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questionable applications of the (un)scientific method

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Thorns woke up face down. The uncomfortable pressure of something on his bare back tempted him to just stay like that, but when he heard Aak’s voice nearby he knew he didn’t have that luxury. “What did you do to me.”

“Nothing! Not on purpose, anyway—body-mod’s not my style.” 

Body...? He twisted his head, only to find a wriggling mass of limbs attached to his back. That’s new. 

“How do you feel?” Warfarin walked in, holding a notepad. “From studying the components of that solution, and some of your blood samples, I believe this effect is temporary. So I’d rather not...bother the medics.”

Rather not get in trouble for suspicious experimentation is what she actually meant. Thorns didn’t bother to correct her—he’d rather not be hung up on deck either. Even if it wasn’t his fault. “Aak. You should follow lab safety protocols.”

“Oh, shove it. How was I supposed to know your medicine was going to react like that?”

“It wasn’t medicine. Just a compund to increase the effectiveness of Andreana’s ink bullets.”

“Details, details. Guess that explains the wrigglies you got now.” Aak made to poke him, but Thorns pushed him away. 

“Can you move them?” Warfarin asked.

Thorns tried, and an appendage lifted up, curling around his arm. 

“Impressive fine motor control, for a new limb.”

“Prob ‘cause you’re Aegirian. Hey, if that spilled on me, whaddya think would happen?”

Right, the fur covering Aak’s body wouldn’t allow for this kind of transformation. “Maybe you’d grow more tails.”

“Like Suzuran, yeah? Man, doesn’t her back hurt from all that?”

“Her bone structure is different to accommodate it, actually,” Warfarin corrected. “What? I have to update her files too.”

“I didn’t say anything.” Thorns stood up, stumbling. “This is going to affect my combat performance.”

Warfarin waved away his concerns. “Shouldn’t be more than a week at most. Your body isn’t made to maintain these, so they‘ll fall off.”

“Gross,” Aak said, while looking anything but disgusted. Too interested, even—Thorns wondered if he was going to ask if he could have them after they detached. “Here I thought they’d just disappear.” 

“That isn’t possible.”

“Yeah, and you spontaneously growing tentacles makes so much more sense.” He rolled his eyes.

“They’re not—“ Thorns paused, looking at the appendage again. It was nothing like Andreana’s, completely smooth and black in color. Still, under a broad definition... “Hm. I suppose ‘tentacles’ is the best word to describe these.” He extended them to their full length, being careful not to hit anything. They reached the ceiling easily.

“Well, just don’t let too many people see them.” Warfarin threw him his clothes. Luckily, they were loose enough to fit without a problem. “And don’t end up in the medical ward.”

Like he needed to be told that. 

-

Thorns checked the time when he headed down the hall, still unused to the extra weight on his back. He’d been in the lab much longer than he had planned to be. Not a problem for him, but…

There was Elysium to think about. 

The tentacles curled closer to his back every time someone passed him until he arrived at Elysium’s room. They responded fast, even when he wasn’t consciously thinking about moving them. Interesting.

He pushed the door open.

“Bro, what took you so long?” Elysium was sprawled out on the bed, fiddling with his phone as music blasted from his speakers. Thorns didn’t reply right away, setting down his bag and unpacking a few of the more fragile items. “Thoooorrrnnnssss.” 

Still ignoring him, he took off his shoes and set them on the rack next to Elysium’s before making a move to take off his coat. He stopped midway when the tentacles curled again. Right. For now, he’d keep it on.

“Thooooorrrrnnns. Thorns Thorns Thorns Thorns—” There he went, twittering again.

He finished organizing his things before finally answering. “I had to deal with an unexpected result in the lab.”

“You could’ve called me or something. Man, I was getting worried!”

“There was nothing to worry about. I’m fine.” Fine was a relative term. He wasn’t hurt nor was he experiencing any kind of distress. So that was ‘fine.’

Apparently Elysium hadn’t finished his train of thought. “Worried you were going to ditch me for Aak and Warf—why would you be not fine?”

