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Gwaine isn't ashamed of his sex life. And he's not exactly secretive about it either.

But he doesn't go around in a kiss-and-tell sort of way. He never reveals his partners, their names or the exact things he does to them, with their consent; the way they kneel and beg and plead -- when he orders them to, when they want to, or in the playful way he teases them to the brink; the way he's a master of rope and bondage, makes it an art form encasing living flesh; or how, out of all his toys, he loves his leather flogger the most, with the sound of the tails zipping through the air to whip at skin, and the wooden paddle as it thwaps against the fleshy part of someone's arse.

Those details, precious and lively and wonderful, are between him and whomever he's taken that pleasure with.

He's a master of innuendo, however, sexual and open in that he will not keep it a secret that he can be one kinky bastard. He likes to bring it out, sometimes, little comments and gestures, just to see how it makes his friends' eyes go round or their cheeks turn pink or cause them to cough around whatever drink they've just sipped when he times his flippant remark perfectly. It makes him laugh and shake his head and they roll their eyes and he loves them for it, and them him.

But he doesn't let them demean it or make him feel badly. There's no reason for that, and he surrounds himself with those who, even though they might not enjoy the same, will never hold it against him. The two worlds, his friends and his intimate pleasures, stay separate enough and that's how Gwaine gets by, confident and knowing who he is.

Then there's the day he meets Elena, and that all begins to change.

**

"Gwaine!" Arthur calls across the pub, and he's leading some tall drink of water with fluffy blond hair and a badly fitting dress through the crowd. "There you are, mate!"

"Arthur," Gwaine greets with a grin. "Who do we have here?"

"This is Elena," Arthur says, polite as always. His eyes betray something different, a little bit of desperation as he searches for an out. His smile is schooled to give nothing away, but with the look on her face, biting her lip and glancing away awkwardly, she knows.

"Pleasure," Gwaine says, holding out his hand. "I've heard of you." She looks at him, surprised. "Arthur's father knows yours." And there it is, the two children of powerful men thrust together in hopes of something wonderful and bonding and entirely political, and all of them standing there know it. Doesn't matter their ages, daddies know best. Neither look happy with that.

"This is Gwaine," Arthur says, gesturing needlessly. "He's a riot."

"Hello," Elena says, uncertain and nearly unheard over the din of the pub. "Nice to meet you."

"Likewise. Let me buy you a drink," Gwaine says, turning towards the bar.

"Oh, no, don't." She steps forward, and very nearly trips on air. Both Gwaine and Arthur reach out for her, each grabbing her by an elbow.

Gwaine's grip is a bit tighter than he means, and he hears Elena's gasp. He lets go immediately; hurt without consent is never anything he wants to cause. But he knows that sound, intimately familiar with all that lurks behind it. Curiosity begins to curl through him, at this young, clumsy yet well-bred woman with the telling sound, as slight as it was.

"Sorry about that," he says lightly. "Hope I don't leave you a bruise."

"Apparently some people love when he does that," Arthur says, as if he can't help himself. Elena's mouth gapes, surprised at the jest. Noticing he may have stepped over a line, Arthur adds, "Though he's not likely to say more than that."

"You surprisingly lack tact sometimes." Gwaine teases him for he's not angry. He carefully watches Elena; she doesn't add anything, but she doesn't looked terribly offended either.

Arthur snorts. "I would've given you three minutes before you said something of the sort yourself." Which, all right, that's true enough. Arthur barrels over anything either Gwaine or Elena might've been about to say with, "Oh, look, there's Leon!" and he's off like a shot.

Gwaine says, "Don't tell him I've said, he'll never let me hear the end of it, but he's a good guy, that Arthur. He just doesn't want ..." He trails off a bit, trying to find the least insulting words regarding her he can.

"To be his father's pawn?" Elena supplies. Gwaine nods, and she flops down on a bar stool in a most unladylike fashion. It's sort of adorable and refreshing. She shrugs. "I understand."

"I'm sure you do. You sure I can't get you something to drink?" Gwaine asks. His eyes catch his friend Percy's across the bar. Percy nods his chin, trying to get Gwaine's attention to come over.

