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It’s been months since Aether’s been face to face with a new environment - maybe even more than a year, if he’s being honest with himself.

 

Inazuma is certainly not Mondstadt or Liyue - this much is obvious in that neither of the former required him to sneak in. Even once he does, it’s still a bit of a culture shock. 

 

Beidou and The Crux help him into the surrounding islands of Inazuma and from there the capital. Somehow, despite the fact that he’s just fled from his home country, Kazuha graciously offers to escort him on his dangerous venture to Inazuma. Aether considers himself lucky to have Kazuha at his side, helping him avoid simple inconveniences and questionable encounters as he settles into Inazuma.

 

The land lacks the languid freedom of Mondstadt and the dedicated passion of Liyue, and instead Aether finds himself deep in the middle of what feels more like a civil war than a governmental mandate. Tensions run high and even the usual commissions they accept seem a little more dangerous than average.

 

This is how Aether and Kazuha find themselves face to face with the towering form of an electro regisvine, splitting from a gargantuan crack in the ground in a cave brimming with electric energy. The way the monster crackles to life sends a shiver up Aether’s spine, goosebumps breaking out over his skin. A dangerous heat catches his attention and he sees pyro whopperflowers explode from the cracks around the monstrous flower curling out from the ground. He grips his sword tightly before glancing at Kazuha, whose eyes barely flicker to him before a swirl of anemo energy comes to life around his own weapon.

 

His previous encounters have made him sloppy - complacent. Unwittingly, he applies the same old strategies to the battle with this new regisvine. It pulls the weight of itself up to crash down and he dodges right - it falls right. Petals whirl open to crash into the ground and Aether jumps straight back, but so does Kazuha, and they collide with each other clumsily. A burst of flame from one of the surviving whopperflowers barrels towards them and with a roar, the regisvine sends out a pulse of electricity, sharp blades of petals flying toward Aether. Somehow Kazuha is able to utilize his vision to blast them backwards just in time - at least to avoid certain death.

 

Aether takes the brunt of the damage - both attacks hitting him at once. It’s a graze of elemental energy but it’s enough to make him yelp, one of the petals tearing a clean slice through one leg of his pants. Electric heat surges through him, the pain of it sending his vision into a blur before the adrenaline kicks in.

 

“Aether!” Kazuha yells.

 

“I’m fine!”

 

There for a second then gone, the sting fades and Aether throws himself back into the fight without a second thought. He watches carefully this time, the distant sensation of his pain a harsh reminder that Inazuma is not Mondstadt or Liyue. There is no Archon beside him now to brace him for any difficulties - only himself, a weakened outlander, and Kazuha, a fugitive on the run from Inazuma’s own god.

 

What a delightful pair they make, he thinks distantly as he refocuses his attention on the regisvine roaring back to full height in front of him. The pyro whopperflower springs from the ground in front of Kazuha.

 

Now !” Aether yells.

 

When the regisvine falls moments later, Aether’s sanity comes tumbling back along with the electric sting of his wound. He curses, one knee giving out, but before he can hit the ground Kazuha is there, holding him up as he helps the wounded outlander to a nearby rock to sit.

 

He glances down, attempting to survey the damage and Kazuha’s fingers graze across the space where his pants have been sliced. 

 

“Kazuha,” he groans, voice tight as an uncomfortable warmth courses through him.

 

“Are you all right?” The other young man asks, resting one hand on his knee and he jerks in response, remnants of electro energy pulsing through his body and he feels heat blossom under his skin.

 

“‘s hot. Stings,” Aether grumbles in response.

 

“At least it’s not bleeding,” Kazuha says. Aether takes a deep breath and glances down at the sliver of skin he can see through his torn clothes - he’s right. There’s no blood.

 

“Did the whopperflower attack cauterize it?” He asks. “Or both maybe?”

 

“Does it hurt?” Kazuha inquires, ignoring his previous questions. Aether simply shakes his head in response.

 

“No, doesn’t hurt, just… feels weird.”