Thorns stared at Elysium. “Forget about it.” 

“You’re not…doing anything dangerous in the lab, right?” Elysium asked dubiously and Thorns tried not to sigh, unplugging the speakers. How could he stand this level of noise constantly?

“Of course not.” There was nothing dangerous about having… extra limbs grown. Probably. 

Elysium frowned, sitting up as Thorns drew closer to the bed. “What happened?”

“You’re not allowed to scream when I answer that.”

“I would never.” He was trying to sound solemn and utterly failing. 

Thorns raised an eyebrow, then took off his jacket, letting the tentacles spill out from under his shirt.

Elysium’s reaction was much tamer than he expected it would be. He didn’t scream. He didn’t do much of anything but stare, eyes widening almost comically. Really, he was the most still Thorns had ever seen him.

It was almost unsettling. Thorns tilted his head, snapping his fingers in front of Elysium’s face. 

“Can I touch them?” Elysium finally blurted out after a minute of unfamiliar silence. “What did you do.

“It was an accident.” He held the first tentacle Elysium reached for out of his reach, stepping back when Elysium bounced to his feet to chase it. “They should be gone in a week. Maybe less.”

“Bummer.” Thorns shot him a look and Elysium startled, clearly not meaning to say that out loud. “I mean, that’s nice. Back to normal in a week!”

If Warfarin’s calculations were correct, that was. He didn’t doubt her ability, but this was a new phenomenon. It might be best to ask Andreana for advice regardless of how temporary this condition would be.

A sudden pressure made him flinch—Elysium had managed to grab a tentacle with both hands. “Sorry! I didn’t think that’d hurt!”

“It doesn’t.” The sensation was simply...odd. “It’s more like...” What was a good analogy? “Touching a newly-healed wound.”

“Oh! So it’s really sensitive?” Elysium nodded, like that was enough to understand everything. “I’ll be careful, don’t worry.” Completely ignoring him, he took hold of another, slapping them together to make a strange noise.

“Alright.” Using a larger tentacle, Thorns grabbed Elysium by the waist and hoisted him up. Ignoring his spluttering, he brought him to dangle right in front of him. “Since you’re so interested in them, you can help my tests.”

“T-tests?” Elysium kicked his feet in vain—he couldn’t touch the ground or break his grip no matter how hard he tried.

“I won’t hurt you, relax.” The strength of these surprised even himself. He could lift Elysium high enough that his head touched the ceiling, yet he didn’t feel any exertion.

...But Elysium was starting to look queasy, so Thorns set him back down. “I thought you were fine with heights.”

“That’s not ‘heights,’ that’s being squeezed to death!” Elysium lifted up his shirt, rubbing the red line running across his stomach. “Ow...”

Just as he’d suspected: they moved easily enough, but he couldn’t judge their strength well. Thorns produced a bottle from his belongings. “It’s a pain reliever, applied directly to skin.” When Elysium didn’t say anything, he continued, “I can apply it, if you’d like. I’ve tested it before, and it’s safe.”

Elysium’s demeanor changed in an instant. “Ah, um, I’m fine! No harm, no foul.”

“Then you wouldn’t mind helping?” Thorns gestured behind him, where his new limbs now lied limp. “I don’t know how strongly they react.”

“Oh! That’s all?” What else was he expecting? “What do you need?”

“Just hold still.” Concentrating, Thorns brought a tentacle to wrap around Elysium’s wrist. “Now, try to break free.”

He did so easily.

“Now?”

It took a bit of twisting and turning, but he managed.

“And now?”

After struggling for a good few seconds, Elysium gave up. “Aha...no way.” He started petting it with his other hand. “It’s like a clingy puppy!”

How he came to that conclusion, Thorns didn’t care to ask. “But it doesn’t hurt?”

“Nope. Any more and it would, I think.”

“Noted.” It wasn’t too difficult to control the strength, but it did take conscious effort—for some reason, they seemed to want to cling to Elysium. “I’m going to try lifting you up now.”

