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Burning Bright

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“I met someone wonderful today,” Alric declared as he marched into the house with a dreamy look in his eyes and handed Jasper his coat. “Lord Auberon. He’s amazing.” Alric spun in place, smiling widely at Jasper. “He’s from up north, in town visiting his cousins. I just…” Alric sighed, that dreamy look seeming even further entrenched on his face. “I think I’m in love.”

If Jasper had eyebrows, he would raise them but he didn’t so he settled for gazing steadily at his creator.

“Oh, shut up,” Alric said with a wave as he turned and stalked towards his study. “It’s real this time. I know it.”

Jasper shook his head as he hung the lord’s coat in the closet. He detoured to the kitchen to make a pot of tea, setting it on the waiting tea tray along with cream and sugar before heading into the study. He set the tray at his lord’s elbow and poured the first cup, sweetening it with copious cream and sugar just how his creator liked it. Alric reached for the cup almost as an afterthought, his mind focused on the newspaper open in front of him. He sipped at the cup and smiled. “This is very good. Thank you, Jasper.”

Jasper nodded in acknowledgement though he doubted Alric saw. His eyes had yet to leave the paper. Jasper waited, lingering, waiting to see if his services were further required.

After several minutes had passed, Alric finally seemed to notice that Jasper was still there and looked up with a start. “I’m all set for the night, thank you.” He set down his cup and patted Jasper on the arm. “Your help, as always, is appreciated.”

Jasper nodded again and drifted out of the room. He made a sweep of the upstairs, straightening up the bedchamber and the library before heading back to the kitchen. Alric and Jasper passed each other on the stairs. Alric yawned and mumbled a quick “Goodnight”, patting Jasper fondly on the shoulder. Jasper kept a strand of his senses on his lord, listening as Alric prepared for bed. He gathered the tea service from the study and took it into the kitchen.

There was not much to do in the kitchen this late at night besides minor preparations for tomorrow’s meals. He waved a hand at the dwindling coals in the fireplace and they perked up for him, returning the room to a pleasant temperature.

The study was messy, but Alric preferred it that way so Jasper did little besides restack a few books and then pull out another at random. He settled into his own chair, much closer to the fireplace and the flames danced in welcome. He cracked open the book – a novel of some kind, likely historical – and settled in for the night. He didn’t move save for the turning of pages until dawn’s light peaked through the windows.

Jasper stood, put the book away, and headed to the kitchen to begin his day anew.


“Don’t wait up! I’m meeting with Auberon tonight. Wish me luck!” Alric shouted as he jumped from one foot to the other while trying to pull his boots on. Jasper stared on with bemusement, idly wondering if he should offer his help before Alric faceplanted on the freshly mopped floor. Alric seemed to figure the boot situation out on his own after a moment and then he was digging his coat out of the closet. He shrugged it on as he flung the door open and turned, grinning like a madman as he stood in the doorway. “True love awaits!” The door slammed shut without either of them touching it and Jasper just shook his head.

Sometimes he wished he had been assembled by a less eccentric master. Alric was a learned and well-respected artificer so there were no faults in his construction, though some days Jasper wished Alric had put more work into it. He was only a prototype, really. A proof of concept to take to the national board so that further schematics could be drawn up and worked on in a proper lab. He heard they were mass-producing them now, for war or for peace, he was not certain.

It was hardly his concern. He had his place and he was content here. He just wished there were more options available to express himself. Eyebrows, maybe, or some type of mouth though how he’d produce sound to go through that mouth was another matter entirely. That was a question best left to the artificers.

Jasper put away the meager start of dinner he’d managed before Alric stormed through the house in his whirlwind of preparation. It would keep for tomorrow.

He made his usual sweep of the house and settled down to read. Alric said not to wait up but Jasper hardly had a choice in the matter. He didn’t sleep. He had no choice but to wait and then see to any needs Alric may have.

