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Was Fie at all surprised to find that Machias was something of a biter? Not at all. Somehow she always just figured him that type. The way her breath hitched and her hips jerked after the first time just seemed to encourage him.

Did she mind at all? Oh no not a bit. And she gave back as good as she got.

The next morning, they both bore several marks for their troubles the night before. Some easily covered, others a bit less so. Fie looped her scarf a few times around her neck, though she knew it wouldn’t really conceal much, and smirked at the sight of Machias in a turtleneck. She hooked a finger into the edge of it and drew it back, poking one of the marks lightly “Well, you’re mine now, this proves it,” she informed him.

“I could say the same for you,” he replied with a slight flinch at her finger pressing on the tender spot. “And it doesn’t look like you’re even trying to cover it up.”

She just shrugged. “Are you complaining?”

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Maybe it was Mueller’s way of getting back at him for all the trouble he caused, Olivert could admit to that possibility. But should know better by now than to tell Mueller that he can do whatever he wants. It always leads to things like this.

Like being tied up with knots he couldn’t escape, arms and legs stretched and spread wide, leaving him fully on display (but then he certainly didn’t mind being admired as Mueller was wont to do, he was the prince of beauty after all, was he not?)

Like being taken, again and again, brought to the brink of sweet release and left precariously at the precipice, only to roll back down that slope, never quite allowed relief until he was a glorious mess, sweaty, exhausted and pleading.

Like seeing the maelstrom of lust and passion rising in the eyes of his lover, the man who kept him safe- well, tried to at least, he must acknowledge that. But- oh please, Mueller forgive him, his heart is vulnerable to the influences of beauty and love!

Like his mind, and his heart so swayed, so was his body. There was love and beauty in this lust, this passion alight in his love’s eyes, his soul!

At last, words of gratitude, nigh gibberish, issue forth from his lips, that sweet release seems at last to be imminent…so close…so close. And there he was, declaring his love and adoration once more for this sweet, sweet man when, with a soft snort and a little smirk in those lovely blue eyes, again Olivert is denied salvation from his predicament when Mueller backs away.

“You can wait until I’m ready.”

Damn his restraint!

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This wasn’t exactly what Emma had in mind when she said she was in no hurry but leave it to Gaius to take her at the letter of her word and spend seemingly half the night on her.

“Oh...goddess!” she gasped as he kissed her thigh, fingers slipping again into the sensitive little divot behind her knee with just the right pressure. “Oh...”

He laughed softly, glancing up to meet her eyes. “Like that?”

“Yes! I hate it!” she almost whined. “And it’s not funny!”

“I assure you, I take this matter very seriously,” he informed her with deliberate gravitas, but the unconcealed mirth in his eyes made her want to scream.

Aidios, did he...

Finally it seemed that he might be taking some mercy on her current state and moved over her, dipping to kiss her neck. He rolled his hips, pressing himself between her legs all too briefly before moving away again.

Emma let out a little shriek of frustration at the all too quick moment of contact. She wasn’t above admitting to herself that were she capable of standing right now, she would surely stamp her foot for how impatient she’d become at his hands...and mouth. “Gaius Worzel, I swear on my book of shadows if you don’t stop teasing me right now-“ her tirade cut off and she rocked her hips against him as indeed he did stop teasing her, “oh Aidios yes it’s about damn time...”

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“D – did I hear you correctly?” Jusis sputtered after Rean made his request.

Rean only nodded silently, not meeting his eyes. Jusis couldn’t say that he was exactly surprised to find that Rean might have thought of such a thing as asphyxiation, though he was quite shocked for it to be asked of him.

“But…why?” Jusis wondered, mystified.

Rean didn’t quite meet his eyes as he mumbled something about wanting to experience a risk at the hand of someone he actually trusted for once.

Now it made sense. Could he refuse him that? Well, when had he ever been one to deny Rean anything within his power?

When finally he agreed, he could only promise one time, he had no wish to deny his lover but could simply not bring himself to be at peace with the idea of it. Rean thanked him.