“Just don’t drop me.” Elysium held his arms out, and Thorns curled a tentacle around all four of his limbs. Slowly, carefully, he lifted him into the air. “How’s the grip?”

Elysium didn’t answer, looking at his bound right hand with what almost looked like wonder.

“Elysium.”

“Huh? Oh, hey, bro!” He made to wave, but obviously couldn’t. “What’d you say?”

“Did you forget you’re participating in a test?” Elysium was a useful subject because he could be coaxed into going along with nearly anything by betting on it, but his reporting left much to be desired. “Tell me if it hurts.”

Elysium turned red.

“...Are you getting lightheaded?”

“What? N-no, I’m fine!”

Stuttering, too. Thorns pursed his lips, bringing yet another tentacle to gently wrap around Elysium’s waist, hopefully providing better support. Once again, he was struck by just how delicate Elysium was—most Liberi had a lighter build, but Elysium’s excessive height sometimes made him think he’d blow away in a stiff breeze. “Is that better?”

“Better how?” Elysium was heating up, and Thorns could feel it clearly.

Almost like... 

“You’re into this,” Thorns concluded. 

What—"

“I see. I’ll have to re-evaluate this data taking that into consideration.”

“Wait, wait, what’s that supposed to mean?”

He thought he’d been clear enough, but Elysium had a tendency of being obtuse when he wanted to. “I mean that this is causing sexual arou—“

Don’t say that!

“You‘re the one who asked.” Thorns could feel Elysium trying to kick free, so he tightened the grips on his legs. “If you keep doing that, you’ll make me drop you.”

“That’s your fault! Saying things like that!”

“You didn’t refute my theory, though.” The look in Elysium’s grey eyes, the shallower, faster breaths he was taking... all of it was only more evidence. “What exactly is it? Are these ‘tentacles’ that appealing?” Their first appearance hadn’t caused this level of reaction, so Thorns dismissed the idea. “Or do you just like being unable to move, completely at my mercy?”

If Elysium got any redder, he wasn't going to have blood left for other parts of his body. As a small mercy, Thorns set him down, only maintaining the hold around his waist to make sure he didn’t trip over his own shaking legs. "I thought of a new experiment."

"You're killing me." Now that Elysium could move his arms, he covered his face, not that it could hide his flushed ears or fluttering feathers. "I'm going to die."

"No, I think you'll enjoy this one." Thorns slipped a tentacle into Elysium's clothes, where it followed his leg up to wrap loosely around his thigh. Simply a suggestion of something more. "This should be a good way to test their full range of motion and sensitivity. What do you think?"

“W-weren't we already in the middle of one?”

"Experiments have to adapt to unforeseen circumstances; given your current state, this avenue of exploration should provide better results." The corner of his mouth quirked up, near imperceptible. "And your reactions...should be an interesting study."

“My current state? ” Thorns wondered if he could just shove a tentacle into Elysium’s mouth to shut him up for a moment. “Nothing’s different, I’ve never felt better—”

Instead, he inched the tentacle wrapped around Elysium’s leg higher, just brushing against the noticeable tent in Elysium’s pants. His knees buckled, and if it weren’t for the hold on his waist, he would’ve been on the ground.

“You seem more sensitive than usual. Is it because of the unique texture against your skin?”

“Oh… Oh my… please stop talking.” Elysium lowered his arms, no less red than he had been before. He still refused to look at Thorns, keeping his gaze fixed on his current bindings. Planting his feet on the ground, he tried to break out of Thorns’s grip. 

Even if Thorns hadn’t seen his very obvious wind-up, the effort was for naught—it took barely any effort to yank Elysium closer instead. “So troublesome. If you want to stop, just tell me.” More tentacles wound towards Elysium, sliding under his shirt. He didn’t take the offered way out, so Thorns reached up, cupping the other’s face with both hands. 

He’d already felt the Liberi’s heated skin through the tentacles—having them just meant he could touch Elysium that much more—but the temperature difference between that and his own cold Aegirian body was still apparent, even through his gloves.

