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If You Say It With Your Hands

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“I can’t believe you’re still only thinking about girls,” Felix sneers.

Sylvain, leaning against Felix’s doorframe, shrugs with his free shoulder. “We should take the opportunity while we can, right?” he says.

Emperor Edelgard’s war is going to be a messy, bloody thing—worse than it has to be, with the way Dimitri’s been acting about it. If it were up to Sylvain himself, he just wouldn’t have let her leave the monastery to gather her army in the first place, but for whatever reason Lady Rhea and Seteth have given her a grace period.

Hah. Grace, that’s a concept.

People are going to die. People he knows are going to die, possibly, depending on whether the students from Adrestia decide to follow her after all. He might have to kill some of them himself if they do, and he’s no stranger to killing family but the thought of Bernadetta von Varley’s haunted grey eyes, or Dorothea Arnault’s sweet-bitter smile, at the other end of his lance isn’t one he’d like to entertain.

Or, of course, one of them might kill him first. Edelgard always kept to herself, pretty much. Still, some of her points aren’t bad, and her axe arm definitely isn’t. It’s a bad situation to be in; he might as well avoid it for as long as possible.

The whetstone Felix is using on one of his swords makes a bright, painful noise somewhere around the hinge of Sylvain’s jaw. He doesn’t look up from the blade as he asks, “Who would you even find to waste their time with you, when everyone’s getting ready for a war?”

Sylvain wants to make him look, and knows he can’t. The Felix who used to want Sylvain to pay attention to him has been gone since Duscur, just like the Ingrid who used to laugh as well as lecture. If Sylvain could get Glenn back—

Well, he can’t. Might as well wish he’d been born an only child.

“If you’d ever come with me, you’d see,” Sylvain says, coaxing. He wants…he wants a lot of things, but he wants to see Felix relax with an urgency he refuses to look too closely at. There’s a lot he’ll do, but he doesn’t touch hot stoves and he doesn’t think about Felix, flushed and smiling a little and fucked boneless, sprawled out on Sylvain’s own sheets. Still, some kind of afternoon off would be good for Felix, in general.

“I think you’re lying.” Felix wipes the blade of the sword with an oiled cloth, then sheathes it smoothly. Now he does look up at Sylvain. “Whatever cheap tricks you use on those girls—”

“Cheap?” Sylvain demands, pressing his hand to his heart. “I’m wounded, Felix, don’t you know by now I give each of them my very best?”

Felix, who certainly knows he doesn’t, ignores him. “Your cheap tricks won’t work on them now. Edelgard is coming back to Garreg Mach to attack the monastery under this very moon. Everyone here is preparing and everyone in the town must know they’ll get caught in the middle.”

“Call it a last hurrah,” Sylvain says. Felix hasn’t actually told him to get out, or thrown anything at him, or gotten up and shoved him out of the doorway before slamming the door. For Felix, this is a positively diplomatic conversation. Sylvain pushes his luck. “If you might die, might as well have a little fun first, right? And the same goes for you specifically, you know. Hey, have you ever—”

“That’s enough,” Felix says immediately. “Just—shut up.”

It’s the answer Sylvain knew he was going to get—almost knew, was almost sure, but Felix and Dimitri were so close until a couple of years ago, and Felix lets himself be so sweet with Annette now, and there could always have been some random girl back in Fraldarius—and still. Still. His heart picks up, drumming a battle call against his ribs. “Come on, do you really want to risk dying a virgin?” he asks, and wonders why Felix hasn’t thrown him out of the room yet.

“Nobody’s going to sleep with you,” Felix says, and picks up another sword—or, no, it’s a wo dao with that kind of curve on the blade. “You’re not even that good.”

Sylvain doesn’t bother trying not to make an extremely indignant noise. “Who told you that!? They’re lying.”

“I don’t need someone to tell me that.” Felix unsheathes the wo dao, then runs one fingertip along the flat of the blade, just above the cutting edge, and hms softly. “If you were a swordsman talking about how many battles and duels you’d won like that, it would be obvious you were lying to serve your own pride.” He picks up a piece of paper from his desk and tests to see if the wo dao will cut it, then hms again, louder and more irritably. Apparently it didn’t—he takes a different whetstone out of one of his desk drawers and sets to work.

