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An exasperated sigh passed Lyner’s lips as he listened to the now becoming far too common confrontations between Raze and the ever cocky Reicher. He was becoming annoyed with it, and he wasn’t even the one these taunts were being carelessly thrown at. Poor Raze.

A hand being gently placed on his shoulder caused Lyner to tear his gaze away from the two bickering men. “Lyner?”

Hearing the sound of Ayatane’s low voice as he whispered into his ear eased some of Lyner’s annoyance. But he was still ticked. With his brow furrowed, Lyner gave his best friend a frustrated look.

“I’ve had enough of this,” he said, indicating to the squabbling with a wave of his hand. “We have more Souls to release; we don’t have time ‘play’ with this guy. Besides, from the expressions of everyone; they’re tired of this as well.”

Ayatane allowed his gaze to glance around at the others who were accompanying them on a scouting mission for more Souls. Only half of everyone they’ve met and befriended so far in this world was here, the other half were waiting at the Save Point.

“Try not to battle with him,” Ayatane eventually said.

“As I said, we don’t have time,” Lyner replied as he smiled at his gentle friend. “I just want to tell him off.”

Ayatane returned his smile, but it wasn’t as reassured as he had hoped. “Still, be careful.”

“Don’t worry,” Lyner said softly. “If anything happens, I’m sure you’ll back me up, right?”

That earned him a true smile from Ayatane. “Of course.”

Lyner gave him another smile before turning on his heel and making his way over to the small confrontation, Raze, Lily and Whim all glaring angrily at Reicher. The only reason why this confrontation hadn’t dissolved into a physical battle was because Lily had ordered Raze not to battle and that Whim was actually holding onto Raze’s arm, pulling him back.

“I think that’s enough,” Lyner said as he pushed himself into the fray, putting himself in-between Reicher and Raze, both males startled to see him. “Haven’t you run out of witty taunts yet? I think you’re beginning to repeat yourself,” he said as he turned to glare at Reicher.

“Oh, it’s you again,” Reicher sighed dramatically with disdain as he surprisingly took a couple of steps backwards. “You’re always ruining my fun.”

“Huh?” Raze uttered as he gave Lyner his full attention. “Lyner?”

“Sorry, but this guy is really starting to bug me,” Lyner simply said with a shrug. “We don’t have time for this.”

Raze, however, frowned and looked defensive. “I can fight my own battles.”

Lyner resisted the urge to roll his eyes; he had expected something like that.

“I know that,” he said smoothly, hoping to show that he held no ill intentions toward his abilities by placing a hand on his shoulder, giving the other man a small smile. “But you don’t have to; we’re your friends, so we’re here to help you. Besides, this guy seems to forget that strength and power comes in all forms.”

A slightly flustered look flickered across Raze’s face. “Lyner...”

His flushed cheeks darkened when Whim and Lily echoed that they believe the same.

“My, having someone else fight your battles for you?” Reicher suddenly quipped. “Where’s the honour?”

“Oh, cut the crap,” Lyner retorted sharply, removing his hand from Raze’s shoulder to level Reicher with an irritated expression. “You talk about honour as if you had any. Where’s the honour in your constant taunts?”

“I must admit,” Whim said as she pressed his finger to her lips. “He has a point.”

“Yeah!” Lily piped up with her own exclamation of frustration. “There’s no such thing as honourable taunting.”

“All you seem to do is to appear randomly, when you’re not wanted, throw a few taunts around to rile everyone up and then leave like an overly dramatic egotist,” Lyner finished saying, his brow still deeply furrowed and his lips pressed together in a thin line.

There was a bark of laughter from York, the red-headed gunslinger agreeing with Lyner readily. “Yeah, that pretty much sums it up,” he said with a smirk.

Next to him, May cheered with her sweet and childish voice, throwing her arms into the air. “Yay, go Lyner!”

Reicher was surprisingly silent at first, his eyes roaming him up and down, as if sizing him up. But then a rather cheerful –flirtatious?- smile appeared on his lips. “Well, aren’t you a feisty one? Maybe I should be taunting you instead, hmm?”