He would be grateful for the simple fact that Jusis was willing to try. He couldn’t entirely forbid himself a twinge of fond cynicism. But that night as Rean lay in his bed, Jusis knelt beside him, one hand splayed over Rean’s, feeling the heart beat under a pearlescent scar, he couldn’t help but be a little overwhelmed by the trust, so clear and deep in the fuchsia eyes gazing up at him.

“Are you sure?” he asked as the pulse beneath his fingers sped up, Rean stroking himself so that Jusis only need worry about one thing. His free hand curled around Jusis’s wrist.

“Yes,” he whispered with a barely perceptible nod, grip tightening and breath growing more erratic.

“Just…tell me when,” Jusis signed, taking in the sight of him.

Rean’s eyes fell closed, inky lashes fluttering against flushed cheeks. The sight of him like this was more than arousing but Jusis would worry about himself… after.

A minute, perhaps two, later, he could see that Rean was close, his body growing tense, the hand on his wrist tightening again.

“Now, please?” Rean’s voice was soft, his heart nearly racing.

Slowly, Jusis slid his hand toward Rean’s throat. Aidios, keep him steady.

I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Rean had assured him earlier. I trust you.

He always had.

When Jusis’s hand settled over his throat, Rean said no more, but applied just enough pressure with his own to affirm his want, then nodded, never letting go of Jusis.

“All right,” he whispered. Rean’s grip slacked as he stroked himself through these last seconds. His eyes opened as Jusis pressed at his throat cautiously, gradually. Soon Rean started to struggle – much less than Jusis might have expected, but struggle nonetheless, the red in his face deepening as his body gave a jerk, release overtaking him.

The look on his face as his eyes closed once more and he fell still on the mattress may have been the most serene that Jusis had ever seen him.

Quickly, he loosed his hold and a second later, Rean drew a gasping inhale, eyes open, blinking rapidly a few times.

“Did you.. fun what you were looking for out of this?”

Rean nodded. “Yes,” he replied – or tried to, the word seemed a bit stuck in his throat. Jusis couldn’t tell if it was emotion or consequence. Possibly a bit of both.

“No mind if you don’t want to speak right now. Or can’t. Let me get you some tea,” Jusis assured Rean as he shrugged, apologetic for his speechlessness, grateful for the moment to turn away and collect his own thoughts.

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“This is definitely what having two boyfriends is all about,” Fie commented, propping herself on one elbow, a lazy smile spreading across her lips as Jusis threaded his fingers into Machias’s hair and Machias’s fingers worked at the buttons of Jusis’s untucked shirt. “Hold on a minute guys, I’m gonna go grab some popcorn. Don’t get to any of the good stuff without me, 'kay?”

Okay, so she wasn’t actually going to get popcorn, but she saw the look that passed between them and knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere anyway. She was faster than either of them, but there were two of them and they were only inches away. And they were stronger.

“Oh…damn, well what’s a girl to do?” she mused out loud as Machias moved over to make space and Jusis pulled her between them, shifting onto his side so that she was laying with her back to his chest.

“We wouldn’t dream of getting to the good stuff without you,” Jusis purred in her ear, laughing softly as he slipped an arm around her waist.

Fie snorted. “You just gonna let him treat me like this?” looked to Machias, jabbing a thumb over her shoulder.

“Actually yeah. I’m not fighting him this time,” Machias conceded, leaning in to kiss her as Jusis slid a hand under her t-shirt.

“Fine,” she huffed- or tried to- as Jusis’s fingers found a nipple and she slid a thigh between Machias’s. “But you guys better make it worth my while.”

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Elise was perfect. This was a fact beyond reproach. When finally they ventured to take the step into physical intimacy, Patrick wanted to ensure that everything was just as perfect as she was but it seemed that everything was wrong from the waiter in the restaurant bringing the wrong vintage of wine to the thorn daring to prick his lovely Elise’s delicate finger, marring her ivory skin with blood- the tiniest of drops, but such a glaring red mark- as she bent to sniff a rose along their walk to the inn where they were to spend the night.