Sylvain has missed out on a lot of trouble by not specializing in anything as fussy as swords, but he also can’t decide if he’s more offended that Felix is insulting him like this or that Felix is insulting him like this without even looking at him. “Well, if you’d ever relax for one damned hour and come with—”

“I’m not interested in following you around while you trick girls into leaving with you,” Felix says. He’s still, unbelievably, drawing the blade along the whetstone, as if this conversation bores him. The loose locks of hair that never stay when he ties them up sway around his face with the motion, and the muscles in his shoulders and upper arms shift visibly under the thin cloth of his uniform shirt. He always handles his swords so fucking gently—not just carefully, though that too, but like he cares about them.

It’s too much to bear. “Okay, fine,” Sylvain says. The scrape of steel on stone stops; the room goes silent. “What, do you want to try me yourself? I don’t know if…”

Felix still hasn’t thrown him out.

Felix still hasn’t thrown him out. Felix has let him talk about girls for a lot longer than usual without a word of complaint, didn’t say anything about the die-a-virgin crack, practically dared him to prove—

Giddy with the rush of a spectacularly bad decision, borne along on the imminent catastrophe of it, Sylvain closes the door behind him and says, “Right, fine, if that’s the only way to salvage my honor, I’ll give you a kiss, at least. Put the sword down and sit down somewhere more comfortable.”

“No,” Felix says, going back to honing the blade. “I don’t intend to neglect the care of my weapons because you want your ego stroked.”

Abrupt silence rings in the room.

If Sylvain had any idea what Felix thought they were doing, he’d probably say something like, Oh, it’s not just my ego I want stroked, because if he has to be completely honest with himself the thought of Felix’s deft swordsman’s hands anywhere on his skin is the kind of thought that pierces armor and melts steel. But he doesn’t. Felix might want the same quick moment of human connection that anyone else might want, or he might just be curious, and either way he’s probably looking for something easy. Goddess knows Sylvain is that. Saying the wrong thing will ruin not just this afternoon but the next who knows how long, because they’ll both remember he said it.

Besides, from the sudden stillness of Felix’s shoulders, Sylvain doesn’t even need to say it.

“I don’t need my ego stroked,” Sylvain says, going to sit down on the edge of Felix’s bed. “You don’t need someone to tell you you’re good with a sword, I don’t need someone to tell me I make it worth people’s while to spend a little one-on-one time with me.”

Felix puts the wo dao down and turns for just long enough to glare at Sylvain. “It’s not the same thing. I didn’t tell you you could sit down.”

“Sure it’s not the same thing,” Sylvain says, ignoring the second sentence because Felix is perfectly capable of actually telling him to get the hell both up and out, and if he were going to do that he’d be looking at Sylvain instead of turned back to his desk. “But it’s pretty close, right?”

“You’re…competent with a lance, when you’ve actually practiced,” Felix says to the wall in front of him. “Which just makes it all the more disgraceful that you refuse to practice. And you’re better at magic than I am.”

That isn’t the objection Sylvain was expecting. “Well, sure, but it’s not like I’m some kind of genius like Lysithea, or a scholar like Annette—”

“Shut up,” Felix says, and goes back to his fucking fancy sword.

If Sylvain had something he could say about anything else Felix was good at, he would, just to get the attention off of himself, but these days the only thing Felix does is try to get better at swordfighting than his memories of Glenn. The Glenn in Felix’s memories would be a giant now—taller, stronger, faster, more experienced than Felix was four years ago, but probably not more than Felix is now. Felix is chasing the horizon, and he’ll never catch it. He’ll never listen when anyone tells him that, either. There’s nothing Sylvain can do about it.

The grating sound of sword maintenance finally comes to an end. It seems like it took a few years, but it was probably less than a minute. “Fine,” Felix says, after he’s oiled and sheathed the blade. “I’ll let you kiss me. But if I’m not impressed, you’ll stop wasting my time with this.”