 

“Aether,” the Inazuman interrupts calmly before locking eyes with him. “Your wound will heal but I fear some complications will arise in the process.”

 

Something electric and fiery pulses through him and the intensity of it blurs his vision for a moment, the blood in his veins running hot, so hot it almost makes him delirious. He blinks wildly, struggling to clear his mind before he refocuses on the young man across from him.

 

“Ah - what kind of complications?” He manages, clenching his jaw and inhaling sharply.

 

“Physical discomfort, for starters,” Kazuha comments. “Potentially delirium. Sensitivity to touch. A fever is possible.”

 

“Fever. Is that why everything feels so hot?” Aether complains, swiping the back of one hand across his damp forehead, looking down at the tear on his pants. Kazuha leans forward to inspect his wound more intently, one hand pressing onto Aether’s upper thigh as he gently pulls the torn fabric apart. 

 

The noise that Aether makes is loud, desperate, and his hips buck up at the contact involuntarily. He slaps a hand over his mouth. A wave of heat washes over him and he’s not sure if it’s embarrassment or simply a side effect of the fever.

 

“Refined electro regisvine dust and pyro whopperflower pollen have their own uses,” Kazuha tells him before leaning back, “but they’re often used in combination here in Inazuma for certain potions.”

 

“Like heat shield potions?” 

 

Kazuha chuckles quietly, a crooked little smile tugging at his lips and the sound of his laughter practically vibrates through Aether’s body.

 

“Ah, nothing quite so useful in the throes of battle,” he replies in amusement. “With careful measurements, they’re often used to make aphrodisiacs.”

 

“Aphrodisiacs?”

 

“Correct. However, seeing as both the usual ingredients for these potions are involved in such a concentrated form, you may experience an abnormal increase in libido on top of the other side effects.” 

 

Aether blinks.

 

“I’m sorry - what?”

 

“Now, there are two ways this can be resolved,” Kazuha continues, ignoring him. “The first option is to let the affliction take its course and wait until the fever breaks. The second option is, well…”

 

Aether’s not sure if the fever’s making him see things, but he almost swears pink dusts across the bridge of Kazuha’s nose and the tips of his ears flush when he trails off.

 

“What is it?” Aether prods. 

 

“It’s a little unconventional,” the Inazuman admits awkwardly. “But sexual release via intercourse can speed up the recovery process exponentially.”

 

“Release?” Aether repeats in disbelief.

 

“Yes,” comes the reply. “I’m not saying it’s necessary but-”

 

“How exponentially?” Aether interrupts him. He’s already half hard in his pants and he feels his cock twitch when Kazuha blinks languidly up at him, tongue darting out to wet his lips. A wave of desire washes over Aether without warning and he tightens his hands into fists, digging his nails into his palms to keep from doing something stupid.

 

“It can help flush out the toxins within hours rather than days,” Kazuha informs him calmly.

 

Aether pauses. He’s warm, so warm, and the idea of getting off is starting to sound more and more appealing, his erection growing with every second that passes, but he hesitates to have someone touch him. He pauses for a moment - perhaps taking matters into his own hands would work, he thinks. Looking for the right words, he swallows before speaking again.

 

“Could I just, ah, take care of it myself?” He inquires. Across from him, Kazuha tilts his head thoughtfully, bringing one hand to his chin.

 

“I don’t see why not,” he replies after a moment. “Although with the fact that both ingredients are so concentrated and likely have been introduced to your bloodstream, the side effects may be more intense, maybe even longer lasting.”

 

There’s a pause before Kazuha stands back to his full height and strides over to the pack they keep for travels. He leans over, digging into the side pockets one by one before he finds what he’s looking for, pulling out the summoning token for the adeptal teapot provided to Aether. 

 

“It would be wise to call our adventure for the day,” Kazuha suggests. “You will no doubt want some privacy.”

 

He extends the token to Aether, who nods shakily before gratefully accepting it. A golden teapot appears in front of them, elemental energy whirling to life as it does.