Lyner just gave another exasperated sigh, not at all interested. “Spare me,” he retorted.

“Alright, I’ll confess to a little secret of mine,” Reicher said as he continued to look amused by these turns of events. “I’m searching for unconventional methods to increase Raze strength.”

“And you do that by...?” Lyner asked rather patronizingly slow.

“Provoking him into attacking me with all that he’s got, of course!” And there he gave a patronizingly cheerful wink.

Lyner resisted the urge to slap his forehead. “I see...”

“That’s not a secret confession; everyone already knows about your obsession,” Morrigan added from the sidelines. She, too, looked a little amused by all of this. But then again, she was a demon and a succubus, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

“Why me?” Raze asked as he moved to stand by Lyner’s side.

Reicher tapped his chin as if in thought. “Hmm, because...I’m not saying.”

“Arugh!” came Lily’s cry of annoyance, ignoring Whim’s pleas to remind dignified. “This guy’s a real piece of work.”

“Let’s just leave,” York said as he turned away in a bored manner. “Maybe if we ignore him, he’ll leave us alone.”

Miko, however, didn’t look all that convinced and sighed as well. “But that might make increase his efforts.”

“Hmm,” Morrigan chuckled as she folded her arms under her rather large bust. “I think this might become interesting...Can’t you feel the tension in the air. It’s...thrilling.”

Thrilling? Hardly, it was annoying.

“Just leave Raze alone already,” Lyner said firmly, turning to give Reicher a stern look. “He’s not interested and we’ve got enough to deal with.”

This time, however, Reicher appeared to be in actual thought, his gaze easily looking into Lyner’s – curiosity?

“Hmm, you and Raze are close?” Reicher surprisingly asked.

Lyner blinked and gave him a look as if the answer should have been obvious. “He’s my friend.”

“I see,” Reicher responded slowly, still staring at him. His gaze momentarily flickered over to Raze before settling on Lyner again. “Interesting.”

“And how is that interesting?” Lyner asked quickly, feeling defensive all of a sudden. The way that Reicher was just staring at him, studying him was unnerving.

But what made it all the more unnerving was Reicher’s mood change; he smiled and winked at him. “I think I may have just found another method into provoking Raze into battle.”

Lyner didn’t like the sound of that at all, his hand subconsciously twitching for his sword. “Yeah, like what?”

With a speed that Lyner hadn’t anticipated, Reicher had snared his right wrist in his hand and abruptly tugged him forward, toward him, not in an attempt to throw him aside like he had expected. Lyner fell forward, stumbling into his chest in surprise, the cocky long-hair blond a full head taller than he. Reicher willingly used Lyner’s shock to his advantage (of course) by snaring his other wrist to pull both of his arms behind his back, pinning them there. And by doing so, pressed their bodies closer together in what would have been an imitate display had it not been for the fact that Lyner didn’t trust this man as far as he could kick him.

Lyner snapped his head back, his brow furrowed with indignation and annoyance at being caught off guard. Damn bastard was just trying to rile everyone up again.

He parted his lips; ready to throw what he hoped was a scathing retort at Reicher, his mind already trying to formulate a plan to get out of his hold in some way.

But he was abruptly silenced and all thoughts lost – by Reicher’s lips pressed against his own!

Trapping Lyner’s arms against the small of his back by pinning his wrists together with just one hand, Reicher lifted his other hand to thread into Lyner’s hair, forcing him to tilt his head to the side to deepen the kiss. Again, he took advantage of Lyner’s shock by slipping his tongue pass his lips and into his mouth, heatedly and hungrily moving over his tongue.

Lyner’s eyes were wide in complete and utter shock, his body stiffening in Reicher’s arms as reflex. Of all the things he had expected from this erratic and irrational man, he hadn’t expected him to pull something like this!

He was...actually a pretty good kisser.

