I sat straight up in my bed, groggy and sore. I had no idea what had awoken me, but damn it anyway, this was one of my few days to sleep in! Laying back down and turning on my side, I closed my eyes once more. I'd almost returned to my dream world when I heard a hard rapping on the door. Fucking hell. That had to have been what woke me up in the first place. Whoever it was obviously wasn't going to go away or they would have done it long before they'd managed to wake me up. While I was normally a light sleeper, if I was hurt or ill I slept like the dead. Still groggy and unhappily awake, I crawled out of my bed, wincing at the way the motion pulled at the hasty home-done stitches. Figuring I wouldn't be able to stand having something against the wound anyway, I didn't even bother pulling on a shirt. Instead, I trudged to the door in nothing but a pair of loose, silky black pajama bottoms that I honestly didn't even remember putting on. I yanked the door open the instant before the knocking completely stopped and was stunned to see my shissou standing outside my apartment. He was dressed rather casually, for once. The trendy black skinny jeans were a surprise. The skin-tight purple shirt was not so much of a surprise, since he always seemed to be wearing at least something in that color. A black leather jacket brought the ensemble together well. It really wasn't fair that the damn man looked good enough to eat and I felt like shit. Roughly pushing my hand through my hair, I forced my sleep-heavy eyes to stay open and asked, "What are you doing here, Albel-shissou?" Never mind that, how in the hell had he known where I lived?! For once, that smirk seemed one-hundred percent genuine. "You have a terrible best friend and I have a wonderful enemy, little fool." I arched my brow at that. Was there a reason that he made them sound like the same person? "What makes you say that?" "Well, first of all, she called me a total of… twenty times last night? And she told me when she was leaving this morning." The smirk somehow seemed to soften into a smile. "May I come in, Fayte?" I swallowed hard. Gods above. He knew my name. I didn't mind being called little fool –it was no secret that he rarely bothered to learn the names of any of his students, and at least that label was the least insulting of the rest lot he tended to pick from. Yet, he knew my name. Not only that, the way he said it was a teasing caress all its own. The accent that could even make being called 'little fool' appealing did a number on my name, as well. He placed emphasis on the first part, which added another dimension of sensuality to a name I had never been quite happy with before. Surprisingly enough, I figured if he said it enough, I could learn to love my name –or turn into a puddle of mush. Perhaps both. "Sure, Albel-shissou." I was surprised I managed to speak at all without stuttering. Stepping out of the way without stumbling was another of the morning's small miracles. When he slipped inside my apartment, he closed the door behind him. He reached toward my wound, but didn't touch it before looking up at me for a moment. "May I?" he inquired. I nodded. His finger lightly traced the ragged stitching. "Fucking hell. She really should have called Clair," he commented. "At least Clair isn't completely useless with a needle." Mental clarity seemed to come with the race of pain. Shissou knew Nel and Clair? Wait, so that meant that Nel knew Shissou? Hadn't he called her his enemy a few minutes earlier? I hated how my brain seemed to run at half time in the mornings, and having Albel-shissou near slowed it by half of what it remained. My brain was like a computer operating with only a fourth of its capacity, and it was more than a little disconcerting. The whole situation was still hazy without all the details, but some parts of it were coming in a clearer focus. Tanned, elegant fingers gently touched the bruising flesh around the jagged stitching, as though trying to bring my attention back to him. "This is going to scar, probably more on the 'horrific' side of the scale," he informed me, his voice soft and soothing and almost musical to my ears. "Part of that is because the wound is deep. The other part is because Zelpher and needles don't mix well. If you would allow it, I can take out the stitches and close it myself. I'm much better at it than she is, mostly because I wouldn't let anyone else near my wounds and I had to stitch them all myself." I'd never heard him reveal that much about himself in so short a time before. Despite the pain, joy bubbled just below the surface. Shissou was talking to me and actually revealing things on purpose. But it was his offer that gave me pause. Surely, he didn't blame himself? "Shissou, you know that this wound is