 

“Thanks,” he says weakly.

 

“Of course, my friend. Here, let me help you settle in and then I will head back to the nearby village to see if they have any cryo solution to dispel some of the fever’s effects.”

 

Aether nods. 

 

Kazuha’s version of helping him settle in sets his skin ablaze. The samurai keeps one arm snugly around his waist as he helps him up the stairs of the main house in the teapot and into his room. Every movement against him sends Aether’s self control spiraling, arousal boiling in his veins so intensely that all he wants to do is press himself into Kazuha and rut against him like a dog in heat. 

 

“I’ll be back,” Kazuha says, clutching his own invite token to the teapot and flashing it at Aether once before giving him a worried glance. “Will you be alright?”

 

“Fine,” Aether hisses as he settles onto the edge of his bed, erection straining uncomfortably against the confines of his pants. He sees Kazuha hazard a glance at the situation before he pauses, almost like he’s going to say something, then he turns to leave without another word. The door closes behind him with a soft click.

 

As soon as it does, Aether lets out a breath he’d been holding, unclenching his fists to meet an ache in his fingers from how tightly he’d been digging his nails into his palms. Experimentally, he brings one hand to his thigh, just above where the regisvine had injured him and a shudder runs through him at the contact. A few inches further and he lazily palms his cock through his pants.

 

He comes without warning, blinding hot pleasure sparking through him suddenly and he cries out, squeezing his eyes shut. His mind goes blank, the unexpected euphoria overtaking him, hips jerking up insistently into his barely-there touch. For a moment all he can do is tremble in the wake of his release, spilling into his pants embarrassingly.

 

Aether’s not sure he’s ever come quite so hard in his life, yet somehow there’s no relief. His vision blurs in the aftermath and he blinks rapidly only to realize tears have started to well in his eyes. That desperate feeling hits him again, this time harder.  

 

He’s tearing off his own clothes before he has a chance to think twice about it. Aether kicks his pants across the room and peels his sticky underthings off of himself. The seam of his shirt brushes against his nipples as he pulls it off, sending a spark up his spine and he nearly whimpers.

 

Clumsily, he leans further back onto the bed and braces himself with one arm, experimentally bringing one hand up to his chest, fingers brushing over a nipple and he gasps, hips jerking involuntarily.

 

It’s not enough and yet somehow it’s too much but Aether needs more . He wants to come again, needs to come again, and he reaches for his slick cock with his other hand and strokes himself one, two, three times and then he’s sobbing as cum streaks across his stomach. 

 

His hunger flags only momentarily before roaring back to life with a newfound intensity. Heat bubbles in his gut, brain fuzzy with need, and the urge to rut against something, anything is almost overwhelming. 

 

Aether groans, squeezing his eyes closed tightly as another wave of warmth rushes through his veins, body screaming for more. A new ache comes to life, unfurling in his core so intensely it almost hurts. He feels... empty.

 

No wonder Kazuha mentioned proper intercourse, the remnants of sanity reminds him as he writhes on the bed, cock straining and leaking against his abdomen.

 

Kazuha .

 

He doesn’t know if he thinks or says his name, but the concept of the samurai sends his mind buzzing and within seconds, all he can think about is him. How badly he wants - how badly he has wanted, since they met - and now here he is in the throes of an animalistic heat, that want morphing into something so much closer to need .

 

“Kazuha,” he says aloud this time, mulling over the way the young man’s name tastes on his tongue like this - a needy little whimper. “ Kazuha .”

 

He likes the way it feels, the name in his mouth, tumbling out as a moan. Aether can’t stop himself, reaching for his cock and stroking, Kazuha’s name falling from his lips again. 

 

All he can think of is want - the soft platinum hair that he wants to run his fingers through, the bright, carnelian eyes he craves running across his body, the little smile he wears on his lips splitting open with a hot breath bursting across Aether’s skin.

 

“Kazuha,” he moans, tossing his head back as his hips jerk up, fucking into the slick circle of his fist.

 

“Aether?”

 

Oh.

