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It wasn’t good. Surrounded by monsters, a lot of them. They were the only ones who could guard a Soul May was trying desperately to release. They needed to act quickly.

Lyner bit his lip, his back to May, York and Morrigan on either side of him. He didn’t want to battle, not with May so close to releasing the Soul. He didn’t want either of them to be harmed by a stray attack. But, he couldn’t let these monsters get to her either.

Two monsters holding long spears suddenly appeared directly in front of Lyner, their weapons at the ready. They were going to attack – him! Lyner instantly reacted, his hand reaching out for the hilt of his blade.

But, before he could unsheathe his sword, the two creatures were immediately destroyed by a tall, elegant man, cutting through them both so effortlessly. He wore thick body arm, a pinkish red in colour, his skin a soft pastel and a striking red design in the middle of his forehead. In each hand he wielded a blade, holding them naturally, as if they weighed next to nothing.

“Greetings, everyone,” the stranger said, his voice causing Lyner’s body to tense from a sense of familiarity. “Mind if I help out?”

“You’ve got some skills!” York replied, clearly as impressed as Lyner was of this man’s power. “Sure, if you want to help out, by all means.”

“Of course,” the man smiled warmly and gently. But that expression disappeared the second he looked at Lyner. His brow creased into a questioning look, gazing intently at him. “Oh, you’re…”

“Me?” Lyner uttered without much thought. “What about…?”

Lyner drifted off mid-sentence, no longer remembering what he was going to ask. Instead, all he could look at, all he could see where those red eyes of his. Deep, meaningful, ruby red eyes. A shiver of recognition and realisation raced down his spine.

He knew this man. He knew him well.

And, from the look of recognition in those eyes, he knew him as well.

Lyner didn’t flinched when the twin swordsman reached out to him, snaring him by the arm and suddenly pulling him to him, against him. And Lyner felt himself fall against him readily, his body submitting to the memories his mind couldn’t recall just yet. Their hands sought each other out in such a way that told Lyner that they had done this many times before.

And he sighed with utter relief and joy when he felt a pair of lips press against his own. It was soft and tender at first, but soon turned undeniably deep and all consuming. Something, he recalled briefly, he never wanted any other way.

As he pushed against him, their bodies pressed so tightly together, Lyner threaded his fingers through his soft hair. He couldn’t feel the softness through his heavy duty gloves he wore, but he knew that his hair was soft. He also knew that he had gentle hands, hands that were warm and attentive. It didn’t make much sense to him logically, but his heart, his body, knew all this about the man that was kissing him, holding him like he was all that mattered.

And the way Lyner was kissing back, he knew that this man was extremely –as in completely and utterly- important to him.

Only one word rushed through his mind as was kissed deeply and passionately; Ayatane.

That was his name.

Ayatane.

With a gasp of air, they pulled apart, Ayatane holding him close with his arms wrapped around his waist, and Lyner’s own hands framing his face, looking into those beautiful eyes of his again.

“Ayatane…?” he breathed, his name rolling off the edge of his tongue effortlessly.

“Lyner…”

Lyner shivered again when he heard his deep voice and wanted so desperately to kiss him again.

But then a soft, sensual giggle was heard and it seemed to quite literally pop the little private bubble they were in. They pulled apart quickly, Lyner stumbling backwards and Ayatane’s head reeling back subtly. Ayatane’s eyes were wide in shock and surprise, and Lyner had no doubt that he was wearing the same expression.

“Oh, my,” A voice purred from behind him, making Lyner turn around in a jerky moment, his gaze immediately falling onto the sight of York little completely frazzled and slightly green, while Morrigan was looking at him and Ayatane with an expression of pure, unadulterated interest.

“I was going to ask if you two knew each other,” Morrigan said, that small half-smirk, half-smile on her lips. “But it appears they you know each other quite well.”

Lyner felt himself blush darkly.

Chapter Text

“The girls have been acting strange today, don’t you think?”

Now, Lyner wasn’t a suspicious person. It wasn’t in his nature to second guess the motives of others. Some would say that he was being naïve, but he preferred being optimistic. Still, something about the behaviour of a few of the girls in their ever growing family seemed to be acting funny.

Not to humorous kind of funny, either.

There was nothing in particular that Lyner could put his finger on and claim that it was strange. And to be frank, stranger things have happened. In this world and in his own world back home.

They were up to something. That was all he could come up with.

What they were up to wasn’t something he could say felt threatening. Confusing, was probably more accurate. And it didn’t raise any glaringly obvious warning flags. The girls pushing them together, making them complete random tasks or chores with only each other as company wasn’t anything new. And, to be honest, Lyner preferred working alone with Ayatane. Ayatane was someone that Lyner knew was able to take care of himself if anything should go wrong. And he trusted him, more than anyone.

But what was odd was the fact that they were never really alone. Off in the distance, just out of hearing range but well within sight would be one or two of the girls. And while he wasn’t suspicious nor paranoid, Lyner swore that someone was always watching them, just waiting for something.

What that something was, he didn’t have the faintest idea. But it left him semi on guard all the time.

The whole situation was just…hard to explain.

“Their behaviour has been a little…suspect,” Ayatane said to in in regards to his earlier question. He had this musing look on his face, his brow ever so slightly furrowed as he gazed into the empty space before him.

Lyner allowed him to muse silently for a few moments longer, taking this time to glance around at his surroundings. They had been given a new task, to find some kind of rare herb that Marie insisted was in this area. He had seen no plant close to what she described, but then again she did say it was rare.

While he looked around, he discreetly checked to see if any of the girls followed them for a reason that was still, and probably will remain, unknown to him. He couldn’t see anyone, but there were a lot of trees and thick bushes in this part of the area.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” Ayatane said, pulling Lyner out of his surveillance. Lyner turned to look at the slightly older man again, catching him smiling that gentle smile at his. And it was a smile that Lyner could not help but return, relaxing his stance.

“Yeah, I know,” Lyner said as he gave a one shoulder shrug, his gaze being pulled easily into Ayatane’s. “I think we’re alone now, though.”

“Ah,” Ayatane made a sound of agreement. “A rare treat indeed.”

“Yeah,” Lyner said, still looking into Ayatane’s eyes. “I suppose it is.”

“Well, I guess we should make the most of it.”

“We should.”

No more words were said as Ayatane reached out to him, pulling him toward him. Lyner willingly pushed himself forward, eliminating the distance between them so they were now chest to chest. As Ayatane shifted his grip, placing his hands on Lyner’s hips, Lyner rested his own hands on Ayatane’s arms. He gave a light and playful tug, pressing their bodies further together. Ayatane chuckled softly, his hands slowly leaving Lyner’s hips so he could wrap his arms entirely around Lyner’s waist, his hands touching the small of his back.

They were so close together now, his faces mere inches apart. Lyner wished he could press himself against Ayatane more, but their armour hindered that and he reluctantly had to be happy with the closeness they could achieve without actually removing the armour.

Armour was useful for battle, but not much else.

Staring into Ayatane’s eyes, Lyner felt Ayatane’s heated breath ghost across his lips. It caused a shiver to race up his spine, but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t want to feel just his breath.

Again, Ayatane chuckled lowly, as if he had just read Lyner’s mind. Thankfully, though, soon after that he leaned forward and pressed his lips against Lyner’s, their eyes fluttering close at the same time.

One of the bad things about being in a secret relationship was the fact that it was hard to be alone together, to simply be together without the concern of someone walking in on them. But when they did managed to get some time to themselves, they always made sure to cherish it. And to make the most of it.

With a sigh, Lyner parted his lips, wanting Ayatane to deepen the kiss. It had been far too long since they had been able to share something deeper than a fleeting peck on the lips in dark corner somewhere.

Brushing his tongue over Lyner’s lips, unfairly teasing him, Ayatane finally moved to deepen the kiss, pressing their mouths firmly together as their tongues pushed and played over each other’s. One of his hands slipped up Lyner’s back to rest against his shoulder blades, holding him tightly as he was able to without their armour pressing into them.

Lyner snuck his hand over Ayatane’s armour so he could gently touch the side of his face, his fingers threading through his silken hair. He was beginning to lose sense of where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. And that could be dangerous. But who knows when the next time they could be together like this would come again. He wasn’t going to end it just yet.

They continued to kiss for some time, only pulling back ever so slightly to get a proper breath of air before plunging right back in, unveiling their true feelings and emotions to one another. Just as Lyner was starting to get really frustrated by their armour acting as a hindrance, his mind trying to calculate how long it would take for him to remove the stupid thing, Ayatane ended the kiss. He pulled back, his hands slipping from Lyner’s back to rest on his hips instead.

Lyner pouted at the loss, once again prompting a chuckle to be heard from Ayatane. Ayatane then leaned forward again, but only to press their foreheads softly together.

“Hm, I think I’ve figured out why the girls gave us this task to do together,” Ayatane mused, a half smile on his lips and mild amusement in his eyes.

Lyner blinked, clearly puzzled by Ayatane’s words. “What do you mean? Why?”

At first, Ayatane said nothing as he slowly pulled away from him. Then, he motioned over his shoulder with his chin, toward a thick bush a few feet away.

“So they can spy on us, of course,” Ayatane said matter-of-factly.

Immediately after he said that there was a very telling ‘Eep!’ from the bushes and they rustled slightly, as if there was someone hiding their and was now trying to desperately, and discreetly, make a retreat.

“We know you’re there,” Ayatane suddenly stated as he turned to face the rustling bush fully, his posture somewhat defensive, while Lyner’s heart simply thundered loudly in his chest. “You might as well show yourselves.”

One blushing, embarrassed at being caught, face appeared. Then two. Then three. Then…

Lyner openly gaped at his unknowing audience. “W-what?”

The girls, however, made no attempt to explain themselves. They shuffled about, wringing their hands in front of them, refusing to look at either Lyner or Ayatane in the eye. No one but Morrigan, it seemed.

Not that it should be surprised.

“Why?” Lyner managed to stutter out, completely mortified by the whole thing, resisting the urge to hide behind Ayatane and pretend that it wasn’t happening.

“Why not?” Morrigan simply quipped back. “It was obvious that you two are more than just best friends. So obvious that even York thought you two are married.”

Lyner went completely silent at that. He had thought he and Ayatane hid their relationship quite well…

“It must be hard to get some alone time together,” Morrigan mused, her wings fluttering behind her. “With so many people around.”

Well, there was no disputing that. Look at what happened here.

“Tell you what,” Morrigan suddenly stated, sounding as if she was going to be making them a deal of a lifetime. “How about we come to some sort of an arrangement? We can help the two of you spend even more time together. As much time as you want.”

That…sounded nice. But what was the catch?

“And what do you want from us?” Ayatane asked as a suspicious eyebrow rose delicately.

And Morrigan smiled in a manner that Lyner could only describe as pure mischievousness. “We get to watch.”

Lyner blushed indignantly at the request, bristling from embarrassment. But before he outright refused the deal, he paused, his mind working quickly. Agree to the deal where he and Ayatane can spend as much time as they want together, doing PG rated things that any couple would want to do? Or turn down the offer and then suffer the consequences of having the girls interfering in their time together just to make him crack and agree to the deal anyway?

Sharing a look of resignation with Ayatane, Lyner turned to Morrigan. “Fine,” he muttered, his blush darkening at the look of sheer joy on the girls’ faces.

It would probably prove to be his biggest mistake. But, in reality, he was screwed way before the deal was even made.

Fangirls are evil, evil beings that would always, always get their way.

Chapter Text

By default, Felicia had been placed in charge of knowing where everyone was. With her incredible sense of smell, she was able to locate anyone with a simple twitch of her nose. And in a world as dangerous as this one, it was important to keep everyone close together.

But there were times where Felicia was able to smell a little bit too much.

It wasn’t uncommon for her to smell the slight scent of one person on another. Being in such close contact with each other (more often than not, completely against their will), it was a given.

And then there was Lyner and Ayatane.

Wrinkling her nose, Felicia turned to Morrigan. “Their scents are mingling again.”

A knowing smile appeared on Morrigan’s lips. “Really now? Not much of a surprise. It’s been a couple of days since they were able to spend some time alone.”

Felicia flicked her tail and hummed. “Yep, that’s true.” She sniffed the air again. “Hmm…they’re getting really sweaty.”

“I can just imagine.” Morrigan gave a sensual laugh. “Remember, if anyone asks…”

“Training again,” Felicia simply laughed.

Felicia was often asked by the girls where Lyner was and Felicia would always reply that he was with Ayatane, training. It would annoy them just a little as they wanted to spend time with the popular blond, but they relented, allowing the two to be left alone. They were awfully close, after all.

What they didn’t know, though, was that the word ‘training’ had another meaning. It was a code word that Morrigan wanted her to use. You see, they weren’t training. Not in the normal sense, anyway.

It was something a lot more interesting and physical. They were bonding, becoming close – emotionally, bodily, sensually.

In other words, Ayatane and Lyner were totally and passionately making out.

Of course, one didn’t need a sensitive nose to know that the two were head-over-heels in love with each other. They try to play it off as simply being the best of friends. But honestly, there were some things that not even best friends would say or do to each other.

Still, it was always so much fun watching them together, trying to act unsuspicious.

Felicia sniffed the air once again, expertly locating where the heady scent was coming from. Ah, their usual training grounds, of course. She wondered what they were doing, exactly. How were they holding each other? Was one pinned again a tree? Were they lying in the grass?

Or, her favourite, Lyner on Ayatane’s lap?

She had to know!

“Do you want to know where they are?” Felicia asked, tilting her head cutely to the side.

“Hmm,” Morrigan hummed quietly for a moment in thought. Then, a sly smile, a smile full of mischievous intent, appeared on her lips. “Well, maybe we should know where they are, to ensure that no one happens upon them by accident.”

Felicia flicked her tail happily and made a meowing noise as she turned and began to lead the way, Morrigan silently following her from behind.

“Yeah! Better safe than sorry!”

Chapter Text

A gasp escaped Lyner’s lips when two arms unexpectedly wrapped around him, pulling him into a taut and familiar chest. His eyes drifted close on their own accord, plunging his vision into darkness as a pair of lips descended to press against his own. His own lips parted with a sigh, an open invitation for the other to deepen the kiss if wanted. It was an invitation readily accepted; a slick and talented tongue slipping pass the serrated edges of his teeth to intimately explore the interior of his mouth.

He shouldn’t be doing this. Seriously, what the hell was he thinking?

Lyner was supposed to ensure that Reicher didn’t interfere with Raze as he trained away from their basecamp; not to make out with the other man!

It started out simple enough. Raze wanted to train and Reicher was always interfering, making him lose his cool, causing him to make silly little mistakes, of which Raze would brood about it for hours afterwards. Lyner had caught onto Raze’s frustrations rather quickly. So, wanting to help, he suggested that while Raze trains, he can keep a look out for Reicher for him.

Raze agreed, thankful for the help, as he wanted to become stronger so he could protect those he cared about. Lyner knew this and understood, which made him determined not to allow Reicher to interrupt, like he always did at the most inconvenient times.

On the first attempt to keep Reicher away, Lyner managed to distract him for a little while. But the taller, light blonde hair man seriously pissed him off. He was so conceited and arrogant that it made Lyner’s skin crawl. Since Raze wasn’t around, Reicher turned his conceited teasing onto Lyner instead. It was only Ayatane’s earlier warning not to underestimate Reicher that prevented Lyner from trying to kick his ass.

Still, Raze managed to get some training done, so Lyner kept up his promise of standing guard. In a world full of unknown and powerful monsters and enemies, they needed to take them on with all their strength.

And for Lyner? He was getting a very good lesson in patience…

For the next few days, Lyner managed to lure Reicher away from Raze, either by physically luring him away with a few well-placed words or, reluctantly at the beginning, distract him by engaging in conversation with him.

Slowly, for some reason, Reicher’s superior attitude lessened over time. Or maybe Lyner was simply used to it and was able to cut him down. He was actually getting better at firing off sarcastic remarks.

Of which, he noted mildly, Reicher seemed to enjoy. He thought that Lyner was merely an airy pretty boy. Lyner frowned and Reicher laughed, saying it was a pout.

…He got that a lot…

Even so, it was rather surprising that Reicher never tried to force him to convey information about his friends’ strategies or where their basecamp was. And, even more surprising, Lyner never questioned him about his loyalties to their enemies.

Still, the man was irritating, Lyner told himself time and time again afterwards. He couldn’t see him being a friend to him or the others in anyway.

However, it wasn’t until Raze mused out loud if he should train or not, Lyner surprised himself by encouraging him to do so. Not because he felt the other male needed to train more, but because he wanted to see Reicher again!

That alarmed Lyner greatly. He wasn’t sure what to think about the matter; there was nothing impressive or good about the man. He was arrogant, conceited, the enemy and really, really annoying. He was also powerful and could be, if he felt the inclination, helpful. Although, his definition of help was different to Lyner’s.

So, while standing guard, Lyner tried hard to stay aloof and distant, as if Reicher’s presence didn’t cause butterflies to appear in his stomach. He dodged his questions and engaged in short conversation. He thought he was doing pretty well at keeping Reicher at arm’s length.

However, everything went to hell the very second that Reicher suddenly pulled him into his arms and kissed him, to no doubt rile him up and piss him off.

