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“So what are these?”

Allura shivered as fingertips ran over the pink spiral on her shoulder, following the lines down to her elbow and back up.  The markings on her arms weren’t as sensitive as other ones on her body, but the touch was gentle and loving, and that made it more intense.  Catching Shiro’s hand, she wiggled around until they were face to face, slotting her fingers in between his.

“Do you not have places on your body that are more sensitive?  And don’t try to lie; I know you do.”  Allura grinned as she slid her free hand from where it had rested on Shiro’s chest down to his side; her fingers dug in a little and Shiro yelped and squirmed away, catching her other hand too, bringing both to his lips.  He was smiling; Allura liked it when he smiled, liked the way his dark eyes sparkled. 

“As I was saying,” she murmured, rubbing her thumb over his, feeling the callouses.  “These markings have more nerve endings than normal skin.  Touching them feels good.”

“Does it get distracting?”  Shiro’s hands cupped her cheeks, thumbs rubbing the triangles under her eyes now.  Instead of a shiver of pleasure it felt like a warm blanket draped over her on a cold night, and Allura smiled, her heart skipping a beat for his touch, the nearness of him.  “I mean, you have them all over your body, right?  Does it ever…”

He trailed off, raising an eyebrow.  Allura caught his meaning and bit her lip.  She’d given the idea of Shiro touching those markings some thought – a lot of thought – but even when he’d started showing up at her door, exhausted from lack of sleep and haunted by nightmares and needing the comfort of another’s presence, even when they’d slipped from friendship into something else, something deeper, Allura had held herself back.  And yet…

“It depends on where the marking is,” she murmured.  “Cheeks are not so distracting.  It feels… good.  Comforting.”

Shiro ran his thumbs across the markings again and Allura pressed her lips to the heel of his palm, but took his hands away from her face.  It wasn’t where she wanted them, and when she guided his fingertips to the marks just below her collarbone, spreading side to side like scrolled wings, the expression on his face told her he was interested in something more.  “And these?”

“Mm.  One doesn’t touch these unless one is exceptionally close.  A lover, usually.  Or a very close friend.  It feels…”

It felt like his fingertips, metal and flesh, were stroking along every inch of her skin, and Allura drew a steadying breath.  The collarbone marks usually weren’t the most sensitive ones, but it was Shiro.  Things seemed to amplify beyond the norm with him.  “Does it feel good?”

“Very.”  Allura let him play with those for a moment, watching him through eyelids that felt very heavy.  He was focused, lips parted, eyes tracking the motion of his fingers, before she gave in and shifted forward, kissing him.  It went on for longer than their kisses usually did, and heat slithered down her spine from mouth to where his fingertips pressed in on her collarbone markings, and lower, pulsing in her belly and between her legs.  She really ought to stop this, they’d had a long day, but suddenly Allura wasn’t very tired.

“So cheeks, shoulders, collarbones… these all of them?”

“No.  There are others, in various places.”  Before she could think too much about it, Allura sat up, turning so her back was to him as she pulled up the hem of her night-dress, stretching as she pulled it over her head and let it fall to the floor.  The recycled air of the ship was cool on her skin, but there were two points that felt warm, and her fingers brushed each one in turn; the branched design at her lower back, and the small chevron just below the nape of her neck.  Allura pulled her hair over her shoulder so he could see, her eyes closing as he touched these in turn.

“The lower back is intimate, but not necessarily sensual,” she said.  Her voice sounded loud in the quiet of her bedroom, when the only sounds were the shifting of the sheets around them and their breathing and her voice, reciting lessons she’d learned from her mother before the war.  “A beloved family member might press their hand to it, if it’s been a long time, or a… a lover, to show affection and devotion.” 

Shiro did just that, but then traced the skin around it too, and she felt the mattress shift when he got up for a better angle.  For some reason that heightened it for Allura, the way he brushed his thumbs over the branches of the mark but let his hands span her entire lower back.  “It’s a beautiful design,” he said, and Allura inhaled sharply as she felt his lips press against the chevron higher up.  “What about this one?  It looks like the design on all our armor and all over the castle.”

