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The Fire Workshop

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Aeris was afraid of herself.

That’s what she had told Tifa when she had broken it off. She… she liked to hurt others. She was dangerous. Unpredictable. She no longer knew whether she could control herself, whether she could control the impulse to hurt people for the sake of being in control of something in her life. And she would die before she hurt Tifa. It had been hard enough to make her cry, to hold her against her bosom and feel her shuddering sobs, but Aeris told herself that at least she hadn’t done any more damage.

She stayed at Elmyra’s, continued using her magic abilities to help others, tried to make herself feel a little more in control of who she was. But slowly, she began having trouble sleeping. Problem was, she had gotten used to a certain level of, well, satisfaction when she lived with Tifa, and now her libido had decided it was the right time to start raging around for attention. She’d toss and turn, afraid to even masturbate as she knew she wouldn’t think of Tifa. The abuse she’d given Tseng was etched across her mind in a gigantic fresco that she couldn’t escape, no matter where she looked. And she was so ashamed of the effect that memory had on her. She would think of the way his face had looked, contorted with pain and so erotic, and sometimes she couldn’t help herself, couldn’t help the hand that crept over her underwear and brought the feeling to a climax.    

Tseng had kept true to his word; he hadn’t behaved inappropriately towards her, and instead, he’d started leaving gift vouchers and train tickets in her postbox. She had taken to going up on the Plate every weekend, just to wander and try and find appropriate distractions. Staff strapped to her back, she would explore the wide streets, gaze up at the tall glass buildings, not caring that people would look at her oddly for wandering around with a weapon on her back.

There was a park that quickly became her favourite place to go to – unlike the one down below, this one had endless expanses of grass, and flowerbeds, and trees lining it all around. She would spend hours there, just people watching and sometimes slipping into conversation with some of the older folk who would sit aimlessly like her, and then take the last train home.

There was a big basketball court, a concrete square in the middle of all the grass, and sometimes people would gather there and play around with different objects. She didn’t quite know how to call it – once she knew what time they gathered, she would sit on the benches around the court and watch them. It was part playing, part dancing – they had bicycles with only one wheel, and balls they would throw up in the air and catch again in endless cascades, and glittery hoops they would place on their hips and keep airborne as they danced within them, and these ropes with colourful balls on the end that they would spin around and around themselves as they danced. Aeris was fascinated. Sometimes a youth or two approached her, telling her about what they were doing (it was called ‘circus arts’), and offering her a hoop or a few balls to play with, but she would always turn them down. She knew she’d make a fool of herself.

After dark, they would put pots of paraffin around on the concrete and set fire to their instruments and keep dancing, so that the fire spelled out their every twist and turn, etching great white spirals in the air around them. Aeris wouldn’t be the only one to watch, then. There would be a small audience on the benches, gathering to take pictures. It became her favourite moment of the weekend – coming to watch them dance with fire. She would feel the heat whenever one of them approached her, slinging a burning hoop around their waist or making a flame dance around their bodies as they manipulated a lit-up levistick. And then, one Sunday, there was a man who came into the court with a long staff in his hands, and Aeris leaned forwards so she could see what he was doing.

The only sources of light were the fires that the others manipulated, and something oddly blue on his face, like some kind of glow-in-the-dark head wrap or something. So it was impossible to see what he looked like. But he was wearing black cotton, like most of them, his clothes sticking to his body to lessen the risk of setting himself aflame. Every time a circus performer came closer to him she could see the slender contours of his body, the way he moved like a cat. He would spin the staff around himself in moves that Aeris knew all too well, letting it roll down his arms and around his neck and waist. She watched, dry-mouthed, not knowing that the moves she’d always defended herself with could be used for dancing. He made it look so fluid, so beautiful. Then he dipped the wick-wrapped ends of his staff into a pot of paraffin, held out a hand, and cast Fire on either end.

The two ends burst into two spots of light, and she could suddenly see him, awash in the orange glow of his instrument. He had longish hair, earrings glinting as they swayed against his throat, and she realized that the blue light was coming from his eyes, not a headband. She sat a little straighter.