Elena's eyes follow Gwaine's and she gives him a soft, almost sad smile. "By all means, don't let me keep you."

"I shouldn't be rude like some other gits around here," he says with a grin. Percy's pointing at someone now, his big arms waving through the air and it's hard to ignore. But there's something about Elena that's keeping him there, that's making him want to learn more.

Elena just laughs. "It's not a problem, really." She gives a shove at his shoulder just as Percy starts yelling his name loudly, causing Gwaine to wince. She smiles. "Go."

"If you insist," Gwaine replies. While he thinks Arthur needs to man up and deal with this situation, Gwaine can't help but hope that he doesn't until Gwaine gets the chance to talk to her again. He gives charming smile, then leers at her playfully. "It was a pleasure to meet you."

She snorts. "I'm sure." She looks at him curiously, big blue eyes searching his for a moment. Her mouth opens to say something, and he nods to encourage it, but then she shakes her head as if to convince herself not to ask. Instead she says, "Goodbye, Gwaine."

He knows a dismissal when he hears one. He pats her elbow lightly and slips through the crowd, easily making his way to the mountain of a man he calls his friend. When he looks back, she's already gone.

**

"Elena!" Gwaine says as he spies her. He's happy to see her; she's crossed his mind a time or two in the past couple weeks since he met her, but hasn't seen her since. He's a little surprised to see her here, honestly, in amidst all the guests at the party Uther is throwing Arthur for his birthday at their luxurious home. On second thought, Gwaine thinks he shouldn't be surprised at all. Arthur probably has yet to stand up to his father and shake off this set-up. Gwaine would know if it was something serious by now but Arthur has barely uttered a word about it.

"Gwaine, isn't it?" she asks. She looks at him, open and clearly curious. He's not entirely sure what to do with that.

She shifts awkwardly, as if she doesn't know how to arrange her own limbs. For a moment it flickers across his mind that he'd like to tell her how to do it, how to move them more gracefully, as if he can command it into her. He shakes his head of the thoughts. When she sticks her hand out formally, he laughs but takes it in his own. Hers feels surprisingly small and delicate.

"Fancy meeting you again," Gwaine says. He gestures around grandly. "What brings you here?"

She sighs. "I was invited." She leans forward and whispers, "I think he was forced to ask. Then again, I was forced to accept."

He laughs, trying to shake it off and make her feel better. "Uther Pendragon has a lot of say."

She stands up straight and snorts. "As does my father." She takes a sip from the glass she's holding. "I don't mind much, Arthur's nice and I've met a few of his friends. I just know ..." She shrugs, like it's nothing. She seems used to it, like it isn't the first time she's been told who to date; Gwaine's surprised to find an angry tremor passing through his stomach. It doesn't seem right.

"Well, I know Arthur won't be ... impolite, exactly," Gwaine says. "It just takes awhile for him to warm up to people."

"I don't think I'm the kind of warming he wants," she laughs. She blinks and adds, "Oh dear, forgive me. That's not polite conversation, is it?"

"Don't be embarrassed, that sort of teasing is right up my alley."

"Not the only kind, I hear," she says. This time her eyes go wide and she puts her hand up to her mouth, as if surprised she said such a thing and is trying to shove it back inside and keep it there.

This time he laughs, deep and full from the bottom of his belly. "Now that sort of thing is exactly up my alley."

Her cheeks have surpassed a dusty pink and have gone straight to fire engine red, a blush that's covering her entire face. The liquid in her glass tilts around as her hand shakes. "I didn't mean -- it's not that I--"

"Oh, please," Gwaine says, waving a hand. "Don't worry about it."

But there's something there, in the depth of her eyes, that he recognises from a time in his life much before this one; embarrassment, uncertainty, curiosity, interest. He wants to ask, wants to explore that, and when she looks up at him through tuffs of loose hair, he sees that she wants to ask too but doesn't know how.

Neither of them get the chance to speak what's on their minds before Arthur comes up to them and draws them into a conversation. Something about the ridiculous meal that his father planned for the evening, way too much food and entirely unnecessary, though clearly he's pleased and happy with the attention. Gwaine does his best to focus, and then they're all called to dinner. Gwaine's seated away from Elena and when he tries to find her after the cake, he's disappointed that he can't.