Ack! Wait, no! What the hell?! He didn’t want this!

Lyner immediately began to struggle, but it only resulted in their bodies moving and pressing closer together. The way that Reicher was ravishing his mouth was making it hard to concentrate – and breath!

“Get away from him, you bastard!”

As quickly as Reicher had pulled him into the unwanted embrace, he dropped him – literally as a heated rush of air roared inches from him. Lyner knew instinctively that someone had just used an attack to get Reicher away from him.

But it was so sudden that Lyner felt himself falling backwards, literally crumbling to the ground. But something was quickly wrapped around his shoulders, keeping him up off the ground and holding him against something hard yet familiar. He gasped to let fresh air into his lungs and unconsciously felt himself turn toward the familiar presence that was holding him up. He was met with hard armour, this chest plate distinct and familiar.

Ayatane.

Lyner gave a small sigh of relief before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, his breathing irrationally erratic. He could still feel those chapped lips against his and he shuddered. Gwad, it’s going to take a few dozen Funbuns to get rid of this feeling – and taste.

Tilting his head back, Lyner looked up at his slightly taller best friend. Ayatane had one arm wrapped around his back, just under his armour and was pressing him protectively against him as he glared with such intensity at Reicher, one of his blades drawn and pointed at the irritating man.

There were anger in those eyes, but not directed at him, but to Reicher. It had been so long since Lyner had seen such anger in those usually gentle and calm eyes. And he felt a twinge of guilt. He wanted to prevent Reicher from provoking and annoying the others, but instead the damn bastard used him to create uproar.

Turning to look at his...attacker (for a lack of a better word), Lyner quickly noted that Raze and York were now standing in front on him -almost as if they were protecting him-, their postures rigid with anger. Raze’s blade was drawn and glowed as if it had just unleased an attack while York’s guns were cocked and ready for battle. Both men were focusing entirely on Reicher, yelling out insults and heated words of disgust at him. They were utterly infuriated by his stunt and weren’t afraid to let him know.

But Reicher was simply looking far too amused and conceited about this whole thing, standing perched on a tall rock formation. This was probably the exact reaction he was looking for.

“Lyner?!”

Suddenly, Lyner was surrounded by the girls of their search party, all of them looking at him with deep concern in their gazes.

“Oh my God, are you alright? What did he do? Are you hurt? That was just...!”

They were all talking at once he could barely understand them, but he knew they were concerned. He was just glad that Aurica, Misha and Lady Shurelia weren’t here to see this. It was definitely something they could do without ever witnessing.

“How dare you do that to Lyner!” Raze seethed at Reicher, his grip on his weapon tightening painfully. “Keep him out of this!”

“That’s the spirit!” Reicher merely laughed. “If I had known it would take that, I would have done it a lot sooner, hm? I must admit, I enjoyed that more than I thought I would.”

“Sick bastard,” York spat with as much hatred as Raze possessed. “What the hell are you trying to pull?”

“Didn’t I just answer that question?” Reicher said cheerfully, actually going as far as winking at him again. “What’s the problem, anyway?”

What’s the problem? What’s the problem?!

Lyner twitched – he literally twitched with anger and abruptly pushed away from Ayatane, through the circle of girls that were trying to offer comfort and reassurance and drew his own blade. That was it! That bastard was going down!

“Get down here so I can kill you myself!” Lyner yelled, pushing his way in-between Raze and York.

“What’s the problem?” Reicher asked again with a tisking noise, even going as far as wagging a finger at him. “I mean, I didn’t even use my tongue.”

Lyner’s face burned red with fury and he bristled. “The hell you didn’t!” he yelled, his voice surprisingly high with embarrassment. “I’ll cut that bloody thing off!”

“Nah, sorry, I don’t have any more time to waste,” Reicher stated as he lifted his arms from his sides in a careless shrug. “Though it has been fun, so maybe next time, kay?”

Another flirty wink and then...he was gone. Just like that. Leaving a very pissed off group of heroes.

T-that damn bastard!