A Soldier, out here at this time of night?

Some of the fire artists span their instruments fast enough to put the flames out, and gave the Soldier some space. A few of them came towards her and sat around her on the benches. The music was turned up a little, and the Soldier started to spin his burning staff around his body, two-beat, three-beat, four-beat weaves around himself, weaving lines of fire into a cocoon. He spun it over the tops of his hands and let it roll up his arms like he wasn’t afraid of getting burned. His legs were planted wide apart, knees slightly bent to maximize stability, and he’d step to the side as delicately as a ballerina before curling his body around the unyielding metal rod, risking his skin for the sake of drawing beautiful shapes in the air.

‘Guess who that is,’ one of the artists whispered excitedly.

The Soldier leaned backwards, back arching, head thrown back as he let his staff spin on him. The middle sat precariously on his sternum and the fiery ends whizzed around. If he lifted his head he’d get whacked by the ends – but he knew exactly how to move, how to let it dance. Then he caught it on one arm, let it spin around his elbow and forearm before cradling it on the top of his hand. He stepped around so he was facing Aeris, spinning it from hand to hand in a great flaming wheel, going so fast that he was standing behind a circle of light. She could see his expression, his eyes heavy-lidded with concentration as he stared at his hands. Then his eyes shifted a little, looking straight at her, and she thought she could feel the heat spearing right through her.

‘I have no idea,’ she said.

‘Oh, then we won’t spoil the surprise,’ the artist said with a smile. ‘You should meet him. He does amazing stuff. He has this pair of fire swords – you should totally hang around until he takes those out one day.’

She took the last train home again and vowed that next time she wouldn’t be so shy.

 The next Sunday she came up, the Soldier was already there in the daylight. The artists would make little groups around him as he showed them different techniques. He knew how to use every single instrument – he’d spin hoops around his ankles and wrists and waist, he’d toss six balls in the air without breaking a sweat, he’d make leather whips dance around his body and crack left and right. He was fascinating to observe, and as Aeris watched his hands masterfully wrapping around and manipulating everything they came across, she couldn’t help feeling a little flushed. Her libido would not leave her alone, and she stayed on the benches for a while as she tried to calm herself down. It wouldn’t do to go shake his hand without getting rid of this ache between her legs – she had to wait until it left.

One of the friendlier artists plopped down next to her as she watched. They all knew her by name now, though only a handful of them had actually talked to her. This one was a hoop artist, and he thoroughly enjoyed teasing the shyness out of her.

‘Well? Aren’t you going to ask him for a little lesson in staff wielding?’ he said, knocking his shoulder against hers. Aeris smiled.

‘I’m trying to pluck up the courage,’ she said.

‘Would help if he wasn’t so damn good looking, right?’

Aeris laughed. ‘Gaia, I hope I’m not that transparent.’

‘Don’t worry, most people get into circus out of sexual frustration anyway, so you’re not the only one who’s got a crush.’ He bumped her again cheekily. ‘At least you have the advantage of being outside of the group. It’s been getting pretty incestuous lately.’

‘I’m not here because I want to get into bed with anyone,’ Aeris protested, her cheeks burning. ‘I’m only here because I love to watch.’

‘Oh yeah? You love to watch, huh?’ The artist smirked at her.

‘Oh, shut up.’

She was their favourite to torment, and though she played it up a little, she knew that it was their way of accepting her into their fold. So she enjoyed the teasing. That is, until the hoop artist got up and marched straight up to the Soldier, talked to him for a minute and then pointed over at her. The Soldier looked over his shoulder and straight at Aeris, a smile playing on his lips.

Fudge, fudge and fiddlesticks.

She tried to look away, but the Soldier had bent an arm into his shirt and was taking it off as he walked towards her – he used it to sponge the sweat off his forehead, showing off his marvelously sculpted torso like he knew she’d appreciate it. Aeris was trying very hard to look at his face rather than his body, and his smiling was getting wider as he approached, surely noticing how utterly straight she was sitting.