**

Lady Morgana's is Gwaine's favourite place to go to house parties. They're the kind of house parties where an invite is necessary, and there's plenty of rooms to play; small private ones, a bigger one with several scenes happening, and the large basement with dark corners and lit stages.

Morgana's made good use of the money she got in her inheritance from Uther Pendragon when he was publicly cornered into admitting she was his. He probably won't agree, but they aren't on talking-terms again yet, as far as Gwaine knows from Arthur. The half-siblings are trying to meet eye-to-eye. Or, rather, Arthur is and Morgana's giving him a difficult time with it. No one's surprised.

Except, well, Gwaine's positively stunned when Morgana introduces Gwaine to Arthur's new friend, Elena. Gwaine cannot believe Morgana sometimes.

"Hi, Elena, good to see you," Gwaine says with a smile that masks his outrage toward the mistress of the house. There's no need to put Elena ill at ease.

"Oh, you've met?" Morgana asks. She smirks. "Of course you have, I'm sure Arthur's introduced Elena to many of his friends."

Elena looks nervous, flighty, like she's ready to run and never return again. She manages to round up the courage to say, "I was hoping I might run into you."

Gwaine tries to give her a reassuring smile but grabs Morgana by the arm. "Elena," he says pleasantly, "please excuse us one moment."

He drags Morgana away, nails digging into her arm, and she jerks from his grip. "You know that's not my side of pleasure," she says. She sounds sweet but Gwaine knows what's lurking beneath, and knows her on a personal level and it's not fair of her, not fair at all, what she's doing.

"You're crossing a line," Gwaine growls at her.

She blinks innocently at him, which is the largest crock of shit he's ever seen. "I haven't the foggiest what you're going on about."

"Elena," Gwaine hisses at her. "I don't give a flying fuck that you want to get back at your estranged family but dragging her into this isn't--"

"Enough," Morgana says in a voice Gwaine knows her subs must adore. However, he's not buying it and only scowls at her. She holds up her hands and explains. "I met Arthur for lunch and that poor girl, who is being politically thrust upon him, somehow got dragged along. Despite what you seem to think, I did not invite her out of spite." Gwaine snorts and she shoots him a glare. "She -- out of Arthur's earshot -- asked about it. Seems my reputation, and not that of a sibling, proceeded me."

He crosses his arms and glares at her. She smiles sweetly and pats his cheek, though her nails drag over his stubble a little and dig into his jaw. He jerks his head away and she laughs. "Ask her, if you want. In fact," Morgana says slyly, "I'm sure she'd really like that. Now, if you would please excuse me, I must make sure the evening is going smoothly."

With that, Morgana stalks off in the opposite direction from Elena. Gwaine sighs, because he knows that it's up to him now to set it right.

He approaches Elena. She's watching a scene across the room -- a young Domme who has a sub tied up and on his back. She's slowly dragging a feather over his chest and down his stomach, tickling around the base of his cock. The sub is twitching and trying so, so hard not to make any noise. He'll be rewarded well if he keeps that up; Gwaine's familiar with him and knows that's highly likely.

"Elena," he says softly, trying not to startle her, but she jumps at his voice anyway. She looks at him, biting her bottom lip. He says, "I should apologise for ... well. I just wanted to make sure--"

"I know what I'm getting into?" she supplies. She glances back at the pair she was watching for one moment and then looks Gwaine fully in the face. "I haven't really done this before, but I've been ..." She trails off, looking for words.

"Curious?" Gwaine supplies.

She nods her head. "I've never known who to ask, and when I met Arthur and some of his friends -- they've said some jokes about you, I didn't know -- oh, bollocks, I don't mean to get them in trouble, it wasn't anything horrible--"

"It's okay, I know they know." He smiles at her reassuringly. "I don't keep it a secret from them."

She looks nervous again. "But, I don't know if--"

"I will never tell a soul," Gwaine says. "Just because I'm open about this doesn't mean that everyone is. I get that." Some people really prefer to keep their sex lives, kinky or vanilla or anything in between, private. He respects that.

