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presence of mind

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Ostensibly, it is an accident. In truth, it is probably closer to inevitability. Fray has grown too comfortable around Sid, too willing to touch. It’s rarely a good idea to touch what you don’t understand, but Fray has never been good at following rules.

It happens because Sid develops a godsdamned limp.

“This is why I learned conjury in the first place,” Fray grumbles, when he finally traps him in the corner of an inn room they really can’t afford, but are paying for anyways. He’s halfway certain what he’s looking at is a rat bite, of all things; something insignificant and honorless that festers into death in the Brume all too often.

“It’s insignificant,” Sid says, not looking at him. Fray knows him well enough to recognize the shame and discomfort in the tilt of his shoulders, the furrow in his brow.

“Everything’s insignificant until the infection sets in, you bloody moron,” Fray says, and stands up to get the broken, secondhand cane he uses for things like this. As he steps by Sid, he reaches out and knocks his knuckles against one of his horns in admonishment.

Sid goes completely still. Fray stops halfway across the room.

“What?” he asks. Sid breaks like he’s coming out of a trance, and his face colors.

“It’s nothing.”

“The last nothing was an ankle swollen with pus,” Fray accuses. “Tell me.”

He hesitates. “What you just did is a step down from...”

Sid tightens his hand around the arm of the chair Fray has him sat in. Fray watches his knuckles whiten with the strain.

“From what Sid? If it hurts, it can’t be worse than your damned ankle--”

“From a kiss, Fray.”

Fray stares at him for a long moment. “Oh. Alright then. Good to know.”

He turns away, studiously ignoring the way his heart picks up. He isn’t some tittering maiden, all aflutter over some accidental brush with her suitor in a crowded parlor, and neither is Sid.

“Alright then?” Sid asks, somewhere between confused and angry.

“If you’re looking for an apology, you’re not getting one.”

Sid is suspiciously quiet after that, not saying anything until Fray has collected his cane and returned to him. He doesn’t protest when Fray rolls up his trouser leg and pulls out the dagger he keeps as a backup for his sword.

“Don’t flinch,” he says.

“Don’t insult me,” Sid snaps back, more on edge than he’d been moments ago. Fray rolls his eyes and cuts into the wound. Sid stays true to his word and doesn’t move, not until the abscess has drained and Fray casts the healing spell. Then he relaxes with a soft, involuntary sigh as the pain ebbs.

Fray watches his face until Sid opens his eyes again. There’s still more color in the man’s face than is usual. He’s disturbingly lovely, and it makes Fray foolish and bold.

“Did you like it?”

Sid gives him a look. “The pain has gone. You have my thanks.”

Fray doesn’t justify that with a verbal response. Instead, he reaches out and raps his knuckles against Sid’s horn, leaving them resting against it once the motion is through.

Sid’s next exhale is heavy and he watches Fray with unrivaled intensity. Slowly, like he’s not sure if it’s really happening, he tilts his head so Fray’s knuckles bump along the ridges in his horn. When Fray doesn’t step away, he does it again, almost nuzzling into the touch.

On the third time, he closes his eyes.

One the fourth, Fray kisses him.

Sid surges forward and grabs Fray by the collar. For a split second, Fray tenses for a fight, but Sid kisses him like a man possessed instead of snarling in his face. The horn Fray had been stroking now serves as a handhold, and Sid makes a low, tortured noise against his mouth.

Fray stops kissing him, holds tighter to his horn. “And what’s this a step down from?”

This time, when Sid opens his eyes, his pupils have dilated enough to swallow everything but the limbal ring. Fray feels a flash of heat under his skin, so sudden it’s almost uncomfortable.

“Is this a joke at my expense, or do you really not know the answer to that question?”

Fray doesn’t bother with an answer. He kisses Sid again, rough almost to the point of violence this time.

They’re halfway across the room from the bed and Sid stumbles when he takes a step, overcompensating for the freshly-healed ankle. Fray grunts in annoyance and herds him the rest of the way, impatient for something he’s long pretended not to want.

Sid goes down much easier than when they spar, suddenly content to get on his back without a fight. Fray bites back a comment about it, not wanting to distract him while he tries to find his way into Fray’s clothes. His claws keep catching and he growls with frustration.