‘H-hello,’ she stammered. The Soldier flipped his shirt over his shoulder, planting the big hoop he’d been workshopping with on the ground next to him.

‘I heard you’re the one who likes to watch,’ he said.

His voice was as deep and masculine as she’d expected, no, better – it was like dark chocolate melting down her skin, and her libido was not letting her ignore how much she wanted to taste the mouth that formed those words.

She resolutely looked into those warm, almond-shaped eyes, not letting her gaze slip a single inch.

‘I just come to watch you guys dance sometimes, yeah,’ she said, horrified at how squeaky and pathetic she sounded.

‘Lloyd was telling me you’ve been coming every single weekend for the past three months,’ he said.

Oh, she was so caught.

‘How come you’ve never joined us?’ he said, nodding at the staff that was strapped to her back. ‘We’re always happy to see new faces in the crowd.’

‘How come you’re here at all, though?’ she blurted out. ‘You’re a Soldier, right? Aren’t you too busy?’

He smiled. ‘You spend so much time learning how to wield weapons, you want to use what you’ve learned for art as well as warfare,’ he explained. ‘I find the time. How about you, what makes you come here?’

Aeris didn’t quite know what to say to that. I want to put myself away in a corner so I don’t hurt anyone, and this corner offers the best distractions? ‘I just come for the beauty of it,’ she said. ‘People don’t do this kind of stuff down below, they don’t have the time or energy. I saw the others playing around when I came to the park the other day and I guess I was just intrigued.’

‘’The other day’ being three months ago, huh.’ Suddenly the Soldier’s large, warm hand was on her forearm and he was tugging her up. ‘Come on. It’s past time you joined in.’

Her feet scuffled after him, and then she was in the middle of the basketball court, hyperaware of the stiffness of her posture and the awkwardness of her hands with all of these artists spinning and dancing around her. The Soldier put two fingers in his shapely mouth and whistled, and the people who were sitting around the pile of the toys and smoking weed looked up to see what he wanted. He called for his staff, and one of them took up the long black instrument and jogged over to him, handing it over and taking the hoop.

‘Let’s see what you can do with that thing,’ the Soldier said, turning to Aeris again and spinning his staff casually around one hand.

‘I only use it to fend off monsters, I don’t know how to dance with it,’ Aeris stammered, but he was stepping towards her insistently, so she took the staff off her back and prepped it in front of herself.

‘Do as I do,’ the Soldier said with a smile, and his staff flowed effortlessly into a simple two-beat weave. Aeris followed, going faster than him, staff ends plunging up and down as though hitting imaginary beasts around them.

‘Good,’ he said. Then he slipped into three-beat, which she followed, and four-beat, which she found just as easy. ‘You aren’t new to this,’ he said, smiling at her. ‘Look at that. Easy-peasy.’

‘It doesn’t look as graceful as when you do it,’ she said, smiling back at him.

‘It looks far more graceful than when I do it,’ the Soldier countered. Then he flipped his staff around his neck, turned with it so that it sat in stasis on the back of his neck, and performed a one-handed cartwheel without ever losing it. Back on his feet, he let it drop off his neck and flipped it around his shoulders, hands gliding over the leather-wrapped centre without ever grasping it.

‘I can’t do that,’ Aeris said with a laugh.

‘Sure you can.’

He showed her the steps, and after a couple of tries she was cartwheeling with her staff on her neck, dress falling up so that her plain black shorts were visible to everyone. Everyone was flashing their knickers here so she didn’t really feel exposed. The others would clap and whoop in her direction as they watched her progressing, finally stepping into their world properly, and for the first time in what felt like ages she felt perfectly happy.

‘Either you’ve done all this before, or you’re an extremely fast learner,’ the Soldier congratulated her as she stood still again, panting and flushed with the effort. There were curls of hair sticking to her face, and she brushed them away as she smiled up at her teacher. He was looking at her with the same intensity as before, though she was convinced that he had that effect on everyone – she couldn’t be of any particular interest to him. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Aeris,’ she said, extending the hand that wasn’t grasping her staff.