“With…sorry, what?” Sylvain asks. There’s a faint dusting of pink across Felix’s cheekbones.

“Trying to get me to pick up girls with you. Ever.”

That is more than a little unfair—ever is, Sylvain is still hoping, kind of a long time—but before he can form an objection Felix gets up, and it stops seeming like the time to pick a quarrel.

Felix crosses the room like he’s still planning on walking into a fight, smooth and quick; it’s just as unreasonably attractive as it has been all year, but this time Sylvain doesn’t have to pretend it isn’t. It’s only when Felix gets to the side of the bed that he falters, a hesitance that anyone else might not have noticed.

Sylvain pats the mattress next to him. “I don’t—well, that’s a lie. I do bite, but only if you ask.” He considers the honed muscle of Felix’s body, the strength coiled in his deceptively lean frame. Not even counting the Crest of Fraldarius. “You’d have to ask nicely.”

“Absolutely not,” Felix says, fast as a reflex kick. “You think I want to go around having to tell everyone why I’m covered in hickeys?”

Sylvain doesn’t even like giving them, as a general rule, but the thought of leaving a mark high enough on Felix’s throat that his shirt collar won’t cover it—he’s always bruised easily—is not going to leave his head now. And the thought of Felix asking him to is. Fuck. “So I won’t,” Sylvain says, trying to keep his voice light and easy about it, and almost succeeding. He did this to himself. “Sit down.”

Felix grumbles, “It’s my own bed,” but he sits. “Are you ready to lose?”

“With that attitude?” Sylvain says. They’re so close. He could probably count Felix’s eyelashes, if that were a reasonable thing to be doing with his time. “Yeah, I am. Lighten up, Felix, goddess’s sake, I’m not going to kiss someone who’s actually planning to hate it.” He wishes Felix would make anything easy, ever.

“I…fine,” Felix says, and goddess spare Sylvain he’s blushing again, more vivid than last time. It brightens his eyes, softens the sharp lines of his face. It doesn’t soften his voice, though. “Just so you don’t complain it’s not fair.”

It is definitely not fair. Nothing about it is fair, from the hair tumbling out of Felix’s updo to the fact that he still smells like pine and sword oil and probably always will. “Come on, you know me,” Sylvain says. “I don’t try to get out of things by complaining they aren’t fair. If you’re not impressed, I’ll stop trying to get you to come talk to girls with me, but ‘ever’ is an awfully long time—how about six moons?”

“Ever.” Felix’s voice is flat and uncompromising. Some people would say it always is, but they just don’t know how to listen.

“A year?” Sylvain tries anyway.

The mattress shifts and the long muscles in Felix’s thighs tense as he prepares to stand up.

“Fine, fine,” Sylvain says, fast as he’s ever tried to talk himself out of trouble, “ever, okay, ever.” Felix settles back down. Victory, but what an unbelievable fucking amount of weight to pile on one kiss. Maybe too much weight, hah. “If it’s ever, you need to give me a second try if you’re going to find a problem with the first one. Maybe a little feedback.”

Felix considers it, frowning. “All right,” he says finally. “But not—I’m not going around for days wondering when you’re going to interrupt my training to kiss me again. Do it now. …If you have to.”

“Sure,” Sylvain says. This is really happening. “Okay, just…try to relax. Uh, have you ever kissed anyone before?”

“Yes,” Felix snaps, shoulders hunched and spine stiff.

Sylvain holds his hands out placatingly, a look-how-harmless-I-am gesture that’s way out of place here when it’s not a weapon or a blow Felix is wary of. “Just asking. Was it any good?”

“…It was fine,” Felix says.

That’s all Sylvain is getting out of him. “Right, so you know you have to look at me.”

Felix actually does relax an inch or two, but he doesn’t turn toward Sylvain. “Make me.”

What. “What?”

“You don’t tell whatever poor girl you met at the market or in town to look at you so you can kiss her,” Felix says, stubborn and…absolutely right, actually, Sylvain is shortchanging himself here.