entirely my fault. Right?" My voice was small and timid. "Hm. I wonder," he murmured, fingers still caressing the sore flesh. "I'm your shissou, Fayte. I'm the one who should know better." His eyes met mine. "Will you let me fix Zelpher's mess, at least?" There was something horribly wrong with me. I knew it the instant I felt rays of heat in my blood from his fingertips on my wound. There was something definitely wrong. Getting aroused by the light caress of fingertips against an almost-open wound that was so fresh that the skin hadn't yet come to full terms with the amount of bruising it should have was ridiculous. Getting aroused when that same wound it touched by the very hand that caused it… well, that was more than ridiculous: it was fucking insane. Yet my realization of the… abnormal situation didn't fix anything. Neither did the way he said my name: that just made my arousal worse. Swallowing hard, I tried to ignore my improper physical response. What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah. He wanted to fix my stitches. "Alright, Albel-shissou." "How's your pain tolerance?" he asked off-handedly as he looked around my living room. Finally, he spotted what Nel liked to call my mini-hospital. "Pretty high. Nel stitched me without numbing or anything." He raised a brow at me. "Do you have anything that will numb it? Because what I'm going to do will make it hurt worse." I nodded slowly, wondering why his voice was only adding to my problem. "I try to keep things like that on hand for emergencies and the like. It should be in the case." When he opened the case, he released a low whistle. "You could start your own hospital with this." "That's what Nel says," I told him, trying not to laugh. "Hospital-grade sutures? Geez, you have all of the good stuff," he teased, pulling out what he would need to complete his task. I laughed. "Mostly because I hate hospitals." He smiled at that. "If it makes you feel any better, I hate them, too." His focus seemed to be entirely on the task ahead of him. "I'm going to remove the first set of stitches without the numbing agent, mostly because it's topical. You okay with that?" I nodded slowly, wondering if the sharper pain would dull the desire roaring like a beast in my blood. "Let's go to your bedroom. It will be easier if you're laying down and comfortable." "Alright, Shissou," I responded, ignoring the fact my libido was screaming 'Yes, yes, yes!' at the mere suggestion of taking this man into my bedroom. Surely this wouldn't all turn out to be a terrible mistake, right?
A few minutes later, we were situated in my bedroom. I was laying on top of my unmade bed, holding a bag of frozen broccoli to my wound because Shissou insisted that the cold would help numb the area without making it too greasy to work on –which would be the unfortunate specialty of the analgesic cream. I sighed. "This is really cold, Albel-shissou." "That's kind of the point, Fayte," he returned wryly. He shifted the bag, brushing it against one of my nipples on accident. A startled yelp somehow escaped my lips. I watched concern flicker over his face, followed by realization. But I knew I was in trouble when all that remained was that wicked smirk. "Hm… Fayte, you know you can just call me Albel," he told me, his voice throaty and seductive. The way he said his own name was… different than the way anyone else did. Some sort of instinct made me believe that others mispronounced it. Yet when he said it, there was something unconsciously sensual in the sound. I shivered. "But Shissou…" He pinched my nipple and I yelped again. "Say it, Fayte," he ordered huskily. "Ah… Albel-shi–" I began. He pinched my nipple again, rolling it slightly between his thumb and forefinger. My eyelids fluttered shut and a moan escaped past my lips. "A-Albel…" For some reason, when I called his name, the 'a' didn't seem to connect to the other letters as quickly as it should, but it didn't seem to bother him any. It also came out differently, somehow, than when I paired it with his title. I'd tried to pronounce it in a similar fashion to his pronunciation of it. That I felt even a modicum of success warmed me. Sharp teeth latched onto my earlobe and my eyelids shot open again. "Very good, Fayte," he praised, his voice a low sensual purr. When his mouth dropped to my neck, I wondered what he was up to. His tongue flickered out to wet the skin before his mouth latched onto it. Tender nips and nibbles were accompanied by the taunting strokes of his talented tongue and suction. The noises that this attention wrenched out of me were small but embarrassing in their own right. Withdrawing when he was satisfied, he whispered in my ear, "Your reward." He returned to his earlier position, his entire expression practically