“Hot,” he murmured, overwhelmed by the sensation of several tentacles exploring Elysium’s torso at once. It was more than just amplified touch, there was a multitude of increased sensitivity that he needed more time to adjust to.

Elysium grinned and bent down to press their foreheads together. “Well, duh. I’m a—” 

Thorns hefted him into the air again, trying to replicate the same strength he’d used before while also stopping Elysium from spouting his catchphrase. “Too much?”

“No…” 

An idea was starting to take shape. It’d be tricky, especially if Elysium squirmed, but what was experimentation without its risks?

“Don’t move or else I’ll drop you,” he warned before tipping Elysium back, one tentacle curling up to catch the back of Elysium’s head and another maneuvering until Elysium was suspended horizontally in the air. “Hm…” He hadn’t directed the tentacles to work in tandem, but they had. Whether that was useful or unnerving, he couldn’t decide yet.

Elysium was surprisingly quiet, not like that could hide his excitement. Thorns brought him closer and hooked a finger under the hem of his shirt. “You won’t miss this, will you?” 

“Probably not?” His bottom lip was swollen—he’d been biting it—grey eyes glazed over. “It’s just a nightshirt, so I have others—”

The sound of ripping fabric had never sounded so pleasant, the tentacles’ full strength absolutely shredding through it. The remains of the shirt dropped to the ground and Elysium made a choking noise that Thorns immediately decided he wanted to hear again. The limb closest to Elysium’s chest pressed up against his heart, feeling the thrum of his heartbeat, racing even faster than it had been before. “You liked that.”

Elysium didn’t deign him with a response, fingers digging into the tentacles that bound his hands, eyes squeezed shut. His nails hurt, but not enough for him to care.

Thorns ran the tip of a tentacle over his stomach, watching the muscles tense as Elysium jerked his hips. He wasn’t watching Elysium’s face anymore, more interested in how he squirmed with each touch, noticing that Elysium’s arousal hadn’t faded in the slightest.

Looking at Elysium again, he found Elysium staring, fixated on the tentacles roaming across his body. “Do you want me to fuck you with them?” he asked, slowly easing off the rest of Elysium’s clothes. How convenient; even if his hands were preoccupied, he could do this. Normally holding Elysium up for this long, regardless of his light Liberi build, was tiring but even now Thorns felt no hints of fatigue.

Elysium whimpered, the sound strained.

“Elysium,” he prompted, “your words.” 

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Please.” Perhaps if Elysium had believed in a god, Thorns would have heard him utter the name of it.

With a tentacle for each leg, Thorns yanked them apart. Elysium’s grip tightened even further that Thorns was sure had it been his own hands restraining him, they would have drawn blood.

(Though that idea wasn’t entirely unappealing, either…)

“You liked that too.”

Shut up.” There went Elysium, off-kilter, harsher than usual. 

Thorns hummed again, dragging his own fingers over what remained exposed of Elysium’s thigh before he lifted one of the remaining tentacles and pressed it against Elysium’s hole. Nothing inside him yet, just a slight pressure to hint at what was to come.

The sound that tore itself from Elysium’s throat was divine.

Immediately, Thorns jerked it back, nearly overcome by the sudden desire to just thrust the full length in. If he actually hurt Elysium, this “experiment” would be a failure—though... Thorns studied the tentacles, thinking. Even the thinner ones were thicker than any one his fingers, but Elysium should be able to handle it.

“Thorns...” Elysium moaned, straining against his bonds yet again. “Is teasing part of your experiment too?”

“You could stand to learn some patience.”

Now?

“No.” Now, Thorns pushed the tip of the thinnest tentacle in, fixated on the way Elysium’s mouth dropped open. 

A little more elicited what almost sounded like a sob. Thorns started to thrust it shallowly, teasing the tip in and out, wringing out more not-quite-sobs. “Please,” Elysium begged. Unable to move his hands, he settled for trying to point downwards with his fingers.