‘Genesis Rhapsodos,’ he purred, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. She felt herself going red as he kissed her knuckles, and he smirked at her as he let her go. ‘Come on. Show me what else you can do.’

She felt like she had heard the name before – but he didn’t leave her time to figure it out. They trained for what was left of the afternoon, him going all acrobatic unlike the first time she’d seen him dance, clearly testing her limits. He’d chuck the staff high into the air, do a no-handed cartwheel, or a somersault, or a backwards flip, then catch it – he’d do the same leaping off of someone’s shoulders so that he could get a second flip in – and he’d expect her to follow suite. And she got caught up in the competitiveness of it, trying her hand at every move he showed her, though she was nowhere near as flexible and strong as he was.

Once night had fallen, some of the artists had stopped for a rest and a smoke, sitting around the edges of the court in little groups as they watched the ones who stayed on. Genesis led Aeris to the pile of stuff, leaving her to sit and catch her breath as he took out cans and a bottle of paraffin.

‘How did you know I was a Soldier, if you’re from down below?’ Genesis asked her. ‘None of us really have much of the spotlight in the media, with Sephiroth taking up all the space.’

Sephiroth was a name Aeris definitely recognized. She noted a hint of envy in Genesis’ voice, so she didn’t comment on it. ‘Just your blue eyes. I know that’s a mark of Soldier.’

‘Smart,’ Genesis said with a nod. ‘You know, it’s been years and years and yet I still can’t quite get used to it myself. And it spoils my fire shows – you see these two little bobbing lights around my face and you’re distracted from the fire.’

‘I’m sure people are already distracted by other things than your eyes,’ Aeris said, having warmed up to him enough to give him a bit of his own cheek. ‘Aren’t you cold without any clothes on?’

He looked down at himself in mock-surprise. ‘Hey, I’m wearing trousers.’

‘Thank Gaia for that.’

‘I didn’t take you for a prude, but if you want me to cover up…’ He grabbed a T-shirt from the pile of stuff, and Aeris reached for him.

‘Oh no no, by all means. I was only teasing. You stay comfortable.’

Genesis smirked at her. ‘Uhuh.’ Then he sat next to her and held out the T-shirt. ‘Sadly it is preferable to wield fire with some clothes on that aren’t flappy, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to change.’

Aeris felt her heart pounding a little faster. Most of the women around them wore such tight clothing that it was like they were naked anyway, but she hadn’t exactly gotten used to being part of the crowd yet. She took the T-shirt automatically.

‘Isn’t there anywhere I can go?’ she asked. Genesis raised his eyebrows.

‘Don’t worry, no one will look. And besides, with all that cartwheeling I think we’ve seen it all already.’

Aeris was glad for the growing darkness – she blushed hard and huddled behind Genesis, unbuttoning her dress but keeping the fabric close over her chest. He got busy wiping the dirt and soot off of her staff, so she quickly shed the dress, letting it fall around her waist so that her flowery bra became apparent for all to see. She tried to get the T-shirt the right way around quick enough to cover up, but then she looked up, distracted by movement – Genesis had turned around to pick up the roll of wick that he was going to wind around her staff ends.

His eyes brushed down her nakedness, blue glow stroking the domes of her bosom as he mercilessly checked her out. Then the scoundrel looked her straight in the eyes. She didn’t know what to say – she should’ve brushed him off, pretended outrage, but she wanted him to look at her. Heart pounding, she held his gaze as her arms found the right holes in the shirt. Then she reached up, sliding the shirt down her arms, stretching her naked belly up in the process and putting her lingerie plainly on show.

He thought he could destabilize her, did he?

He was grinning at her when she popped her head out of the shirt and straightened it out. She glared back at him, somehow blaming him for the wanton pulse that was pounding between her thighs.