Unexpectedly, and to Lyner’s horror, he liked it; his instinctively trained body fell limp in his hold. Reicher seemed mildly surprised at his reaction as well as he pulled back from the kiss to look at him. Lyner knew he was blushing madly as he stared wide-eyed at him. But, he made no attempt to push the other man away from him. And Reicher made no attempt to release him.

Another kiss was initiated by Reicher. And then another. And yet another.

Soon, they were literally making out; Lyner gripped at Reicher’s shoulders with his hands as Reicher wrapped one arm around his waist, threading his fingers of his other through Lyner’s hair. Reicher’s mouth moved hungrily over his, dominating him in the kiss, even though Lyner tried to give a token fight for control.

It would horrify him later to realise that he liked being dominated.

He had no idea how long he had engaged in the heated, but totally unacceptable kiss. It only ended when a voice called his name, seemingly breaking the spell he was under. And for Reicher, too, as he was the one to pull back and abruptly removed his hold on him.

He then quickly fled, leaving a dazed, confused and utterly frazzled Lyner behind.

The voice that called to him was that of Ayatane, his best friend looking for him as he had been gone for a while and was worried. Lyner didn’t know what to say to his gentle questions regarding whether or not he was ok; he simply nodded and allowed Ayatane to guide him back to camp.

Lyner wanted to avoid the other man after that, shocked and alarmed by his own behaviour, of which kept him up at night. But, they kept running into each other. And when they did, the want to have those lips on his again downright terrified him.

But when Raze asked him to keep watch once more, his loyalty wouldn’t let him say no; even though he felt slightly nauseated by the thought of possibly seeing Reicher again.

He had spent the first few minutes edgy, jumping at every sound. As he scolded himself to calm down, there he was; Reicher standing directly before him, that smug little smirk on his lips.

Reicher claimed directly afterwards that Lyner squeaked at his appearance, something Lyner vehemently denied. He caught him slightly off-guard, that’s all.

The atmosphere around them was undeniably awkward, for the both of them. Lyner wanted to say something, but didn’t. And it appeared that Reicher wanted to say something as well, about their previous…make out session.

But, they were both guys. They’re not used to talking about their feelings and whatnot.

Which led to Reicher simply taking him in his arms again and kissing him, not as hungrily as before, but definitely more passionate and deep. Lyner wasn’t sure whether it was from lust, desire or a simple need to be held, but instead of pushing the other way, Lyner wrapped his arms around his neck, participating in the kiss.

And this led him to his current situation.

“Lyner! Where are you?”

Breaking the kiss, Lyner glanced over his shoulder, his arms still surprisingly around Reicher’s neck, Reicher’s own arms wrapped tightly around his waist. Once again, it was the voice of one of his friends. One of the girls, this time. And it was faint, so they couldn’t see, they didn’t see him in such a…scandalous embrace.

Reicher muttered darkly under his breath before, reluctantly, removed his hold on Lyner once more, Lyner slipping his arms from his neck. The sound of approaching footsteps caused Reicher to slink backwards, into the darkness of the night.

“I hazard to guess that Raze will be training tomorrow night as well?” Reicher asked him, staying visible to Lyner for a moment longer.

Lyner licked his lips nervously before nodding. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Well then, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Reicher said, that smirk on his lips again. He then disappeared into the blackness, leaving Lyner alone once more, leaving him to anticipate their next encounter.

Not that he would admit that out loud.

“…Yeah.”

Chapter Text

Lily should hate Lyner. Detest him with a feverish, jealous rage. But she can't...she just can't. He was just too nice to hate. And she had a very good reason to do so, in her opinion.

He took Raze away from her.

Oh, sure, they weren't together in the first place, but she had been working on it! She had been trying for years. She wanted his attention, his laugh, his smile to be for her and only her. He was her servant. It was his duty and obligation to stand by her side for always.

When they first entered into the strange world of lost souls, Raze had been harsh, abrasive and suspicious of everyone but her and Whim. And when they met up with the others, Lyner at the forefront and eager to welcome new people into their group, Raze had pointed his sword at him, willing to fight if necessary. Raze was never trusting of people. Yet, despite the raising of his sword, Raze made no attempt to actually attack. Normally, it would have taken a couple of stern commands from Lily for Raze to put away his weapon. That time, however, it took one.

Maybe it was Lyner's friendly appearance that took him off guard. Or maybe it was the fact that Lyner made absolute no attempt to reach for his own weapon, more than willing to try to talk Raze out of it. Whatever it was, the smile on Lyner's face as Raze withdrew was practically dazzling. And as Lily glanced at Raze from the corner of her eye, she noted that Raze looked somewhat uncomfortable and confused.

During the time, she hadn't paid much attention to his confused look. It wasn't until later that she realised that she had never seen that expression before. It made her feel somewhat baffled as well.

Still, she didn't think much of it.

Until she kept seeing Raze's expression soften ever so slightly whenever he was dealing with Lyner. It was as if the slightly shorter blond baffled him in some way. Lily could kinda understand. Lyner was just too friendly, too cheerful, too encouraging.

Lyner was like that toward everyone. Lily, however, quickly noticed that he seemed to gravitate toward Raze more than anyone else. And Raze, for his part, did nothing to put any distance between them. In fact, he seemed to like the attention somewhat. Raze had never been the communicative type, but he was able to speak with Lyner and even share a laugh or two with him.

Lily couldn't help but feel jealous. He was never like that around her.

Still, she thought there was nothing more than friendship between the two. And it was (somewhat) good to see Raze getting along with someone else. It was good that he made a friend.

After what had transpired that day, however, friend didn’t seem to be the appropriate word anymore.

Lyner had been caught up in a surprise attack. And being on the front line, he received the brunt of it. Not that he would have it any other way, mind you. If he wasn't on the front line he would push himself there so no one else would get hurt. That was just the way he was.

Not overly emotional in any sense, Lily however did see a soft look of concern appear on Raze's face when Lyner was practically carried back to camp, his armour damaged and covered in white bandages. He was one of the first to reach him and help him into a tent for further medical treatment with no prompting from anyone. He just did it himself. He took Lyner's arm, placed it behind his neck as Raze wrapped an arm around Lyner's waist, supporting him before anyone else could.

For the second time in a matter of minutes, Lily saw another look of concern appear on Raze's face when Lyner leaned against him. And Lyner smiled at him, a smile that was both reassuring and apologetic. Yet, it did little to ease the concern.

Lily couldn't help but wonder, had the others not been around and it was just Raze and Lyner alone together, would Raze had picked Lyner up into his arms like she had dreamed him doing for her for so many years? Yes. Yes, he would have. And they would have looked good together, too.

And yet, as Lily's inner jealousy bubbled forth, she couldn't help but wonder if he was doing it on purpose in order to get Raze to fuss over him in his own subtle way. Those injuries, however, were very real, as was the concern everyone was feeling.

It was around sunset when Lyner was allowed out of the tent to walk around. He didn’t look as pale as he did when he first returned, but he still looked washed out. He also looked surprisingly fragile without his armour and weapon.

As everyone started to relax for the evening and set about preparing dinner, Lyner had been pretty much exiled to sitting by the outdoor campfire to allow his wounds to heal. He wasn't allowed to do any battling or work for a while, a day or two at the least. And for the most part, he seemed content with that. He, however, didn't like their fussing. And that was kinda understandable. There were only so many times one could answer with "I'm fine" before they started getting cranky.

The only person he didn’t ‘shoo’ off with a firm ‘I’m really ok’ was Raze.

Lifting her gaze from the book she had been trying to read, Lily watched with a slight frown as Raze approached Lyner for the umpteenth time. However, before Raze could say anything, Lyner sneezed and shivered. The sneeze sounded too cute in Lily’s opinion.

Raze then did something that made Lily grit her teeth as a bubble of jealousy hitched in her throat. He shrugged off his jacket and then wrapped it around Lyner's shoulders. In full view of everyone!

Lyner looked surprised, snapping his head up to look at Raze, who in turned seemed to be looking everywhere else but him. However, a moment later a smile appeared on Lyner's lips, gentle and happy, and he tugged Raze's coat tighter around him. A light blush adorned his cheeks as he seemed to nestle himself deeper into the warm coat in an all too adorable way.

Lily inwardly seethed. Raze had never offered her his coat.

And she couldn’t help but physically bristle when Raze sat down next to Lyner. Right next to him. Shoulder to shoulder. Raze’s hand inauspiciously resting on top of Lyner’s. Hardly an accident.

They were so brazen, yet so subtle.

The others couldn't see what Lily could. They couldn't see how tightly Raze was holding Lyner's hand in his, their fingers intertwined. They couldn't see how Lyner moved closer to Raze and rested his head tenderly on his shoulder. They couldn't see how Raze did absolutely nothing to put any distance between them. They couldn't see how utterly comfortable they were with one another.

They were doing everything together that Lily had failed to do. And that should have been enough for Lily to declare war on Lyner. Going after another's man was against the rules or something, wasn't it? She should hate his very existence.

But, as she looked at Raze's face, seeing that small smile on his lips as he gazed down at Lyner with a far too tender gaze, Lily reasoned to herself that she couldn't possibly hate the man that brought such an expression to Raze's face. Gentle, sincere, free of any tension. She had always wanted that expression for herself.

Glumly, she realised that there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn't demand that Raze look at her that way. It didn't work that way. She wanted that look to be sincere and genuine, not forced from obligation and duty. Raze will always be her servant, a man who will cater to her every need. That was his obligation toward her.

But Raze will never be hers. His heart, his thoughts, his will was drawn to another.

Lily will never know how Lyner did it. How Lyner managed to gain Raze's attention and attraction in such a short time. Maybe he didn’t do anything, didn’t even try. It was a natural course of action. Something that happened subtly, without words or grand gestures.

Maybe…

"Mr Lyner is good for Mr Raze," Whim commented softly, as if she had been watching her and them the entire time.

And despite her jealousy, Lily had to agree.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often that Lyner was given the chance to use the shower. The girls of their family weren’t all that fond of camping and would hog the showers to themselves. The guys were only allowed to use the showers when the girls deemed them too smelly or dirty. Lyner liked to be clean as much as anyone else. But using the showers was…complicated.

You see, Lyner may look like a guy, but in fact, under that armour, he was a she.

There were reasons for her to be dressing as a male knight, and they were good reason. She just couldn’t remember what they were at the moment…

Her real gender was the reason why things were complicated for her. She couldn’t bathe with the girls as they thought she was a guy. And she couldn’t bathe with the guys because she was really a girl. While she was sure Lazarus and Prinny would enjoy that thought, it was a scenario Lyner didn’t want to happen.

Lyner can’t remember if anyone else knew about her real gender. It might make things easier if someone else knew. But something was holding her back in asking. What if they didn’t know and then demand her to explain her actions. How could she explain anything if she couldn’t remember the reasons why?

Maybe she should tell someone who wasn’t from her world? Miko seemed nice enough; she might be able to help her out. It was getting hard to keep such a large secret herself.

Lyner sighed and shook her head. She didn’t want to think about that right now. She has had a long day and wanted the chance to enjoy this opportunity of using the shower. It was an opportunity that didn’t arise often and time was growing short. She had better get into the shower, get clean and get out as soon as possible or someone will come a knocking.

Quickly, Lyner removed her clothes, carefully placing her all-important armour near her clean clothes. The armour was looking a little damaged, though. She’ll try to fix it when she gets out of the shower.

Moving over to the shower stall, Lyner glanced into the mirror and frowned. She wasn’t all that fond of her womanly figure, if you could call her tall, slender frame, powerful arms and long legs womanly. She didn’t have a soft and supple figure, not by any stretch of the imagination. Her breasts weren’t that big, but they weren’t small either. She had to use thick, sturdy bindings to bound her breasts, giving her a manly chest.

Being surrounded by many beautiful women only made her feel even more insecure about her figure. It was utterly stupid, as she was hiding her gender, but a small part of her was slight jealous.

It didn’t make much sense.

Still, in her mind, she had a better figure than Etna, something that would no doubt piss her off something fierce. Lyner didn’t get along with that demon very much, so it should be funny to see her reaction if she were to find out.

Shaking her head again, Lyner moved into the shower stall and turned on the water, adjusting it so it was warm, not too hot, not too cold. She then stepped under the jet of water, allowing the water to wash over her, running through her hair, cleansing her. She shouldn’t waste her precious time with such frivolous thoughts. She had more important things to consider.

Still it was moments like this, naked and alone, that made her remember that she was in fact a girl and there were times she wished she could act like one as well.

Enough of that, Lyner ordered herself mentally. She then proceeded to wash herself, using the soap and shampoo that Marie had made with her alchemy, washing herself down quickly. She had lost precious time being lost in her own thoughts, so she had no idea how long she had been in here already.

Someone was probably getting impatient for their turn.

Turning off the shower, Lyner stepped out and immediately reached out for a towel, wrapping it securely around her womanly form. She would always take two towels with her, one as a form of coverage, the other to dry herself.

Using the other towel to roughly dry her hair, Lyner moved over to grab her clean clothes, but…they were gone. Ripping the towel from her head, she didn’t immediately panic, taking a moment to consider that maybe she put her clothes elsewhere. But a quick glance around the room made her realise that she hadn’t misplaced her clothes. They were, indeed, gone.

Lyner felt sick to her stomach. Her clothes were missing. Some inconsiderate asshole had stolen her only security. Those were the only clothes she had brought with her into the showers. She never thought that someone would play such an evil prank on her.

What should she do? She can’t stay here in the showers, but it’s not like she could exactly leave dressed in only a towel, a piece of material that did nothing to hide her…assets. As small as they were, no man would walk around with a towel wrapped around his chest.

Lyner was torn between crying and destroying something.

“Ok, don’t panic,” Lyner whispered to herself. It was late in the afternoon, everyone will probably be lingering in the catering tent, right? Maybe she could sneak out, grab some clothes and get dressed before anyone saw her.

It was her only option. She couldn’t stay here, in the bathroom. Someone will definitely come knocking soon, making a fuss, drawing attention. No choice.

Placing one hand on the knot of her towel that was in the middle of her chest, Lyner used her other hand to carefully open the door, peeking out. She noted, with relief, that no one was lining up for their turn.

Stealing her nerves, Lyner slipped out the door, outside. The air was rather chilly against her damp, naked skin. She clutched at her towel tighter, her heart thundering in her chest. She was hyper aware, hearing everything. She could hear the voices of her teammates talking amongst themselves.

Creeping along slowly in the shadows, Lyner was hoping against hope that no one would stumble across her.

She was getting close to the sleeping tent, though. Not much further to go. She turned a corner and then collided into something warm, hard and…breathing?

Shit.

Immediately, her head snapped upwards when she felt a pair of hands grab her shoulders, holding her steady. But all she could see what spiky blond hair and blue eyes behind odd shaped glasses.

Lazarus.

She blinked. He blinked. And Lyner resist the urge to scream. She did, however, react by shoving Lazarus away from her. She stumbled backwards, her breath hitched in her throat as she tightened her hold on the towel. She couldn’t say anything as she stared, utterly mortified, at the blond hair gunslinger.

Lyner all but stopped breathing when she heard voices that were unbelievably close.

“Lyner not out of the shower yet?” Lyner could hear Etna ask, a sense of amusement in her voice.

“No, he’s not,” Meu replied. She then seemed to hum for a moment in thought. “That’s strange; he never takes long in the shower. I wonder if everything is ok.”

“Probably not,” Etna snickered.

There was a silent pause. “…What did you do?”

“Nothing!” That didn’t sound innocent at all.

Etna? She should have known…That bitch was going to pay one way or another.

Lyner quickly remembered that she wasn’t alone when she heard the sound of clothes moving. She turned around just in time to watch as Lazarus took off his shirt and then placed it around her shoulders. Lyner blinked when she felt the rather soft material touch her bare skin. Subconsciously, she reached up with her hands and grabbed the shirt, folding it tightly around her slender form. His piece of clothing actually gave her ample coverage, the end of the shirt touching her thighs. It was such a relief to have something covering her near naked form.

“I’ll take care of this,” Lazarus said as he gave her a wink. Lyner watched in muted shock as Lazarus moved away from her and toward the sound of the voices.

“Alright,” Lazarus called out as he stepped into the catering tent, where they had heard Etna’s voice. “Who stole Lyner’s clothes?”

At first, all he got was silence. Then, Etna made a noise of annoyance and disappointment. And immediately after that Meu made a sound of disapproval.

“Etna!” Meu shouted. “You shouldn’t do such things to Lyner! Where did you put his clothes?”

“Joke’s over,” Lazarus said. “Hand over the clothes.”

Lyner was frozen to the spot. A part of her wanted to peek in, but that would only draw more unwanted attention her way. So she stayed outside, clutching Lazarus’ shirt around her, fidgeting on her feet. She could hear noise coming from inside the tent and she hoped that Etna was being forced into revealing where she had hid her clothes.

A moment later Lazarus reappeared, a bundle of something under his arm.

“Here,” Lazarus said as he handed Lyner her clothes.

“T-thanks,” Lyner muttered as she retrieved her clothes before turning and making a dash toward the tent in order to get dressed in privacy. She got dressed quickly, thankful that her binding bandages where there was well. It seemed Etna didn’t go through her clothes, but simply grabbed them and hid them.