“Right. I’ve been neglecting you.” Another tentacle—he’d have to count these at some point—moved to curl around Elysium’s cock, stroking almost lazily. Liquid dripped from the slit, sliding down its length. “But you’re close already, aren’t you?” The sensation of something wet was alien to these limbs, only encouraging him to try and coax more out.

“Ye—es,” he tried to say, voice breaking.

“Unfortunate.” The tentacle stopped to wrap firmly around the base of his cock. “I can’t have this trial end yet.” At the same time, the other one pressed deeper, pushing against his prostate.

Elysium screamed his name.

Acting on his previous thoughts, Thorns shoved a tentacle into Elysium’s mouth, making him choke. If Elysium’s skin was hot, his mouth was burning—inside him, too, was almost too much to bear. Even when teeth sunk into it, the pain barely registered over this overwhelming heat. They must be attracted to heat sources was the one sensible thought Thorns managed over the rest of him just wanting to touch him more. (How could he touch him more than he was now, anyway?)

Though if Thorns was losing his composure, Elysium must be at his limit. “These walls aren’t soundproof,” he reminded, trying to remember himself. Not that Elysium was in any state to care. “Can you handle more?”

He freed Elysium’s mouth to let him answer, but it took him a good few attempts of nonsensical babbling to manage words strung together coherently. Most likely due to how Thorns hadn’t stopped fucking him while he waited for an answer, the tentacle’s unique flexibility letting him hit exactly where Elysium was most sensitive every time he pushed it in. “Just a b-bit...” 

Thorns kissed him. Elysium looked so completely, blissfully wrecked, he couldn’t resist touching him with his hands anymore. Even though Elysium couldn’t come, he bucked into the gloved touch with the best of his limited movement. 

“Just a bit more,” Thorns promised, pushing a second tentacle into him. 

This time, he watched how Elysium’s hole widened around it, how it stretched even more as he scissored them. It was a completely new angle, one he’d never get to see without these. The image was dizzying, and he took a deep breath before he spoke again. “If you could see yourself now...” Tears had gathered at the corners of Elysium’s eyes. That was to say nothing of the sounds he was making—Thorns knew he should muffle him again, but found himself unable to. “Elysium. Can you take another?”

Finally, Elysium shook his head. “Th-Thorns, let m—a-ahh!

“Of course.” Thorns loosened the tentacle around Elysium’s cock, having it join his hands. “You did very well. Thank you, Elysium.”

Elysium sobbed as he came, back arching as much as it possibly could. Thorns worked him through it, entranced by the sight of stark white splattering over the dark flesh of his tentacles. Only when he jerked away from him did Thorns stop, laying him down on the bed and finally freeing him of all his bindings.

Gloves truly ruined now, he threw them to the side. While Thorns waited for him to recover, he rubbed Elysium’s wrists. Red encircled them, like he’d been tied up. Well—he had, just not with rope. “Does it hurt? It was difficult to control the strength when I was...preoccupied.”

“So you were into it after all? I couldn’t even tell.”

“Obviously. You were just distracted.”

“Don’t say that like I’m being stupid,” Elysium grumbled, still sounding out of it. “Wait, then did you even...”

“No. If you’re fine now, I’ll take care of it myself.”

“Huh? I can—” Elysium tried to sit up, but just flopped back onto the bed, boneless. “Nn...”

“You really can’t do much of anything right now.” Thorns ran one hand through Elysium’s feathers, watching them shake, using his other to slide down his own pants. “Feel free to watch.” 

“But I’m already ready,” he whined, legs falling open. For someone who got embarrassed so easily, he could be shameless sometimes. “Can’t let these guys have all the fun, right?” Elysium grabbed a nearby tentacle, stroking it like he was touching Thorns directly.

Thorns jolted, clenching his fists with the effort of keeping the rest of them still. It seemed that once they’d gotten a taste of Elysium’s warmth, they wanted it all the time.

Just like he did.

And he would be lying if he said the idea of fucking Elysium immediately wasn’t appealing. “That was taxing on your body,” he said instead, trying to be responsible. “A week is sufficient time for another chance to collect more data.”