"It's just -- I know I think things, feel things, but I didn't know who to talk to, who to trust, and I've never ..." She wrings her hands, frustrated. Gwaine's in awe again with how uncomfortable she seems to be with her own body, all gangly limbs and frumpy posture. But when she glances around, takes in those around her, he can almost see it -- the person she could be, in this space.

He suddenly wants to make her that, help her find herself, make her fit into her own skin.

"I can help, you know," he says. She glances sharply at him. "Experiment. We can do scenes together." She starts to go bright pink again, raised against her pale white cheeks, and it's so fucking lovely to him he almost loses his breath and he knows he wants to see more. "You can figure out if it's actually what you want."

She gaze is still jittery, looking around the room, self-conscious and nervous. "I don't know. That's very kind of you, but--"

"Privately, of course," he suggests. "You can trust me to keep this between us. And you can trust me with your person. I'll do nothing but take the best care of it."

She gives a half-smile. "I thought the point was to do the opposite."

"Not at all," he says seriously. "And anyone who tells you different shouldn't be allowed to touch you." He sounds so protective, even to his own ears, and he's afraid he'll scare her off with it.

Instead, she looks reassured, which is the effect he actually wants. The tension slips from her shoulders and she gives the first genuine, relaxed smile he's seen on her yet. "All right, then. I think -- yes, I think that will work for me."

"I'm glad. I'm sure we'll both enjoy it."

She releases a small giggle but her eyes circle around the room again. She gets visibly nervous again. "So, then, where do we, um."

"Not tonight," Gwaine says gently. She looks at him, unsure. "Not that I don't want to, but I think it might be a lot for you to deal with. I want you to think about it, get comfortable with the idea. Tonight might be pushing it. I take it you've never before?"

"I'm not a virgin, no matter what my daddy thinks," she says immediately. "Even if I'm not the most experienced."

He laughs lightly. "Well, that is good to know, but it doesn't always have to be about sex. In fact, sometimes it shouldn't be. That's something to think about too."

It doesn't seem to be information that's new to her. "I've -- I've read that," she says, a little uncertainly. "I've done a lot of reading. And, uh. Watching. Videos."

"Well, that's very good, then," Gwaine says approvingly, wanting her to feel good and comfortable with that. "It'll help a lot when we sit down and negotiate. But, maybe for tonight," he gestures around the room, "you can watch it live. Get some ideas for what you might like."

"I have ideas," she says. She glances back to the corner she'd been looking at before; they're done with their play, but the Domme's untied her sub and is sitting with him, rubbing lightly at his wrists. He looks entirely blissed out, and she's attentive. Gwaine fucking loves seeing the aftercare scenes.

"Perhaps, but I promise you, the real thing is different than all the porn vids in the world."

She laughs at that and nods. "All right, then."

"Morgana explained the rules of the house?"

Elena nods again. "Yes, she has."

Gwaine gestures again. "Then have at it. A lot of people here won't mind you watching. They'll tuck themselves away out of sight if they do."

"You're not going to join me?" She sounds disappointed.

"No, I don't want to pressure you," Gwaine says. "Relax. Enjoy what you see. You may be asked to join," she's shaking her head before he continues but he does, "and it's up to you if you'd like to."

"Not tonight," she says. The 'not without you' isn't spoken but he hears it and he feels warmth move through his belly.

"Okay, then. Actually, let’s go and find Morgana. She’s a very gracious hostess, and very informative. I’ve no doubt she’ll answer any of your questions, take you under her wing for the night.” As angry as he previously was with her, Gwaine knows this is true. Morgana takes this very seriously. And Elena might feel a bit more free to ask, rather than already trying to please him and question or answer what she’d think he’d like. That’s not the point of the evening.

After they’ve found Morgana and explained, and Gwaine and Elena had exchanged numbers, Gwaine smiles warmly at Elena. "I'll call you soon, all right, Elena?"

"Yes," she says, smiling shyly at him. "I look forward to it."

"As do I." He bids her farewell, and he leaves the house. He hadn't even taken part in any play, but he still feels satisfied. He has something to look forward to.

**

"Remember our safe word?" Gwaine asks.