‘You sure you want to play with fire?’ he asked her in that husky voice of his.

‘I’m sure I can handle it,’ she said, and they shared a secret smile, both of them appreciating the double meaning. He wound the wick around her staff ends quickly, nailing them there and showing her how to do it. She was nodding and pretending to be following but all she was following was the way his lithe fingers weaved in and out of the layers, imagining them weaving in and out of… other things. She clamped her thighs together, trying hard to concentrate. She wouldn’t let herself be destabilized, damn it!

They both got up, him still half-naked despite mentioning the need for clothes, her wearing the stick-to-body black shirt and her black shorts. He came behind her, asked permission to do up her ‘lovely long hair’, and she said yes, knowing it was just an excuse to touch her as she would get it done in half the time. She felt his deft hands tugging lightly at her hair as he rolled her braid around and around into a big bun, tucking the end into the folds so that it was secure. He placed a warm, rugged hand on the back of her neck as though to secure the hairstyle, again an excuse to touch her, and she felt an echo of his touch down in her lower back – she stepped forwards, breaking off the contact so that her body would stop feeling everything so stupidly intensely.

He showed her how to dip the ends of her staff in the paraffin pots quickly, then shake off the residue into empty cans. He showed her the wet black cotton fabric on the floor that served as a fire blanket. Then he reached into his pocket and slipped a bracer onto his wrist – she saw materia slots in it, and her heart jumped in her throat when she saw the small green Fire and Ice materia that were lodged in there, feeling how powerful they were. They felt like mastered pieces, and she wanted nothing more than to let them roll in her palms and enjoy their brilliant energy.

‘Ready?’ Genesis asked her, and she smiled nervously, nodding.

He cast Fire onto both of their instruments, so that her staff seemed to burst to life. The two ends raged with orange flame, and she felt the heat spreading towards her fingers and her body so fast – she was holding it out, away from her, so he dropped his own staff onto the concrete and showed her how to hold hers up above her head, turn it in the direction the wind was blowing so that the flames billowed away from her. He was standing far too close in front of her, hands on her staff as he guided it up for her. The orange glow accentuated the dips and shadows around his pecs and abs, and she was finding it very hard to concentrate on the danger of fire with this in front of her.

‘Don’t be afraid of it,’ he said. ‘Let it dance on you. Gravity will pull it where it wants to go, you just have to move with it.’  

He took it from her, letting her staff roll down his arms and onto his chest, then back down one arm and flipping around his wrist, fire whooshing around in circles. Then he held it out to her again, and she let it roll down her arms as he’d shown her.

They danced with their staffs for what felt like ages, him casting Fire on their staffs every time the flames went out, her watching the way he moved, not even realizing that they were alone on the concrete floor and that everyone was watching. Slowly, the other circus artists started to pick up their stuff and leave, and by the time Aeris’ arms began to tire, there was only a small group of people left huddling on the benches. Genesis spun his staff around himself so fast that the fires went out, leaving trails of white smoke, and then went towards them. Aeris kept going, still hypnotized by the music and how the fire purred around her.

She heard Genesis asking the guys if they intended to stay, and they told him no. There was some teasing as to how quickly he’d warmed up to Aeris, and Genesis just laughed it off, joking about them needing to clear off so he could finally have some time alone with her. Aeris felt herself smiling as she kept spinning, then she spun hard enough for the flames to go out, and headed off to join them.

They all hugged goodbye, telling Aeris how proud they were that she’d joined in. The one called Lloyd gave her a wink as he turned to leave, and she wondered nervously if they all knew exactly what she was hoping for. It didn’t seem to matter – they didn’t ask any questions, and they left quickly enough, so that only her and Genesis remained in the darkness of the empty park.

She had a passing thought for how recklessly she was behaving – staying after dark like this with a total stranger – but she didn’t want to go back down when she’d been so deliciously in the moment up here, her mind empty of everything, her body learning and relearning elegant motions. She watched as Genesis straddled the bench with a groan of exhaustion, and patted the bench in front of him. The flames seemed to be writhing in her belly now, and she obediently straddled the bench in front of him, knees knocking against his.