One bit of luck at least. That means she wouldn’t question why she had such bandages in the first place. Not that Etna would be concerned in anyway, she was sure. Would she questioned it in front of the others, making them worry about the reason for the bandages.

She could be such a shit-stirrer.

With her clothes covering her completely, Lyner released a sigh of relief. But a sense of dread soon settled in the pit of her stomach. She was certain that Lazarus would be waiting around, looking for a possible explanation. Not that she could really give him one.

She could only hope that he’ll be satisfied with what she could tell him.

“So,” Lazarus stated to speak the moment Lyner stepped outside the safety of the tent. “Care to tell why a lovely lady such as yourself is hiding her gender?”

Lyner blushed lightly and found herself stuttering, “I…don’t remember…”

Lazarus tilted his head to the side in question. “Hm?”

“I know the reason is really important!” Lyner started to tell him, the words tumbling from her mouth in panic. “It’s, just, I can’t remember it right now.”

“I guess that would make sense,” Lazarus said after a moment of silence, sounding far too casual in regards to Lyner’s biggest secret. “I mean, most of us who were brought into this world couldn’t even remember our names, so it makes sense you don’t remember the reason.”

“I guess so,” Lyner murmured, a sense of relief washing over her. But it didn’t last that long and she glanced up at Lazarus, chewing absentmindedly on her bottom lip. “You’re not going to tell anyone, are you?” she asked, pleading in her eyes.

“Well, you said the reason was important,” Lazarus grinned good naturedly. “Even if you don’t remember, so it would be best that I don’t tell anyone, yeah?”

Lyner beamed up at him in gratitude. “Thank you!”

Lazarus suddenly reached up with his hand and grabbed Lyner by the chin, tilting her head back ever so slightly. Then, he did something totally unexpected. He leant forward and lightly pressed his lips against hers. Lyner’s froze to the spot, her eyes growing wide, her mind barely registering that fact that Lazarus was actually kissing her.

After a long, lingering moment, he pulled away and all Lyner couldn’t do was stare up at him, her eyes unblinking.

“A kiss to seal the deal, yeah?” Lazarus winked at her.

He then turned around and left, leaving Lyner bewildered and blushing in his wake, her fingertips touching her lips.

Then, she felt slightly suspicious. Lazarus’ reaction to her being a girl wasn’t something she had anticipated. He took the whole thing in his stride. And, well, he didn’t seemed at all surprised.

“D-did he already know?” Lyner whispered to herself.

If…if he did, who else was suspicious?

Chapter Text

Standing inauspiciously behind a row of trees, a large group of young ladies huddled around, peering at their surroundings with suspicions and intrigue. They were on a fact finding mission, one that needed the upmost patience and skill. They had suspicions and assumptions about a certain pair of friends.

Friends? Or perhaps they were something more?

"Are you sure they're really dating?" Miko asked in a hushed whisper, not daring to take her gaze away from the objects of their observations as she didn't want to risk missing a thing.

Curling a lose strand of hair behind her ear, Lily snorted. "You've seen how they treat each other, haven't you?" she replied. "Close friends? As if."

“I kinda thought they were already married,” Marie confessed with a slight chuckle.

Meu shifted impatiently from foot to foot. "Call in woman's intuition or whatever," she said. "But I can just tell that there is something between them."

“That’s all well and good,” Anesha said, her sharp gaze eager to take in any sign of affection. The more heated and passionate, the better. “But they still haven’t done anything yet.”

"Maybe they're just not very open about their affections?" Whim suggested. “Not everyone is for public displays of affections, after all.”

“I don’t see why,” Anesha muttered under her breath.

The group fell back into a moment of silence; all their attentions focus solely on a tall, elegant man in the elaborate armour, and the cheery and friendly blond haired guy. They were standing near a small babbling brook, facing each other, with a suitable (yet, not really) distance between them.

And they appear to be talking. Their body language was light, unguarded and warm. Their conversation appeared to be open and friendly, nothing too serious. Occasionally, one of them would reach out to gently touch the other – a pat on the arm or removing a fallen leaf from their hair.

While their body language offered them sweet hints to how close they really were, it wasn’t the unrefusable evidence they really wanted.

A hug, a kiss – both. That sort of thing. While some of the girls would die to see something more…intimate, it was probably best to keep their findings in the PG side of the ratings.

"We've been standing here for an hour already and nothing has happened," Lily said, clearly agitated and impatient. "They're just talking. That's all they've been doing."

"There is other ways to show affection, you know," Meu quipped back.

While that was very true – they could be spouting love poems to each other for all they knew, but that wasn’t helping on their research mission as they were too far to hear anything. And they couldn’t get any closer as that would make them very, very suspicious. And if that happened, they certainly won’t witness a single romantic moment.

Still…they couldn’t stand here and wait all day. It was nearing dinner time, anyway. They were starting to get hungry.

“Come on,” Miko urged. “It’s getting late. It’s about time we starting making dinner.”

“Ok,” Meu relented. “It’s my turn to cook, isn’t it?”

Reluctantly the group began to disperse, heading in their own directions, heading back to camp, disappointed. So, their mission today was a disaster. Not a complete disaster as they did witness a few gentle touches. The part where Ayatane actually curled a stand of Lyner’s hair behind his ear was definitely sigh-worthy.

Tomorrow was a new day. Maybe they’ll be lucky enough to catch the ever elusive kiss?

------------------------------

Ayatane felt the sudden urge to survey his surroundings. He paused in what he was speaking with to Lyner about to take a semi-defensive stance, his red eyes narrowing cautiously. Lyner wisely opted to remain silent, allowing the other to search the area around them in peace. Then, after a moment, the tension drained by his shoulders and a slight smile appeared on his lips.

"They're gone," Ayatane said as he turned his attention back to Lyner, lying an idle hand on the hilt of his blade.

“Finally!” Lyner said as he crossed his arms over his chest with a sense of annoyance. "I can't believe that they actually stood there for, what, an hour?"

"I'm surprised they had the attention span to do so," Ayatane chuckled warmly, humour in his voice. “And surprised that they didn’t think we’d notice.”

“They weren’t hard to miss,” Lyner agreed. It was important to a warrior to keep a strong sense of understanding of their surroundings. And a group of girls hiding behind a line of trees was something that was highly suspicious.

It certainly wasn’t hard to figure out what they were trying to do. Ok, so Ayatane figured it out before Lyner did and it kinda took Morrigan warning him before hand, but now that he knew, the girls’ motives were clear as crystal.

“Do you think we should tell them that we know what they’re doing?” Lyner asked as he stepped into Ayatane’s awaiting arms, idling running a finger along the detailed pattern on his chest armour.

Ayatane shrugged lightly as he interlocked his fingers together at the small of Lyner’s back. “Perhaps,” he said. “But there is a chance they might alter their methods, even becoming more subtle.”

Lyner nodded his head absentmindedly as his hands moved along Ayatane’s armour to brush his fingertips against Ayatane’s jawline. “That’s true,” he said as his face inched closer to Ayatane’s. “It wouldn’t hurt to let them think we’re oblivious to them, would it?”

Ayatane made no attempt to reply. Instead he abruptly eliminated the small distance between them, enclosing his mouth over Lyner’s. Reassured that they were truly alone, Lyner settled himself into Ayatane’s arms and kissed back as heatedly as he was being kissed.

This has turned into somewhat of a daily ritual. The girls watch from afar, hoping to see the true significance of their relationship, only to witness them innocently acting as nothing more than friends. But when they left, bored and dejected, was when Lyner and Ayatane’s true fondness for each other really showed.

While they weren’t ashamed of their feelings, it didn’t mean they wanted their affections to be viewed as a spectators sport. Some things were simply better left unseen by the eyes of others.

Although, they couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take those girls to figure out that they’ve been found out?

One thing for sure, though – they’ll probably be pretty pissed off.

Chapter Text

It was one of those nights where it was difficult to sleep. No matter which position you lay in, no matter how much you try to empty your head of useless thoughts, nothing seemed to help. Lily was having one of those nights. Normally, dreaming about Raze confessing his undying love for her and showing her how much he appreciated her was enough to send her into the world of sleep. But not tonight.

Uttering a noise of pure annoyance, Lily rolled over to look at her handmaiden, who appeared to be sleeping soundly in the bed next to her. That immediately increased Lily's annoyance and frustration. How dare Whim be able to sleep peacefully when she couldn't?

Sitting up in bed, Lily reached out and roughly shook Whim's shoulder, forcing her to awaken. "Whim, wake up!"

Dutifully, Whim woke up and immediately sat up. She looked momentarily confused, no doubt wondering why she was woken up. "What's wrong, Miss Lily?" she asked with blatant concern.

"I can't sleep," Lily answered with a frown.

Whim sighed deeply, almost warily. She knew that since Lily was unable to sleep, then she won't be able to either. Resigned to her fate, Whim lifted the thin blanket from herself and shuffled to sit on the edge of the bed.

"Shall we go for a walk, then?" Whim suggested.

Lily nodded and moved to slip out from under the blankets. Anything was better than lying on this bed, completely unable to sleep. Slipping on her boots, she and Whim quietly left the sleeping tent and ventured outside into the night air. It felt around midnight, not everyone was asleep, but most of their family members were.

Making sure not to venture too far from camp in case there was a wandering monster or two loitering about, Lily walked around restlessly, engaging in small talk with Whim. The air was still and slightly cool. Refreshing really.

"Oh, it's Mr Lyner," Whim suddenly commented, sounding almost happy and relieved.

Lily turned her attention in the direction Whim was looking in. There, in the distance, was Lyner. He wasn't wearing his usual armour, instead a simple white shirt with the picture of a funbun printed on the front over his usual black pants. His sword rested in its customary place, in a leather pouch that was tied to his back, the sword dangling against the back of his legs.

He was a few yards in front of them, within sight but not within hearing range. It didn't really surprise Lily to see Lyner wandering about at this time of night. It may be midnight, but the blond-haired swordsman was usually found surveying the area, making sure everyone was safe and secure. In fact, it was something that most of the guys of their family did.

Whim seemed to really respect Lyner and Lyner seems to get along quite well with both Raze and Whim. Lily hadn’t had that much to do with him, to be honest. He was rather cute, though. Nowhere near as handsome, gorgeous or cute as Raze, mind you. But she had to admit he did have his adorable moments.

“Why don’t we see what he’s up to?” Whim suggested.

Lily shrugged. “Why not?” It wasn’t like they had anything else to do. And maybe she could grill him about his friendship with Raze.

But just as they moved to follow, Lyner suddenly tensed, appearing as if he had heard something. He reached for his sword, unsheathing it in one fluid movement, wielding it in front of him in a both offensive and defensive manner.

Seeing Lyner react that way immediately put both Lily and Whim on edge as well. Whim moved just a little bit close to Lily in a protective manner. They then became still, watching and waiting for Lyner to response in some manner. Did he hear a threatening noise? Was there a monster nearby? Worse, an enemy?

Out of the thick foliage in front of Lyner, a surprising figure emerged. And it made Lily’s eye twitch in further annoyance.

It was Reicher! He stepped from the shadows in his usually overly-confident manner, his powerful weapons nowhere in sight. He stilled a few steps in front of Lyner, seemingly unbothered by the fact that Lyner was armed and defensive.

“What’s that cocky bastard doing here?” Lily uttered quietly under her breath.

“You don’t think he’ll attack Lyner, do you?” Whim questioned, her concern quite evident.

Lily couldn’t answer that. Everyone knew that Reicher was seemingly obsessed with Raze and was willing to despatch of anyone who got in his way. And Lyner had gotten in his way a few times already.

What should they do? Should they run back to camp to get help?

Before Lily could react, Lyner did something rather surprising. He lowered his guard, the tension of his shoulders and back subsiding and he pulled his athletic body into a more casual stance. He, however, bristled and seemed to point an accusing finger at Reicher, who in turn looked smugly amused by something.

Lily furrowed her brow in utter confusion when the two start to engage in some kind of conversation. Sure, it looked a little strained, but Reicher made no attempt to reach for his weapons and seemed to be purposely trying to rile Lyner into reacting to him. There was that typical smug smirk on his lips, but he also appeared somewhat amused. As if he was actually enjoying getting reactions from Lyner.

"What are they saying?" Lily whispered to Whim, her curiosity getting the better of her.

"I can't hear them properly," Whim answered with her voice equally soft. "But they appear to be arguing."

That much was clear. While Lyner gripped his sword in his hand, it was resting idly against his side. It almost appeared as if he had no intention of using it. Still, his body language gave the impression that he wasn't remotely pleased by Reicher's appearance.

It really was a shame that Lily couldn’t hear a word they were saying. They were keeping their voices down, as to not draw attention to themselves. And she couldn’t help wondering why. Did Lyner want to get rid of Reicher peacefully as not to worry Raze and the others?

Or was there a more…scandalous reason?

Oh my gosh! What if they were secretly seeing each other and were having a secret rendezvous? How naughty!

When Lyner poked Reicher in the chest with his forefinger, that expression of conceitedness grew more potent. Lyner became still, almost a little edgy. He made a motion with his hand, as if asking Reicher a simple “What?”

It was then that Reicher reacted. Before Lyner, or Lily and Whim, had the chance to react, Reicher grasped at Lyner, but not in the way anyone expected. He pulled Lyner against him, his powerful arms wrapping about Lyner’s slightly smaller frame. He held Lyner so tightly, clamping his arms against his sides, Lyner’s sword tumbling from his grip, as he pulled the stunned blond against his chest, almost crushing him there intimately.

With Lyner successful subdued in his arms, Reicher did something even more surprising. He kissed Lyner when Lyner opened his mouth in a form of protest or retort.

Lily gripped the bark of the tree she had unintentionally hidden behind, unable to take her eyes off the naughty and scandalous sight before her. She could barely believe what she was seeing.

The way Reicher was holding Lyner, dipping him slightly backwards; Lily had the prefect view of their faces. She could see that Reicher had his mouth pressed firmly and passionately, and somewhat possessively against Lyner’s, dominating him fiercely with the kiss. And Lyner had his eyes closed. Not squeezed shut, but closed tightly nonetheless.

And the kiss…It most certainly wasn’t gentle. It was deep and hungry, yet deep and passionate at the same time. It was obvious that any fool that Reicher was passionately caressing every inch of the inside of Lyner’s mouth.

Lily was starting to get rather flustered and heated simply watching. She ignored the way Whim was tugging at her, saying something.

“We need to help Mr Lyner,” Whim insisted.

From Lily’s point of view, he didn’t need help. She wasn’t sure if Lyner was simply shocked by the intensity of the sudden kiss or he was actually enjoying it. Either way, Lyner was completely still at first, almost going limp in Reicher’s arms. However, after a few scandalously long moments, he found movement in his arms and was now desperately pawing at Reicher, trying to push him away.

Finally, Reicher removed his mouth from Lyner’s, that smirk of his instantly returning his lips when Lyner reeled back slightly, gasping for air. Lyner remained in his arms for a little bit longer than was acceptable before he flushed with pure indignity and scrambled to remove himself from Reicher’s hold.

Reicher’s expression appeared just that little bit more self-satisfied as he removed his hold around Lyner, watching as Lyner stumbled backwards. Lyner didn’t immediately run away or reach for his blade. Instead, he started to cuss Reicher out, his hand waving about in agitation. He was clearly frazzled.

Reicher laughed and raised his hands in front of him in a mock peaceful manner, unsuccessfully trying to calm Lyner down. In fact, his actions only caused Lyner to bristle and splutter. This, in turn, earned him a seductive wink from Reicher as he stepped back into the shadows.

The smirk on Reicher’s lips, however, gave the indication that he promised to return.

And the way Lyner was waving his sword at him in a threatening manner gave the indication that he was telling him never to come back. But it seemed almost…forced.

After ensuring that Reicher was gone, Lyner’s lowered his sword and his shoulders sagged as if from relief. He turned around abruptly, facing back toward camp. But even in the dim lighting of the night, Lily was able to see the deep flush to his cheeks and the reddish bruising on his lips. Not to mention that far off look in his eyes.

Lyner rubbed his hand over his face and seemed to mutter to himself. He suddenly shook his head and hasty moved back to camp. Lily watched him until he was out of sight, noting the way he was stumbling slightly, seemingly in a dreamy state.

If that kiss was as passionate as it looked, then it was little surprise that Lyner was floundering.

“Poor Mr Lyner,” Whim whispered as she looked at Lyner with pure sympathy. “What should we do? Should we tell anyone?”

“No,” Lily immediately said. “It would embarrass him.”

Not to mention, raise the possibility that it had happened before. If yes, then how many times and when did it start? She could use what she knew as blackmail to get the answers she wanted from Lyner. It should be fun watching him splutter and blush from embarrassment.

Besides, it was rather hot.

Chapter Text

Raze wasn’t very outgoing. He could be rather hostile to those who first meet him. And his attitude afterwards didn’t really change much either. And there were times that he could be utterly oblivious to some certain things. Oh, like someone trying to get his attention, perhaps.

Lily knew about that flaw very well. It was incredibly frustrating to gather the courage to give a hint of her feelings for him, only for Raze to completely miss it or misinterpret it!