He and Elena are standing in the spare bedroom of his flat. They've opted for their first time of play to be somewhere private, just for them. His spare room looks nothing like that in the first cast of an eye, but he has it rigged up to be what he needs when he needs it, easy to prepare. There're some toys laid out on the dresser, a coil of rope sitting on a chair, handcuffs at both the top and bottom of the bed.

He doesn't intend on using any of that this evening, and she's well aware of what they're going to do, what he's going to do to her, the limits they've agreed to. That was their first session, over coffee in her kitchen the week before, nothing but talk and getting over nervousness, but now they're here and he's ready for this, been anticipating it.

"Elena," he says. It's soft but firm and her eyes that had been flitting around the room met his.

"Sorry. Yes, yes, I remember."

"Tell me what our safe word is."

"Changeling," she says.

He nods. "I hope you don't have to use it, but know that you can, any time you need. Don't be afraid of it." Don't be afraid of me, he leaves unsaid, but she knows.

"I won't be," she says.

He wants to reassure her, tell her curiosity is natural and sometimes theory and practice aren't the same thing, that it's okay if she doesn't end up liking this. But he's done that already, there's nothing left to say, it's time to do it. He just needs to make her feel it, believe it, feel safe and strung out and satisfied all in the same scene.

"It's time to begin," he says.

Elena immediately becomes still, and her eyes drop to the floor. It's different than her usual awkward ways; it's obedience, and it thrills Gwaine. He walks up to her, and then around her, not touching but just looking, having her get used to his presence, his close proximity. She does what she can to stay still though she fidgets a little and she watches him out of the corner of her eye. When he reaches out and places a hand on her hip, she doesn't flinch or startle. Excellent.

He steps back, giving her some room. "Take off your jumper," he tells her.

She nods and complies, grabbing the hem and lifting it up over her head. She has a pink tank-top on underneath, snug around her breasts but loose over her stomach. She's wearing a long flowing skirt; part of him wants her to leave it on, to lay her out on the bed and push it up around her hips and have it fan out to her sides. Maybe someday he'll do exactly that, but today isn't the day and it might just be a frustration that gets in the way for both of them.

"Take off the skirt," he tells her next. She knows that he was going to ask her to strip down to her undergarments, but not any further. Not yet.

Her long fingers fumble at the zip on the side, but she undoes it and then pushes the skirt over her hips. It slides down her legs and pools at her feet. Her panties are green with little yellow hearts and it all clashes and looks so adorable and is perfectly her.

He smiles and holds out a hand, wiggling the first two fingers to beckon her. Elena takes a step towards him, and he steps closer to her again to meet her, both hands settling back onto her hips. "Very good," he says smoothly. "Very nice."

Gwaine slips around so he's behind her. His mouth is by her ear when he says, "Come on, then, to the bed." He guides her there easily.

Gwaine sits down first, sliding so that the back of his knees are flush up against the side of the mattress and there's plenty of room on his lap. He pats his jean-clad thigh and quirks an eyebrow at her. "Join me."

She nods and scrambles onto the bed, awkward legs and flailing arms. He nearly gets an elbow to the face. Her movements quiet when his hands gently touch her skin and help arrange her. Next he knows, he has Elena across his legs, face down. Her torso's on the mattress and her hips are in his lap, her long pale legs stretched out beside him, feet hanging off the end of the bed.

"Good," he repeats again. He knows he's saying it a lot, but he wants her to know, he wants her to feel right and trust that she's doing well.

He places one hand on top of her tank top, smoothes it up and down her back for a moment until she starts to relax into the mattress. "Move your arms so you're comfortable, but make sure it's how you want. You need to keep them there, keep still. Understand?"

"Yes," she says into the mattress. She shifts a bit, stretching them out above her head, fingers splayed across the bedcover. She shakes her head but then pauses her movements when she goes to change it.

"Go on," Gwaine tells her.

She pulls her arms down again and crosses them under her head, and she lays her cheek against them like a pillow. Her head is turned towards the middle of the bed, and he can see her pale eyelashes fan against her cheeks as her eyes close.

"Done?" Gwaine asks.

"Yes. I'm --" She thinks twice about continuing on, and finishes with a simple, "Yes."