“Some marks are unique – my lower back and my stomach are unique to me.  But others are hereditary.  All members of my family have that chevron.”  I suppose that means only I have it, now, she thought, and fought to keep her sadness down.

Shiro must have sensed something of how she felt, because he wrapped his arms around her, cheek pressed to her shoulder, and Allura let herself be held, leaning against him now for solace as he so often leaned on her. 

“Well, since we all wear it too, I guess that means we’re family,” he said.  Allura smiled, because he was right, the paladins were her family now.  Still, she poked his arm.

Hopefully you don’t see me as a sister.”

“I definitely don’t.”

“Good.  Because I have more to show you.”  She half turned, pushing Shiro back down to the pillows as she swung a leg across his hips, settling her weight on his thighs.  She’d never been bare-chested like this before him and it was thrilling to see the way his eyes widened, see his hands twitch with the desire to touch.  She didn’t have much occasion to feel desired in the middle of a war.  It was nice to see it in Shiro’s face.

He finally did touch the marks on her collarbone again, then let his fingertips trail down lightly, too lightly, over her breasts and the firm muscle of her abdomen until he found the design low down, spanning the distance between her hipbones, curving up just above her navel and back down to points below it, as though pointing him where she wanted him to go.  Not yet, though, not yet, and she took his hands and moved them to the lines at her knees (she felt powerful when he touched them, strong) and when she could take it no longer, let his hands slide up her thighs back to the intricate, most intimate mark on her body.

“This one,” she said, “Only a lover may touch, once an Altean is past a certain age.  So count yourself very lucky, Shiro.”

“I do.”  He traced one of the lines with a fingertip, light as a feather, and Allura shuddered.  It had been far, far too long since anyone had touched this mark, and they had not touched it like Shiro did.  “How does it feel?”

Allura felt bold, one palm pressed to the place his own mark would be if he were Altean, the other reaching up to take his chin lightly in her fingers.  “Watch me and figure it out,” she told him, leaning over to kiss him.  This time the heat didn’t dissipate when she pulled away; instead it grew as she pressed forward into his hand on her stomach mark.  Through half-lidded eyes, she watched Shiro watch her, stretching and arching above him as he touched her mark, alternating between stroking it gently and with more pressure, watching how she reacted.  When he scraped the lower parts of the mark with his nails, Allura gasped, trailing a hand over her own collarbone markings.  It wasn’t as good as what he was doing, but it was a little added edge.  He did it again and her face warmed when a shuddering, quiet moan escaped her throat.

“Suddenly shy, Allura?” he asked.  The way he said her name, coupled with another pass of his fingertips, cranked the heat in her body up even more.

“Your hand feels very good.”

“I can tell.”  Shiro’s fingers stuttered against her hip, just on the edge of the mark.  “Do you want me to keep going?”

“If you stop, you’ll have to have your other arm replaced,” Allura muttered, and Shiro’s chuckle, deep and throaty, made every one of her marks pulse in response.

She’d never been able to reach orgasm just from touching her marks on her own.  Some could, but her previous lovers hadn’t been so skilled—or perhaps her feelings for them hadn’t run as deep.  Granted, there had not been many before war had broken out, but Allura was sure none of them had been able to elicit this kind of response, none of them had left her gasping and writhing in their laps.  Shiro sat up, one hand on her stomach and the other on her lower back and his mouth on her collarbone, and Allura’s whole body felt incandescent.  His teeth scraped the mark and she whimpered, looping an arm around his strong shoulders for purchase, fingers digging in as she reached between them, stroking below with her fingertips until she felt her body open enough to let her slide her fingers inside, lengthening them until she could reach far enough inside to brush the spot she wanted to reach.