 

His eyes snap open to see Kazuha in the threshold of his room, closing the door gently behind him. Those warm, sunset hued eyes are fixed on him, equal parts concern and what Aether distantly registers as fascination and in an instant he realizes he never stopped touching himself, breath hitching when their gazes meet.

 

“Kazuha, I - oh, god --”

 

He spills over his hand without warning, a shudder going down his spine and his amber eyes roll back into his head. He can practically smell Kazuha from here - the cool scent of rain and musk - and he tenses, fingers tightening at the base of his dick.

 

Oh, god. Oh, god , he just came in front of Kazuha - while moaning his name. Hot shame washes over him for a moment before it’s immediately overtaken by ravenous hunger again.

 

“I - I thought you went to--”

 

“Are you all right?” Kazuha interrupts, voice startling Aether from his blur of thoughts and he looks up at him. A hand reaches out, brushing across his forehead and Aether moans at the feeling of the cool touch against his burning skin. 

 

“Don’t leave,” he blurts. Kazuha blinks down at him. “Please.”

 

“Aether, I’m not sure that would be wise-”

 

“I don’t care ,” Aether complains, uninterested in but aware of the way his voice comes out - desperate and needy. “I - I need - fuck - will you please help me?”

 

“I don’t want you to regret this,” Kazuha replies calmly, reaching down and gently cupping Aether’s cheek. Eagerly, he nuzzles into it. “I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

 

“I won’t regret it, you’re not taking advantage, I just - I need you. Kazuha. Please.”

 

“Aether.” 

 

His tone is steeped in worry, unsure, but there’s an underlying huskiness that Aether cannot ignore. He whimpers quietly, pressing his lips to Kazuha’s palm, then his wrist and he hears the samurai’s breath catch.

 

“Please. God. Kazuha. When you say my name, I-”

 

“Aether,” he breathes, then settles onto his knees in front of him, taking him by the chin. “Are you sure about this?”

 

“Yes,” Aether responds instantly. “I’ve never been so sure about anything in my life. Please.”

 

“All right,” Kazuha says quietly. “Then… can I kiss you?” 

 

It takes everything in Aether’s power not to throw himself into Kazuha’s arms and instead he nods enthusiastically. The samurai wastes no time, leaning in and finding Aether’s mouth with his own, and it’s like the world falls out from under him. 

 

He moans into the kiss, fingers fumbling to find purchase on Kazuha’s clothes and desperately pulling him in, like if he can’t melt into him here and now he’ll die. Kazuha makes a noise against his mouth, breath hot against Aether’s lips and when their tongues meet, he’s done for. Aether cries out, another electric wave of pleasure washing over him as he comes undone, tears rolling down his face as his dick jerks helplessly. The other young man pauses, pulling back for a moment.

 

“Did you just - again ?” Kazuha asks in disbelief. Aether whines, squeezing his eyes shut as his cock pulses. “How many times have you…?”

 

“Three. Four. Don’t know,” Aether replies, blinking away tears and looking up at Kazuha. “Hurts. Please don’t stop.”

 

“Okay,” Kazuha says, giving him another quick kiss. “I’ll take care of you, don’t worry.”

 

Before he knows it, Kazuha is pressing him back onto the bed with his knees on either side of Aether’s hips, Aether crawling back as he tries to keep their lips together and he licks at the other man’s mouth hungrily. He feels Kazuha hiss out a breath when Aether drops one hand to his hip, sliding to his waist to fumble at the cloth belt tied there. 

 

“Why do you - why do you have so many clothes on?” Aether complains breathlessly. He tugs desperately at Kazuha’s clothes, whining when they aren’t coming off quickly enough and much to his surprise, Kazuha laughs at him. His gaze snaps to Kazuha’s, eyes meeting, and he sees the other man’s pupils blown wide, a little grin on his face.