“Okay.” Sylvain is a little lightheaded, more than a little terrified. His heart is racing and it’s all he can do to keep his breathing steady and his voice even. “I—hang on, you know it’s not—you know I like guys too, right?”

Felix darts him an unamazed look. “Obviously.”

“Just checking,” Sylvain says. He doesn’t actually know if Felix does. He doesn’t know who Felix likes, he’s so locked down about everything. Maybe he just doesn’t like people like that at all, but Sylvain really has never actually tried to get him to fuck anyone, just to get out of Garreg Mach Monastery and talk to a pretty girl about something other than ways of dealing death. Anything that might happen after that is between him and her.

“Not impressed,” Felix says, crossing his arms.

Sylvain gathers his attention. Goddess, this is going to be such a disaster. “I love your hair,” he says, tucking a few loose strands of it behind Felix’s ear and letting his fingers drag across the cartilage. He sees the hitch in Felix’s breath more than he hears it. “The way it never stays tied up and bits of it are always coming down?” He twists another lock between his fingers, careful not to pull. It’s so soft, one little bit of Felix that hasn’t been pared down to a blade. “Pretty sure everyone wants to touch it.”

Felix’s eyelashes flicker. He doesn’t move, doesn’t knock Sylvain away or say anything about how he’s not a kitten to be passed around and petted (this is a lie—he is absolutely a kitten, un-retracted claws and all). Normally, Sylvain would take that kind of non-response as an unsubtle hint to back off, but he’s honestly not sure Felix still knows how to say “yes” outside of the training hall. Everything Sylvain has seen him ask for in the last year has been some variant on “no.” I don’t like sweets, Mercedes. Leave me alone, Sylvain. Get out of my sight, boar. Training in magic is a waste of my time, Professor. I didn’t ask for your advice, Ingrid.

Still. “Look, if you really hate this—”

“Just get on with it,” Felix says. “Or are you forfeiting?”

“Felix,” Sylvain says, dead-serious, and waits for Felix to look at him. “You’ve got to tell me if you changed your mind, okay? Or if you change it later.”

Felix looks away again. “I’m perfectly able to tell you to get out.” After a moment, grudgingly, when Sylvain doesn’t move or speak, he adds, “It’s fine.”

Sylvain’s exhale comes from the very bottom of his lungs, unknots muscles in his back. “Okay. Where was I?”

“Telling me that everyone we know wants to touch my hair,” Felix says dismissively. “Do people actually believe these lines when you use them for real?”

For the length of a few heartbeats, Felix had believed it. Sylvain had had him, and then Sylvain had ruined the moment, but it was worth it. It’ll be worth it even if he shattered his only chance and can’t get it back now, to know that at least he’s not doing anything that will hurt Felix.

“Sure they do,” Sylvain says. “I would never lie to someone I was trying to charm.”

Felix snorts. “You tell them all you love them and you’ve never seen anyone like them.”

Sylvain would kick himself, if he could. He is a goddess-damned unspeakable fucking idiot. “Every girl has her own unique beauty,” he says, “but why waste time talking about girls now? I don’t want to do that when I’ve got you right here.” Felix tenses, and Sylvain changes course quickly. “Too much? Will you at least let me compare the color of your eyes to—”

Honey, he’s going to say, or brandy—one sweet, the other intoxicating, both rich, it’s a good start for a compliment—but just then Felix actually looks at him.

”—gold?” Sylvain finishes without any input from his actual thoughts, because Felix’s pupils are blown wide and the iris blazes around them. Please, he thinks. It could be anything—nerves, anger. It could be. “But that’s not really your style either, is it.”

Felix doesn’t take flattery, or trinkets. Barely even takes real compliments unless they’re about his fighting. Won’t let Sylvain say he’d rather be here making the most chaste gestures of courtship than balls-deep in some girl who’s just using him and whose name he won’t even remember a moon from now. Sylvain wishes he’d ever actually thought about this, but it had seemed so obvious that he’d never need a plan that he hadn’t wasted his hopes.

“No,” Felix says. He was right; this isn’t going to work at all. But he uncrosses his arms, at least.