Time slowed, or perhaps it stopped altogether.  Shiro’s fingers dug into her marks and Allura arched against him, working her fingers over the arc of nerves inside of her; he slid his tongue along the scrolled pink marks at her collar, on her cheeks, and his name fell from her lips in a moan.  Dimly she was aware that his hips were moving too, slow rolls made awkward by a lack of proper support.  He was hard against her inner thigh, he wanted her, seeing her like this made Shiro’s façade of careful control falter and that thought made Allura want him more, want to see him come undone like she was coming undone.

His mouth dipped briefly to her nipple and even though it wasn’t a marking, the way his tongue slid over it made her cry out, feeling his fingers dig into the chevron high up under her hair made her rock down hard against her fingers, and then all she could think of was more sensation, more pressure, more more more harder now

Allura buried her face in Shiro’s shoulder, her hand slipping against his skin as she came hard.  Her cries were only slightly muffled, but it didn’t matter; nobody else had quarters close to her bedroom, they could be as loud as they wanted, which was good.  As she clutched Shiro, gasping for breath as she carefully wiggled her fingers out of herself and let them shrink down to normal size, twitching as he stroked her marks still, Allura knew she wanted to know what he sounded like when he wasn’t holding back.

He left off her marks after a moment, stroking her skin.  That felt good, too; his hands slid up her sides, down her legs, back up her arms to pull her close against him, his face pressed into her hair.

“Good?” he asked, after they’d held each other for what was either an hour or a few minutes or a few seconds.  Allura smiled against his skin, pressing a kiss to one of the scars.  He’d been self-conscious about them, but they told his story.  They were his version of her marks, she supposed.  They showed he was a survivor.

“Very.”  She sat back, shifting position in a way that deliberately rubbed herself against him, still hard.  Shiro made a low noise in the back of his throat and his hands tightened on her briefly before she felt him force himself to relax.  Shiro already looked wrecked anyway, face flushed and eyes blown wide.  Allura kissed him and tasted the heat of his mouth and felt him moan as she rolled her hips again.  It would be a few more before she’d be loosened enough again to take him into her, but she wanted to, badly.  “And what about you, my paladin?”

Shiro’s lashes fluttered as she stroked his cheeks with her knuckles.  “I want what you want,” he said, but Allura pressed her fingertips to his mouth, smiling a little when she felt his tongue slide out against the pads of them.

“I want to hear you say it.”

“I want you, Allura,” and if he’d wanted to continue he couldn’t have, because she’d kissed him fierce and hard, one hand cupping the back of his head, the other snaking between them again, sliding under the waistband of his sleep pants to take his cock in hand and oh, it was warm and heavy in her palm, familiar to all her lessons on Altean biology but just strange enough that a little exploration was in order.  If she was going to be putting this inside her, Allura thought, she ought to have a good idea what it felt like.

Shiro had originally made a very surprised noise into her mouth, but it had quickly become a moan, and she felt him put a hand over hers and move them together over the shaft, slow.  “Not too fast,” he panted when he broke away.  His irises were almost totally obscured by his pupils.  “Slow.  Just like that.”

His hand still rested on top of hers but it was less guiding and more just to have another point of contact with her.  Their foreheads pressed together, Allura watched him, watched him bite his lip to keep himself under control.  It was endearing; he obviously wanted to prolong this, was fighting to.  She kept her movements slow, not wanting him to come until she’d gotten him inside her.  Just a few moments more…


At last she felt her muscles unclench, relishing the slight ache they left as she pulled her hand away, pushing Shiro onto his back again.  This was how she liked it, being able to look at her lover below her, and he was particularly beautiful to look at.

“Are you ready?” she murmured, leaning over him so she could kiss him again.  Shiro opened his eyes and the depth of feeling in them, even as lust-filled as they were, made her heart skip a beat again.  He cupped her cheek for a moment.