 

“I’m going as fast as I can, Aether,” he says softly, licking at his mouth before he bends back, pulling his shirt off. Aether stares hungrily at the expanse of pale skin revealed to him, his torso littered with scars - some newer, some older - and he leans up, mouthing at Kazuha’s chest clumsily. The belt finally comes undone and he all but shoves Kazuha’s pants down, heart pounding in his chest when his cock springs forward, already hard. A noise slips out of his mouth and he can’t help himself when he wraps one hand around the samurai’s length.

 

“Ah - you don’t have to--”

 

Aether’s already elbowed one of Kazuha’s knees wider, sliding down the bed underneath him, and he eagerly takes him into his mouth. 

 

“God - Aether .”

 

The way Kazuha says his name sends him spiraling, moaning around the flesh in his mouth as he sucks more in greedily. He watches with rapt attention as Kazuha’s eyes flutter shut, a soft moan leaving his lips, and all Aether can think of is more .

 

The salty taste of precum bursts across his tongue and he sucks harder, more enthusiastically, starved for more, and above him he sees the muscles in Kazuha’s stomach tense.

 

“Aether - stop, I - feels so good, fuck ,” he murmurs quietly, threading fingers through Aether’s hair. His hips press forward despite his words, head of his cock prodding the back of Aether’s throat and he gags slightly, eyes filling with tears. He swallows around Kazuha, who lets out a surprised little noise before pulling back, slipping out of Aether’s mouth with an obscene pop.

 

The way his spit slicked cock twitches in front of Aether’s face has him drooling, desperate to taste more, but Kazuha leans back, hooking his hands under Aether and tugging him up the bed. He bends down, pressing their lips together, devouring him hungrily.

 

“You look so much more beautiful like this than I ever imagined,” Kazuha whispers when he breaks away, dragging his mouth across Aether’s jawline. It sends Aether’s heart soaring, a different ache permeating his chest at Kazuha’s words.

 

“You imagined this?” He asks in wonder.

 

“Only a fool wouldn’t,” comes Kazuha’s reply from the crook of his neck and Aether moans when teeth drag across his skin. “Now let me take care of you.”

 

Kazuha’s hands find his chest, fingers dragging pleasantly over his sensitive nipples before trailing down his abdomen. His touch grazes Aether’s cum slicked cock, earning a gasp in response, and then his palm slides over one thigh, urging him to spread his legs. Aether obliges wordlessly and then fingers slide up the inside of his leg, to the curve of his ass and between his cheeks. 

 

A shock runs through him when he feels Kazuha press a finger gently to his hole. Aether’s hips jerk up, erection bobbing with the sudden movement, and he makes a surprised little noise in the back of his throat. He’s - he’s wet ?

 

“Is - is that--”

 

“It’s just another side effect,” Kazuha informs him calmly, pressing a wet kiss to his collarbone, finger circling his slick entrance. “To make things easier. Are you ready?”

 

“Hurry up,” he complains, squirming uncomfortably at Kazuha’s featherlight touches. When he slowly presses a digit past the tight ring of muscle and in, Aether’s whole body tenses, a new wave of arousal washing over him and he sobs, cock twitching and leaking helplessly.

 

“God, Aether, you-” Kazuha fingers him slowly, curling and thrusting. “You just got wetter .”

 

“More, please, oh, god .”

 

Kazuha obliges, sliding another digit into him with ease and Aether trembles under him, the sensation foreign but somehow so satisfying. 

 

“You’re doing so good,” he praises, his voice soft and low, free hand gently threading through Aether’s sweat dampened locks. “Such a good boy for me.”

 

Something about the way Kazuha speaks to him has heat blossoming across his skin and then another finger presses into him, finding a spot inside of him that nearly makes his vision go white. 

 

“I - I’m going to - ah !”

 

He comes with a shattered noise, clinging to Kazuha’s as though the world might collapse under them if he lets go. Gently, he works Aether through his orgasm, fingers inside him moving slowly, but insistently. They brush against his prostate again, sending Aether’s hips twitching upwards.