“Okay,” Sylvain says, regrouping. Again. He’s not sure how to be honest without feeling like he’s carving his skin off, but Felix doesn’t want that from him anyway. They’re not any further wrong than they were five minutes ago. He tucks another wisp of hair behind Felix’s ear, lets his hand linger even longer this time and trail down Felix’s neck when he’s done.

Felix tilts his head, just a little, away from Sylvain, yielding up the line of his throat. Sylvain keeps cool about it, in spite of the sudden spike of his pulse, the bloom of heat in his stomach. He lets his fingers dip beneath the collar of Felix’s shirt before his hand settles on Felix’s shoulder, warm even through the layers of shirt and vest.

More things Sylvain can’t say: Felix is gorgeous; he wants to make him stop fighting every damn thing.

But Felix turns, just a little more, under Sylvain’s hand. It’s like the tilt of his head, something small, something Sylvain is afraid to even point out he’s doing in case he stops.

“I’m not going to compare your lips to something like rose petals,” Sylvain says, “because you’d just laugh.” Girls like it, generally. His experience with guys hasn’t involved seduction, so much, or anything like this kind of work. “But I can tell you I’ve thought about kissing you before.”

Felix tenses, then relaxes with a visible effort of will. “Are you ever going to stop talking?”

“Nope,” Sylvain says. He brings his other hand up and drags the thumb across Felix’s lower lip, slow, and watches the shudder roll through Felix’s whole body. “I mean, when I kiss you, sure, but—”

“Just do it, then,” Felix snaps. His lip catches on Sylvain’s thumb, and the inside of his mouth is hot and wet, and it takes all Sylvain’s well-trained self-control to ease his hand away again so Felix can talk—so Felix can tell him to kiss him.

Worth it.

“Well, never say I kept a gentleman waiting,” Sylvain says. He lowers his hand to the far side of Felix’s legs, for balance, and leans in to keep being a fucking tease about it. He brushes his lips across the corner of Felix’s mouth, then the other, and it isn’t until Felix makes an exasperated noise in the back of his throat that Sylvain fits their lips together properly—gently, lightly, still barely more than a promise.

The angle’s bad, but he isn’t going to make excuses for himself. He hardly even needs the excuses, with how soft Felix’s mouth is against his, how Felix’s quick unsteady breaths catch at even the tiniest changes in the kiss. Carefully, slow as he can, Sylvain nudges at Felix’s lower lip with the tip of his tongue, not even sure what he’s expecting.

What he gets is Felix opening for him, easy as anything, and oh fuck Sylvain is going to go back to his room and jerk off about this for a week. Felix’s hands are still at his sides, or braced on the mattress, or something, and it’s not…this still isn’t even Sylvain’s best work, and that is going to drive him the rest of the way out of his mind. What he could do if they weren’t sitting side-by-side—well, there’s no point in wishing.

Then Felix does touch him, a hand curled around Sylvain’s biceps, and his hands must have been bracing him up because they overbalance. Sylvain barely pulls away in time to not smash his face into Felix’s, but he’s still draped half-over him.

Felix shoves him off but not up, leaving them both lying on the bed at what is, at least for Sylvain, a very weird angle as far as his knees are concerned.

“Clumsy,” Felix says breathlessly to the ceiling. His lips are flushed and swollen from the pressure of Sylvain’s mouth. “Do you try to crush everyone you kiss?”

Sylvain shouldn’t be defensive, but he can’t help it. “It’s hard to kiss someone when you’re sitting next to each other and the thing you’re sitting on moves.”

Felix, infuriatingly, says, “I knew you’d say it wasn’t fair.” He sits up.

“Nope,” Sylvain says. “Get back here. Actually, give me just a minute.” He gets his boots off with hands that are almost steady, then lies back down at an angle that makes him feel less like his knees are trying to bend the wrong way. “Now get back here.” He pats the bedcovers next to him.

Felix looks down at him suspiciously, but just as Sylvain is about to suggest standing instead of lying down—anything to not be perching on the edge of the bed—he actually does. “Now what?”