But all of the evening’s woes were forgotten when they started to undress, slipped from his mind as if they’d never been. Elise, his sweet goddess, had smiled up at him with a nervously hopeful bite to her lip, fingers grazing over her collarbone as looking upon her had caused him to forget all activity.

“Do you like it?” she asked, blushing.

Rendered speechless at the sight of her, Patrick could only take in the image of Elise, now clad in none other than a delicate bra and panties of shimmering midnight blue silk and ivory lace.

He fell to his knees before her, turning worshipful eyes to gaze up at her, placing a reverential kiss on one softly curved hip as her blush deepened. “Patrick!” She giggled at his display of adoration, then asked hesitantly, “Are you going to keep your clothes on all night?”

Indeed, he’d barely begun to unbutton his shirt.

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His hands taking hold of her hips, Toval draws her closer until Claire can feel a faint scratch of stubble on her thighs as she leans over him, grabbing the headboard for dear life. A thin gasp sounds from her throat, her head falls forward, gazing down at him, vision almost hazy as his tongue flicks at her clit over and over again before he turns to sucking at it, urging her closer and closer to the edge until she’s crying out in release, her whole body trembling. Never mind artes, Toval’s greatest talent, as far as Claire is concerned, is what he’s doing with his mouth right now.

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Gaius can feel the eyes on him as plainly as he can feel the water on him from the shower, but he doesn’t turn around, doesn’t say anything. By now, he knows Wazy’s games and habits, by now, they’ve melded with his own as much as two people’s can when necessity dictates spending weeks or months apart as they often do.

“You could have painted me in the time you’ve been standing there,” he finally calls over his shoulder, laughing.

“Now there’s an idea,” Wazy replies with a quiet laugh of his own. “I could hang it in my Merkaba quarters to look at when I’m away.” He sighs, as if a lament. “Would that I had your skill with a brush and paint, I’d love to immortalize you on canvas.”

“Do you want to to join me?” Gaius asks when he makes no further move, finally turning to face Wazy. Just as he suspects, Wazy stares him blatantly up and down, taking in the sight of the shower spray rolling over the dips and contours of his body.

“I came here to get you in bed but I might have to if you take much longer,” Wazy replies, a note of petulance creeping into his voice.

Gaius laughs and shrugs as he turns back. The outcome will differ little either way. He’s not surprised when barely a minute later, he’s no longer alone in the shower. There’s a rustle of the curtain, a hand tugging at his hip for him to turn once more. He does, leaning in as Wazy’s arms wind around his neck, their kiss free from any sense of hurry. Sliding down the wall, he pulls Wazy with him to the floor as steamy water cascades over them.

“Couldn’t wait five minutes?” He laughs, hands slipping over shower-slicked thighs resting on either side of his own.

“I could have,” Wazy admits with a careless shrug. “But I didn’t feel like it.”

“What did you feel like?”

“This,” Wazy replies, sliding closer until their bodies are pressing flush, grinding slowly against each other. Tongues probe deeper into their kiss as a heat rises between them having absolutely nothing to do with the hot water falling from above.

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As his shirt fell from his shoulders, Rufus caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, not quite at an angle to display any part of the other man standing in front of him but the hands that had just undone those shirt buttons.

Later, he’d tell himself it was the wine, a glass too much consumed at dinner, he knew well that he had better self control than this so surely it must have been the wine.

Inwardly, he permits himself a small, smug smile. For the moment, he let the truth be the truth: he was bored and there was a certain thrill to knowing what sort of dire risk he took, the consequences if they were to be discovered. And if he were truly honest with himself, he did, in fact, enjoy the company.

In the mirror, the other hands fell away as Rufus quickly reciprocated.

Quieting his thoughts, he pushed them aside. It would simply not do to show any less than the same measure of attention that was given to him.

Besides, there was no reason to overthink this, Rufus told himself. It wasn’t like it would be the first time he and Carl had fucked.