“I…”

“I know,” Thorns said, leaning down to kiss him again. “Next time.”

Elysium no longer felt like he was burning up like before, but he was still so warm. Thorns rarely indulged himself this much but… With a hand on the back of Elysium’s head, he pulled his hair—just a little—to tilt his head up, kissed him for a little longer. It was a struggle to control himself—every time his hand sped up his concentration would wander and so would the tentacles. Then he would have to stop and draw them back. He was so frustratingly close, admittedly more worked up than he cared to think about, but he had to worry about—

“I don’t mind,” Elysium gasped. “You can let them touch me.” His hand extended past Thorns’s field of vision but he could still feel some of his tentacles wind around Elysium’s arm without his input. “You don’t need to hold back.” 

Thorns scoffed, flinching when Elysium tugged at his ponytail. He had half a mind to bite out a stop it, but he’d just be wasting his breath. “Don’t get too used to them,” he reminded, eyes fluttering shut as he relaxed and let the tentacles explore, stroking his cock again. “They’ll be gone in a week.”

Elysium made a sound halfway between a whine and moan, pulling more insistently at Thorns’ hair. The tentacles were just cautiously mapping out Elysium’s body, doing nothing more than brushing against skin but he was squirming again. 

“Greedy,” Thorns huffed out without thinking, not sure whether he was referring to himself, the tentacles, or the Liberi. He couldn’t stop thinking about how being inside Elysium would feel better than just using his hand, bending his head to press shallow bites along the column of his throat. One of the tentacles slipped between Elysium’s thighs, making him squeak before Thorns pulled it back.  

Trying to keep the tentacles close to him was a futile effort, because they would inevitably return to Elysium. As they soaked up the heat radiating from Elysium’s thighs, he was hit with the memory of how Elysium had felt around the tentacles—how hot he'd been. 

The way Elysium had tightened around them with every thrust seemed to be burned in his mind. Intoxicating and unforgettable.

He groaned, trying to keep some semblance of his composure but Elysium was determined to break it. He grabbed one of the tentacles, kissed it before licking it obscenely. Thorns tensed, almost tipping over the edge as he fisted his cock, eyes narrowed into slits as he grit his teeth.

“Again,” he said, voice rough, the rest of the tentacles swarming over Elysium’s body in a frenzy. He was greedy, he really couldn’t get enough of how much he could touch Elysium with all these extra limbs. Not that he’d say that out loud.

This time, Elysium played with the tip of the tentacle with his teeth, swirling his tongue around it like the way he’d suck Thorn’s cock. Thorns jerked, spilling over onto his hand and biting Elysium’s neck far harder than intended—that would definitely leave a mark. 

“Enough,” he croaked out when he came down from his high, pulling his tentacles back when Elysium continued to lick the one he’d been holding. “Stop that.” 

Finally, he let him go, content to lie back and watch Thorns clean up, observing curiously as he lifted each tentacle up and wiped down the more...messy ones. 

“So,” Elysium cleared his throat when Thorns deemed the cleanup sufficient, returning to the bed. “Are they extra hands? Or more like extra d—Ow!” 

Thorns looked up from where he’d pressed his fingers into Elysium’s reddened flesh. Though Elysium hadn’t said it hurt, he could see the makings of bruises. He lifted one of Elysium’s wrists and pressed a light kiss against it before setting it down, making a conscious effort to keep the tentacles curled close to the base of his back. “They can serve multiple functions. I’ll have to test them further to find the extent of their capabilities.” 

“You’ve only got a week, though… That’s not much time.” 

Thorns wanted to agree; a week was barely enough time to do much of anything, especially with a phenomenon as new and unknown as this. Not that this incident couldn’t happen again—he’d have to be very careless and somehow have Aak’s mystery concoction within his vicinity at the same time—but the chances were essentially zero. At least, he certainly wouldn’t try to replicate this on purpose. Too much trouble and not worth the risk of being hung up on the deck, no matter how fascinating Elysium's reactions were.

