharp "swish" of the metal against leather ringing in his ears as restlessness began to mount, and he could scarcely sit still in sheer and utter excitement for the treatment to come, from Thane, of all barbers.

The towel came off after a minute, in one swift motion from the barber, as he turned to his array of scented products. With a graceful motion, he chose a glass bottle filled with a golden liquid, swirling it around with a grin. Percival rolled his eyes at the man’s antics, but secretly he felt completely enamored by Thane -though he would not let the man see that.

The bottle was upended into a waiting palm, and set back in its place amongst the organized shelves. Thane came back to his position behind the headrest, all while his hands rubbed the liquid in them with a wet sound Percival could only recall ever hearing when he would feel particularly frisky at night. Then, the barber began massaging the liquid in absolutely divine ways upon his face, and his eyes shut of their own accord, aided by the complete state of relaxation Thane weaved with the motions of his hands.

"How peculiar…" the barber murmured, a lilt in his voice, "You don’t seem to have much to say at the moment. Why is that, I wonder?"

As his cheeks were rubbed in delectable circles and his skin warmed and stretched, Percival let a faint smile grace his lips. "Indeed…" was all he managed to say. To Hell with speech; such harsh things as words would only ruin the moment.

The massage came to an end, and a new steaming towel placed over his features and pressed into place.

From Thane’s perspective, things were coming along nicely. He now intended to use the shaving mug Percival oh so graciously made him. He went to the stove to retrieve the kettle, pouring a small amount of water into the mug’s spout, and a few drips into the bowl on top.

He chose the finest of his badger hair brushes, and lightly dipped it in the reservoir, before rubbing the bristles over his bar of shaving soap, and returning it to the mug. Gently, he swirled the brush around in the mug, slowly building a rich lather which he was certain Percival would greatly appreciate. The man seemed to be quite restless about how good of a barber he was, which stroked Thane’s ego in just the right way.

The second towel was removed as quickly as the first, and Percival couldn’t help but spy at the foaming shaving mug, happy that the barber seemed to fancy it. The barber came up to him then, brush full of lather at the ready, and a sinful smirk placed firmly upon his handsome features. A graceful hand placed itself at the potter’s chin, as Thane spoke to him, smiling still, in a mock-reprimanding tone, "Now, no speaking, unless you wish to find yourself tasting my shaving soap. And as lovely as it smells, I highly doubt it tastes any good."

Percival bit his lip, wanting ever so desperately to retort in a similar manner, but, he simply grinned, lips firmly closed, and eyes sparkling with mischief as he shrugged. The barber seemed to understand his unspoken answer to his demand, and removed his hand, replacing it with his soft, lather-covered brush.

The warm lather spread deliciously over his skin in circular motions, every bristle lifting the stubble, softening the coarse hair and coating his features in white, the loveliest of odors permeating his senses. Thane was thorough in his work; he scrubbed the brush on Percival’s cheeks, along his jaw, up his neck, around his Adam’s apple, and when lather needed to be applied to his upper lip, the barber pressed a finger into the bristles, flattening them, allowing for a seamless painting of the foam under his nose.

If the simple act of having his face lathered felt this astounding, Percival wondered, how wonderful would it be when Thane would use his razor on him?

Well, he would find out soon enough.

The potter’s eyes slipped to Thane who had returned his brush to the shaving mug, and kept watching as the barber took up his straight razor. It was a beautiful thing: ornate, made of the purest, most dazzling metal -he wondered if it too was silver- with a handle of dark, polished wood. Thane met his gaze, amber eyes slinking to the sharp implement in his hand, the shine of the razor reflecting in his blazing irises. It was here, that Percival noticed, just how dazzling the man was, bathed in the golden light of the oil lamps, confidently strolling in his parlor, the slightest of sway to his hips as he came closer.

The barber’s strong hand turned his head to the left, not saying anything to indicate he was about to start, no, it was just his thumb lifting his skin and the gentle glide of the razor across his skin. A shiver ran through him, rendering him speechless. Eyes closed in utter rapture, the quietest of moans managing to escape his treacherous mouth, eliciting a soft laugh from the barber.

"Hush now, let all your worries dissolve…" the hushed whisper washed over Percival’s senses, amidst the saintly feelings brought on by the simple act of having his face shaved.

Thane deftly ran the blade along his cheek again, wiping the lather on the towel at the potter’s chest. The copper haired man was completely entranced, neck bared and feelings nude for Thane to see. They have been playing this game for quite some time now; he found it only appropriate they share this moment privately, no watching, judging stares to make them doubt or pretend.

A pleased hum broke the quiet, as the razor was slid ever so tenderly upon Percival’s jaw. It was beautiful. There wasn’t any hesitation on Thane’s part, not a bit of nicking or catching of his skin, the shave was done with the utmost skill and care. He couldn’t help but let the corner of his mouth turn up in a light smile, as he felt the blade glide up his neck in a most pleasant way.

A gentle nudge from the barber’s hand had him turning his head to the right, exposing the side of his face not yet graced by the straight razor. It was curious how when Percival would shave at home, it felt nothing like this. Granted, he did not possess the same skill, nor the same quality straight razor. It felt more like a chore, a routine he had set like going to man the pottery shop. But this, ah this… This felt heavenly.

Every swipe of the blade brought him closer to paradise, but he knew this was just the beginning.

The barber’s fingertips stretched his skin, brought the blade down once more, clearing his neck of lather. Thane’s hand caressed the smooth skin there, as smitten as Percival, eyes beginning to feel heavy gazing upon that serene face. Percival’s chin was cleared of stubble with the same care as before, touched and rubbed to make sure nothing was amiss.