"Excellent." Gwaine brings his other hand to smooth over the back of her thighs. He runs it up and down, but then brings it to settle at the top, fingers curling down. His thumb moves along the bottom edge of the elastic on her panties, just below the swell of her arse.

"This is what's going to happen," Gwaine says. He's telling her, step for step, so she can expect it. She's not used to this, and he's not going to give her impossible tasks just to set her up to fail. There will be no surprises today. "I will start with rubbing at your bottom, warming it up sort of. Bringing the skin to life, to make it feel better for you. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Elena says softly but loud enough for him to hear.

He slides his hand up a little more, over the material of her panties. He rubs lightly, starting in small circles. She's a little tense at first, probably getting used to someone touching her arse, but she relaxes into it. He goes up and down each cheek, then across her entire bottom, and even down to her thighs and over her lower back. He rubs and massages it all, making it a stimulated area, to help with the sensation.

He pauses, a hand still laying over her arse. The other is rubbing at her shoulder blades now. "All right, Elena?" he asks.

"Yeah," she says, sounding relaxed. "That felt good."

"I'm glad," he tells her. "I'm going to move on now, to what we discussed. All right?"

Her upper body rises and falls as she takes in a deep breath and exhales. She nods. "Yes."

"I'm going to spank your bottom five times," Gwaine says, to make it clear.

It's something she told him, blushing red, that she wants to do. No reason, nothing deep-seated or from the past, she assured (not that she needed to -- everyone has their own thing). It's just something she wants to try, the first thing she wants to try. If she doesn't like it, then it's nothing that he's ever going to try again. And if she does, well, that's always something to keep in mind.

He continues, "And I want you to try your best to be quiet, to take it. Understood?"

"Yes," she says.

"All right," he says, and brings his hand up. She's tense under him, anticipating it, and he brings his hand down swiftly to her left arsecheek. "One," he says, counting for her, "and don't forget to breathe."

She's still tense but lets out a shudder of air. He lifts his hand and brings it down to the other cheek, "Two," and keeps the same rhythm and pace until he's done with "Five."

She'd gasped once or twice, but nothing very audible, and kept herself surprisingly still.

"You did so well, so very well," he croons softly, his hand soft on her butt now, but still touching. He gives her a moment to compose herself, speaking low and soft encouraging words. When he feels she's ready, he asks. "Do you want another round?"

"Please," she chokes out against her arm.

"We'll go to ten this time, yes?"

"Yes," she says, breathily.

"This time you count. Can you do that?"

"Yes."

"Good. Start at one." He does it the same, same pace and rhythm, smacks alternating cheeks. She does well, choking out each number, but she's loud enough he hears. She's trying hard not to move, to be good and stay still. By the time she gets to the end of her round of five, her voice is very shaky and he can see the sweat start to soak into the neck of her tank top, darken the pink material against her fair skin.

"That's so very good," Gwaine says to her. God, he loves the sound of the slap, the feel of her pressed against his lap. It gets him, every time, and she's one of the most loveliest he's had. He's grown hard in his jeans, bulge pressing against her side and she can probably feel it. There's nothing wrong with that, though the point isn't to get himself off today. It's not even to get her off, at least not by his fingers or anything else playing beneath her panty line, but with the way her body is shaking, he almost wonders.

"Can you take more?" Gwaine asks her. He doesn't want to push her limits, but he's got to trust she'll know if she's taken enough, until she learns her limits too.

"Yes," she breathes out. "Yes, please, can you -- more, please?"

"Do you remember our safe word?"

"Yes."

"Tell me. It won't end our play if you tell me once right now."

She takes in a shuddery breath, but clearly says, "Changeling."

"Good," he says. "Use it if this is too much."

"I will."

"All right," he says, and nods even though she's not looking at him. "We'll go one more round, and I'm going to go ten again. Can you do that? Can you take that for me?"

She's nodding before the question is even out of his mouth, but she says, "Yes. Yes, I can do that. Please."

"Very good," he murmurs. "I want you to do something else. You don't have to count, but you can make all the noise you want. I want to hear you."