Sylvain kisses him again. It’s deeper this time, less teasing, not least because when he tries to ease back Felix very calmly works a hand into Sylvain’s hair and tightens his grip, holding Sylvain in place. It’s not that Sylvain minds having his hair pulled, because he doesn’t, but it’s hard enough—in multiple senses of the phrase, heh—without that.

It’s good. It would be good whoever it was, because whoever Felix has kissed in the past taught him how, but it’s…Sylvain isn’t really used to trading kisses in a clean, sturdy room with sunlight puddling on the floor beyond the bed, the pine scent of Felix’s soap mixing with the herbs they use in the laundry at Garreg Mach. Felix is quiet about it, even his ragged breathing tightly controlled, but Sylvain can feel the effort in it every time he swallows back a sound that’s trying to be a gasp or a moan.

Sylvain really, really wants to get Felix’s hair down, but he settles for running a hand down Felix’s back, following the arch and dip of his spine. He stops with his hand spread at the small of Felix’s back, because he has some manners, but even just that leaves Felix with his hips jerking forward against Sylvain’s. The searing press of Felix’s hard cock against Sylvain’s hip should brand him.

What it does is knock the thoughts out of his head for long enough that Felix recoils, turning his head away from Sylvain along the way.

“Hey,” Sylvain says, gently as he can, wishing he were the praying type—wishing he were the wishing type, even—“it’s okay.” His lips are still brushing against Felix’s cheek, which is at least better than Felix having jumped up and gone to the other side of the room.

“Sorry,” Felix says. His teeth might be gritted, or it might just be the tension twanging through every muscle of his body, all that molten relaxation gone.

Hey, Goddess, I know we’re not really on speaking terms, but…don’t let me fuck this up too. “Seriously, it’s okay.” Divine intervention remains a crock of shit. Sylvain moves his hand up Felix’s back, pats his shoulder carefully. “It doesn’t have to be a big deal.” Not for the first time, he wishes he knew what was going on inside Felix’s head. If Felix is embarrassed about being hard, he’s definitely not the only one here who is, and Sylvain doesn’t even have the excuse of not having much experience. If Felix doesn’t want that…

After a moment, Felix says, “…I didn’t tell you to stop yet.”

Sylvain’s mouth is still on his skin.

Oh, if these are the rules for two kisses, Sylvain might owe the goddess an apology. A stick of incense when he goes down to the cathedral. Five sticks of incense. “My bad,” he says, and works his way along Felix’s cheek to his ear. “Hey.” It’s a breath more than a sound, and Felix shivers against him. “I know you said no biting, but what about a tiny nibble? No marks, I promise.”

“If you have to,” Felix says, trying to sound unimpressed and failing. His voice is breathlessly rough.

Sylvain nips his earlobe and gets an unmuffled moan and another stuttering thrust of Felix’s hips. When he soothes the sting with his tongue Felix rolls over and pins him to the bed, which Sylvain is absolutely not complaining about. The original kiss broke somewhere in there but Felix hasn’t said anything, and Sylvain isn’t going to be the fool who does, not when his lips are against Felix’s neck and Felix is shifting around on top of him.

No marks, Sylvain reminds himself, fighting the greedy urge to suck a bruise into the pale skin of Felix’s throat like a fucking war-banner. No marks.

“I hate—your fucking—shoulders,” Felix gasps. His hands are curled around Sylvain’s shoulders, fingers flexing and digging into the muscles there as he grinds his dick against Sylvain’s stomach. “You don’t even train. They’re wasted on you.”

The angle might be working for Felix, but it’s not great for Sylvain. He settles his hands on Felix’s waist, tilts his head a little so his lips are brushing the curve of Felix’s jaw instead. “Can I move you a little?”

“I guess,” Felix says, but the way he twists trying to press up into Sylvain’s hands and down to keep getting friction at the same time ruins this attempt to sound cool too. Sylvain doesn’t know why he’s still trying, but that’s Felix for you. Maybe he doesn’t even remember how not to fight any more.