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Goddess, he knew exactly how she liked it, but Fie wasn’t even thinking that coherently. How could she when the way Gaius was licking at sucking at her with an occasional pause to kiss her thighs was practically shorting out her brain?

Her fingers twined in his hair as she came closer and closer to the edge. When he finally hit that spot, just right one too many times, her body could finally take no more. With a sharp cry, she arched against his mouth. Still twined in his hair, her fingers clenched tightly at the strands in her grasp.

A short time later, he was lazing beside her again, wincing as he leaned to kiss her.

“Sorry, not sorry,” she smirked, rubbing her fingertips gently over his scalp as he laughed.

“I don’t mind.”

“I didn’t think you did,” she replied. “But I can still make it up to you.”

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“What time is it?” Jusis asked innocently, never mind that he could have checked his ARCUS or his own watch. Not bothering to wait for a response, he took hold of Machias’s wrist, making a show of checking the time for himself while stroking the skin along the watch band with his gloved thumb, taking a few seconds longer than absolutely necessary, smirking at the fire taking hold in fierce green eyes then pulling his hand back slowly, the soft leather dragging deliberately over a tense hand, breaking contact just as it became inevitable that Machias was about to say something snappy. Pulling back, he flexed his fingers against the air. Glancing away with a knowing curl to his lips as he did, the full weight of Machias’s glare settled nicely around him. “Don’t look at me like that, Regnitz,” he murmured, loud enough for only them to hear.

Don’t ever stop looking at me like that, Regnitz.

There was only so far he could push in public after all- there was no slow burn here, Machias had a notoriously short fuse and Jusis knew the precise point to leave off. And exactly how long he’d have to wait before once more approaching volatile fumes with a lit match. 


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Alfin leaned in close, laid a hand gently on Elise’s arm. “Dance with me?” she asked with an inquisitive tilt to her head.

But in that moment, Elise for got how to speak, forgot how to breathe. It wasn’t the first time that she’d smelled the princess’s perfume but something was different. Perhaps it was that combined with a faint trace of sweet wine on her breath, or that the single glass that Elise herself had consumed- can the proximity of one’s object of desire cause some slight form of drunkenness, or perhaps heighten the effect of the mild intoxicant already warming her blood?

She could only nod and allow herself to be led onto the floor, the faint but heady scent clinging all around her- arrow d them, as if to envelop them in an invisible web of which she had no wish to escape. Elise could only hope that she’d keep her wits about her until they were alone.

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“Mmmm, yes,” Sara laughed time herself, low and throaty as she ran a hand over her own breast. “You are just my type, Viscount.”

Though it was she who was pleasuring herself, she closed her eyes and imagined it to be Victor Arseid doing to her as he pleased. How his strong, sword-calloused hands would feel pinching her nipples and grasping her hips. Letting her other hand roam further south, she slipped her fingers between her legs, pretending it was his tongue, using her imagination to conjure the sensation of his goatee against her thighs.

Undoubtedly, he would be a generous and enthusiastic lover, bringing her multiple orgasms before she pleaded for mercy- and more than happily reciprocated once she was again coherent enough to do so.

The scenario played out behind her closed eyes as she stroked and teased herself closer and closer until finally she could stand no more, arching and quivering against her own hand as she cried his name sharply, begging for release.

“Drat,” she grumbled when she finally opened her eyes again. She was still the only occupant in the room.

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Theirs was a dangerous game, one played against no other rival, each the other’s only worthy opponent. The masks may have shielded their faces from view but neither was ignorant of the identity of the man in his arms as they swept across the floor, each as elegant and graceful as the other, and each in his own way: Rufus’s cool, and painstakingly refinement to Olivert’s ardent and ostentatious ever at odds but tonight, in deed if not in spirit, they set aside their opposition, their perpetual dance of wills, for the space of a few hours, became a literal dance on the floor as they exchanged pleasantries and enmities with equal lightness.