Night fell, casting faint shadows over the study. Jasper subtly encouraged the fire to kick up a notch. He finished his book from the previous night and was just perusing the shelves for another when the front door slammed open. Jasper turned to see to his master, but before he could get there Alric had already flung his coat aside and run up the stairs. Jasper stared at the closed door of the bedchamber. He could hear the unmistakable sound of the lock clicking into place.

Jasper worried. That type of behavior was entirely unlike his lord. He followed the thin connection between the magic holding him together back to its source. He was hit with a sudden wave of misery and pain. Very focused pain in certain parts of the body.

He cut the connection before his anger could bleed through. Alric hardly needed Jasper’s emotions pouring over his own when he was hurting.

As Jasper stared at the closed door, he realized he wasn’t just angry, he was furious. Someone had hurt his lord. Someone had hurt his Alric. And Alric had let them. Jasper was no fool. He knew exactly how capable his creator was. While he wasn’t proficient in hand-to-hand or melee weapons, he was a damn fine sorcerer even if combat magic wasn’t his focus. The fact that Alric was hurt instead of his attacker meant that Alric had allowed his attack to happen. There was only one reason Jasper could think of that Alric would allow that. Lord Auberon.

The fire that fueled his metal body burned fierce and hot.


Alric didn’t leave his room for three days. Jasper left trays of food outside the door at regular intervals. Some were touched. Most weren’t.

Jasper stared at the door in worry every time he passed.

A knock at the front door drew Jasper’s attention. He straightened and pulled the door open. A tall man in a sharply cut, tailored suit stood there and raised a fine eyebrow at Jasper. Jasper would have raised an eyebrow back if he could.

“I’m here to see Alric.”

Jasper tilted his head in question and pointedly trailed his gaze up and down over the man’s form. The man didn’t seem to take it too kindly. His brow drew together in a wrinkled glare.

“Step aside. I’m Lord Auberon. Alric will see me.” He attempted to shove his way inside but Jasper stood in the way.

Flames roared inside Jasper’s metal cage, sending steam hissing out through his joints. Jasper shifted to more fully block Auberon’s path. He wished he had a more expressive face so he could glare or lips to tell the man to fuck off.

“Move you stubborn bucket of bolts.” Auberon made to shove Jasper but instantly jerked his hands back as soon as they touched the hot metal of his chest plate. “Christ.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Alric said, his voice sounding hoarse and timid. “Jasper’s infused with a fire elemental. He can be quite dangerous to touch when he’s mad.”

Jasper was quite dangerous in many ways beyond that and he was seconds away from showing Lord Auberon at least one of them.

Lord Auberon smiled, a silky smooth smile that made steam practically whistle from Jasper’s joints with rage. “Alric, honey, don’t be like that. We had fun, didn’t we?”

“I-“ Alric hesitated.

Jasper pulled at the connection between them and made his displeasure know, throwing in his concern at his creator’s wellbeing and dislike of Lord Auberon. Alric’s gaze shifted to Jasper for a moment and then settled more firmly on Lord Auberon. “I think you should leave.”

Auberon huffed but stepped back far enough that Jasper could slam the door shut in his face and then lock it for good measure. Jasper huffed out another puff of smoke and then turned to his master. A rueful smile played across Alric’s face before he sat hurriedly on the stairs, throwing himself down as if all his bones had decided to no longer support him. His face fell into his hands, elbows propped on his knees.

“What am I going to do, Jasper? Why can’t I find a man as loyal and loving as you?”

Jasper tilted his head. He didn’t understand why Alric needed anyone else when he hand Jasper. He puffed smoke again, though very little escaped his frame. He was cooling down.

Alric looked up as Jasper moved to stand near him on the stairs. There were fading bruises around his neck. Jasper’s metal fingers brushed over them lightly. What kind of monster would do such a thing to Alric? Jasper’s hand settled more firmly against the bruises, his thumb rubbing soft circles against Alric’s throat. He wished he could take away pain with a touch but that was not within his repertoire.