‘Aren’t you going to miss your train home?’ he asked her. She shrugged.

‘I missed it ages ago. The last one is at midnight.’

He laughed. ‘Yeah. It’s approaching 2am now.’

She looked into his glowing eyes, her attention focused on the way his knees were pressing lightly against hers, the only point of contact between their bodies.

‘So what are you going to do? All alone up here?’ he asked her softly. His expression said all the things he didn’t voice, and she found herself leaning towards him a little.

 ‘I thought we were doing fire,’ she said, just to postpone the inevitable – she didn’t know if she was ready for it yet. Then she hesitated for a minute, and took the plunge; ‘Can I see your Fire materia?’

Genesis smiled knowingly. He held up his bracer, popped the materia out and handed it to her.

‘One Fire for our new pyromaniac,’ he said. ‘Careful with that.’

‘It’s mastered, isn’t it?’ she asked him as it rolled onto her palm. ‘It feels so potent.’

She cast a Fire in her hand, cupping it, watching the frayed edges of it with fascination as it warmed her whole body. Genesis leaned a little closer, and held a hand over it, as though feeling the heat.

‘I have more of those at home, if you want one,’ he said with a grin, knowing how obvious he sounded. She lifted an eyebrow at him. Then he lowered his hand over the flame, surely burning himself – she watched without moving away as he moved his forearm over the tip of the flame, his skin turning red where the fire had touched him.

His upper lip was curling in a snarl, eyes closed as he felt the burn. She watched him in fascination.

‘Doesn’t that hurt?’

‘Yes,’ he hissed, and drew his arm away, only to present his other arm. ‘You should try it.’

Aeris felt her lower belly tightening as she watched him dragging his naked skin over the flame in her hand, his hand tightening on his thigh as he let the pain course through him.

‘It’s easier to play with it if you know how hard it bites,’ he said. ‘You know what to expect.’

‘You look like you’re enjoying it,’ Aeris said.

He gazed at her steadily, and withdrew his arm.

‘So what if I am?’

He said it like it was a dare. He was sitting up straight in front of her, naked torso gleaming in the firelight. Tentatively, she approached his chest with the flame she was holding, watching as the sweaty skin glistened all around it. She came close enough for him to close his eyes, feeling the heat and staying put, and she watched him, a smile curling her lips as he tensed up and endured the pain.

Then she recognized the sadistic part of herself that this was stimulating, and she closed her hand, extinguishing the flame. Genesis opened his eyes in surprise at the sudden cold.

‘I don’t want to hurt you,’ she lied. ‘I’m sorry – ’

Before she could continue, his hands slid under her thighs, pulled her towards him so that her legs hooked over his, her crotch pressed against his lower belly as he held her against the warm length of his body. Her breasts flattened against his chest, and her heart hammered wildly as she realized he must feel the exact contour of her nipples through the fabric.

‘Yes you do,’ Genesis purred. ‘Do it on my back. Go on.’

 ‘Gaia, you’re really into this,’ she said with a nervous laugh, acutely aware of how her thighs were locked around his slim waist. His arms were around her, hands flat on her back as he held her there, and she cast Fire in her palm again, sweeping his hair over his shoulders with her free hand and holding the fire near his shoulder blades.

The muscles in his back shifted, the powerful rhomboids that lined his spine tensing as he bore the mounting heat. She felt something growing against her crotch, and it was taking all of her concentration to not just push shamelessly against him – she poured that concentration into keeping up the Fire spell so it wouldn’t go out, making it burn brighter, hotter, and when she heard him groan against her throat she felt like she had never been this aroused in her entire life.

‘Stop,’ he muttered, and she immediately closed her hand, pulling back so her butt could plop back down onto the bench and she could look into his face. He didn’t let her get too far – his hands held onto her waist, and he was panting with the effort of controlling his response to pain.