reading 'business as usual' –well, all but for that lusty gleam in those crimson eyes. Not for the first time this morning, I wondered what exactly had brought him to my door today. If that lusty gleam in his eyes had anything to do with things… well, I supposed I might be getting some very good news later. However, aside from that, it was sort of strange how quickly he could go from serious to lusty teasing and back again. It was the worst sort of whiplash I could imagine. I wetted my lips with my tongue. "…Albel, I think that particular patch of skin is as numb as I can stand it getting." As I watched, two emotions warred with his expression. His eyes flared wide with heat, while his mouth twitched with amusement. Amusement won out and he chuckled before removing the ice pack. Still, he leaned in close to me. "You speak my name exactly the same way you moan it," he whispered, his voice husky. I'm certain my entire body blushed from that statement. He cleared his throat and grabbed the scissors. The process of removing the original stitches and replacing them with smaller, neater ones was conducted entirely in silence. Neither of us dared to even look at each other's faces. The aftershocks of pleasure from the previous encounter only seemed to sharpen with the addition of the newer, fresher pain. I was relieved when it was over, mostly because I'd spent the entire time he'd been stitching the wound taking deep breaths to force back moans and mewls of pain-pleasure. He was collecting the supplies when I spoke. "Albel?" My voice was small and quiet, like a timid whisper, yet I still knew the instant he heard me call his name. There was a soft, guttural sound, and then each and every item he'd been collecting fell to the floor. "Fayte," he growled a mere instant before his lips collided with mine. Our first kiss had been a chaste pressing of lips that lasted only a few seconds. Our second kiss started with open mouths and went from there. Teeth clicked forcefully against each other, tongues warred for dominance, hands fisted in hair and bed sheets. His tongue slid against mine before shifting to swirl sensuous designs on the roof of my mouth. My moan was loud and it embarrassed me, but it didn't stop my hands from trailing down his back and anchoring themselves to the curve of his hips. When we separated, we were both breathing hard. "Gods, you have no idea how delectable you look," he breathed out harshly. "Then devour me," I challenged. "Devour me, Albel." The noise he made in the back of his throat had me squirming eagerly against him as he leaned in to kiss me all over again. When he wasn't moving fast enough to satisfy me, I met him halfway there and kissed him myself. He tasted so good, like something sweet and spicy and dangerous and exotic. One taste would never be able to satisfy my craving. He kissed me like he was trying to reach my soul through my lips. The message they were to convey was far from tender. Eager, wild and hungry, yes. Tender… not so much. He pinned me to my bed, careful not to jostle the wound he'd just finished patching up again, and pressed his hips flush against mine. A low keening noise slipped past my lips as our arousals collided. Albel's back bowed backward for a moment and the look on his face made me wonder if he'd encountered divinity. I wasn't sure which I wanted more: that expression or his undivided attention. I settled on his undivided attention and ground my hips firmly against his as I panted against his lips for breath. He swore hotly, taking care to pin me more securely beneath him before turning his attention to my neck. A soft kiss was pressed to the place he marked earlier before his lips pressed against my pulse point. I was sure he could feel every pounding beat of my heart through the skin. Shifting slightly, I gave him better access to the skin he sought. He then proceeded to kiss and nip and mark every last inch of my neck, until I was moaning and helplessly rolling my hips in a vain attempt to reach his. He chuckled soft, teasingly, then kissed his way to my collarbone. I felt his eyes on my body –more specifically, on the wound he'd just stitched. Imagine my surprise when he pressed the gentlest of kisses against the still inflamed flesh! My breath caught in my throat and I felt my heart try to squeeze more beats into a minute. He kissed the length of the wound tenderly, then turned his attention to the nipple he'd played with earlier. The pad of his finger ghosted across the skin that still seemed to burn from the previous attentions it had received. A soft keening noise escaped my lips and a soft smile pulled across his lips again. Then those lips pressed a kiss to the puckered flesh and I squeezed my eyes shut as though to try and contain the moan that tried to bubble out of my throat. A taunting flick of his tongue left me crying out helplessly with no thought in my head but the desire, the burning need, for more. Fingertips brushed the trail of bluish dusting of hair that trailed first down to my navel, then to the waistband of my pants and beyond. Those clever fingers traced the rim of my navel in a teasing fashion and I felt as though my body should begin to tremble at any moment. As the suction at my nipple increased, I barely noticed when his hand trailed lower and untied the drawstring of my pants. When he moved his attention –and his mouth!