“And you’re not going to be just studying what else they can do all week, right?” 

Thorns caught the whine in Elysium’s tone and suppressed a smile, reaching over to flick his forehead.

“Greedy. And insatiable.”

“They’re interesting!"

Thorns sighed before moving forward in a blink of an eye, straddling Elysium and pinning his wrists down—gently, as to not irritate them further. “If you like being pinned down so much, you could just ask. I’m capable of that much without their aid.”

Elysium was turning an interesting shade of red again, eyes fixed on a point past Thorns’ shoulder. 

“Yeah, but…They…” He mumbled something under his breath.

“They what?” The shade Elysium was now usually required alcohol to achieve, but this situation was creating all kinds of new discoveries. “Elysium.”

“Theyfeeloverwhelming? And they’re…strong… Not that you’re not strong, bro, but it’s… It’s different!” Thorns raised an eyebrow, but he wasn’t all that surprised. Elysium’s reactions had spoken for themselves.

“You have interesting tastes: I’ll note that for future reference. If it suits you, I’ll reserve a time slot for you when our schedules align.”

Elysium made a face. “You’re making it sound sciencey.” 

“This is an experiment, remember?” Thorns allowed one tentacle to curl down and touch Elysium’s face. “I haven’t tested everything I want with you, either. I think you could take more than two at once.” The tentacle bobbed against Elysium’s cheek, like it was agreeing.

Whatever of Elysium’s blush had disappeared returned with a vengeance, his feathers twitching in a way that made Thorns smirk.

“But we’ll test that theory another time.” 

“What now?”

“Shower. And then a meal.” 

Elysium tried to sit up but failed under Thorns’s weight. “Are we showering together or—”

Thorns stood up, sliding an arm under Elysium’s legs, the other behind his back. The tentacles were all too eager to help, wriggling out from the bundle he’d attempted to knot them into.

Nevermind. He let go of Elysium, scowling at them like they could be intimidated into not moving unless commanded. Surely Andreana didn’t have this issue—he couldn’t imagine having to deal with these impulses for the rest of his life.

“What’s wrong?” Even Elysium had noticed his frustration, leaning forwards before Thorns pushed him back, away from the tentacles.

“They like you too much.” Again, he tried to tangle them together so they couldn’t move—and again, they seemed to just slide out of the knots, unwilling to cooperate.

“Just like you do?” Elysium teased.

“Yes.”

Elysium choked.

“And yes, we’ll shower together. I don’t think I can wash these properly by myself.” If it was warmth they were looking for, maybe hot water would calm them down.

”P-please let me recover...” Now, Elysium was hiding his face in his hands, the red lines crossing his wrists standing out even more. 

It did hurt, didn’t it. As soon as Thorns had that thought, the tentacles curled up against the base of his spine once again. After they didn’t move even after several seconds, save for the occasional twitch—they were never truly still—Thorns retrieved the bottle he’d previously put to the side. “Give me your hand.”

“What, why?” Elysium still did as told. If only he was this quick to listen more often. 

With quick, precise swipes of his fingers, Thorns spread the medicinal cream over his wrist. “I told you I had a pain reliever.”

“Wait, that’s not what—whoa.” He looked down in awe. Thorns wanted to ask what he had meant but left it alone. “It doesn’t hurt at all, how’d you do that?” 

“Medicine, obviously.” Thorns applied the same amount to Elysium’s other wrist, internally wincing at how red it was. “The effect won’t remain that strong for much longer, but it should prevent discomfort.”

“You know I just bruise easily, I’m fine!” Elysium grinned, like that proved it. “I didn’t think you’d be that worried.”

“It’s my own lack of control that caused this.” Thorns slapped away the tentacles that had been inching closer to Elysium as he talked, unaware they’d moved until one had crept past his waist. What a pain. “I’m simply taking responsibility.”

For some reason, Elysium laughed. “Aren’t you just looking for an excuse to touch me?”

The question caught him off guard. “...You’re very warm,” he admitted after a long moment.

It wasn’t a no.