She wasn’t sure whether it was another string of moments that happened fluidly one after the other, but the moment he opened his eyes, it was like he’d given her the most obvious theatre cue in the world. Her mouth parted, he leaned in, and his lips were on hers, slipping over the curves, teeth biting the fleshy bits, tongue curling hotly around hers. She opened her mouth wider to let him in and felt shivers rushing down her spine, finally receiving some sustenance after the endless teasing of that evening. He pulled her back on top of him, and she kissed him just as hard, fingers sliding into his hair and tensing into fists, grinding against the satisfyingly large bulge in his trousers.

‘You’ve been wanting to do that all evening, haven’t you?’ Genesis said when their lips broke apart.    

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Aeris teased. She felt a little embarrassed again. ‘Am I that easy to read or are you just used to women wanting to pounce on you?’

‘I’m used to them wanting. I’m not used to them actually acting on it,’ Genesis rectified.

Aeris felt her face growing even hotter. ‘Sorry,’ she mumbled.

But Genesis only smiled, bumping his nose against hers. ‘There is absolutely no reason to apologize,’ he purred. ‘Unless you wanted to apologize for breaking off that kiss.’

She let herself melt against him, appreciating how strong and secure his arms felt around her, how if she did hurt him he would either not feel it or enjoy it. She let her hips press against his, the fabric of her knickers pressing into her intimately as she moved against his cock.

She cast Fire in her hand and tried to keep it on her fingertips, so that she could tease his throat with a tiny flame on the tip of her index. He smiled against her mouth when he realized what she was doing, and he would wince when she got too close, his reactions indicating where she should go. She led the flame down to his pecs, holding it dangerously close to his right nipple, and he groaned into her mouth.

‘Too much?’ she murmured, and he only grabbed her wrist and held the flame closer. She could feel him trembling with the pain of it, and the sounds that were coming out of his throat were making her insides tense up so much – then he wrapped his hand into a loose cocoon around the flame, absorbing the heat in his rugged palm instead.

‘I think a little retaliation is in order,’ he said, closing his fingers around hers so that the flame went out. Then his hands pushed against her shoulders, and she was lying down on the bench in the next second, her thighs still perched around his waist. He slid one hand under her shirt, fingers practically spreading out over her entire belly, his hand was so large. She wanted that hand to cover her whole body, she wanted him to touch her all over so badly she was practically dizzy – but he progressed slowly, pulling her shirt over her torso bit by bit as his hand crept higher. The warm pressure spread over her breasts, and his fingers squeezed one cup of her bra, the fabric pinching her nipple slightly. She gasped at the sensation, at how firm he was being. 

He pulled the T-shirt up and over her head, chucking it away somewhere, and she was there in her shorts and bra, completely out of her mind. But he didn’t let her dwell on her madness – his eyes were devouring her body, looking down at her like she was a work of art. He leaned over her, pressing his lips into the soft flesh of her breasts and up her throat, sinking his teeth into the tender muscles there. She cradled his head as she let him taste her skin, her shoulder blades and butt pressing against the hard surface of the bench as she arched her back up towards him. She had never let herself go like this, let someone handle her without even having a proper conversation with her first – but every cell in her body was screaming for more of his contact, more hands and mouth and his body melting against her. She felt one of his hands coming around her back and fiddling with her bra clasp – the protective grip of the bra fell away as he undid it, and then the cold air greeted her bare breasts as he slid her bra up her arms and chucked it away too.

He sat up a little, raking his eyes up and down her body as if he’d never seen a naked woman before.

‘Goddess,’ he murmured. ‘You’re beautiful.’

Nobody had really been so upfront about it before, or at least said it in those simple, blunt terms. So Aeris smiled, reaching for him, and he pulled her up again so that she was sitting on his thighs, his erection pushing up into her knickers. He ducked his head, his mouth melting over one of her nipples and she gasped, mind whirring with the pleasure coming from absolutely everywhere.

He seemed content to make it only about her body – and she was content, too. Her fingers inched down to unbutton his trousers, unzipping him.