– to my other nipple, my back arched toward him of its own accord, as though to offer the rest of me for such teasing. Feeling as though I had let myself get too swept away by him, I trailed my fingers down his back. I wondered absently when he'd shed his jacket, but the thought quickly dissipated as I slid my hands under the purple shirt to stroke his spine and leave claw marks down his back. The hiss he released only spurred me on. Eagerly, I eased the tight shirt up under his arms and allowed my hands to slide around to caress his pectorals and abdominal muscles. I gloried in each tremor and flex of the muscles beneath the warm silken skin. The moment he made skin to skin contact with my arousal, my body seemed to go on complete strike at a groan rolled out of the back of my throat. None of my limbs would obey me, but it didn't matter to me when that warm hand wrapped tightly around my cock. That cocky smirk was back, but I figured he had rights to it, considering he had me completely under his spell and unable to do much more than writhe in pleasure or beg. The first few strokes were almost tentative, though I personally would have pegged them more for taunting than hesitation. Then his hand was gone –busy dragging the pajama pants down my legs. Utterly bare before him, I was embarrassed by how aroused I truly was. The pain and the pleasure and that voice had all contributed to my state, but my cock dripped copious quantities of pre-come and he watched me. Those eyes scanned me from head to toe, focusing of things like my flushed cheeks, my well-claimed neck, my wounded chest, my abused nipples, my navel which he'd so enjoyed, and finally my cock, standing proudly at attention in perverse imitation of a soldier. Yet it was that pleased expression on his face that made it tolerable –still embarrassing, but tolerable. When he moved away from me, for an instant I thought he might just leave me this way, panting and needy and desperate for even the lightest of touches or the smallest amount of attention. I realized I couldn't have been more wrong when I watched him pull that purple shirt over his head and toss it to the floor. Easing myself up and noting absently that the wound didn't pull nearly as much, I leaned forward and unbuttoned those tight pants. The zipper was next. Albel watched me with a small smile as I carefully eased those tight-as-hell pants down his hips. He chuckled and climbed off the bed to prove himself incredibly proficient at ridding himself of the remaining garments. Leaning back, I watched him with a smile, even as he climbed back on my bed –back on top of me. Some sort of delicious sound tore forth from him the moment both of our arousals met skin to skin. I moaned into the contact as well, distractedly reaching for the drawer of my bedside table. Somehow, I wrenched it open and grabbed the appropriate bottle –just in case. Neither of us had said quite where this was headed, but it seemed headed toward sex and fast. He looked up at me, a question in those lust-hazed crimson eyes that I just couldn't ignore. With a weak smile, I tossed the small bottle of lube to him. His reflexes had been honed in sword-fighting: I had never doubted that he'd catch the bottle. I was just worried that I would catch flack because it was vanilla scented. Yet it seemed that he'd only focused long enough to assess what the substance was, not to bother with scents. When that corded muscular slid down my body, I groaned at the beautiful friction and mourned the loss. Still, I knew what he was up to when he settled between my parted legs. I heard him open the bottle, heard the squelching sound of the substance being squirted out. With a tentative fingertip, he smeared the cool gel around my opening. I tensed –fucking hell it was cold!– then forced myself to relax a bit. When a slick finger pressed against my entrance, it slid inside with relative ease. He wiggled the finger around, trying to coat my insides, trying to find that spot. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on breathing while he stretched me. The motion felt familiar, the fullness allowable, the stretching only slightly painful. When he located his earlier quarry inside me with two fingers, my eyes flew open and I cried out loudly, my hips subconsciously thrusting against his fingers. I'm sure he grinned at the response; his fingers certainly picked up the pace and hit that same spot again and again. When that third finger joined the pair, I moaned at the sense of fullness. I could feel the heat in my cheeks and the restlessness of the man preparing me. I was stunned when he turned his head and bit the inside of my left thigh as he worked those three fingers in and out of my tightness. I was more stunned yet by the fact his name bubbled past my lips at the sensation, my brain filing the painful bite under 'pure pleasure' instead. I hadn't thought that things could honestly feel any better than that: the delicious fullness, the pleasure, the way his touch made my mind swim in haze. Yet when he replaced his fingers with his cock, stretching me out more, feeding the pain my nerve endings failed to interpret correctly, sliding slicky inside of me… I thought I could die from all the sensations. I'd had sex before, multiple times with different partners. Never had it felt this overwhelming, this amazing, this decadently sinfully perfect. When he began to move, I thought I could touch paradise and clasp it in my arms. Hell, I thought I already had! My legs were wrapped tightly around his waist, pulling each thrust deeper and deeper into me. My arms were wrapped around his neck, my mouth embracing his. Each panting, shuddering breath seemed to make everything all the better. Each growl and cry and whimper and mewl, each name and endearment and whispered promise, each thrust and stroke and touch of sweat-slick skin seemed to heighten the pleasure. And the feeling was mutual. When I came suddenly, I cried out for more of him against his lips, spilling my seed between our bodies. My muscles clenched tightly down on him and he managed only a few more thrusts before emptying himself inside of me. All the tension in our bodies leaked out and he fell forward against me, panting against my chest as he tried to catch his breath. I finger-combed his soft hair, still breathing hard myself. Absently, I wondered how long it would take him to catch his breath and pull out of me. Surprisingly, I hoped it would be at least a few moments, because I liked how connected I felt to him this way. When he drew out of me, he surprised me by collapsing beside me and almost half on top of me. He looked to me, his expression absolutely blissed-out, then closed his eyes. I couldn't help but smile. It took a little careful maneuvering, but I pressed a kiss to each closed eyelid. My own eyes caught on his left arm, the arm we were never supposed to ask about. To my surprise, he'd left it bare today. He never left that arm bare. Curious, I stroked the skin gently. When he didn't jerk away, I continued my careful exploration. Upon closer examination, I realized the scars were from burns –severe ones, by the looks of things. I wondered if he could even feel my touch or if the nerve endings had been burned away. The thought saddened me, and I stroked the skin a little more firmly. A single crimson eye opened and looked at me. "What?" his tone was soft, interested. It contrasted surprisingly with the image the man liked to project. Deciding heavier things could wait until later, I decided to ask a question that had been nagging me for a bit. "I know I'm going to regret asking this, but how is a hickey a reward?" He chuckled. "You don't brand that which you do not own or have no desire to own, Fayte." I blushed severely. That was certainly an answer –and not the one I'd been expecting! Only one day ago, I had convinced myself that I was fighting for a chance to live without him. Now I knew with certainly that I had been fighting for the only man I'd ever met who was worth it. Albel Nox was a man worth fighting for. I'd know that from the beginning. I'd just never expected to end up with him. When I leaned in and claimed his lips again, I felt his lips curve against mine and wondered how anything could be better.
"Mister Leingod? This is Cliff Fittir at Elicoor Dojo. I hate to ask, but have you seen Albel today? He hasn't been in his office for a few hours and yours is the only appointment marked for today. Anyway, please call back when you get this message."
"Mister Fittir, This is Fayte Leingod. I have seen Albel-shissou this morning. He kept his appointment with me, but unfortunately, he ended up having to administer a bit of first aid to an injury I received yesterday. We got a little off track, and we still have a bit more to discuss, but Albel-shissou should be back at the dojo before one o'clock. He asked me to apologize on his behalf if his absence has been worrisome or inconvenient."