“I’m ready,” he said, and Allura sat back, rising up on her knees so she could line up and sink down on him in one long slide, a delicious shiver racing up her back at the stretch.  Shiro’s eyes had rolled back into his head, and honestly, Allura needed a moment too, shifting to get used to the feel of him inside her.  He felt good, and as she rocked there, eyes closed, she felt his hand press against her stomach mark again.  Allura opened her eyes and oh, yes, this was a wonderful view.

“Still good?”

Shiro swallowed before he replied with a nod and a roll of his hips below her, and that was enough, they were both moving.  It took a few tries but when they got into the right rhythm, when she shifted just so to make it so every time he was deep in her it stroked just the right spot—oh, it made her feel—



Her skin was too tight for her being, her heart too big to be contained by her chest.  He felt so good, he was so good, and she heard herself telling him in a series of breathy pants, so good to her and for her and in her, his hands so good when they touched her, and he responded by digging his thumbs into the two swirling finials at the base of her stomach mark, making Allura cry out and pull him up to her, hooking an arm around his shoulders again. 

He didn’t have marks, but he made a delicious noise when she bit him, just at the base of his throat.

Suddenly she was on her back and he wasn’t in her, and Allura found herself looking up at Shiro as he hovered over her.  He was showing off a little, bracing up on his flesh arm, muscles all on display as he lined up and slid back inside her, and Allura locked her thighs tight to his sides and dug her nails into his back, feeling his teeth on her collarbone mark and then his tongue soothing the mark, and one his hands was under her lower back, his stomach brushing her mark there with every thrust. 

She was light contained by flesh, she was stars locked in by a body too small to hold them, and when she looked up into Shiro’s eyes, barely open but watching her, loving her, she felt all that light and warmth explode outward.

Allura had no intention of being quiet and she wasn’t, and the force of her orgasm pulled Shiro down along with her, his mouth open as his hips stuttered against hers, hard and uneven and completely out of control and exactly just what she’d wanted.  She hung onto him as her body shook; Shiro, her paladin and her right hand and her lover, steadfast and dependable as a pulsar’s bursts of energy.  He trembled in her arms as he came down, lowering himself carefully on top of her, and Allura welcomed the weight of him, stroking her hands through his mussed hair and down his back, holding him as much as clinging to him.

When at last she’d regained some of her faculties, she pressed her lips to his temple and he shifted up onto his elbows, resting his forehead against hers.  There was a different sort of smile on his face.  Allura liked this one, too.

“Wow,” he breathed.  Allura snorted.

“Is that all?”

Really wow.”

“Mmm.”  Allura tilted her chin up and kissed him, lingering.  “Really wow—what, why are you laughing?”

“It sounds funny when you say it.”  He shifted, paused, then shifted again, and Allura pursed her lips at the tugging, wiggling back to follow his motion.  Surely he knew he was not meant to go anywhere for a few minutes, now?  It was rude to try, but perhaps he didn’t know.

“What are you doing?”

“Allura, I.”  Shiro looked embarrassed now.  “I’m.  Ah.  I’m stuck.”


“I’m… not supposed to be?”

“You aren’t?  Is it customary for humans to leave immediately after, then?  Lance had a saying, what was it, wham, bam—“

“Please don’t repeat anything Lance says right now.”  Shiro’s face went through a variety of emotions.  “It’s… normal?  For your body to… contract like that?”

“It… yes?”  Allura felt self-conscious now.  “Do you not want to be here?”

“No!  I mean.  No, I don’t want to leave.  I just… this is just new.”  Shiro settled back down on top of her, head pillowed in the crook of her neck, fingers playing with the mark on her left shoulder.  “All of this is new.”

“But not bad?”

“Not bad.”  Shiro smiled against her skin, and even though she couldn’t see it, Allura could feel that it was big and goofy, relaxed, the kind of smile that made her heart stutter and her mind go, briefly, to thoughts of a room in a castle at peace, and a pair of warm eyes glittering at her in the first light of morning and a pair of warm hands stroking the marks on her cheeks.

Really wow,” he mumbled, and Allura giggled, pressing her cheek to the top of his head.