Sylvain guides him down a little until their cocks are pressed together through their trousers and his nose isn’t in danger of colliding with Felix’s jaw. It’d be better with fewer clothes, but what isn’t? Other than combat. Still, he’s not sure even now if they’re still on the two-kisses rule or if Felix has decided this is more fun than winning an argument. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible, and Sylvain isn’t willing to risk it.

Felix is still wearing his boots. The leather rubs smoothly against Sylvain’s calves, and he’s going to be thinking about this every time they spar from now until whenever. It’s—there’s so much he still wants to do and can’t. He wants to wreck Felix, wants to leave him limp and relaxed and totally unstrung with pleasure, wants to make him come until he can’t even remember his own name let alone everything he’s worrying about, and Felix is still wearing his fucking boots.

He doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but he doesn’t have to decide because Felix turns his head and catches Sylvain’s mouth with his own, swallowing any sound he might want to make. Felix’s tongue slides against Sylvain’s, hot and eager, in time with the rocking of his hips.

Sylvain doesn’t even know if he can call this sex, doesn’t know what Felix wants to call it, but if it is it’s already the best he’s ever had, just from this. Fuck it. He pulls the tie out of Felix’s hair and sinks his hand in. Pine-scented softness tumbles around his face, and the curve of Felix’s head is warm and fragile against his palm.

“You really…” Felix pants, drawing away just enough to get words out. “You do like my hair.”

This is the stupidest thing Felix has said in several moons at least. “Yeah,” Sylvain says. He doesn’t sound much better off than Felix does any more, but he’s not expecting the hot flare in Felix’s eyes or the way Felix kisses him again, harder.

Forget liking your hair, I like you, Sylvain thinks, closing his eyes. But Felix doesn’t want to hear that, and Sylvain can’t blame him. I love you. I might be in love with you, whatever that means other than messing up everyone’s lives.

He eases his free hand down to curve over Felix’s ass, changing the rhythm a little as they grind against each other, and a shudder ripples through Felix. His moan vibrates against Sylvain’s mouth, and, goddess, there are so many things they could be doing, Sylvain could get him to make that sound again and again, and he does not know what Felix wants. He hesitates.

“If you stop, I’ll hurt you,” Felix says, burying his face in Sylvain’s neck.

It’s like he read Sylvain’s mind, like the last four years and more had never happened and Felix still knows every stupid thing Sylvain is planning before he does it. A threat shouldn’t make Sylvain’s dick leak into the smallclothes he’s probably about to ruin anyway, but this one does, because at least he knows Felix doesn’t want him to stop either.

Sylvain works his hand lower, nudging at the space between Felix’s glutes with his fingertips, and Felix just—Felix just spreads his fucking legs for him. Sylvain is going to die of lust before he ever manages to get Felix off.

“Felix,” he says.

Felix makes a wordless noise that buzzes against Sylvain’s skin.

“Can I make you come?”

Fuck you,” Felix manages, even as his hips jerk against Sylvain’s, “I’m not one of—I’m not going to beg you.”

“Please,” Sylvain says, not even sure why he’s asking except that he wants to hear it. “Felix, please.”

Felix makes a high punched-out sound that zings down Sylvain’s spine like lightning and tightens his balls almost painfully. For a second he actually thinks Felix is coming now, feels Felix’s cock pulse against his own, but Felix is still so tense—fighting this, too. His voice is so strained it almost sounds like a sob when he says, “Yes.”

He’s on the edge already, and when Sylvain presses up against the tender skin behind his balls he comes almost immediately, like he couldn’t take one more drop of pleasure without breaking. He says something, but it’s muffled against Sylvain’s throat and drowned by the roaring of Sylvain’s pulse in his own ears.

Sylvain eases his hand away and tries to hold still—he doesn’t know how sensitive Felix gets, but fuck, he’s only human, and Felix is loose-limbed and hot on top of him, sweet and almost clinging. Sylvain would be more than willing to make an exception to his usual rule against cuddling. “Can I—”

“What now,” Felix asks, but he’s shifting already, his thigh rubbing against Sylvain’s cock. “Like this?”