She moans as a response, and the sound is light and heavenly and goes straight to his dick. He shifts a bit, side to side, and makes himself comfortable. That's not what his focus is right now, he's got to pay attention to her. He takes a deep breath and lifts his hand.

His spanks come in a rapid and steady procession. He counts them out loud, but he almost wonders if she hears. She reveals how well she was doing holding back earlier, because now she lets go and moans each time he slaps her arse. It's like her hips are connected to the sounds and with each one she bucks into Gwaine's lap.

She gets louder towards the end, and by nine her body is taut. With ten, she grinds down into his lap and then it's like she's falling apart, coming with a shout that's half sob, half moan, and her body shakes against his legs and the mattress.

He runs a hand over her bare thighs, and the other one he slips under her shirt and gently kneads at the knobs of her spine. Then she goes limp and loose, sinks down against the bed and his lap, all the tension she was holding in slipping away.

She groans again as he shifts around, but it's different now; it's satisfied and happy, like she can't believe she feels that good.

"Good, then?" he asks, making his voice sound different now, lighter. Their play is done.

"God, yes," she hisses.

He laughs. "I'm glad. Okay, we're done, but stay as you are." He slips out from under her legs, desperately trying to ignore his own hard-on. He kneels down on the floor beside the bed, his hand resting lightly on her neck. She turns her head to face him, and he sees that blissed-out glazed look in her eyes. He grins. "Yeah, you're good."

He moves down her body a bit, tugging down the tank top but reaching for the band on her underwear. "I'm just going to look, make sure you're okay, all right?"

She makes an affirmative sound and doesn't even move when he pulls down her underwear a little.

He does well not to make any noise, not to startle her; there's nothing wrong, of course, it's not like they played that hard. But there's a lovely pink bloomed across her arse cheeks and when he leans down to make sure there's not burst blood vessels or welts, he can smell her wet scent and it takes everything in him not to moan and reach down to feel.

He fixes her underwear, grabs a blanket from nearby and lays it gently over her. He crawls onto the bed next to her, sits against the headboard and watches. He's not entirely sure what she might want or need right then, everyone can be different and it wouldn't do to force physical attention on her that makes her feel uncomfortable. He wants to know, wants to explore that part of it, explore so much more. He watches her attentively to pick up any cues.

Elena curls towards him, staying on her stomach but not touching other than to put a hand on his stomach. He places one hand on her hair, pets through it gently. "This okay?"

She nearly purrs. "Yeah, I like that."

"You did so good," he tells her softly. He keeps his caresses light and soothing, moves his hand to rub over her shoulder blades. "So very well. That was amazing, you were amazing. I'm so proud of you."

She's coming more to herself now and she smiles at his praise. She glances at him, the foggy look in her eyes clearing but still looking relaxed and sleepy. Suddenly, she yawns, jaw cracking, and then giggles. "I see why guys fall asleep so soon," she slurs.

He laughs. There's no way he's close to falling asleep right now, not with the way he's so turned on, the need and want that hasn't been fulfilled thrumming beneath his skin. But it's nothing next to the need and want to make sure she's fine, that she feels good and is safe. "It's all right," he says. "Go ahead, if it's what you need." He's not even sure she hears him before she's out like a light.

Gwaine sticks around a few minutes, making sure she's actually asleep and not just dozing to wake and find him gone. When he's certain, he slips out from under her hand and pads out of the room, making his way across the hall to the bathroom. He splashes water on his face, and then unzips his jeans, taking out his cock.

He jerks himself off quickly, but keeps quiet to make sure he can hear her if she calls out. Elena's sounds and scents echo in his mind to help him along, and it doesn't take long at all. He bites down on his bottom lip and keeps in the groan as he comes all over his hand, sticky and warm.

He washes up, peeks into the bedroom to see that she's fine, and then hurriedly makes his way to the kitchen. He grabs a couple bottles of water and goes back to the bedroom, placing one on the table on her side of the bed. He drinks part of his before he lies down onto the mattress beside her. He doesn't sleep, keeps his senses open and attentive. He'll be there when she wakes up for however she might need him.

**

Gwaine and Elena had made plans to get together to play again soon, and he's called to check up on her at least twice a day to see how she's doing and make sure she hasn't slipped into a bad sub drop. She's sounded happy any time they've spoken and the pride he's felt in that is addicting. But he certainly hadn't expected to see her just three days later.

