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“Don't open your eyes.”

He says it like a joke, like a silly dare. Like they're playing at who can keep their eyes shut the longer. It still feels like he has issued a command.

Salieri is lying on his back, over soft sheets. He is stripped down to his shirt and breeches, his other clothes tidily folded on a chair next to the wall. He hears Mozart moving around the room, picking something up and placing it down again. He recognizes the sound of fabric sliding against fabric, as Mozart disrobes some too. Maybe just his waistcoat. He has taken off his shoes and socks as soon as the door of the room was closed, preferring to stay barefoot when he got the chance.

The mattress shifts under new weight. Mozart must be sitting next to him now. Salieri can feel him watching, and it makes his eyelids flutter. He has lost this particular dare in the past. Tonight things will be different, he decides. He keeps his eyes closed, and his breath even. He waits for what the younger composer has in store for him.

He feels his shirt being pulled lightly as Mozart's fingers find the buttons and unfasten them, uncovering pale skin he caresses only with his gaze. After pushing the open shirt to the sides, baring Salieri's chest and waist, he pulls the sleeves up to the elbows to expose his forearms as well. He takes Salieri's wrists into his own hands and pushes his arms up, bent at the elbows, placing his hands to rest on either side of his head, palms up. He presses on Salieri's wrists for a few moments. The order is not said aloud this time but it is clear none the less. Don't move.

Salieri takes a deep breath.

He waits. Seconds pass, and he counts each slow breath of air he takes. When he reaches ten he frowns, just a little, and feels himself growing fidgety. He is sure Mozart hasn't moved, but he can't hear him at all now, and not knowing if he's about to touch him again, or if he'll have to wait for who knows how long, makes him nervous.

Then he feels something brushing against his belly, the touch so light that at first he isn't sure if it's real or if he's imagining it, hungry for contact as he is.

It's real, soft and barely tickling, it goes up from his navel to his chest, then it is dragged down again, very slowly. It traces lines following each of his ribs, then it draws lazy circles over his pectorals. Everywhere it touches it awakens his skin and elicits goosebumps, and when it is lifted Salieri finds himself holding his breath, waiting eagerly for it to resume.

On his belly again, now trailing lower to tease the skin right above the hem of his breeches. The object, whatever is it, insinuates itself under the fabric, prickling just a little. Salieri's fingers twitch. He silently repeats to himself not to move.

If he was tied down, wrists bound by ribbons to the bedposts, as Mozart sometimes likes to see him, he could relax. He could let himself be free to feel. Instead he has to keep himself in check, to force his limbs to be relaxed and pliant. Salieri is usually good at keeping himself under control, but not as much when his lover's skin is so close to his. It makes him quiver in frustration, and Mozart likes to see him like that too. Salieri is sure he's smirking, right now.

But they both know fighting against himself like this, at his lover's command, goes straight to Salieri's head, makes him drunk with desire, and that his body responds in tune.

The mysterious object is dragged over his skin again, flickering against it. It traces his collarbones, then it is brought along his throat, up to his chin, and disappears once more. Salieri anticipates the next touch for endless seconds. He breathes out, then in again, sharply, as it is his brow to be stroked next. His nose, his left cheek...

When the object touches his lips he finally understands. It is a feather.

One of the quill pens Mozart always brings around in his bag?

His mouth opens a little. The feather is lifted, and something pointy pokes Salieri's lower lip. The man has sudden a mental image of Mozart, earlier in the studio, using a knife to cut the writing end of the quill, to make it sharp.

The tip scratches soft skin.

He can't hold back. He licks the tip.

A beat, then the pen is pressed gently against his tongue, so he can wet it well, as if Mozart was dipping it into ink.

Then Mozart pulls it back and draws a short line over his cheek. Salieri feels him blowing air over it, he feels the coolness sting for a second.

“I have a challenge for you,” Mozart says, suddenly, his tone cheerful. Salieri doesn't quite jump at the sound, and it is a small miracle he manages to not open his eyes.

“What is it?” he asks.

The tip of the pen presses against the inside of his forearm, a drop of pain over sensitive skin.

“Guess what I write. If you're right you get a prize.”

“And if I'm wrong?”

“I get a prize. Both of my choosing, of course.”

Salieri sighs, then he nods.

“All right. Pay attention, here I go...”

Lines. Short, straight, traced with care. A pointy pressure, like a dot, every each few of them. The third and last pressure the longest.

“What have I written?”

Salieri almost smiles. “Your initials. W. A. M.”

“Good! Mmh, I guess I went too easy on you. Let's try something else...”

The quill pen is set on the other forearm. The movement is slow, almost idle, and continuous. Something in Mozart's elegant cursive. Salieri imagines the pen leaving its trace on the skin, the dark lines of letters, but they blur in an abstract pattern and he can't make sense of them. The pen is lifted, and he senses Mozart waiting for an answer. He shakes his head.

“Nothing?”

“...a title?”

“No. Tsk...” Again the mattress moves as Mozart changes his position.

“Best of three...”

The pen is right under his collarbone, now. A pause.

Dots, little lines and circles, in rapid succession. Salieri swallows.

The speed of the pen would be enough to tell him the right answer, even if the shapes weren't clear enough already. Mozart can't write music slowly. Each note, each chord, chases the next out of the pen, even when the tempo is adagio.

“A sonata,” Salieri says.

“An old one or a new one?”

“New.” Of course. He makes a face. “I hope you won't have me guess the instrument you are writing it for as well.”

Mozart laughs. “Oh no, you did well enough already!”

Salieri feels the weight of the other man as he settles over him, straddling his thighs, careful not to brush against his crotch yet.

“I plan to play only one instrument tonight.”

Mozart leans down, catches Salieri's wrists again, right a second before the older composer gives in and tries to touch him. He lowers his head and licks the skin he has written over just moments ago.

“Instruments don't move on their own. Stay still, Salieri. Let me play.”