His cock eased out from the undone zip, and she realized he wasn’t wearing underwear – she wrapped her fingers around it, not even able to close her hand around his impressive girth.

It was too much trouble to get her shorts off, so he ripped the sewing line down the crotch and got rid of the tattered remains. When she gave an angry squeal, he smirked and told her he’d buy her a new pair. She rubbed the large head of his cock against her damp underwear, letting him feel the intimate grooves beneath. He kissed her again, groaning deeply into her mouth as she grinded on him. Then she’d pulled aside the band of her knickers, and the head of his cock found her crevice immediately, sliding in with how wet she was. She felt him tensing, like he didn’t want to go too fast. But she pressed down on him, taking him in, and the shameless sound he made had her muscles tightening all around his cock, massaging him so deliciously that he had to lock his arms around her and prevent her from moving.

‘Aeris,’ he said as he held her against him, his face nestled against her throat. She was cradling his head again, her bosom crushed against his chest, their bodies as closely entwined as possible. ‘I’m not – I – I haven’t done this in a while.’

‘Am I going too fast?’

‘No, no, I just… I don’t know how long I’ll last, if you’re this forward.’ He ended with a bit of an embarrassed laugh. ‘Sorry. I wasn’t expecting this at all, and – ’

Her head was spinning – she didn’t want to talk, she just wanted to keep going. ‘I don’t care,’ she breathed, and then there was fire in her hand again and she was holding it far too close to his shoulder blades – he arched his back, his cock pulsing inside her, teeth grinding with the pain of it.

‘Goddess, don’t – please – if you keep it up, I’ll – ’

He seemed to only just realize that they weren’t wearing any protection – Aeris, in her mindlessness, hadn’t thought of that either. Thankfully his hands dug into her waist and he pulled her off just in time – his hands gripped her as he tried to control himself, breathing in and out a little too hard. Once he’d calmed down, he opened his eyes again and gazed at her.

‘I think we should head to my place before this gets out of hand,’ he said, smiling though he looked a little worried. Aeris tried to calm down too, aching so much between the thighs that she felt like he was still inside her.  She snapped her legs up, curling into a ball on the bench. Part of her was relieved that he hadn’t let her make such a big mistake – but another part was reeling with frustration and anger that he’d dared to stop her.

‘I’ll get your dress,’ Genesis said, and he got up, tucking himself back into his trousers in the process. She watched him go, heart pounding as her sudden naked isolation made her realize just how foolish she was being. If there was anyone watching, now would be the time to make their move – she was utterly helpless. Groaning with how silly she felt, she got up from the bench with each hand cupping her private parts, and jogged over to the pile of stuff.

Genesis was turning around with the dress in hand when she got to him. She stood, all hunched shoulders and flushed cheeks. She didn’t want to know what expression he was wearing – she could guess how wide his smile was, and she didn’t want to see it.

‘Here,’ he said, and then he’d enveloped her in his arms, holding the open dress behind her. She unraveled her arms from her body and reached out to poke them into the dress sleeves. Genesis was looked down at her bared chest as she reached back, because of course he was. She ignored him, buttoning up. Without asking, Genesis reached down to her waist and started on the buttons there. His warm fingers brushed against her belly as he worked, and they stood face to face like this until the dress was adequately closed.

He was standing so close to her. She’d never thought that putting clothes on could count as foreplay. She looked up at him once they were done, and his blue eyes were heavy-lidded, intense as always, maybe a little quizzical. Neither had spoken a single word for at least a few minutes. He reached up and pushed his fingers into her hair just under her ear, thumb rubbing her earlobe, his palm hot and rugged against her neck.

‘There are no obligations, if you come home with me,’ he said softly.

‘I know,’ she said.

He smiled, though he had definitely lost a fraction of his suave façade. That smile looked almost nervous. He moved away to gather up his instruments, hoop and staff and a big rucksack, and Aeris did the same, strapping her staff on her back. Once they were ready, he held out a hand for her to take. She took it.

° ° °