Still, despite all his faults, he was a good guy. Just not very social.

So, it surprised Lily immensely to find Raze getting along rather well with that Lyner person that was also from their world. Lyner was completely different to Raze. He was outgoing, naïve and wanted to become everyone’s friend. And, for whatever reason, he tried hard to be Raze’s friend.

Whim saw Lyner as a good person, who could be good for Raze. She got along with Lyner as well. And while it was nice that Raze was somewhat getting along with someone else, in Lily’s opinion, however, the two were getting along a little too well.

“Miss Lily…” Whim said with a sense of exasperation. “I don’t think…”

“Shh!” Lily hushed from where she was currently observing Raze talk with Lyner; crouched down behind a thick scrub. The two boys were surveying the area, looking for any possible monsters, completely unaware of her presence. She, of course, had pulled Whim along with her, to give her backup.

Oh, they seemed completely innocent right now, just standing there talking, but there was something shimmering beneath the surface.  She could just feel it.

Suddenly, Raze smiled. It was a gentle but sincere smile. And he smiled at Lyner. Lily bristled with silent fury.

“That little manwhore,” Lily hissed quietly, referring to Lyner. “What could he possibly have done to make Raze smile like that?”

“Um, they’re just talking…” Whim tried to reason.

If Lyner could make Raze smile like that when there were others around, what were they doing when they were…?

Against her will, Lily’s mind began to torment her with possible scenarios that the two could be engaging in when she wasn’t around to keep an eye on Raze. While it would be easy to make Lyner out as the aggressor, her imagination, however, was intent to prove how aggressive Raze could be. How dominate he could be.

Her daydreams that usually involved Raze and herself in heated and passionate moments was suddenly replaced with Raze and Lyner, Lyner taking her place.

As soon as their camp was out of sight, the bustling voices and noises fading away, Raze reached out and snared Lyner by the arm. With a powerful tug, he whipped Lyner around to face him. Surprised, Lyner stumbled for a second, but it was enough for Raze to pull him toward him, into his arms. Lyner fell against him, his hands trapped against his chest, his eyes wide and a blush dancing across his features. Suddenly the minor height difference between them seemed very significant; Lyner looking up at Raze, Raze looking down at him. And they stared deeply into each other’s eyes, nothing being said. Then, Lyner looked away, glancing to the side with shyness.

“Raze,” he breathed, his fingers grasping tightly at Raze’s jacket. “We shouldn’t-”

“Shh,” Raze interrupted him, abruptly taking a hold of his chin, turning Lyner’s face toward his. “There’s no one here.”

Lyner made a feeble attempt to reason with him, even though he was not physically pushing him away. As he opened his mouth to say something, Raze silenced him once more, this time using his mouth. He kissed him deeply, passionately, leaving Lyner a mewling mess in his arms.

“Miss Lily!”

Lily was pulled from her daydreams harshly, the image of Raze kissing Lyner fading away, much to her minor disappointment. She pouted and turned her attention to her handmaiden. “What is it, Whim?”

“Um, you’ve, ah, got some blood dripping from your nose,” Whim said, pointing to her nose. “Were you daydreaming again?”

Lily touched her nose with her fingertips, immediately feeling a warm liquid. She pulled her hand away and saw that there was now a smear of blood on her fingers. She got a bleeding nose from imagining her Raze with someone else?

That…wasn’t right.

As she wiped her nose with a tissue that Whim had handed her, she looked in the direction that Raze was in and found that space suspiciously empty. Raze was missing. And so was Lyner!

Infuriated, Lily whipped around to face Whim again. “They’re gone? Why didn’t you tell me they left?!”

Whim winced at her tone of voice. “I tried but you weren’t responding…”

Lily abruptly stood up, slightly frantic at to what her Raze was up to without her. “Where did they go?”

“I think they went to get something to eat,” Whim provided for her.

Almost immediately, Lily’s traitorous mind plunged her into a world of possibility once more.

The kitchen area was empty, saved for Lyner standing at the stove, dressed in an apron, his usual armour suspiciously missing. He was stirring something in a large pot on the stove, smiling absentmindedly. Suddenly, he gasped softly in surprise when he felt a presence move up behind him. He turned around quickly, only to come face to face with none other than Raze. Then Raze pushed him against the stove, trapping him against his chest and the boiling pot behind him. Drawing in a sharp breath, Lyner gripped the edge of the stove with his hands. There was no room for him to struggle and he made no attempt, not with the way Raze’s face was so close to his. As Lyner opened his mouth to question Raze’s action, Raze silenced him abruptly by pulling him into a heated kiss.

Panting, mewling…

“Miss Lily!” Again Whim’s voice pulled Lily harshly out of her thoughts. “Don’t say those things out loud.”

Lily blinked silently, suddenly realising where she was. She was standing in the catering tent, which was filled with people, including Raze and Lyner. Lyner was standing near the stove, but he wasn’t cooking. He was talking to Ayatane, who was the one cooking. And Raze was helping Miko with tallying up their rations, on the other side of the tent.

For some reason she felt disappointed by that.

“My, you have a dirty mind, don’t you?”

Lily made a noise that sounded like a squeaky shriek. She turned around to find Morrigan standing behind her, the succubus looking at her with a look that was pure amusement. Lily blushed. “What do you mean by that?”

Morrigan chuckled. “Oh, sweetie, I heard everything. And you’ve got it all wrong. Well, almost.”

“Huh?”

“Replace Raze with Ayatane and you’ve got it all right,” Morrigan said with a wink.

Lily was silent for a moment, allowing Morrigan’s words to seep into her brain. Then, unexpected hope, tinged with excitement, filled her chest. “…Really?!”

Even better! She could have Raze all to herself while indulging in the observation of another hot relationship blossoming.

Lily suddenly linked her arm through Morrigan’s as the two walked away. “Do tell me more.”

Chapter Text

“Mr Lyner? Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Lyner paused in his morning chores when he heard Whim. He was slightly startled by the subtle sense of uneasiness and wariness in her voice.

“Sure,” he said, giving her his full attention. “What’s up?”

“Well, you see,” Whim said, fidgeting slightly, suspiciously glancing around at their surroundings. Her edginess was putting Lyner on edge.

“What’s wrong?”

“We girls got together and started talking, you know, about things,” Whim began to explain, wringing her hands together in front of her. “And the conversation kinda drifted toward romance and couples. And, so, some of the girls want to play matchmaker.”

“Really?” Lyner muttered, his head tilted to the side, not really understanding why she seemed so…jittery. “And you’re telling me this, because…?”

Suddenly, it dawned on him. Hitting him like a bolt of lightning. And it was terrifying.

“Wait,” he muttered, slightly panicky. “Please don’t tell me they’re planning to match me with someone.”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Whim replied, true and sincere sympathy in her voice and expression.

…Oh shit! Why? What had he done to deserve this?

“…Am I the only ‘lucky’ one?” Lyner spluttered out.

“Actually, no,” Whim said as she shook her head. “No one is truly safe it seems.”

“I see…” Lyner murmured, somewhat grateful that he wasn’t there sole victim. And yet, he also felt sorry for any other unfortunate target.

Zelos and Raze would definitely be the girls’ targets. He doesn’t even want to imagine what they would do to them. And Ayatane. Oh, he’ll definitely be a target. He had better warn them.

“W-well, thanks for warning me, Whim,” Lyner said, giving the water mana a shaky smile. “I really appreciate it. Hopefully I won’t make such an ass of myself.”

“Don’t tell them I told you?” Whim asked him, subtly begging.

“Sure,” Lyner said, this time giving her a reassuring smile. “Wouldn’t want you getting into trouble as well.”

Whim looked momentarily relieved. She still had an expression of pity on her face, though. “Good luck,” she whispered.

“Thanks,” Lyner said softly in reply as Whim turned and made a quick (and hopefully unsuspicious) exit. “I’m gonna need it.”

Lyner immediately decided that his morning chores could wait. He had to find Ayatane and warn him before something happened. There was no doubt that the girls would be doing something soon. Very soon. He owed it to his best friend to give him a head’s up.

He was familiar with what these girls could do. And it wasn’t pretty.

Fortunately, it didn’t take Lyner long to find Ayatane. He found him in the catering area, going through their food supply. Without a word, Lyner quickly made his way over to him, grabbed him by the elbow and hastily pulled him outside, to a place where they could speak in private.

“Ayatane, we have a slight problem,” Lyner finally told him, after making sure that no one else was around to overhear.

“What is it?” Ayatane asked him, a sense of concern in his voice.

“The girls are going to be playing matchmaker,” Lyner told him bluntly.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.

“…I see,” Ayatane finally said, his usually serene expression turning slightly troubled. “That is a minor inconvenience.”

“What should we do?” Lyner asked him, slightly desperate.

“I’m…not entirely sure,” Ayatane replied remorsefully.

That wasn’t good. Lyner had heard horror stories about matchmakers. Humiliating, terrifying and downright dangerous stories about the lengths matchmakers were willing to go to.

They were screwed.

“There you are,” a cheerful voice called out.

“We’ve been looking for you two,” another slightly snootier voice said.

Lyner jumped at the sound of the two feminine and familiar voices. Thankfully, though, he didn’t make a squeaking noise of surprise. Knowing that you were going to be subjected to matchmaking was one thing. Letting the matchmakers know that you know was something far more dangerous.

“Oh?” Lyner managed to keep his voice level. “Is something wrong?”

“Oh no, not at all,” Meu said as she smiled brightly at him. “We just wanted to chat with you.”

“Of course,” Ayatane said politely in reply. “What about?”

Meu’s expression suddenly turned more curious as she shared a side glance with Lily. “We were just wondering…”

“We just thought that, you know…” Lily trailed off, a light dusting of red dancing across her cheeks.

As a strained and awkward silence stretched out between them, Lyner began to inwardly panic. He had expected the girls to corner him sometime today, he just wasn’t expecting it to be so soon.

“We were just wondering why two handsome guys like you would be single,” Meu said finally, far too cheerfully.

Well, that question wasn’t exactly subtle…

Subtle or not, Meu and Lily was looking at them expectantly. It was clear that it was a question they had to answer. Immediately.

“Well, you see…” Ayatane began to reply, trailing off.

“We’re, ah…” Lyner was flailing. “Kinda already seeing…”

“Each other,” Ayatane finished, his voice sounding rather stern and resolute.

Lyner nodded his head rapidly at first. But then the words suddenly dawned on him. With a flustered expression, Lyner snapped his attention to the man beside him. “A-Ayatane?” he spluttered.

“Sorry,” Ayatane said, his gaze somewhat sympathetic, yet serene at the same time. “But they’d find out eventually.”

Play along, a small voice inside Lyner’s head said to him. Just play along. It’s the only way.

“I suppose so,” Lyner managed to stutter, on autopilot.

Then, he turned back to Meu and Lily, finding them both staring at him with wide eyes.

“Um…”

“…I knew it!” Meu unexpectedly squealed, clapping her hands in delight. “You two are so cute together!”

“See?” Lily said smugly as she placed her hands on her hips. “Can I pick them or what?”

Lyner was officially dumbfounded. “H-huh?”

“We kinda figured that you two were together,” Meu said to him, giving him a knowing wink.

“B-but…” Lyner was completely lost in confusion. Weren’t these girls wanting to play matchmaker? How did they…? Why did they…?

Then, Lyner’s mind decided to stop working altogether when Ayatane stepped closer to him, his arm moving to wrap around his waist. It touch was unexpected, yet it wasn’t unwanted. In fact that Lyner responded pretty much immediately by leaning against him. But that was all he could do at the moment.

“You just wanted to make sure?” Ayatane asked Meu.

“Assuming is one thing, but knowing is another,” Meu replied, still looking gleefully happy.

“We wanted to make sure before we tried to pair you up with someone else,” Lily explained.

“Oh, were you trying to play matchmaker for us?” Ayatane asked her, a small and slight smirk on his lips.

The only answer he got was a casual shrug from Meu. “Anyway, it’s time for breakfast,” she said, changing the subject. “Do you mind helping out?”

“Not at all,” Ayatane answered dutifully.

It was only when Ayatane removed his arm from around Lyner’s waist did Lyner seemed to snap back to reality. “Ah, Ayatane?”

“We’ll talk later,” Ayatane said to him, giving his arm a slight squeeze before turning to head back to the catering area with Meu and Lily following closely behind.

Lyner stood in the small clearing alone for a few moment, in complete silence. Then the realisation of what just happened finally dawned on him.

They were trying to play matchmaker, but they also thought that he and Ayatane were secretly seeing each other. Which they weren’t. But they now believed that they were. And since they believed they were together (when they were simply just good friends) they won’t bother them with any matching schemes.

Right? Was that Ayatane’s idea?

Even though the two of them together wasn’t true, it was actually a pretty clever ploy. The girls can’t play matchmaker for them if they were already in a ‘relationship.’ And, well, if he had to pretend to be in a relationship with someone, it would be Ayatane. They’ve been friends for so long and were so comfortable around each other.

It was probably for the best.

Even if something didn’t feel right.

“Oh, Lyner,” another voice pulled Lyner out of his musings. “Meu tells me that you and Ayatane are together.”

An unexpected heat spread across Lyner’s cheeks as he turned to look at Miko, the green-haired girl looking at him with a warm expression. “Ah, well.”

“Congratulations!” she offered sincerely. “You two make a wonderful couple.”

“Ah, t-thank you,” Lyner muttered, feeling a little bit embarrassed.

“You’ve known each other for years, right?” Miko asked, making small talk as Lyner went on autopilot again, returning to his chores.

“Yes, since childhood.”

“Childhood friends to lovers,” Miko sighed dreamily. “How romantic.”

Lyner smiled in return, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. A strange sense of sadness unexpectedly crept into his heart. Everyone was so accepting, even though…it wasn’t true.

Was he upset that he was deceiving everyone? Or did he wish it was?

What was he feeling? Sadness? Deflated because they were simply playing pretend? Did he care for Ayatane more than that of a friend?

No, wait…was he…? Did he…?

Lyner momentarily froze in what he was doing.

Was he actually in love with Ayatane?

It made sense, in a way. He wasn’t all that familiar with love. Romantic love at least. He had never been in a relationship. Never really thought about it.

If that was true, when did these feelings start? He had always been comfortable around Ayatane. He could do anything with him. Talk about anything at all. But what used to be comfortable wasn’t comfortable any more. There was this sense of something more was needed, was expected.

To be honest, he didn’t really understand it.

It would be best if he spoke to Ayatane about it later, when there was no one around to eavesdrop on them.

Until then, Lyner decided it would be best for him to suppress these unfamiliar feelings and simply smile for the rest of the day. For this facade to hold, he had to get used to the knowing smirks and the sincere congratulations.

Thankfully, Lyner was able to keep himself busy for the rest of the day. He received a few more expressions of interest about his ‘relationship’ with Ayatane. Morrigan even offered to tell him some seduction techniques to use when they were alone.

Lyner quickly declined, though, blushing madly as he did so.

Lady Shurelia, Aurica and Misha seemed a little withdrawn and sad, though. Which made Lyner feel terrible in return. Could they have been hoping to be paired with Ayatane? He was a good catch, after all. Handsome, talented, a great cook. The whole package.

And himself? Meh. There was nothing special about him.

“I’ve been getting congratulations all day,” Lyner said as he shrugged off his armour, getting himself ready for bed. He felt exhausted, even though he didn’t do anything all that physical. It did take a lot of energy to keep up his ‘happily in love’ appearance.

“So have I,” Ayatane replied casually as he, too, began to remove his armour.

For some reason Ayatane’s neutral response irritated Lyner a little. Perhaps it was because it cemented the fact that they were indeed just pretending to be a couple. Was Ayatane able to deal with the conversations during the day because he really thought of the two of them nothing more than friends? Was this masquerade simply a ploy to stop the girls from playing matchmaker for the both of them?

And why was Lyner getting so annoyed with this? He thought it was a worthwhile idea, too.

Without realising his actions, Lyner threw down a piece of his armour onto the ground in an irritated fashion, annoyed at himself for his own confusion.

“Is something the matter?”

Ayatane’s concern filled voice pulled Lyner out of his thoughts and he mentally slapped himself for behaving so poorly.

“No, it’s nothing,” Lyner replied as he automatically fell back into his airy, cheerful persona.

He probably could have maintained that façade had he not turned around to look at Ayatane as he spoke to him. Because as soon as he did, he found himself gazing directly into Ayatane’s deep red eyes.

“I don’t believe that,” Ayatane said to him flatly, making Lyner wince.

He opened his mouth to make some sort of response, but nothing seemed to come out. He should tell Ayatane about the strange feeling of dejection he had been feeling all day. But how? Where to begin?

“Close your eyes,” Ayatane suddenly ordered.

“Close my eyes?” Lyner repeated dumbly.

“Just for a second.”

Not thinking much of it, Lyner did what he was asked and closed his eyes. He furrowed his brow when he felt Ayatane slip an arm around his waist and he was unexpectedly pressed against him. He kept his eyes close, but opened his mouth in attempt to question what his best friend (turned pretend lover) was doing.

But the words died immediately when he felt Ayatane press his mouth against his, kissing him. Lyner gasped against Ayatane’s mouth and stiffened in his arms. But made no attempt to resist. At first he was stunned, his mind blank, wondering if it was really happening.