Alric’s eyes grew wider as he stared up at Jasper. “Jasper, are you…”

Jasper moved his hand up over Alric’s chin to brush his thumb over Alric’s lower lip, stilling the words. He ran his thumb back and forth over the soft skin there, wishing he had a mouth of his own so that he could truly kiss.

“Jasper?”

He tilted his head. Alric opened his mouth and Jasper slowly slid his thumb inside. Alric’s lips closed around it, sucking at the metal. It felt strange. Interesting. He couldn’t feel through the metal, but rather his bond through their shared magic. He could feel what Alric felt – curiosity, confusion, rising desire.

Jasper was determined to show Alric he needed no man. He pulled his hand away from Alric’s mouth and lifted Alric to his feet. He guided Alric up the stairs with gentle hands, maneuvering him into the bedroom. He was not unfamiliar with helping his lord get undressed but it had never been for such a purpose before. He shed Alric’s clothes and set them aside neatly, draping the fabric over the back of a chair until his lord was left in his underwear only. He settled a hand against the top of Alric’s briefs and looked at his lord in clear question.

Alric nodded slowly.

Jasper slipped the last shred of fabric away from Alric’s body and then guided him to the bed, pressing down gently until Alric was relaxed on the covers. There was a bottle of lotion on the bedside table and Jasper coated both his hands before reaching forward.

Alric’s cock jerked in interest, already half-hard and growing as Jasper encircled it in a delicate grip. A startled sigh escaped from Alric’s lips as his head pressed back against the covers. His hips pushed up, seeking more of Jasper’s touch. Jasper stepped forward, positioning himself between Alric’s spread legs and he reached with his other hand down between Alric’s thighs to press a metal finger against Alric’s entrance.

Alric hissed and jerked his hips, pressing back against Jasper’s finger. Jasper was able to slide one finger in with no difficulty and he reveled in the way Alric moaned. He knew he couldn’t do all the things a human man could do – he couldn’t kiss, he couldn’t suck, he couldn’t fuck – but he still knew ways he could please his lord.

Alric’s moans grew louder as Jasper pressed a second slick finger in beside the first. Alric’s hips barely touched the bed as he shifted between Jasper’s hands, pressing up into the one circling his cock and then back onto the fingers sliding inside of him.

“More,” Alric pleaded. Who was Jasper to deny him?

The third finger was met with as much enthusiasm as the others. Alric’s hands twisted in the sheets. His body quivered against the bed, sweat glistening on his forehead and sternum as he tried to hold himself together.

“Please, Jasper.” Jasper crooked his fingers as he dragged them out of Alric, eliciting a loud, lurid groan. “Oh, please.”

Jasper tightened his hand slightly around Alric’s cock, giving him just a little more friction to rub into. It had the desired effect of breaking another crack in Alric’s control. Alric panted for breath, shivering like he was cold but Jasper could feel the faint heat coming off Alric’s skin. He pushed a fourth finger inside of Alric and that was all that was needed to make Alric come undone. Alric shouted as he came, seed spilling over Jasper’s hand in messy spurts while his insides clenched down on Jasper’s fingers.

“Oh, God,” Alric moaned. “Dear God.”

Jasper pulled his hands away and wiped them on the cloth set next to the wash basin near the door.

“Come here,” Alric said, and Jasper obeyed, stepping up to the bed and letting himself be dragged down onto the bed next to Alric. “You are the absolute best. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because you are.”

Jasper let a trickle of his amusement bleed through to Alric, who only smiled more and rolled closer, his head pillowed on Jasper’s arm. Alric’s eyes shut and Jasper wondered if Alric was falling asleep on him.

He was.

Worse things had happened. Jasper stared up at the canopy over the bed and let his mind drift. If he had lips, he would be smiling. Maybe he could fashion some out of magnets. It was worth a try.