The razor fell upon his upper lip, and in a few dexterous strokes, there was nothing left there either. But as soon as the lather had been ridden of his face, Thane covered his features with another layer, Percival assumed to shave ever closer.

The delectable process began once more, and both men said not a word, not a whisper. The air around them hushed as they both became increasingly aware of each other, truly, for the first time since they’ve started playing this dangerous game of tug and release.

It was done almost too quickly, faster than both men thought possible. Thane rinsed his straight razor and put it aside. Percival let his eyes open, watching as the barber came to him with a wet towel. "This will be a bit cool" Thane warned lightly, placing the cloth on his denuded features, and true, the towel was cold, making his skin tighten and a shiver run through him. It was only on his face for a few seconds, to rub away the excess lather, before Thane removed it and went to his array of products, hands gliding over different bottles and jars, choosing a bottle of clear liquid.

"A bit of witch hazel to finish would be good, wouldn’t you say?" The barber threw him a simper, one hand receiving a splash of the concoction as the potter bared his features again, allowing the handsome man to coat his skin with the fragrant product.

"Ah…" he winced, but not entirely unused to the sting of the aftershave, yet still always surprised when the bite appeared. He let his irises find Thane’s, mouth turning up, "Do you always take such pleasure in hurting your patrons?"

"Only you, Percival." The barber’s hands slid along his jaw, before leaving him in a flash, hand cranking the lever to lift the chair back to its sitting position. Percival stifled a yawn, finding that the process had started to make him drowsy, and put his feet back on the footrest. Thane’s hand pushed his head to his chest then, "Let’s tidy up that nape and I’ll be done with you."

Oh my, he had nearly forgotten about that. Percival always enjoyed watching Thane shaving his customer’s neck, but now he was the client, submitting willingly to the man now covering his nape with that warm lather he found delightfully soft.

The barber took up his razor again, and with a deliberate slow motion, ran the razor down his neck. His fingers could feel the tremors wracking Percival’s body, feeling them make course through his own being, and he needed to double his efforts in remaining composed, keeping his hand perfectly stable. The last thing he wanted was to nick the potter’s skin.

Percival stared at his reflection, eyes swimming, heavy, mouth slightly agape, chest heaving a little more than he ought was right, but a look at the barber showed that he too, seemed distracted.

The game was drawing to an end, he concluded, as Thane cleaned his neck up in little more than a minute.

The barber put his razor back on the counter, and finally removed the towel and cape at Percival’s neck, removing excess lather and setting them aside on a stool. Talc was rubbed on the potter’s neck, and then Thane’s hand went for his silver comb, one hand placing itself under the copper haired male’s chin, tilting his head, and running the comb’s teeth in the shorter, auburn strands, placing them.

When the barber removed himself a bit, hand remaining at his chin, Percival inspected his reflection, finding the look suited him. "Do you have any recommendations for product?"

Thane was watching him in a peculiar way, a way which made Percival’s loins fire up. But the man did not answer him; instead he removed his hand, setting his comb aside. "Do you not wish to touch it?"

The question, as innocent as it sounded, nevertheless made Percival’s cheeks flush a light shade of rose. He bit his lip, feeling a bit mortified about his behavior from before, about his slightly crazed mannerism. Perhaps it was the hush that had befallen them, but still he lifted his hands, and any shyness he had felt melted away when his fingers racked through his locks. Such softness, especially at his nape, where he could barely call it "running" his hands through his hair. It was more like patting it down.

Thane’s hand joined his, and Percival jumped when it did. The touch tickled, a bit, but more than anything felt…needy.

His hand traveled down to his shoulder, to his arm, as he sauntered around the chair, and his palm came to rest on his own. A moment passed, and they locked their fingers together.

Eyes found each other, as Percival lifted himself from the chair, never letting go of the barber’s hand. His unoccupied left hand rose slowly, brushing Thane’s cheek in a gentle caress. The handsome man’s right hand ran up his clothed side, along his dirty work clothes, coming up to his open collar, resting there a moment, before it snaked under the fabric, just a touch, to brush against the skin there.

"Did you enjoy your shaving mug?" Percival whispered, eyes flicking briefly to the barber’s lips.

Amber eyes, as beautiful as a fire, seemed to burn more brightly. "Of course. How could I not?"

The barber’s hand moved, further beneath his shirt. The potter’s eyes darkened. "And what of my payment?"

"Hm?" the barber intoned, too focused on the softness beneath his fingertips.

Percival made for Thane to look at him, eyes gleaming mischievously. "My payment?"

Thane glanced at his lips then, too. He licked his own, voice trembling. "As agreed-"

He did not even finish his sentence before he crashed his lips to Percival’s, the smaller man reciprocating immediately, passionately, melding his lips in tandem with Thane’s, marveling that such a thing so beautiful could exist, keening noises leaving either men as they blindly moved around, hands fervently grabbing clothing, skin, hands, sides, hair, trying to keep themselves from falling so intense their feelings were.

The game was done. Now they would reap the rewards.

XXXXX

A path of cobblestone, panes of glass, throngs of people, a stone building with a cross at its peak… all things that separated them.

The people knew not of their secret, of that sin so divine, they could hardly keep from each other.

These are things forbidden, unpermitted, both knew, for if someone knew of their love, surely they would never see the other again.

And still gazes meet from across that street, and lips meet in the dead of night.

These things that cannot be said or done in polite society…

These are dangerous games;

But we play them all the same.

XXXXX

The End.

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