He made a small mewling noise, though, when Ayatane’s tongue slipped past his teeth to move into his mouth. A fluttering sensation appeared in the pit of Lyner’s stomach when Ayatane’s tongue began to move against his own.

Lyner slowly made an attempt to reach out and touch Ayatane in return. But his arms fell limply by his sides when Ayatane pulled him closer, pressing their bodies tightly together. It was lucky that Ayatane’s arms were so strong and tight around him as his legs were starting to feel weak and useless.

All he could do was return the kiss, pouring into it all his feelings and emotions. Everything he felt and more.

Slowly, with one last lingering caress, Ayatane pulled back, ending the kiss. He kept his arms around Lyner, though, who of which was panting slightly. Lyner opened his eyes a moment later, once again finding himself gazing deeply into Ayatane’s own eyes.

“A-Ayatane?” he breathed.

“I’m not pretending,” Ayatane told him firmly before pulling him into another kiss.

This time, Lyner’s body immediately responded. He wrapped his arms around Ayatane’s neck, showing him that he wasn’t pretending either. And anyone who happened to come across them would know that they weren’t pretending either.

This was something they better get used to.

Chapter Text

Lyner shifted uncomfortably under the weight of many expecting eyes. He was experiencing everyone's worst nightmare. Well, every guy’s worst nightmare at the very least. After suffering a minor injury in battle, he had been prescribed some bed rest just as a precautionary measure. However, bed rest was meant to be peaceful.

Not for him, though. Being confined to bed meant that he was easy pickings.

He knew that he would curse the day these girls found out about his relationship with Ayatane. What was worse, though, there was nothing he could do about it. He was vastly outnumbered, injured and completely surrounded. He had no choice but to answer their far too probing questions about his relationship. It wasn't hard for him to figure out that answering their questions honestly was for the best.

These girls...were dangerous.

“Fine,” Lyner sighed in defeat, hoping to get the humiliation over with as quickly as possible. He also hoped that their questions weren’t too…personal. “Ask away.”

Clapping her hands in delight, Meu spoke first, asking the most obvious of questions. “Who kissed who first?”

Lyner scratched the back of his neck as he recalled the first time that he and Ayatane had kissed. Well, their first romantic and passionate kiss, anyway. It was here in this world, actually, not long after they were reunited. A sudden influx of memories had pushed them into each other’s arms and the next thing that Lyner knew Ayatane’s mouth was against his, kissing him. And Lyner was kissing back as passionately as he was receiving.

So, ah, the answer would be…

“Ayatane did.”

Meu nodded her head, eagerly taking in the information before turning her attention to the rest of the girls in order to figure out which question to ask next. Finally, Lily took a step forward and flicked her hair over her shoulder in a haughty manner.

“Who made the first move?” she asked far too bluntly.

Lyner was not entirely sure what she meant by ‘move’ (was showing affection toward each other considered a ‘move’?), but he was fairly certain that Ayatane did. But, after they pulled away from each other after sharing a kiss, Ayatane said something about him that he found hard to resist.

So, maybe…he made the first move unknowingly? Was that possible?

“Ah, Ayatane did,” Lyner answered quickly.

Lily nodded her head in satisfaction, seemingly pleased with his answer. She took a step back when Etna, surprisingly, popped forward, a wicked grin on her lips.

“Who's the most possessive?” she asked.

Lyner furrowed his brow in confusion. Again, he wasn’t entirely sure how to answer that question. Possessive was such a negative word. Protective was better. And Lyner had no trouble admitting that he was very protective of Ayatane. Protective of his safety, his honour, his name – his everything.

And Ayatane was equally protective of him.

However, Ayatane would become somewhat more…defensive whenever Reicher made his egotistical self known to the party, purposely pushing his way between the two of them.

“That’s a hard question,” Lyner mumbled honesty. “We’re both equally protective of each other.”

Etna glowered at him, almost pouting. Apparently she was hoping for a more scandalous answer. Well, too bad for her.

Seeing that he was speaking honestly, the girls took turns asking him a question, looking at him with eager expectation and anticipation in their eyes.

“Who gets jealous the easiest?”

Lyner wasn’t sure if he should answer that. Because, well…he did. Ayatane was handsome, talented, charming and a great cook. He was the ideal husband material. Ayatane was perfect in his opinion. It still baffled him greatly that Ayatane would chose him over all these beautiful girls.

But did that mean he was going to let him go? Not a chance!

“…Me.” Lyner felt a blush spread across his cheeks when he received a chorus of coos and squeals.

“Who has the best table manners?”

Lyner snorted. “Ayatane, obviously. That was a random question.”

“Who remembers the important stuff?”

“Ayatane is really good at remembering dates and anniversaries,” Lyner answered without hesitation. It was true, after all. Lyner was a bit of a…airhead. He couldn’t help it.

“Who has the most nightmares?”

Lyner didn’t want to answer that question. It was Ayatane. He had terrible nightmares. He would wake up in the middle of the night, covered in a light layer of sweat and panting desperately. It would take Lyner a few minutes to gently calm him down enough to pull him back into bed. He would then have to sleep with his head resting against Ayatane’s chest, pretty much lying on top of him, his bodily presence soothing him back to sleep. And Ayatane would wrap his arms tightly around him, almost desperately.

“Sorry, but I won’t answer that one,” Lyner said firmly, leaving no room for argument.

Thankfully, he didn’t get one. Instead the girls moved onto the next question, this one personal but nowhere near as personal as the previous question.

“Who steals the blankets?”

Lyner scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. “I do, apparently.”

To be fair, though, he would roll back over and make sure the blankets would cover both him and Ayatane again before falling back to sleep. But, yeah, somehow the blankets would always end up on his side of the bed.

“Have you ever cooked together?”

“Well, sure,” Lyner replied with a shrug. “Since Ayatane is such a good cook, it’s a given, right?”

“Have you ever gone swimming together?”

Lyner tapped his cheek in thought. Again, that was a rather random question, but completely harmless. “A couple of times.”

"Have you ever gone skinny dipping together?"

"Morrigan!"

"What?" Morrigan purred while Lyner flushed deeply and turned her attention to the girls of the group. However, she smirked when she saw that they, too, blushing. "You all wanted to know as well, don't deny it."

And she didn’t get any outright denials. Just a lot of murmuring, shuffling of feet and eyes refusing to meet. It made Lyner instantly fearful for the questions to come.

Still smirking with great amusement, Morrigan turned her attention toward Lyner once again. "Who is the big spoon?" she asked suddenly.

Lyner blinked. "...Spoon?"

However, his response only caused her to laugh aloud and then shake her head. Obviously, she was more amused than before.

Coughing into her hand to push aside her embarrassment, Miko smiled reassuringly at Lyner. “Do you fall to sleep at the same time as each other?”

Again, Lyner had to think about that. He wasn’t entirely sure, to be honest. Sleeping next to Ayatane was comforting and soothing, that falling asleep was very easy for him to do. However, he did recall the feeling of fingers gently running through his hair and massaging the back of his neck before he would drift off to sleep.

“I think Ayatane falls asleep after I do, to be honest.”

Again, there was a chorus of coos.

“What's your favourite nonsexual activity together?”

“Anesha!”

“That is a perfectly suitable question,” Anesha retorted smoothly, her smirk almost as identical as Morrigan’s.

“Training and Grathmelding,” Lyner mumbled quickly, once again feeling that increasingly familiar sensation of a blush spreading across his cheeks. “Next question!”

“Thoughts on Public Displays of Affection?”

“Ah…I see no harm in expressing your feelings for another,” Lyner answer, finding the question rather odd. He, however, shrugged casually. “I think Ayatane feels the same.”

“Will you ever get married?”

“W-well,” Lyner spluttered. “M-maybe one day…”

He had to literally cover his ears with his hands to attempt to block out the loud squeals.

“Have you ever kissed in the rain?”

“Ah, no?” Well, not yet, anyway.

“Your favourite way of being held?”

Lyner coughed into his hand, his blush making an epic comeback. He liked being held by Ayatane. He’s favourite had to be when Ayatane held him from behind, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him back against his chest before resting his chin on his shoulder.

It just made him feel so warm and safe.

“W-well…”

“What happens when the other receives some flirty propositions?”

He would get pissed!

Ahem…

“I-I think that’s enough questions for now,” Lyner murmured. There was only so much embarrassment that a guy like him could take.

"Who tops during sex?"

"Dammit, Morrigan!"

"What~?"

“No more questions!”

 

Chapter Text

Their family was continuing to grow.

More and more people were traveling with them, eating with them, fighting with them. Privacy and the room to move about without bumping into someone else were getting less and less. So, it only made sense that some of them had to share a sleeping bag or cot, right? Completely innocent. The girls did it all the time. Nothing wrong with it.

But, for some reason, Lyner had been getting some rather…curious looks by the others, the girls themselves, actually. He really couldn’t understand why. He had shared a bed with Ayatane plenty of times.

He had to admit, though, what happened this morning was something that hadn’t happen before. Lillian never really bothered to interact with Lyner all that much. She was more interested in York. She liked torturing him the most, you see. But this morning she was the one who took it upon herself to wake him and Ayatane up for breakfast.

Usually, Ayatane was one of the first to wake up, so would wake Lyner up as well. It gave them enough time to get a few chores done, Ayatane in preparing the morning food while Lyner would head outdoors to find and gather anything they might need during the course of the day.

But this morning, Lillian was the first one up. Her rather cheerful, yet sadistic laughter startled the two of them awake. So much so that Lyner fell off the bed, landing on the hard ground with a sudden thud. He, although he didn’t like to admit it, flailed for a moment. He glanced around his surroundings, half expecting that something important had happened; monster invasion, enemies attacking, mass injuries, that sort of thing, you know?

Instead, he found Lillian standing before him, her hands folded behind her back, looking far too happy about something. And then, with a light giggle and a fluttering of small bat wings, she was gone. She left a puzzled Ayatane and a dumbfounded Lyner behind.

Lyner truly hadn’t expected such a good morning greeting.

Ever since then Lyner had felt the prickly sensation of someone watching him from afar. He wasn’t being paranoid or anything, but, you know…He was being watched. Really.

It was beginning to get on his nerves.

“Ayatane!” Lyner called out, unable to hide the not all that subtle sense of annoyance in his tone.

A moment later, the duel swordsman appeared from one of the tents. He didn’t look all that alarmed, and yet he seemed slightly disturbed as well. Well, puzzled was probably a better word.

“Something wrong, Lyner?” Ayatane asked him as he drew closer.

Lyner chose not to answer that question just yet, instead taking a large step forward, grabbed Ayatane by the arm and pulled him in a direction where they could talk in private. There were too many people around; he didn’t want to sound like a nutcase in front of them all.

“You know I’m not paranoid, right?” Lyner asked him as they entered a small clearing, releasing Ayatane’s arm as he turned to give him his full attention. “But I feel as if someone is watching me. The girls, actually. Pretty much all of them!”

Instead of Ayatane offering words of reassurance, telling him that he was probably tired, he nodded his head in agreement.

“I feel the same,” he replied, his face rather stoic. “They seemed to be studying us.”

“Studying?” Lyner questioned. “What could they…?”

“Who knows,” Ayatane said, giving a small sigh of exasperation. “If I knew, then I could come up with a way to counter it.”

Lyner scratched the back of his neck, rather relieved that he wasn’t just being paranoid. “I guess it’s nothing to be really worried about, right? I’m just kinda surprised they haven’t just cornered one of us, demanding answers or something, you know?”

Ayatane cracked a small smile. “That’s true.”

“What could they want from us, though?” Lyner mused aloud.

“I can’t help but feel that this morning might have something to do with it,” Ayatane murmured in response, and Lyner felt himself nod his head in agreement.

This morning had indeed been unusual, even for this group, in this world.

“I suppose if we want to be sure, we should stop sharing a cot,” Ayatane suggested.

Lyner was unable to stop himself from pouting, prompting a laugh from Ayatane, who smiled gently at him afterwards. Ayatane then abruptly closed the gap between them, walking over to Lyner, who made no attempt to move. He then drew Lyner into his arms and kissing his lips, succeeding in wiping the pout from his face. Lyner closed his eyes, pressing a little firmer against Ayatane’s lip, wanting the kiss to linger a little more.

With so many people around, it was hard to find tender moments like this.

He couldn’t help but wonder about a couple of things, though, even as he lifted his arms and wrapped them around Ayatane’s neck, allowing him to deepen the kiss considerably. Like were the girls of their group starting to catch onto the two of them? Was that the reason why they were…studying them?

And, well, was that a good thing? Or a bad thing?

----------------------

Morrigan watched as Lyner snared Ayatane by his arm and practically dragged him away, Ayatane following without any resistance, and she couldn’t help but smile.

“See! See!” Lillian said as she bounced excitedly at her side. “I told you!”

“Hmm?” Morrigan hummed, turning her attention to the smaller demon. “You might have to remind me; what did you see again?”

Lillian grinned with sadistic glee. “Well, you see, Ayatane was lying on his back, his arm wrapped around Lyner, kinda holding him against his chest, you know? Like, really holding him! And Lyner was sleeping on his side or something, like, cuddling right up to Ayatane, his arm draped over him and his head resting his head on his chest! And Ayatane’s hand,” she took a moment to giggle to herself. “was slipping up under Lyner’s shirt!”

“Really now?” Morrigan hummed as she eyed the direction that Lyner and Ayatane disappeared in. She always felt that there was something between those two. “This does indeed require a deeper investigation.”

“Yay!” Lillian squealed. “We get to spy on them!”

There was that, too.

Chapter Text

Listening to voices of Raze and Reicher bickering yet again, with Whim and Lily watching at a distance, Lyner couldn’t help but sigh. “Not again,” he muttered as he made his way over to the water Mana.

Whim whipped around, surprised to hear a familiar voice. “Ah, Mr Lyner?”

“Hey,” Lyner smiled softly at her. “You three have been gone for a while. Everyone is getting worried so I volunteered to come find you.”

“Oh, sorry!” Whim immediately apologized. “We were, just…”

“No, I can see,” Lyner held up a hand, signalling she needed to say no more before he turned his attention back to the two rivals. “How long have they been arguing like this?”

Arguing was probably the wrong term to use. It was more like Reicher saying cryptic words and scathing insults, and Raze responding with indignant retaliation. Well, at least Raze hadn’t drawn his weapon on the infuriating man just yet. He was learning to become more patient, if nothing else.

“I’m afraid I lost track of time,” Whim answered his question, clearly exasperated as she sent a sideways glance at the two males. “Long enough?”

Lyner was unable to prevent a sigh from escaping his lips as well. “I see.”

Maybe he should interfere somehow? But how could he in a way that won’t hurt Raze’s pride?

Suddenly, the prickly tension seemed to shift slightly, in a way that wasn’t particularly good, when Reicher realised that Lyner had joined their small group. Lyner anticipated that Reicher would be annoyed with him ‘interfering’ again, like he had the first time he met him. He was, however, greatly surprised when Reicher’s demeanour seemed to brighten as he looked him up and down.

Lyner felt somewhat uncomfortable and though he would never admit it, vulnerable, being under Reicher’s thoroughly inspecting gaze. Although he had his trusty sword by his side, his armour was in the process of being repaired, so was wearing a white t-shirt over his black pants.

“Actually, I’ve lost all interest in you,” Reicher suddenly announced, startling everyone within hearing range.

Raze reeled his head back in surprise. “What?”

With that half-smirk, half-smile, Reicher shrugged casually. “Hm, you’re not nearly as strong as I thought you could become,” he stated, his tone a mixture of bitter acceptance and smug superiority, as if he knew this would happen. “Kinda disappointing, actually. No, I’m no longer in the mood to deal with you.”

“Good,” Lily retorted in her usual haughty tone. “Maybe then you’ll leave us alone.”

“Oh, I plan to.” Reicher’s tone wasn’t all that convincing, however. Now he sounded downright mischievous. “I just want one little thing from you.”

Raze eyed him with a sceptical look. “Oh?”

“Yep!” Reicher’s patronizing enthusiasm was getting really annoying. “I’m after Blondie over there.”

A stun silence fell over the small group.

“Me?” Lily asked, pointing to herself. She then got this faraway look in her eyes, once again fantasizing about a possible –perverted- scenario.

Whim and Lyner both shared an equally deadpan look. A look that was a cross between disbelief and pure scepticism. They, however, chose to stay quiet. They didn’t want to get pulled into this getting rather ridiculous conversation.

Reicher barked out a rather amused laugh. “Hardly. No, I mean him.”

Blond guy? The only blond guy in their party was Lazarus, but he wasn’t here. So who could he…?

“Wait, me?” Lyner asked as he pointed to himself in a dumbfounded manner, unwillingly placing himself firmly at the centre of attention.

And he wasn’t the only one shocked, it seemed.

“…What?” Raze asked slowly.

“H-him?” Lily practically spluttered.

“Why Mr Lyner?” Whim asked with a slight sense of concern.

“What could you possibly want with me?” Lyner questioned, a sense of cynicism creeping into his voice.

“Why don’t you come along and find out.” Reicher then sent him a rather flirtatious wink. Of which seemed to irritate Lyner more than flatter.

