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That Fei would be sitting down holding his head and crying held no good possibilities. Especially not when this thing is about to kill him because he missed it. With that thought, he jumped in front of him with a wide swing of his sword - not traditionally good fighting, Citan knew, but a sandworm’s heart could not be accessed with a simple forward jab - the only way to kill one with a sword was to put enough strength into a swing to slice the worm in half.

He drew a deep sigh of relief as his swing accomplished exactly that, the worm in half, falling to the sand below the dune. “What happened? Fei, are you all right? It got the jump on you-“

“It hurts. My head hurts.” With that, he leaned back on him. “It missed me. I don’t think it hit my head.”

“Yes, it seems I caught on just in time.” He looked for any signs of head trauma, of injuries. Fei seemed fine there, if dirty and tired from four days in the Ignas desert searching for a parts cache. “You look to be all right physically. Is it him? Does he need to-“

“No, he’s fine, though he wants to tell you thanks for having our back.” Fei smiled at him faintly through his tears. “My head has been hurting all day. I’m off and-“

“Maybe it is these?” Citan tried to slip a finger under one of Fei’s ponytails, and felt no space, the hair pulled so tightly against the scalp. “If you pull these this tight, and have not had the chance to wash your hair...no wonder you are in such pain.” He kissed him with that, a soft kiss to his lips. “We have been in this desert long enough, and I think the map we are using is wrong. I do not see anything resembling the parts cache, and all I have seen are these sandworms - and we have enough from them for two weeks.”

“Then let’s go back. But do we have enough water to wash my hair or-“

“I am certain we do. When you were able to get the Yggdrasil’s Wave reactors back online, the desalination system began to work again as well. We do not have to worry about overstressing my well at my home anymore. I thought you knew that… is that why you have been afraid?”

“Yes. This year has been too dry, and I knew you were worried about the water supply with no rain…” Fei sat down and closed his eyes. “It hurts.”

“Let me undo that ponytail holder.” Citan stared at it for a moment. “This is solid wire. Why would you not just use a fabric tie like the ribbons on my braid?”

“Because I had these on when I arrived at Lahan. They must, must mean something. I’m scared.”

“They mean pain for you now, and are likely digging into your scalp. I hope you will be all right with their being destroyed.” He reached into the pocket of his pants beneath the kimono and withdrew a pair of wire cutters. “I will be careful of your hair.”

“You really think that’s what’s making my head hurt?” The person inhabiting “Fei” seemed suddenly nervous, yet leaned in for him to reach the wires holding his ponytails in place. “And not, being out in this hot desert sun, and living off of sandworm meat for days, and-“

“All of that may well be a part of it. When we get back there, I will see what we can do for that.” Citan moved the wire cutters around the wire, attempting to keep Fei’s hair out of their grasp as he snapped the wires apart.

“Ouch! You could be more careful with that!” Fei yelped and turned his head for the front ponytail, which took another clump of greasy hair with it. “Do I even have anything left there?”

“It is fine. I did not cut off your hair, merely through those wire holders.” Citan ran his hands through it so Fei could feel that he still had his hair. “You do need a proper bath, though.”

They walked back to the bike they had taken from the Yggdrasil to get to that place in the desert near Balthasar’s old cave, and Fei watched as Citan slowly took off his kimono and folded it, exposing the loose white shirt and baggy pants beneath it as he stored the kimono in his bag. “You look like an actual angel without that,” he quietly said. “All in white clothes… even if they’re a bit dirty.”

“Now I am certain the sun has gotten to you, but thank you.” He climbed onto the bike, and felt Fei’s head rest on his shoulder, his arms around him holding on, just as he himself had done when Fei had taken them out there.

Something he loved about these journeys, that it gave them the chance for such mundane closeness. The spray of sand around them kicked up by the bike felt far less good, and he knew by the time they got back to the ship he would be craving some pampering as well. Hopefully, he will be feeling good enough that we can both indulge in anything but passing out in exhaustion.

“I love you, you know that…” Fei whispered against his ear, barely audible against the roar of the wind. “You were so good with him.”

“The Coward? I could tell, from how frightened ‘you’ seemed. More so than you as this self would be in a battle. Sandworms can be rather terrifying, especially without a bladed weapon other than those knuckle dusters, but to cry and wet yourself is a bit unlike this you.”

“Oh, I…”

“That and your hair’s condition both, and you most definitely need a bath.” Citan sniffed at him, and slightly frowned. “Also, if we are going to risk more sandworms, I must teach you how to fight with a sword, unless you wish to be in your Gear.”

“You don’t like swords yourself…”

“For what mine means, I do not. But on a merely logical basis, these worms cannot be fought on foot without a proper blade.” He slowed the bike so he could actually hear Fei better. “Unless you would wish to let him take over. I remember that is how you survived the desert before. Those razor claws and the energy blasts can take down a sandworm easily.”

“I don’t think so,” Fei quietly said, and held onto him. “It’s scary to be aware of him, as I am now. To be awake as myself, watching him do things, to be reminded of the death that he and that form enjoys still.” He shivered. “Sometimes I wish I had never known.”

“Now that you do, you can stop him, can you not? Anyway, we are almost back. I will ask Sigurd if we can borrow his room and enjoy a proper night together. Would you enjoy that?”

“Yes. But just the two of us tonight.” Fei kissed the back of his neck. “I need you for myself… or for all of us.”