He really should've though. When Arthur invites his crowd of friends to an impromptu gathering, he invites everyone, even if it's the girl he's supposed to be dating but really, really is not.

"Gwaine!" Arthur calls out, dragging Elena by the hand through the crowd. "You've met Elena, right?"

"Ah, yes, Elena," Gwaine says.

"Yes, my friend, Elena."

"Hello, Gwaine," Elena says with a smile. She looks lovely tonight, hair more under control than ever and gloss over her plump lips, ones he's never had the chance to kiss but now can't stop the thought from invading his mind.

Gwaine's eyebrow quirks. "Friend, you say?"

"Yes, yes, just friend," Arthur says, waving a hand around. He looks at Elena and beams. "We had a chat about that … when was it, two weeks ago?"

Elena nods in agreement but meets Gwaine's eyes steadily. It's something Gwaine already knew because he need to make sure he wasn't stepping on any toes, but damn, he can't hold back a smile at that moment, not with the way she's looking at him.

"And then," Arthur carries on proudly, "we talked to our fathers and, well--"

"Told them to back off," Elena supplies. She grins and adds, "Only a lot nicer because we're not that daft."

"Exactly," Arthur agrees. He's looking at her like he's amazed, like he can't quite believe someone would dare stand up to their own father and such. But Gwaine knows that look, knows it's just respect and admiration and not lust at all.

"Glad to hear it," Gwaine says, happy for them. And, he can't lie, for himself too.

Arthur turns sharp eyes on him and smirks. "Is that so?"

"Of course," Gwaine says graciously. "Always good to know when a beautiful woman has escaped the likes of you."

Arthur barks out laughter, like it's the funniest joke he's ever heard. "The likes of me!" He pats Gwaine on the shoulder, though, and Gwaine knows that Arthur thinks the world of him, even if he's terrible at saying it. Arthur turns to Elena but sticks a finger in Gwaine's face, ignoring when it's batted away. "Watch out for this one, though. Charming bastard that he is, there's a side to him that would shock your stockings off. But ask him about it, he's not afraid to tell."

Gwaine shrugs lazily. "Don't see that there's a reason to be."

Elena smiles. "Sounds like that could be an interesting conversation."

Arthur snorts. "No doubt." He goes to turn away from them, noticing a friend out in the crowd, but then he pauses and whispers into Gwaine's ear. "She's a lamb, Gwaine, all right? Be gentle with her."

"As gentle as she needs," Gwaine replies honestly.

Arthur nods, claps him on the shoulder, and disappears into the crowd. Gwaine watches after him, shaking his head.

Elena looks at him curiously. "What?"

"I think I just got a talking to about treating you right," Gwaine says, amused. "But if he's so worried, why'd he bring you over here?"

"I asked him to," Elena says. She's smiling. "Well, I asked him if you were here and next I knew I was being dragged through the crowd."

"I see," Gwaine says. He gives her a playful smirk. "And why might you be looking for me?"

"To ask if you wanted to dance," she says.

Gwaine bursts out laughing, surprised. "Dance? Is that some sort of euphemism?"

Elena grins. "Nope." She points to where there's a little band setting up, and where there's a small clearing. "I actually meant dancing. Though, I must say, I'm not that great of a dancer but it could be fun."

She leans against the bar, and she seems so at ease with him. It's in a way that Gwaine's not seen her be in public before, and only as she gracefully got of his bed the other day, like her limbs had slid into place and were exactly as they were meant to be.

He holds out his hand to her and says, "I'd love to dance with you."

She takes it and leans in, saying boldly, "I'd love to do a great many things with you."

Warmth blossoms in his chest, spreading out slowly until it meets his mouth, creating a smile so wide. He thinks -- knows -- that she doesn't just mean on the dance floor, and she doesn't just mean in the bedroom but a combination of them. It's not a feeling he gets often, but one that's been growing since the moment he caught her elbow and made her gasp a secret.

He takes her in his arms. "I think that's a fantastic idea." He leads her through the crowd, holding tight and not wanting to let go.

~end