Lyner opened his mouth to fire off a rejecting retort, still highly puzzled as to why the other man wanted anything to do with him in the first place, when Raze suddenly stepped in front of him, obscuring him from Reicher’s vision. And as he did so, he finally revealed his weapon, the blade glowing an ominous blue as he pointed it threateningly in Reicher’s direction. From his position, Lyner couldn’t see Raze’s face, but could see the tension in his shoulders.

It looked like Raze had reached his limit. Reicher certainly knew which buttons to press.

“Just what are you trying to pull?” Raze asked, his voice level and rather terse.

Lyner wanted to know the answer to that as well. Especially when the first time he met Reicher the other man threatened to kill him for interfering with his confrontation with Raze.

He was obviously up to something.

Reicher didn’t seem interested in his question –demand- however, instead smiling that infuriating smirk of his. “How about a duel, then?” he asked, sounding surprisingly upbeat and far too cheerful. “Whoever wins gets the pretty boy over there.”

Reicher then made a move for his own weapons, all too ready to put his words into actions.

Lyner furrowed his brow and frowned at the ‘Pretty Boy’ title, a little indignant by it. “Now, hang on-” He was going to outright protest when Raze interrupted him.

“Deal,” Raze snarl before he lunged for his opponent.

“Wha-?”

Any chance to figure out just what the hell was going on with a rational mind just went flying out the window. Soon, the area was filled with the sounds of clashing weapons and the feel of the air sizzling around them from quickly cast spells; it was a duel in every sense of the word. And the two were taking it seriously.

And Lyner found himself simply staring at the two talented warriors as they battled each other, his mind as blank as his expression. Was this really happened…? Why was it happening…? Why was he even drawn into this?

Shaking his head to clear it, having far too many unanswered question, Lyner turned his attention to the two women who were also silently watching the spectacle. He wasn’t sure if Reicher was being serious about, well, practically kidnapping him, but he had to take precautions. “Whim, Lily, you two head back to camp, tell the others what’s going on.”

Whim looked reluctant to leave. “But…”

“What about you?” Lily abruptly asked in her usually standoffish way. “It’s your fault this is happening, after all.”

“Miss Lily!”

Lyner winced lightly at the biting edge in Lily’s voice.

Lily was probably feeling a sense of jealousy that Raze and Reicher weren’t fighting over her. Having two guys battle for another guy while there was clearly two good looking women waiting in the wings must be a real blow to one’s ego.

Well, if it was any consolation, Lyner wasn’t exactly thrilled to be made the prize of a battle between rivals.

 “That is probably true,” Lyner said, glancing over his shoulder at the fight before turning his attention back to the girls. “So that’s why I need to stay here. If, somehow, Reicher does win, I won’t be leaving without a fight.”

If Reicher thinks he’ll play the happy hostage, then he has another thing coming!

Lily opened her mouth, appearing as if there was something else she wanted to say. But Whim abruptly grabbed her by the arm, giving a tug in the direction of their basecamp. “We’ll be back with some help,” Whim stated before the two girls hurried left, Whim dragging a rather disgruntled Lily with her.

When they disappeared into the surrounding forest, Lyner turned his attention back to the two duellers. Even over the clashing blades, he could hear the two bickering.

“What?” Reicher said as he dodged one of Raze’s attacks. “I just want him, that’s all.”

“You can’t have him,” Raze hissed in reply, firing off another vicious attack.

“Why not?” Reicher asked. “He’s not attached to anyone, right?”

Lyner blinked…Attached?

“That’s none of your concern,” Raze spat, his face creased into a look of pure hatred.

“So he isn’t? Good!” Reicher practically beamed. “That means I can court him.”

…Court?

“I said you can’t!”

“But you never said why I can’t. Oh, I see, you want him too!”

…Want?

“Shut up!”

“You didn’t deny it! Are you blushing?”

Something dawned upon Lyner. No, it struck him like a bolt of lightning. It was almost unfathomable. But, they were…They were literally fighting over him?

Lyner felt his heart uncharacteristically skipped a beat and was certain that he was sporting a rather heated and telling blush. He couldn’t believe this was happening. It just didn’t happen to guys like him. And, well, it probably shouldn’t happen to guys like him, right?

Still, it was flattering.

And yet there was also a sense of…hope? Was that the right word? Hopeful that this was real, that he was reading it right?

Carefully watching the two other males battle each other, Lyner noted how serious Raze truly was. While Reicher seemed as obnoxious and flamboyant as ever, Raze was something else entirely. And that brought home the fact that this was really for real.

So, it seemed that Lyner had to choose between Raze and Reicher, right? There’s no comparison, really.

Waiting for a momentary pause in the fearsome battle, Lyner took a step forward and drew in a deep breath. “Raze, come on!” he called out with encouragement.
 
Raze immediately whipped his head around, a startled expression on his face. “Wha-?”

“You can do much better than that. Stop letting him get under your skin. Look, do you want me or not?”  Lyner felt slightly (ok, immensely) embarrassed that he had asked that. Aloud, nonetheless. And he seemed to have caught both men by surprise; he could even see a look of bewilderment on Reicher’s face.

“Huh?” It seemed that Raze’s mind wasn’t quite fathoming what Lyner was saying. Something Lyner was struggling with as well. He wasn’t mentally planning anything in his head; his was simply running at the mouth.

“Then don’t let him win.”

Then, although subtle, that was a spark of hope in Raze’s eyes. “…You?”

Lyner couldn’t reply to that. He didn’t know what to say. But he felt his cheeks heat up considerably and he gave a very slight nod.

Raze continued to look at him for a moment, his brow furrowed slightly, as if trying to gauge whether or not Lyner was being sincere. And, well, Lyner couldn’t really blame him. The whole situation was just so bizarre.

Reicher suddenly made a noise of disapproval. “Him?” he practically snorted. “You certainly have low standards.”

Lyner frowned, a retort at the very tip of his tongue, but there was no need for him to say anymore; Raze lunged at Reicher, moving far quicker and more fluently then Lyner had ever seen him do.

And then, the battle was over, Raze standing victoriously over Reicher. Just like that. It was over. He did it. Raze won.

Reicher looked as shocked as Lyner felt, although not for the same reasons, he was sure. And Raze appeared subtly triumphant as he put away his weapon, taking a step back from Reicher sitting on the ground.

Without thinking, Lyner made his way to Raze and threw his arms around his neck in a hug, a huge smile on his lips. “You did it!”

At first, Raze was tense against him, seemingly frozen in shock. Lyner quickly remembered himself and was about to pull away, to mutter an embarrassed apology, when he felt Raze’s arms slowly wrap around his waist. It felt slightly odd, but not in a bad way. Not even close. It felt nice, having someone just hold him.

“I knew you could win,” Lyner found himself saying as he subconsciously nuzzled his face into Raze’s shoulder.

“…Yeah,” Raze replied simply.

Lyner turned slightly so he could see Reicher, but kept his arms around Raze’s neck. And Raze kept his arms around him as well. “Sorry, Reicher,” he said, not sounding remotely sorry. “But better luck next time.”

In an overly dramatic way, Reicher pouted as he sheathed his weapons. “Choosing that loser over me,” he sniffed before his expression brightened considerably. “Oh well, as you said, better luck next time.” He then turned and began to walk away, waving casually with his back to them. “I’ll win you over then.”

Surprisingly, Raze’s arms tightened around Lyner, pulling him closer as he sent Reicher a scathing glare. “There won’t be a next time!” he practically growled.

Lyner gave a slight smile as he settled himself against Raze, using his presence to calm him down. Although, he couldn’t help but wonder if Reicher was serious. If he was, well, this whole ordeal could happen again.

Oh well, there was nothing to worry about. Raze would win anyway.

Chapter Text

Lyner was looking for Raze. It was unusual for the other swordsman to go off wandering by himself. He may be a bit of a loner, but he never really did things on his own. Whim was slightly worried and so was Lily.

That was, until she muttered something under her breath and drifted off into her perverted fantasies. Lyner couldn’t hear what she was saying and he was glad that he couldn’t. He figured he would sleep better at night not knowing what was going around in that head of hers.

Lyner wasn’t too worried, though. He figured that Raze had gone off to get some training done in private. Or perhaps even patrolling the area. Lyner, himself, often did that when he couldn’t get any sleep at night. It was something that wasn’t uncommon amongst the guys. Heck, he and Ayatane often found themselves simply looking around and talking late into the night. It was peaceful at night and it was often the only time they were able to get some decent quiet time away from their maddening new family.

Still, he promised Whim that he would have a quick look around to see if he could spot him. Whim would go looking for him herself, but with Lily in her current…state of mind, she didn’t want to leave her master alone. Lily was likely to do anything in that state.

Lyner preferred to stumble through the thick woods swarming with monsters at night then deal with Lily as she mumbled her deepest fantasies for the world to hear. It was awkward and embarrassing. For others, mind you. Lily was only ever embarrassed with Raze around and wouldn’t believe it whenever someone told her that she had the habit of talking to herself.

Stumbling over a tree root for the umpteenth time, Lyner muttered a silent curse under his breath. He had been searching for Raze for about 15 minutes already. If he didn’t find Raze soon and drag him back to camp, Whim and Lily are likely to send a search party for him.

Still, at least the monsters he had been bumping into weren’t anything powerful or dangerous, so he knew that Raze was alright. These monsters were hardly worth dirtying his blade for. A swift kick to get them out of his way was enough.

Taking a moment to look at his surroundings, Lyner heard the faint sound of someone’s voice. He couldn’t really hear it, but he figured that the voice belonged to Raze. It had to. Who else would be out here?

Moving forward at a quicker pace toward the source of the voice, Lyner opened his mouth to call out Raze’s name. However, he paused when he heard another voice. This one different; deeper and seemingly more haughty and arrogant.

Lyner frowned. Could the owner of that voice be Reicher? It was probable.  Reicher had the unnerving ability to turn up anywhere at any time. And be as annoying as possible. Pressing his lips together in a thin line, Lyner bit back his frustrations. He wasn’t exactly in the mood to break up a fight between the two swordsmen.

However, as he drew closer to the sounds, an unreasonable sense of nervousness settled in the pit of his stomach. It was a strange feeling. It was like the atmosphere suddenly shifted into something more…tense.

Approaching a large tree, Lyner placed his hand on the bark and peered around it, looking into a small clearing that was well shaded and somehow secluded. And what he saw made him tense up, his eyes becoming wide in disbelief.

There, standing in the middle was Raze and Reicher, with Reicher holding Raze’s face in his two hands and Raze was gripping tightly onto the collar of Reicher’s jacket. And they were kissing. Passionately!

Smothering a noise of surprise by placing his hand over his mouth, Lyner quickly ducked behind a nearby tree and pressed his back against the rough bark. He hoped that Raze and Reicher didn’t hear him. His heart was pounding in his chest, his mind not quite registering the sight he had just seen.

Raze and Reicher? It was quite a surprise!

And yet…it made some sense. A little. And they kinda looked good together.

While Lyner couldn’t quite understand what there was to like about Reicher; he found him infuriating and arrogant. But maybe Raze was regaining some of his memories of him. Lyner only knew what he had witnessed about Reicher. There was probably another side of him. There had to be another side to him, right? Raze didn’t look like the type to be pulled into scandalous situations. Didn’t seem the type to go ‘what the hell’ and make out with someone.

Could the two be in a secret relationship? Ok, so it was pretty obvious that they were, but had they been seeing each other in secret for a while now? Or were they just starting out?

Lyner shook his head to clear it. It didn’t matter. What did matter was that Raze and Reicher are locked in a scandalous embrace and members from their party were looking for Raze. If they were to…

Suddenly, a noise from the path that Lyner just took pulled him out of his thoughts. He strained his hearing and realised that the noises weren’t from monsters, they were voices. He inwardly began to panic when he realised the faint voices were that of Lily and Whim. They were coming closer to where he was – to where Raze and Reicher was. If these two see Raze with Reicher in an embrace, who knows what would happen. A lot of screaming, crying and accusations of betrayal, most likely.

Chaos, in other words. Something they really couldn’t have.

When Lyner felt something brush up against his leg, he looked down and saw one of those jelly monster thingies. He couldn’t remember their name (Gels? Jellies? Lumps of Goo?), but it gave him an idea nonetheless.

Pulling out his sword, Lyner turned his full attention onto the gel. However, instead of running his sword through it, he kicked it roughly, sending it through the air and brush, making it bounce down the path he just took. And not a moment later he heard a squeal of surprise and Lily’s voice commanding Whim to kill it.

Glancing over his shoulder, Lyner noticed that the noise had disturbed Raze and Reicher, making the two spring apart with expressions of surprise. Now with some distance between them, the two began to look hastily around at their surroundings, Reicher slinking back into the darkness, ready to make a quick retreat if necessary.

Suddenly, Raze looked in Lyner’s direction and their eyes locked. Raze’s eyes immediately widened in shock, and maybe even a little fear. “L-Lyner?”

An awkward conversation was about to happen. It would be embarrassing for the both of them. But it couldn’t happen yet. There was something else that needed to be taken care of.

“Wait-a-sec,” Lyner said before he darted through the shrubs, heading toward the new voices.

Just as he had suspected. It was Whim and Lily, but seeing Ayatane in the background was a surprise. But it was a nice surprise.

“Oh, sorry,” Lyner muttered as he stepped into the clearing, his sword in his hand, making it appear that he had been recently using it. “There’s these jelly things all over the place!”

“Mr Lyner?” Whim sighed with relief as she disposed of the monster with her ice magic with a flick of her wrist, beside her, Ayatane easily disposing of other monsters in the area. “Did you find Mr Raze?”

“Ah, yeah,” Lyner said as he motioned over his shoulder with his chin. “He’s up ahead. He’s been dealing with these monsters as well. Nothing dangerous, but they are really annoying.”

“Is that why you took so long?” Lily asked him, her voice a mixture of relief and annoyance.

“Of course,” Lyner replied. “What do you think we were doing?”

Lyner regretted asking that question as a mere second later Lily’s face flushed a light red and she started mumbling under her breath again. Lyner winced and sent an apologetic look in Whim’s direction who was undeniably exasperated.

“Why don’t you girls head back to camp?” Ayatane was the one to suggest. “I’ll stay here with Lyner and Raze to deal with these minor annoyances.”

“Ok,” Whim said as she grabbed Lily by the elbow and began to steer her back toward their camp. “Be careful.”

“We’ll be right behind you,” Lyner said as he waved them off.

Lyner waited until the girls were out of sight before he breathed a sigh of relief, of which earned him a raised eyebrow from Ayatane. Lyner gave him an awkward smile, silently conveying that he had witnessed something…interesting.

“What’s wrong?” Ayatane asked as he took a step toward Lyner, but then paused, nodding a small greeting to someone behind Lyner. Without turning, Lyner knew that Raze had finally come out of hiding. He knew that he and Raze needed to have some kind of a chat or comment. Maybe even a small reassuring pat on the shoulder.

Drawing a deep breath, Lyner turned to face Raze. Raze lingered in the background, looking guilty, embarrassed and ashamed. Lyner felt for him. He could easily imagine the types of thoughts that were running through his head right now.

“…You saw that?” Raze asked him softly.

“By accident,” Lyner replied with a small smile. “You were gone for a while, so I came searching for you. Well…I was surprised, to say the least.”

Raze visibly winced and began to fidget on his feet. “I supposed it would. Are you-?”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Lyner instantly reassured him. “Well, except for Ayatane.”

Raze’s gaze flickered over toward Ayatane, lingering for a moment before turning his attention back to Lyner. “Why?” he asked him, somewhat suspicious.

Lyner wasn’t sure whether Raze was asking him why he would do something like that for him, or asking him why he would tell only Ayatane. Either one, there was a very good answer for both.

Abruptly, Lyner turned back to Ayatane, leaned up on his toes and placed a quick but soft kiss to Ayatane’s lips…right in front of Raze. Ayatane’s eyes widened in surprise at his actions, but didn’t push him away. Instead, he grabbed Lyner by his arms, holding him still and pressed their lips together for another short kiss. Lyner offered him a small smile as he pulled back, Ayatane releasing his hold on him.

“I’ll explain everything later,” Lyner whispered to Ayatane before he took a step back and turned his attention to Raze, whom of which was standing silently in the background, wearing a look of shock. “Does this answer your question?”

Raze seemed to snap out of his shock and shook his head as if to clear it. Then, a small smile appeared on his lips. The small was somewhat awkward and embarrassed, but he no longer looked uneasy or frightened. “I guess I owe you one, then.”

Lyner smiled back at him, relief washing over him. He turned to look at Ayatane, whom of which looked deep in thought. It wouldn’t surprise Lyner one bit if Ayatane was able to figure it out for himself. And, not a moment later, a look of realisation flickered across his face.

“Ah, it was Reicher, wasn’t it?” he asked, a knowing smile on his lips. “I thought I saw him hiding in the shadows.”

Lyner found himself chuckling nervously. When the turned around to glance at their other companion, he noted that Raze’s face was burning with embarrassment and anger. He suddenly spun around on his heel, facing the tree line. “I told you to leave!” he hissed. “Haven’t you caused me enough trouble?”