Later, the masks fell, but the spirit of the night sustained, clever words passed between them: subtle barbs and insults like honeyed venom from their tongues as sweet and as sharp as the pleasures to follow the discarding of the last vestige of clothing, of pretense.

This was the beauty of the masquerade, all that took place right under Erebonina noses though either might dare say that those noses were sharply upturned enough to pose a visual obstruction. So much else was swept away as part of the night’s drama, and yet more that went unseen, be it willfully or unwittingly, by onlookers and bystanders. Surely they were not the only ones wrapped up in such intrigues but surely there were no others who ran so deeply.

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“Hear my confession, Father!” Olivier implore to Father Kevin, barreling forth before there was any chance for pause, taking a step closer until he could step forward no more, so close were they now together.

He licked his lips, running his hands appreciatively over Kevin’s biceps. No mere priest, he knew, but a priest nonetheless. “Did a cassock ever look so fetching on any other?” he wondered aloud, gaze roaring over the garment in a manner that suggested he was imagining what was underneath- or making a concerted effort to see through it with his own eyes. “Is it true what they say priests don’t wear under…” he trailed off as his eyes alighted below Kevin’s waist, a knowing smile gracing his lips.

“I’ve never heard any rumors like that,” father a Kevin laughed. “But if you’d like to step inside the confessional, it is my duty to hear the sins of Aidios’s children and grant them absolution.”

Olivier averted his gaze only slightly theatrically, making his voice demure. “There is much sin of which I need to be absolved, Father.”

Kevin stepped into one side of the confessional, taking a seat on the stool near the screen. Olivier followed. “Oh dear me, I’ve allowed you to see my face before I make confession. Whatever shall I do?” he pondered aloud. “Perhaps if I were to get down on my knees and bow my head in prayer…,” he suggested as he sank to the floor in front of Kevin.

“Well, far be it from me to discourage prayer,” Kevin smirked, making no effort to stop him.

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Maybe it was leftover adrenaline after the fight was dispatched. Maybe it was Sara’s impulsiveness bowling him over. Maybe he just wanted it. Who knew? Those thoughts had all occurred to Toval when Sara pushed him against the wall and for once it didn’t even occur  to him to object, even when she made some cheesy comment about getting her hands on his orbal stick. But by the time she’d gotten his pants undone and taken him without preamble right to the back of her throat, all of those thoughts had long since abandoned him.

He’d been reluctant to get involved with Sara- not that he hadn’t wanted to but damn, she could be intimidating. She was brash, she was loud, she was an utter mess and at the same time, she had it together in a way that no one he’d ever known could hope to.

And now her mouth was doing things to his dick that he’d only ever dreamed of. His head fell back against the wall with a thud and he forgave her a hundred times over for the comment.

Her lips were still wrapped firmly around his shaft and she was wiggling her eyebrows- he was certain she’d be smirking if she could just then- as he spilled into her mouth with a long groan, her swallowing around him only dragging out the sensations. Aidios…he made a mental note to be sure to return the favor once his legs stopped shaking.

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“Would you care to dance?” Laura asked, a faint blush gracing her cheekbones.

Emma giggled softly, accepting. “I’d be delighted,” she glanced subtly up and down her girlfriend’s frame, the dress she wore, how its high neckline highlighted her strong arms and shoulders, built by long hours of training at swordsmanship and swimming. Laura was truly stunning and Emma couldn’t have been happier to be here at the wedding with her.

“Shall we then?” Laura prompted after a moment, a soft quirk to her lips.

“Lead the way, Lady Arseid,” Emma batted her eyelashes, holding out a hand for Laura to take, one of those arms going around her waist as they joined the swirl of other couples waltzing gracefully with the music.

She could feel her cheeks warming at the subtle heat from the closeness of their bodies, losing themselves to the music. As Laura led her over the floor, her dancing as impeccable and graceful as her sword work, Emma needed make little effort to follow, she couldn’t help letting her mind wander further into the night and into the privacy of a closed room, another dance, one that would end very much unlike this one…

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“Think of it as a different means of training,” Fie suggested. “It requires a lot of discipline and control,” she added, twirling one of her pistol daggers. Glancing up, she added, “I know you have plenty of that.”