 

“Ka- ah -Kazuha, please,” he pants, opening his eyes again to meet the other’s gaze as he pulls back to watch Aether. He can feel his face damp with sweat and tears and he’s sure he looks pathetic like this - fucked out and stupid. He would flush in shame, but he doesn’t know if his face can possibly get any redder.

 

“What do you want, Aether?” Kazuha asks sweetly, so sweetly it might rot Aether’s teeth out and he lets out a soft breath, leaning up to capture Kazuha’s lips with his own. He breaks away a moment later to speak.

 

“Want you,” he whispers. “Want you to fuck me. Please?”

 

“Are you sure, Aether?”

 

“Kazuha, please ,” he says brokenly. “Don’t make me beg.”

 

The chuckle that escapes Kazuha makes Aether’s heart skip a beat, the samurai looking at him with a gentle expression, corners of his lips twitching into a smile. “All right, I won’t. Next time, maybe.”

 

Next time .

 

Aether barely has time to process his words before Kazuha’s fingers slip out of him with a wet noise and he squeaks at the sudden emptiness. A quick kiss is pressed to his lips once more before Kazuha pushes himself up on one arm, maneuvering so he settles between Aether’s thighs. A surprised, pleased little noise escapes him when he feels the head of Kazuha’s cock press against his wet hole and he arches up at him.

 

“Ready?” Kazuha asks, running one hand up a thigh and to his hip, gently rubbing circles on his skin. Aether nods furiously in response, sucking his lower lip into his mouth, gaze focused on where their bodies meet.

 

Electric heat shoots up his spine when Kazuha pushes into him, both of them moaning in tandem and for the first time since this started, Aether finally feels some semblance of relief. It washes over him, cool but short lived when Kazuha’s cock breaches him. He chokes for breath, tossing his head back onto the pillows, mouth parted in a gasp as he struggles to adjust to the sensation of being filled.

 

“Archons,” he whimpers, swallowing a whine, fingers gripping the blanket beneath him tightly. Something coils low and tight in his belly and he huffs out a desperate breath, looking up at Kazuha with furrowed brows. “Please.”

 

Aether ,” Kazuha moans, lashes fluttering, muscles in his abdomen twitching as he struggles to hold himself still, “you’re so - fuck .”

 

“Don’t stop - ah, hah , Kazuha, please,” Aether gasps, spreading his legs wider, arching up at the man above him and when he does, Kazuha slides into him deeper. A sob escapes Aether and he clutches desperately at Kazuha’s arms, spilling suddenly between their stomachs. For a moment, he feels a wave of weariness wash over him before it fades, need taking the forefront of his mind again.

 

“It’s helping,” he says breathlessly. “Keep - keep going. Need more.”

 

A hungry noise rumbles in the back of Kazuha’s throat and he leans forward, hiking one of Aether’s legs up onto his hip before thrusting into him. A cry escapes the outlander’s lips and he clumsily brings his other leg up, tightening them around Kazuha and digging his heels into the curve of his lower back, urging him on.

 

“Kazuha, yes, yes ,” he sobs as he’s met with a series of long, languid thrusts, the sound of skin on skin filling the room. He silently prays none of his other companions have chosen to stay the night in the teapot, lest they hear him getting fucked within an inch of his sanity.

 

“You’re so tight and hot - Aether, I - Aether ,” Kazuha murmurs. “Oh, you’re so perfect .” 

 

“H-harder, please,” Aether cries out, arching up to meet the hips colliding with the soft curve of his ass. Above him, Kazuha lets out a groan, hooking his hands under Aether’s knees, spreading his legs wider and forcing them up. “Oh!”

 

“You’re doing s-so good,” Kazuha pants from above him, hot breath spilling across his cheek as he fucks him, slick skin on skin the only thing Aether can hear aside from his incessant babbling. 

 

The molten heat curling in his gut spikes and he sobs - tears flooding his face as sensation overwhelms him, cock throbbing between them - and he feels his orgasm build steadily. Kazuha leans down, pressing his legs further up as he slams into him. Something about the change in angle sends Aether’s vision blurring.