Sure enough, slinking out of the shadows was Reicher. He had that infuriating smug look on his face, the one he always wore. Yet, it wasn’t as bitingly arrogant as usual. His expression seemed softly. Lyner wasn’t sure if he was making it up in his head, but there was almost this expression of relief in his gaze.

Lyner moved back to stand beside Ayatane, watching as Reicher approached the silently fuming Raze. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, and truthfully he didn’t care all that much. Leaning against Ayatane, who readily wrapped an arm around his waist, Lyner mused that maybe Reicher wasn’t as bad as he made himself out to be.

Still, if he hurt Raze, Lyner was going to make sure Reicher regrets it.

Chapter Text

“It wasn’t me!”

“You have blond hair, don’t you?!”

“That means nothing!”

With a ‘family’ as diverse as this one was, it was of no surprise that there were conflicts on a daily bases. Having people meeting up from three different worlds, most of which had lost their memories, it was bound to happen. And being woken up by the sound of someone arguing was not uncommon at all.

So when Lyner was pulled from his sleep (slightly surprised by how late in the morning it was and that he was allowed to sleep in that long) by the sounds of women arguing he wasn’t all that concerned. There were often minor spats, nothing to worry about at all and, as in every other case, the fuss would be sorted quickly.

Stretching, Lyner set about rousing himself from his sleepiness. He should get up and maybe get something to eat. And hopefully avoid being pulled into an argument. Not something he wanted to do after just waking up.

Stepping out of the sleeping tent, Lyner was slightly surprised to realise that there were quite a few of his family members involved in this argument. Lily seemed to be in the thick of it, surrounded by Raze, Whim and Meu. And around them was just about everyone else. Some looked intrigued by the heated conversation; others seemed to be wishing they were elsewhere.

“I’m not the only one with blond hair!” Lily practically shrilled, her face a deep red from either frustration or embarrassment. Perhaps a bit of both. “Marie has blond hair, too!”

“Me?!” Marie squeaked, her voice sounding rather high pitched and mortified when all eyes suddenly turned on her.

What an unusual argument, Lyner thought to himself. There were accusations being thrown around. What these girls were being accused of, he didn’t know. Something about blond hair? What’s wrong with blond hair? He had blond hair as well.

It was making him curious.

“Are you sure it was blond?” Marie asked as her expression creased into a look of pure annoyance. “Maybe she had blue hair?”

“Are you suggesting that it was me?” Whim uncharacteristically bristled, she too looking appalled at being accused of something. “I would never do that to Mr Raze!”

Ok, so this argument had something to do with blond hair and Raze, the male in question standing by silently and subtly fuming. What an unusual combination.

Not knowing what this argument was actually about was making Lyner really curious. His curiosity, though, often got him into trouble. Still, it looked like this argument wasn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. So it would be best if he knew what had caused it and try his best not to get involved any further than being a simple bystander.

Ignoring the feeling of unease that was settling quietly in the pit of his stomach, Lyner approached the nearest person to him and the furthest from the epicentre; York, the twin gunman not looking all that interested.

“What’s going on?” Lyner asked as he moved to stand by York’s side, the redhead barely acknowledging him.

Roughly running a hand through his red hair, York granted him a rather careless shrug. “Not sure. Something to do with Reicher being seen in the area and kissing some cute looking blond.”

Lyner felt the air around him suddenly grow cold. “…S-some blond?”

“Yeah,” York said around a wide and obnoxious yawn. “Meu has been talking about it all morning. She said she saw Reicher passionately kissing with a lithe blond. She won’t shut up about it. It’s really annoying.”

“…W-when did this event occur?”

“Last night, apparently.”

“I see.”

…When he was on night-watch.

Alone.

Lyner swallowed thickly as he drowned out the rest of York’s complaints. He subconsciously touched his blond hair as his heart thundered loudly in his chest. Inwardly, he pleaded to whoever or whatever was listening. Please don’t let them put two and two together…

“Meu was probably seeing things,” Zelos interjected tersely, the dark haired man giving the indication that he was totally over this entire conversation and wanted to go kill something.

Meu, however, immediately protested. “I didn’t! I swear I saw Reicher with someone who was blond! He was running his fingers romantically through blond hair!”

Lyner felt a hint of warmth dance across his face, silently remembering the feeling of cool fingers combing through his hair, massaging his scalp, deftly brushing the back of his neck, making him shiver.

“Maybe it was someone else we haven’t met in this world?” Miko suggested.

York was sceptical. “Yeah? Why would they choose this close to camp for a make-out session?”

“Well, do you have any suggestions?”

Lyner broke out into a cold sweat as he slowly backed away from the group, muttering under his breath about doing some chores. He turned his back on the group, silently reminding himself to keep calm and to take slow, steady breathes. He tried to look calm and not at all suspicious on the outside.

Inwardly, though, it was another story. He was embarrassed, mortified - and furious!

Reicher…

That ass! He told him that there was no one around!

Lyner groaned, roughly rubbing his face with his hand, placing some blame on himself. He should have known better than to trust that smooth talker. He was being careless. All hell would break lose if anyone were to find out about him and Reicher having these secret…meetings. Things were tense enough as they were.

And what would Raze think if he learned that while he was out training, Lyner was keeping Reicher distracted by allowing the other man to make out with him?

Again, Lyner groaned. He really didn’t want to think about that.

It had to stop. He couldn’t keep doing this. He couldn’t keep letting the other man seduce him into his arms, making him feel pleasure with his kisses, making him feel desired with his attention. With Meu getting close enough to see Reicher holding a blond, it meant that she was too close. And now everyone would be on high guard. Watching, waiting.

Tonight he had to confront Reicher and tell him point blank to leave him alone. He would put his own selfish bodily needs aside for the loyalty to his new family.

There was nothing special about the man. Reicher was arrogant, infuriating and pompous. And while he was handsome, a good kisser and has talent hands; you can’t start a relationship on those points alone.

Not that Lyner wanted a relationship with him!

Steeling himself, Lyner did his best to spend the rest of the day staying in the background, not drawing any attention to himself. He stayed vigilant, though. He tried to overhear the still on-going conversations about what Meu had seen and who it could have been. Thankfully, they were still on the mindset that the person Reicher would be caught in a scandalous position with a woman.

The connection that Lyner was on night watch last night and his blond hair hadn’t occurred to them yet.

And they hopefully never will.

Still, spending the entire day on egg shells, waiting for someone to point an accusing finger at him, was very exhausting. He had never been so happy when the sun began to set. That didn’t end the discussion, mind you, but it meant Lyner could go on watch and corner that troublesome man.

Lyner couldn’t help but find some irony in the order of keeping an eye out for Reicher and his little lady, and to tell someone immediately if he spotted them. And he tried his best to ignore the growing annoyance of being referred to as a girl all day long. He wouldn’t be mistaken as a girl under normal circumstances. It was simply dark out and it was late, and Meu was simply shocked by what she saw.

Tis all.

“Are you waiting for me?”

Lyner jumped, uttering a noise of surprise when he felt a hot breath against the back of his neck, causing a telling shiver to race down his spine. He spun around, immediately knowing who was standing behind him. And he levelled him an indignant look.

“You.”

Reicher raised an eyebrow at Lyner’s growl. “You don’t sound happy to see me,” he replied smoothly. “How unusual.”

Lyner blushed lightly but managed to maintain his glare of disapproval. He didn’t know what Reicher was referring to. It wasn’t like he enjoyed his kisses or anything. “You almost got me into trouble!” he accused. “Last night you told me that there was no one around!”

“There wasn’t anyone around when I told you that,” Reicher told him arrogantly.

Lyner rolled his eyes. Oh sure, be technical, why don’t you?

“You’re a dick, you know that?” Lyner muttered darkly. It was a small insult, but it still made Reicher laugh, short and sharp, but highly amused nonetheless.

“What happened?”

“All day I had to listen to Meu telling everyone that she saw you running your fingers through someone’s blond hair,” Lyner told him bluntly, not at all happy. He just hoped that his luck held out, and that they won’t put two and two together.

Infuriatingly, Reicher continued to look amused. “Did they suspect you?”

“Well, no,” Lyner reluctantly replied. “I guess I’m lucky that they’re only suspecting girls with blond hair.”

That made Reicher smirk that maddening smirk. “Then what are you complaining about?” he asked him simply.

Lyner resist the urge to roll his eyes again. This man simply was not getting the point. “What I am complaining about is this; that was too close. If Meu was close enough to see my blond hair, then she was potentially close enough to see me!”

“But she didn’t.”

“She could have!” Lyner practically shrilled. “I’m not going to be seen as a traitor because of you.”

“Hey now,” Reicher said as he pouted mockingly. “It’s a two-way street. You most certainly weren’t resisting. Oh sure, there was a token fight, but nothing serious.”

Lyner felt himself blush. Darkly.

“I’m cutting you off,” Lyner said. He wanted to sound firm and resolute. But, somehow, he felt as though his voice wasn’t co-operating. His flustered, frazzled appearance probably didn’t help.

And the expression on Reicher’s face also told him that the other man didn’t believe him one bit. “Really now?”

As Lyner began to verbally list the reasons why they couldn’t carry on with these rendezvous, Reicher boldly stepped forward, well into his personal space, his face inches away from his. Against his will, Lyner’s eyes slipped closed when he felt Reicher’s heated breath ghost against his lips.

He didn’t realise that he was backing away from Reicher until his back hit a tree, stopping him dead in his tracks. The very second that he stopped, the small distance between them disappeared completely and he felt Reicher’s lips captured his own, sweeping him up in a passionate kiss. With one arm slipping to wrap around his waist, Reicher entangled his fingers of his other through Lyner’s short blond locks.

Lyner had wanted to protest in some way. To push against him, to shove him away, to do something. But his body wouldn’t respond. All he could do was rest against the tree, being held in Reicher’s arms and kissed back as feverishly as he was being kissed.

And all he could think was; this infuriating man is going to get me into so trouble…

But after that he had no more coherent thoughts.

Chapter Text

Lyner wasn't sure what had actually happened. He had been on a hunting expedition with a few of his teammates when they must have been ambushed by a predator that resided in this world. He remembered a sense of utter shock before the wild movements of defending himself from an array of attacks. He remembered a sharp pain in the back of his head. After that it was all a little fuzzy.

A few facts were certain, though. One; he's been separated from the others. Meaning he was by himself. Completely alone.

Two; he was injured. The most painful were his right ankle. He must have sprained it or something, as it was hard to walk on. His right shoulder had a deep gash on his shoulder blade. He could feel the blood that had thankfully clotted. And the pain in the back of his head that, thankfully, didn't have any blood. But it was throbbing like a deep-seated migraine. It made it hard to think straight.

The thirdly; his weapon had somehow gone AWOL on him. So he was unarmed. Not a good thing in a world full of seemingly blood-thirsty monsters.

He wasn't in a very good position to put it lightly.

To make matters worse, it seemed that a storm was beginning to brew as night fell. He needed to find some kind of shelter. He needed to lie low for a while and wait for the others to come and find him. He knew they would. Hopefully those he had been travelling with him all right and he was the worst affected.

"Well, don't you make a pitiful sight?"

A cool shiver raced down Lyner's spine and he immediately spun around to face the source of that overly confidence and smug voice. He immediately regretted his quick movements, though, as a terrible dizzying sensation nearly brought him to his knees. His vision blacked out for what felt like only a few seconds before blurry images began to appear.

And unfortunately for him, the first thing that came into focus was none other than that smirking, egotistical face of Reicher. He was somewhat relieved that it wasn't Bourd, though.

Still, a sense of irritation touched him.

"You're not looking too good there, sunshine," Reicher said, irritatingly amused.

Lyner wanted to make some kind of a retort, but with the way his head was throbbing made it hard to come up with anything even remotely witty. He wasn't even in the right frame of mind to feel fearful. Here he was, injured, alone and defenceless with an enemy that was wildly unpredictable and very powerful.

As much as it pained for him to admit, he was at this man's mercy.

He didn't want him to know that, though.

Wordlessly, hoping not to antagonise the other man, Lyner began to limp away, supporting himself with his left hand, moving from tree to tree. Because of his previous abrupt movements, his head was ringing and the pain in his shoulder and leg felt worse. He must look really pathetic.

Hopefully so pathetic that Reicher won't bother with him.

But it seemed that luck just wasn't on his side today. Reicher seemed to be joyfully tagging along.

"So, did you get thrashed by a boss battle?"

"Ambush," Lyner found himself answering with a weary mumble. He suddenly felt really tired. Was it because of the cold? Or was it his head injury?

Staggering forward, Lyner felt an excruciating jolt of pain erupt from his ankle. He released a moan of pain as his leg buckled and he crumbled unceremoniously to the ground. However, he never actually made it to the rocky soil. Something strong and tight had wrapped around his waist, holding him up so effortlessly.

In his confusion, Lyner weakly grabbed the thing around his waist with his hand and slowly realised that it was an arm. His brow furrowed with confusion and he tilted his head back slightly to see who was helping him.

You can imagine his surprise when he realised that the arm belonged to Reicher.

“What are-?”

Suddenly, Lyner found himself being flung over Reicher’s shoulder, the other manhandling him as if he weighed next to nothing. The abrupt movement left him momentarily breathless and he found himself grasping at the back of Reicher’s coat out of reflex. It took him a moment to realise that Reicher was moving, and was taking him somewhere.

He immediately became still as his pain-filled mind began to race. Should be struggle fruitlessly, putting more strain on his body? Or should he wait and see what the other was up to? Was he going to be used as a hostage? Or was Reicher simply going to dump him somewhere?

In his current state, he couldn’t answer any of those questions.

Surprisingly, though, despite the haste in Reicher’s movements, he wasn’t jostling him. He was walking in such a way that wasn’t causing him further pain. He had no idea where he was taking him, but at least the pain had lessened. He closed his eyes and tried to relax his tense body.

The best thing he could do now was wait and see. Survival was all that mattered now.

After a few minutes of silent walking, the light getting darker and darker as night approached, Lyner felt Reicher come to a stop. He opened his eyes and saw that they appeared to be in a cave of some kind. Certainly no place for his enemies to willing reside in to plot and scheme world domination.

Slowly, Reicher leaned forward to allow Lyner to stand back on his feet. But as soon as Lyner placed his injured ankle on the hard ground, pain erupted up his leg and he gritted his teeth in pain. He was then lowered to the ground, his back resting against the side of the cave wall. He was genuinely surprised by how gentle Reicher’s touch was.

He couldn’t help but regard him in a questioning manner. Why wouldn’t he? After all, Reicher had threatened to kill him at one stage.

“Just go to sleep,” Reicher commanded as he pushed away from him and stood up. “There’s a snowstorm coming. You won’t be getting rescued tonight.”

Lyner wanted to ask him why he was helping him so...tenderly. They were enemies, right? Then again, even badguys had complex personal motives for doing what they do.

So, despite the fact that Reicher could kill him so easily, Lyner felt assured that Reicher wouldn't harm him. It didn’t seem to be in his nature to hurt someone who was completely defenceless. Besides, what would killing him achieve? It wasn’t like Lyner held a crucial role in this world or anything.

Finally allowing his eyes to close, Lyner felt a mild sense of warmth wash over him before sleep claimed him, allowing his mind and body to relax.

When Lyner awoke the next morning, he felt a little bit better. His head still hurt. Just not the deep throbbing pain that it was yesterday. Opening his eyes, the first thing he saw was the rocky ceiling of the cave that Reicher had literally carried him into. And as his mind began to focused, he realised a couple of things.

One; his armour had been removed.

Two; his cape had been shredded.

Three; the pieces of his shredded cape had actually been used as bandages.

And four; those bandages were used to wrap up his multiple injuries in a rather professional manner.

Sitting up, Lyner was slightly surprised to realise that he had more injuries than he had first thought. No wondering walking and moving around hurt and left him dizzy. Reicher must have bandaged his injuries while he slept. But why would he do that?

More importantly, where was he now?

Slowly, Lyner managed to get himself to his feet. His ankle felt slightly better now that it was strapped up. Not to mention his shoulder. Using his cape as make-shift bandages was a good idea.

With his hand on the wall as a guide, Lyner limped out of the cave and into the morning light. The morning sun on his face felt good.

“Finally awake, huh?”

Startled, Lyner looked around but couldn’t see Reicher anywhere. A small rock suddenly hitting him on the arm caused him to look up toward the sky. There, he saw Reicher sitting on a large rock jutting above the cave’s entrance. He looked as haughty and smug as he usually did.

But this time Lyner regarded him with curiosity instead of annoyance. There were a lot of questions he wanted to ask him, yet he wasn’t sure where to start. Why did he help him? What was he hoping to gain by helping him? What was he really after?

"I don't want Raze attacking me because of revenge on your part," Reicher suddenly told him bluntly, as if he had somehow read his thoughts. "I want him to attack me under his own power."

Lyner nodded his head, seemingly happy with that. He wasn't entirely sure what Raze had to do with anything, but ok.

"Besides," Reicher spoke again, this time sounding a little too cheerful. "Raze wouldn't have been the only one after my blood. I'm sure you're well aware of who I am referring to."

Ayatane’s name was the first thing that automatically popped into his mind. As soon as he did, he heard his name being called by the very person he was thinking about. Was it his imagination or…?