“That is an interesting approach,” Laura allowed as she turned over this perspective in her mind. Blades were for combat, not for pleasure, no? She couldn’t put the trepidation to rest completely. And yet she had been intrigued enough by the suggestion, and had enough trust in Fie to agree to try this.

Putting her weapon aside, Fie brought out a much smaller blade. Laura breathed a relieved sigh at the sight.

“Thought I was going to use one of those?” Fie quipped taking hold of Laura’s hand and, dragging the flat of the blade over her bare arm, smirking at the shiver induced by the cold metal on her skin.

“I was not certain exactly what you had in mind,” Laura admitted.

“They’re no good for this,” she shrugged. “Too unwieldy. They really would be stupidly dangerous. Besides,” she added, putting the smaller blade away. “We haven’t worked out all the details yet.”

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Jusis’s eyes fluttered open, slowly adjusting to the darkness, secure in the arms around him, mildly disoriented at the same time. He shifted, trying to find a better angle to rest his head on Gaius’s shoulder.

“Hey, you’re awake?” came the whispered greeting.

“Hmm, yes. Sorry didn’t meant to disturb you.”

“I was half awake myself,” Gaius tells him. “Still getting used to sleeping with you every night.”

“Sorry to disturb you,” Jusis mumbles, starting to slip back into unconsciousness.

“I don’t mind. It’s nice after all the time I’ve spent without you.”

“Good. I missed you too,” Jusis replied, starting to feel a little more awake with the conversation, even as minimal as it was. He turned his gaze toward Gaius’s, taking in what he could see of his lover’s face, dark and darker in the lightless room, shifting upwards for a kiss, lips meeting, a sweet moment in the small hours somewhere between night and morning. “I do hope you don’t mind me keeping you awake a while longer?”

“I’ll get through tomorrow somehow.” Jusis could feel the curve to Gaius’s lips as they grazed over his jaw.

“Good,” Jusis echoed. “Now come here,” he added, turning over to lie on his back. He wouldn’t quite have the strength to pull Gaius over exactly as he wanted him even if her were fully awake but fortunately there was no need. Seeming to be thinking along the same lines, Gaius slotted a thigh between his as his mouth found the most sensitive spots on Jusis’s throat.

Jusis’s hand traveled down over Gaius’s chest, his stomach, savoring the planes and contours of that hard-trained body. Finding the boundary of soft flannel sleep pants and slipping past it to find Gaius as hard as he was, letting out a shuddering breath at his touch, teeth scraping his skin maddeningly as he shifted, rolling his hips long and slowly, the sensation so good and at the same time hopelessly insufficient. He wanted more but how badly he wanted to hold on to what was left of this sleepy haze, how badly he didn’t want to interrupt that perfect friction. “Get these off,” he mumbled, tugging at Gaius’s pants and quickly removed his own when he moved to the side to do as requested.

Nothing more between them, skin met skin along the whole of their bodies, warm and smooth. Moving against each other, all too soon, they were nearly past the point of hope for any more deliberately concerted pursuit of pleasure. The sound of deep, throaty groans, Gaius’s breath, growing ragged, warm against his skin pushed Jusis quickly to the edge.



“Fuck me? Please?” There was simply no room for delicacy just then.

Moments later, the necessities quickly plucked from the nightstand, Gaius was giving him exactly what he’d asked for, drawing the most lewd sounds from him. This would be over quickly but Jusis didn’t care. He shifted his angle to take Gaius deeper, swearing as he did, his voice thin and heart racing as hot breath ghosted over his skin, soft groans from Gaius mingled with his own as release quickly chased them down.
It wasn’t much later that they were collapsed in each other’s arms once more. Bodies entwined, content and sleepy once more.

“Night,’ Jusis mumbled against Gaius’s lips, about to drift off once more. feeling but never hearing the sentiment echoed back to him.