The distraction comes anyways, because Fray doesn’t wait to shove a hand down Sid’s pants, finally able to satisfy a years-old curiosity. What waits for him isn’t a cock much like his own, that much he was expecting, but there is something hard clearly pressing against the slick, parted ridge of scales at Sid’s groin.

“Guess there is something in there,” Fray grumbles. “Always wondered.”

Always--” Sid starts to say, but he cuts himself off as Fray strokes firmly along that ridge. It opens further under his fingers and Sid makes a deeply gratified sound. Fray doesn’t let up, pushing against the blood-hot flesh until Sid outright whines and his cock slides out.

Here, it’s closer to home-- thinner and slicker than what Fray is working with, but still the same sort of blunt instrument, no scales or spines or tentacles. Fray gives it a gentle squeeze, unsure how sensitive it is, and Sid makes a noise in his throat like he’s dying.

“That a good or bad sound?” Fray asks, because he’s fine getting rough with Sid, but nothing ruins a tumble quite like damaging someone’s dick.

“Fray,” Sid growls, digging his claws into Fray’s wrist. “Don’t stop.”

“Good, then,” Fray says, smirking and giving Sid’s cock a few tight-fisted pulls. Sid gasps on each one, like it’s the best thing he’s ever felt. It occurs to Fray that it might be; he’s had a few back-alley lovers over the years himself, but Sid has always had to be more careful.

It tugs at something protective and vicious in Fray’s chest. He pushes the feeling aside and forces his focus back onto the present. Sid’s cock is leaking, and Fray only has a moment to wonder if that means the same thing in an Au Ra as it does in other men before Sid swears viciously and starts scratching at his wrist again.

It’s quick enough that Fray is inclined to tease, but there’s a vulnerability to the way Sid goes tense and cries out for him that changes his mind. Instead, he sucks a biting kiss into Sid’s neck and keeps his strokes steady as he spills.

When the tension breaks, Sid drops his head back, exposing the line of his throat. Fray falls on him then, intent on leaving his partner with a menagerie of bruises and bite marks. Sid sighs deeply, content to let Fray devour him.

Where another man may have worried over appearances, Sid has no reason to give it so much as a thought. Nobody is going to see them.

Sidurgu bares his throat to no one but Fray.

Fray affords himself a luxury he didn’t offer Sid and pushes down his own trousers and smallclothes before he takes himself in hand. The soft noises Sid is making as he catches his breath is plenty enough inspiration for self-pleasure, but Sid finds his tongue before Fray can finish.

“Let me,” he rasps.

There are enough differences in their bodies to make Sid falter here, but Fray is beyond capacity for patience. When Sid’s fingertips linger too long on his foreskin, of all things, Fray snaps at him.

“Hells, explore later. Get on with it.”

A flash of something oddly hopeful crosses Sid’s face, but Fray has neither the time nor the inclination to delve into it. Any fears he might have had about this are quickly dismissed when Sid does as he’s been asked-- he knows to mind his claws, and he isn’t tentative once he gets started.

Fray is glad he didn’t say anything about Sid finishing quickly, because he doesn't fare much better. He’s wound tight and completely out of his head, taken in by the novelty of familiar hands in unfamiliar places. His nails ache with how hard he digs them into Sid’s pauldrons and he curses as his body shakes like it means to fall apart on him.

Collapsing on top of a man still wearing half a set of plate armor is hardly comfortable, but Fray presses his face into the hard lines of steel anyways. Sid puts an arm around his waist to hold him steady; after a moment, Fray realizes he’s had the forethought not to use the one currently wet with seed. He’d made no such concessions for Sid and he snorts at the thought.

“What?”

“You have manners,” Fray says, amused.

Sid gives him a baffled look, and Fray shakes his head. This is the moment where things could get awkward, as the blood cools and reality creeps back in. He chooses to ignore the encroaching threat entirely. “How’s your leg?”

Sid doesn’t reply immediately, as though waiting for Fray to say something else. When no other words come, he answers. “Better.”

Fray nods. “Good. It starts hurting again, you come to me, understand?”

Sid goes stock-still, then a smile flickers at the edges of his mouth.

“Understood.”