“Ah, speak of the devil,” Reicher smirked and stood up, dusting himself off casually. “I better make my leave then.”

“Did…did you lead them here?” Lyner asked him softly. He couldn’t be bothered to feel surprised anymore. He was simply intrigued.

Reicher seemed to choose not to answer that. Instead he jumped down from his advantage point and began to walk away with his usual cocky swagger.

“T-thank you!” Lyner called out before the other man disappeared into the tree line, gaining only a short wave in return.

Lyner focused on the spot that Reicher disappeared in for a moment, mulling over what had transpired. He quickly came to one conclusion; Reicher wasn't a bad person. Sure, he was obnoxious, egotistical and utterly irritating with his cryptic way of speaking. But he wasn't a bad person.

Now…how was he going to explain what happened to the others?

Chapter Text

“Why are we spying on Lyner and Ayatane?”

Morrigan glanced over her should to look at the three girls that were dutifully following her like she had asked them to do. Lillian fluttered along right behind her, matching her steps while Meu and Lily lingered a little further back, somewhat wary of her. Or perhaps uneasy because they felt that they were invading on Lyner and Ayatane’s…privacy.

“Spying is such a dirty little word,” Morrigan said as she continued to lead. “I think it as merely sedating our curiosity.”

“Curiosity about what?”

“Haven’t you ever wondered why Lyner and Ayatane are always sneaking off together?” Morrigan asked the girls with her with a knowing smile on her lips. While the others of their little family seemed oblivious as to why Lyner and Ayatane often excused themselves to either take a walk, check their surroundings and simply talk in private –alone-, she had caught on rather quickly.

And she was kind of glad that she was the only one who realised what these ‘best friends’ were doing behind everyone’s backs. If the others found out, especially the three girls that were friends with Lyner, they might put an end to this.

Which would be an absolutely travesty.

Meu tilted her head to the side in thought. “Um, talking or catching up about stuff?”

Lily shrugged, seemingly not all that interested. “Training or keeping watch? I mean, what else could they be doing?”

“Oh, they are most certainly communicating and indulging in some sort of exercise,” Morrigan hummed in light amusement as she led the small group toward the empty houses in the village type environment they stopped to camp for the night. “But, of course, in a far more pleasurable sense.”

Hearing about pleasure, Lillian perked up in excitement. “Ooh, can I see?”

“Shh,” Morrigan hushed as they crept closer to small house, something like a cottage and over to a large window that didn’t have any curtains. What luck. “Quiet now, we don’t want to interrupt them, do we?”

Meu and Lily still looked puzzled, either about her words or where she was leading them to, while Lillian was twitching in anticipation. Morrigan held a finger to her lips as they approached the window. They crouched down low, trying not to make a sound as they situated themselves under the window.

“Wait,” Morrigan whispered. She wanted to check first, to see if they were indeed holding a repeat performance of the many other times she had followed them. Placing her fingertips on the sill, Morrigan eased herself up and glanced inside the room. And she smiled as her eyes immediately fell upon two familiar figures…on a bed…together.

Good, she didn’t bring these girls out here for nothing.

She mentioned for the girls to follow her lead, and they did, Meu and Lily slightly ashamed at what they were doing. However, the look of shame was replaced with open-mouth shock and disbelief.

Meu gasped bit back a gasp while Lily made a cute little ‘eep!’ like noise, her fingers tightening painful on the window’s sill. And Lillian? She giggled as she all but pressed her face against the glass of the window.

“Ooh, so this is what they’re doing,” she whispered.

Morrigan quickly hushed her before turning to give the wonderful view her full attention.

They had a sheet draped over them, but it was clearly obvious to any fool what they were doing. Lyner was lying on his back on the double bed, Ayatane lying on top of him, their naked and sweat sheened bodies pressed together, one of Ayatane’s hands grasping one of Lyner’s, their fingers entwined tightly together in a firm grip. Ayatane’s other arm was wrapped around Lyner’s shoulders, trapping him against his chest; Lyner’s other hand pawing at him. And their mouths were pressed together passionately, their kiss deep and oh-so sensual.

And even though the window was closed, Morrigan could hear their sounds of ecstasy. Lyner’s voice high-pitched and needy, Ayatane’s deep and husky.

Breaking the kiss, Ayatane kissed along Lyner’s jawline before he whispered something to Lyner, his lips ghosting against his ear. Lyner swallowed thickly and nodded his head once, his chest heaving as he panted. “Please…”

A shiver raced down Morrigan’s spine. Oh good, she hadn’t missed their ‘joining’. Lyner always had such a delicious expression on his face with their bodies embrace one another intimately.

Ayatane pulled back for a moment, still holding Lyner close to him, his arms never once loosening. Then, he suddenly moved forward sharply, bucking against Lyner. And Lyner arched his back off the bed; his eyes squeezed tightly shut and his mouth opened on a silent scream.

From their position at the window, Morrigan and her companions had a wonderful view of Lyner’s flushed face, his head hanging over Ayatane’s arm as Ayatane wrapped his arm under his shoulders, holding him close as he moved over him…and inside him.

And Morrigan all but purred at Lyner’s expression. His brow was creased in ecstasy, his eyes half-lidded and glazed over from the pleasure, his mouth parted as he moaned and panted quietly in sheer passion. Oh, the sounds he was making, the breathy moans, the whining purrs, Ayatane’s name being repeated over and over again.

The passion. The ecstasy. It was so thrilling.

Lyner managed to slip his hand down Ayatane’s chest to touch his side before reaching to desperately rake his fingers down his back, urging him one, pressing their bodies closer together. He moved in time with Ayatane as he sobbed into his shoulder.

“A-Ayatane…”

It was quite obvious that they had done ‘this’ many times before. Although they haven’t regained all their memories, it must be exciting rediscovering each other again.

A sob escaped Lyner’s throat when Ayatane placed his lips, leaving love bites, against the side of his neck. He must have been extremely sensitive there as Lyner arched his back, his head once again falling back against the bed and tightened his grip on Ayatane’s shoulder.

“Aya…”

Morrigan sighed. Won’t be much longer until they both reach their utmost ecstasy.

Momentarily, Morrigan removed her gaze from the passionate scene before her to glance at her companions. Lily and Meu were both blushing a deep crimson red, their eyes wide and their mouths hanging open. Lily even had a tiny bit of blood dripping from her nose. And, Morrigan noted with a hum, they weren’t looking away. Lillian was enjoying the scene immensely; she was leaning on her elbows on the window sill, her chin resting in her hands as she watched with a focused gaze, a somewhat dreamy look in her eyes.

Turning her attention back to the sensual love-making, Morrigan noticed that Ayatane was no longer scattering love bites against Lyner’s neck; he was now smothering his moans with a deep kiss. Their movements were more frantic now, desperate.

Morrigan had noted that through their love-making, their clasped hands remained strong and true. Their connection was so deep, so resilient, so everything.

The deep kiss was suddenly broken, Lyner throwing his head back on a low, drawn out moan, his body tensing as Ayatane stilled above him, groaning lowly. Then, Ayatane collapsed on top of a breathing heavily Lyner. They sunk against the mattress, holding each other tightly, embracing closely.

They then shared another kiss, whispering to one another. Their voices soft, barely audible through the glass window, but Morrigan knew that they were saying by the simple movements of their lips. I love you’s were exchanged before engaging in another passionate kiss, Ayatane threading his fingers through Lyner’s hair, Lyner holding his close with the hand on his back.

Morrigan released a deep sigh. Such pleasure. Such passion. You don’t see that much. Well, not as much as she liked.

The main show was over, best to leave the two to their blissful afterglow. Besides, the two non-demon girls looked as if they were going to pass out from blood loss.

“We should leave before they notice us,” Morrigan suggested, motioning for the girls to follow her once again. And they did, Lily and Meu following mutely and in complete shock, their movements stumbling and jerky. While Lillian looked somewhat disappointed in leaving.

It was actually quite adorable.

Back at camp, Meu and Lily were unusually quiet. As if in a daze. When asked where they went by the others, they simply shook their heads. They couldn’t tell them what they saw. Morrigan had asked them that it remain as their sensual little secret.

An hour or so later Lyner and Ayatane finally re-joined the group, Lyner practically glowing and Ayatane holding a sense of self-satisfaction. And no one really took noticed. They were simply welcomed back and asked if they wanted something to eat. After all, it wasn’t uncommon for the two to disappear for a while together. They always came back, Lyner in a much better mood than he usual was, and Ayatane more content and relaxed.

Lily, however, took one look at Lyner, blushed a deep red, made a startling noise before making a quick retreat. She left not only Lyner startled and confused, but everyone else who had witness her reaction.

Morrigan laughed softly. Never again will Lily be able to look Lyner in the eye again without remembering that sensual look of ecstasy that he wore so well. Even Morrigan herself had a hard time not associating those eyes and mouth of his with passion.

But she wouldn’t be surprised if Lily asked to accompany her on ‘spying’ on Lyner and Ayatane again when they part the group for their quality personal time.

There would be plenty more opportunities, hopefully.

Chapter Text

The sun was a pale orb in the sky and there was a hint of a breeze, Lyner noted as he stood atop a hill, looking down at a field of wild flowers and the greenest grass he had ever seen. A small stream snaked through the flowers, trickling quietly, adding to the serenity of the lush land. Not a sound was heard, not a twitter of a bird or a cry of a monster.

All was quiet.

“It’s so peaceful,” Lyner thought to himself, the cool breeze caressing his hair to dance before his eyes.

Sweeping his gaze across the fields before him, Lyner saw that his travelling companions, those who have been brought into this strange world along with himself, were gathered at the very bottom of the hill. And they were looking up at him expectantly.

Lyner wondered if they were waiting for him. He hadn’t meant to delay them in their travels with...whatever it was that he was doing up here. Hmm, how strange...

Suddenly, Lyner felt an arm encircle his waist and a hand latch onto his arm. Although the arm around him felt familiar, comfortable and warm, he was also startled. Ayatane was never really the one to show off his love for him in such a public display. True, it seemed pointless in hiding their love for one another as often people questioned their ‘extremely good friends’ status, but they had never wished to announce their ‘not just friends’ relationship for the fear that they could hurt their friends Aurica, Misha and Lady Shurelia.

He could be a bit of a ditz sometimes, but even he realised that Misha and Aurica held some romantic fantasies toward him. However, he felt nothing more than brotherly feelings for them. They were his sisters. He would do anything for them. He just couldn’t return their feelings.

When he looked down at their friends, new and old, and noted that none of them seemed surprised by Ayatane holding him. They were, however, still looking up expectantly at him.

They also looked distressed.

Lyner felt concern touch his heart. Did something happen?

Turning toward Ayatane to question him of what was wrong, he instead found Ayatane looking at him with eyes so intense that he took in a sharp intake of air.

“I love you,” Ayatane said, his voice curiously insistent.

Lyner blushed lightly at his words, but smiled warmly in return. “I know. I love you, too.”

“Time to head back to the others,” Ayatane said.

A frown slipped across Lyner’s lips when he noted the mild tone of urgency in his partner’s voice. He had known Ayatane for so long that he could detect the littlest changes in his voice.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as he turned around in Ayatane’s arms, placing his hands on the chest plate of his armour, looking at him straight in the eyes. He suddenly felt drowsy and wished that he could sleep here, in Ayatane’s arms, something he had not done for so long...

...Although, he could not fully remember, he knew it was quite awhile as his body and heart remembered the warmth and security he felt in these arms.

“The others are waiting for you.”

“Not yet.” Just let him stay like this for a little bit longer.

“Please, if you love me.”

There was that note again in Ayatane’s voice. Removing his arms from around him, Ayatane instead snared his wrist and guided him a little way down the hillside. His hand was tight around his, and even through his gloves and Ayatane’s armour, he could feel that his hand was warm and comforting.

And Lyner followed him, confusion and weariness suddenly overwhelming him. Something was wrong, so every wrong for Ayatane to act so...urgent.

Ayatane stopped when they reached the small stream. Letting go of his hand, Ayatane effortlessly jumped across the small stream and looked back at him. “Come on,” he urged.

Lyner looked down at the swirling waters and he unexpectedly felt a sense of fear wash over him, almost as though he wouldn’t be able to do it. He had no idea why he felt so afraid right now. The stream was small, a mere trickle compared to those he had encountered previously. And yet he couldn’t help but imagine what would happen if he fell in; the water enclosing around him, sweeping him out of Ayatane’s reach.

“Why aren’t there stepping stones here?” Lyner asked.

“Too deep,” Ayatane replied tersely, dismissively.

Lyner couldn’t help but furrow his brow at him. Why didn’t he help him instead of just standing there?

As if he’d sensed his thoughts, Ayatane held out his hands. “I can’t do it for you,” he said, beckoning to him.

Lyner looked at his hand and wished he could reach them with his own. But he was still too far away for that. The stream seemed wider now, the waters murkier and dangerous.

“You go,” he said. “I’ll cross where it’s shallower.”

“No.” Ayatane’s voice was sharp, urgent...almost desperate. “Please, Lyner. Come over to me. Please.”

Lyner heard it in his voice, his love for him all mixed up with his need to have him there with him. And he wanted to be there with him, so very much. The clouds were drawing in now, covering the sun, darkening the area and the breeze was cooler now on his exposed skin. He looked at Ayatane’s hands, concentrated on them. He had to trust him. Ayatane loved him and he in return.

Gathering up his courage, he moved forward and then jumped. For a moment he felt he wouldn’t make it. He saw Ayatane’s hands reaching for him, grasping him, pulling him to safety. Then he was on the other side of the stream and Ayatane was holding him as if he’d never let go.

“I knew you could do it.”

Lyner heard such deep emotion in his voice and his eyes opened in surprise.

But he was even more surprised to realise that he wasn’t on a hillside at all. He was on a thin bed, in a makeshift tent of some kind, surrounded by multiple empty potion bottles and bloodied cloths. There were murmuring voices; high-pitched and frantic.

But that didn’t give him much concern, surprising. He felt tired, his body burning with a numbing ache and his eyes felt gritty. But, nevertheless, first person he saw clearly was Ayatane, the slightly older man sitting by his side at the bed, holding his glove-free hand in his. In the corners of his eyes he could see tears were beginning to well up, yet the relief in his powerful gaze was enormous.

Beyond Ayatane he made out the blurry image of Marie, a smear of red on her pale cheek. “He’s awake!” she cried aloud. “It worked!”

A mere moment after that, a gentle face surrounded by green hair filled his vision and he realized Miko was leaning over him, blatant concern on her face. “Don’t try to move,” she practically ordered. “Stay still for a little longer.”

Soon, more voices were heard, though he couldn’t really decipher who was saying what. But he heard the distinct sound of sobbing and the words “Thank goodness” repeated over and over again.

“Is he really ok?”

“Did it actually work?”

“How? What happened?”

“I didn’t know you could do that, Morrigan!”

“Hmm, it was all Ayatane’s doing.”

“Can you enter everyone’s dreams?”

“Oh, I’m so glad!”

“Ah, don’t cry! You’ll set me off, too!”

“Oh, Mr. Lyner, we’re so glad you’re ok!”

“Come on, don’t back out now! You were as worried as the rest of us!”

“Hey, give the guy some space, would ya!”

Squeezing his eyes tightly shut before blinking them open in effort to ward away the blurriness, Lyner allowed his head to loll to the side. He quickly noted that his travelling companions, his friends had all gathered round, looking at him. Misha and Aurcia were crying, being comforted by a sniffling Whim and a trying-hard-not-to-cry Lily. Lady Shurelia was rubbing daintily at her eyes with a piece of cloth as Felicia wrapped her paws around her other arm, a bright smile on her face. Raze stood back with York, the two guys looking unsure and uneasy about the whole thing. Raze’s face was pale and yet there was the emotion of relief in his eyes. York too, he noted, though the red head would soon shoot himself then admit it. Near the open entrance of the tent was Meu, tugging relentlessly on Zelos’ arm, telling him to get back inside and that he’ll be happy to see that he was worried too.

Worried?

“What happened?” His voice sounded so harsh, as though he hadn’t used it for a while.

“You were injured in a surprise battle,” Ayatane explained to him, his voice soothing as he threaded his fingers through his hair in a comforting manner.

A battle?

“But don’t think about it right now,” Ayatane’s voice cut in before he could get his thoughts together. “You’re going to be fine now.”

“Get some rest, sweetie,” Morrigan purred into his ear, sounding surprisingly motherly. “You’re not going anyway now.”

Injured in a battle. Their worried faces. Not going anywhere. Did he...was he...?

He must have been closed to death, huh? It was more peaceful than he had imagined.

Fleetingly, he thought back to that peaceful place he’d left; the wild flowers, the endless blue sky. He felt a moment of regret, but it quickly dissipated; this was where he belonged right now, here in this strange world, helping in the freeing of Souls and with Ayatane and the others.

He didn’t know what exactly happened, but he did know that Ayatane had something to do with it. How? Well, simple actually. If something happened to Ayatane, he would do anything to help him. They’ve always been like that.

“Thank you, Ayatane,” Lyner whispered as he tightened his grip around Ayatane’s hand as his eyes slowly drifted shut. “For bringing me back.”

Chapter Text

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!