 

“Oh, Kazuha, oh, god , I’m - gonna, s-so close, I - hah !”

 

“Come for me, Aether,” Kazuha encourages him, panting against his neck, “come on - hhn, I’m going to--.”

 

“Inside!” Aether interrupts desperately, voice a wrecked mess. “Please, Kazuha, I want it, I want it, I want - oh , fuck!”

 

The tension coiling in Aether’s gut snaps suddenly, a rush of heat flooding his veins as he comes, cock pulsing between them and he all but screams, a sob tearing from his raw throat. Finally, finally he feels a wave of exhaustion wash over him, the ache of overstimulation setting in and he whimpers, nails digging into Kazuha’s arms as he chases his own release. Kazuha’s voice breaks into a loud moan and the pace of his thrusts stutters, hips pressing firmly Aether’s ass when he climaxes, hot cum spilling into Aether, who clenches tightly around him despite the overstimulation, desperate to keep himself full.

 

A long moment passes, the only sound in the room is the pair’s quiet, irregular breaths as they come down. Kazuha hums, letting go of Aether’s legs, letting them gently fall back to the bed beneath them and he whimpers, an ache setting into his thighs.

 

“Any better?” Kazuha inquires, still sounding a bit out of breath. Aether nods weakly, looking at him hazily, remnants of pleasure still buzzing in his veins.

 

A thumb brushes over one tearstained cheek and tiredly, Aether blinks up at Kazuha. There’s a faraway look in his eyes, and he offers a small smile, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to Aether’s forehead before he pulls out, earning a grunt of discomfort.

 

“Stay there,” he says, clambering up and wandering into the adjacent bathroom, returning with a dripping cloth in hand. He eases back onto the bed next to Aether, reaching out and cleaning the sticky residue of cum off his stomach. They sit in silence briefly, Kazuha taking his time cleaning the other man off, and Aether’s finally so tired he can barely keep his eyes open, lashes fluttering, drowsiness threatening to overtake him.

 

“Aether,” Kazuha says suddenly, voice quiet. “I’m sorry.”

 

Aether blinks up at him confusedly as he gently wipes the curve of one thigh clean with the wet cloth. 

 

“Huh? For what?”

 

“I took advantage of you,” Kazuha elaborates, giving him a guilty look before turning his gaze back to the cloth gently cleaning the stickiness on his stomach. “I hope you will forgive me.”

 

“What? Kazuha,” he begins, then pauses, laughing breathlessly. Kazuha shoots him a puzzled look, brows knitting together and Aether gives him a tired little smile. “I wanted your help - I asked for it.”

 

“But the pollen-”

 

Aether leans forward and reaches out, wrapping his fingers around one wrist, then wordlessly pulls Kazuha into him, pressing their mouths together in a gentle kiss. The samurai freezes against him for a split second before Aether feels him relax, responding in kind with a sweet kiss and this time he’s sure the feeling in his chest is from Kazuha and not the toxins in his bloodstream.

 

“I wanted you anyway,” he whispers when they split. Kazuha’s face flushes, as if he hadn’t just been fucking him stupid minutes ago, and Aether laughs.

 

“You did?”

 

“I did. Promise,” Aether tells him with a little smile before he continues. “And if you don’t believe me, ask me again tomorrow.”

 

“Tomorrow?” Kazuha asks and Aether reaches out, swiping the warm cloth from his grasp and working to clean Kazuha off now. He nods in response, letting his eyes wander across Kazuha’s pale skin before he looks up at him.

 

Lazily, Aether pulls back the blankets and scoots up the bed, kicking them down before settling underneath the plush fabric. He gives Kazuha a sleepy smile and pats the space next to him.

 

“Tomorrow,” he repeats. “Let’s go to bed.”

 

With a soft smile, Kazuha clambers up the bed and lays next to Aether, the two immediately curling into each other and within minutes, Aether’s blissfully drifting off into sleep.

 

And well, if he wakes Kazuha up once or twice during the night, there are certainly worse fates.