“Perfect,” Sylvain says. Pine and sword oil, Felix’s hair spilling across his throat and shoulders, and the flex of Felix’s muscles against him. “You’re so—” Felix goes tense again, and Sylvain barely manages to stop his stupid mouth before he says anything he can’t take back. He concentrates on Felix’s body working against his and on keeping his mouth shut. It’s work staying quiet, when it’s usually more work to talk, but he’ll do it if that’s what it takes to make Felix comfortable.

It doesn’t take much longer for him to come—he’d be embarrassed, but he has a hell of an excuse. As soon as he’s done, Felix sits up, leaving Sylvain in a rush of cold air with the sticky mess in his smallclothes the only warmth left. So much for the cuddling.

“Well,” Felix says tensely. “You won.”

“What,” Sylvain manages. He opens his eyes again and sees that Felix is hunched in on himself, hair falling all around his face.

Felix says, “You won. You and your cheap lines got me into bed after all. Pathetic.”

There’s real venom in that pathetic, and Sylvain doesn’t think it’s directed at him, which is just wrong. “What?” he asks again. It’s the only word left that he knows.

“Your insincere compliments. ‘Perfect,’” Felix sneers. “Saying you’d rather be here than with your latest girlfriend.”

Sylvain scrubs his hands over his face. It doesn’t help. “I’m sorry,” he tries. “It slipped out. I know you didn’t want to hear it.”

“You’re not usually this cruel to people you know,” Felix says, all armored up again. A few minutes ago he’d been coming in Sylvain’s arms. A few minutes from now that memory is going to be as distant and implausible as a wet dream.

“I—what?” Sylvain asks, yet again. He props himself up on his elbow and stares, hoping that something Felix says will make more sense if Sylvain is looking at him.

Felix scowls. “You know.”

“I really don’t,” Sylvain says. He can tell Felix is about to kick him out for real, and his voice spikes up in alarm. “Felix, I swear, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“My…I used to have feelings for you,” Felix says.

Sylvain’s elbow gives under him and he drops back to Felix’s mattress with a jarring thud. “Used to have,” he says to the ceiling. His voice sounds like a croak. How had he missed that, back before he’d ruined it? “Oh.”

Felix says, almost wondering, “You really didn’t know.”

“I would have said something if I’d known,” Sylvain says, still to the ceiling. Broken bones don’t hurt right away either. “Like, ‘Hey, do you remember that promise we made when we were kids, that we’d stick together until we die together? What do you say we tell our combined family legacies to fuck off, and get married while we’re at it?’”

Felix chokes on air. “I—what—married?”

Sylvain shrugs as well as he can without moving. “It’s the logical extension, isn’t it?”

Felix doesn’t say anything. Sylvain, reluctantly, pushes himself back up, to see Felix has gone absolutely scarlet from collar to hairline.

Yeah, that was a little sudden. And a little much, and completely unwanted, and Sylvain has a mess of cooling come soaking through his smallclothes. “It’s fine, though.” He stands up. “I’m just going to—”

“If you’re joking,” Felix says, voice so tight it vibrates, “I will gut you in your sleep.”

Pieces rearrange themselves and fall into new places in Sylvain’s mind: how much Felix hates it whenever he talks about girls; how every time this afternoon he’d tried to give Felix a compliment that he really meant Felix had tensed up about it; how Felix had goaded him through the whole…thing they’d just done, from Sylvain in his open doorway to Sylvain in his bed; that desperate sound Felix had made when Sylvain said, Felix, please. The way Felix never makes anything easy. The way Felix never, ever really lets go.

“If I were joking,” Sylvain says, “I’d deserve it.”

Felix moves off the bed in a motion like the lash of a whip, almost too fast to follow as he yanks Sylvain’s face down to his and kisses him again, fast and messy and frantic. Then he drops back on his heels and says, “I’m not marrying you. We have a war to get ready for.”

Sylvain can’t help but note that that doesn’t mean Felix won’t marry him after the war. They’d better both survive it. “Well, I’m going to go change and then get some training in. Want to join me?"

All Felix says is, “Yes,” but it’s enough for now.