“That is what I was thinking as well. I do not think Sigurd will mind, as he does understand that sometimes we need each other alone, for our own reasons. Such as a bath together, and my making love to you on a bed of flower petals-“

Citan felt Fei’s elbow jab into his side with those words. “Now, you’re just mocking me. I’m not some girl in a book!”

“Who said you were? You have never thought of doing such a thing?”

“No, because with where this sand has gotten, I don’t even want to think of flower petals there! Besides, where the hell would you have found any!”

“You’ll see. Are you not aware that nature has rebounded on this planet faster than we people have? There is a flower field at Kadomony, and I have been growing roses at our house as well.”

“Yeah, at least the sandworms came back fast,” Fei said, in the hope of changing the subject from flowers. “Really… I trust you. Be honest with me. What are our chances here? The rest of the people who still live?”

“Not good at all. I think it is most urgent we find a way to leave this planet, and that parts cache would have greatly helped us toward that, as it had been rumored to be original parts from the Eldridge. But regardless…we have each other, and I promise you I will do anything for you. Let’s rest for tonight, and then look at things once we feel better.”

Fei smacked his arm lightly as they climbed off the bike. “What is with you and being unable to admit you just want to fuck ? You finally got close and ‘make love’ was more direct than ‘rest’ or ‘light nap’ or whatever, and now you’re right back to-“

“Because I feel like merely focusing on the final act of the play is a bit reductive!” Citan blushed at that, and reached within the sash of the kimono that he currently struggled with wrapping around himself once more, for the fan he kept there, to conceal his face. He felt warm, soft skin, Fei’s hand instead of the cold metal of Yui’s old Shevatian hand fan. You gave it to me the day before the crash...

“Made you blush, didn’t I?” Fei smiled, and that drew him from the sad memory. “I wanna see it. See you look shy for once. Let me help you with that, even if I’m going to have it off of you once again soon anyway.” He wrapped the sash loosely around Citan’s body, and drew him into a hug as he did.

“Fei, not until…” Citan let the words trail off into a kiss, as Fei’s lips claimed his own. That was something he craved in his lovers, whether Sigurd or Yui or Fei - that they all seemed so passionate, so alive that it made up for the feeling of detachment he had, the heat of their passion awakened his own. He heard the click of Fei undoing his knuckle dusters so they would not accidentally harm him, the clink of their being dropped into his bag.

Then Fei was practically pushing him up against the wall of the ship, his hands on his chest. His hands rubbed the silk kimono and shirt against his nipples in a way that felt absolutely amazing - something he had never thought could feel that good.

“I would suggest you two get a room,” Sigurd said from behind them. “If you wish to use mine once more, you may.”

“Thanks,” Fei said, as he moved back, seeming to be embarrassed himself in that moment.

Sigurd gave them a knowing look. “Of course. Even if it is just my crew, myself, and a few others, you should probably have some privacy. Especially since Midori is on board.”

“Yes, it would probably be a bit too much to explain to her if she ran across us.” Citan laughed, a nervous chuckle. How did I lose myself so much to not think it could have been Midori who caught us like this?

Fei leaned on him. “Will you carry me? I love it when you do that. You’re so close to me and-“

“Of course, for you…” With that, he let Fei climb into his arms in the bridal position, thankful he had kept up with his own training, even if Fei had a very light body. Fei cuddled against him as they took the last steps to Sigurd’s room, a gesture of the love he felt for him.

===

He smiled as they closed the door behind them, and Fei climbed out of his arms to undress. Citan did so himself, unwrapping the sashes, as an image flashed through his mind of Fei bound in those sashes, tied to the bed, entirely only able to receive the pleasure he wished to offer.

“We should shower first,” Fei said. “The last time we got into that bath dirty…”

“Yes… I am not in the mood for itching powder in our boots again.” Citan snorted. “Sigurd does have a thing for unusual discipline. One thing he never could overcome from our days in Jugend.” He moved to turn on the shower, and blinked, his vision suddenly soft, blurry without the glasses as he set them aside.

He closed his eyes, and let himself lose himself in the sensations of Fei’s hands in his hair, as he gently moved his own hands through Fei’s hair, being careful of the places he felt where those wire ponytail holders had bit into his scalp, drawing on their shared power to heal them as he whispered the words of the lesser healing Ether that would be enough for such small wounds, not choosing to make a show of it this time. Fei would know, and that was all that mattered to him in the moment.

“I love you,” Fei whispered. “And I don’t have that damn headache anymore.”

“I told you I would help it.” With that, he felt Fei’s lips on his own again, Fei’s hands on his back. He rubbed Fei’s back as they kissed once again, his hands moving down to squeeze that perfect tight ass, and the sound Fei made, a groan and almost whimper against his lips, he could almost feel it vibrate through him. It felt so intense that it almost took his breath away, his words away.

“Can you prepare me?” Fei asked as he broke from their next kiss.

“Of course,” and with that Citan fumbled blindly for the shower attachment he knew Sigurd had to have in his private quarters, finally feeling its shape beneath his fingers and bringing it close to his face, only for Fei to laugh.

“I don’t think you need to analyze an anal douche.”

“It is difficult to see without my... glasses. Ahem. Also, Fei, what is with you and breaking the mood I work so hard to create-“

“Because it’s my own mood.” Fei kissed him once more, leaning onto Citan while he inserted it. “And you and I both know your mood isn’t broken so easily. Or your cock wouldn’t be up against me like you want to just do me against the wall once I’m ready-“

“I want to make tonight a bit more romantic, Fei, and you are making that very difficult for me…” He withdrew the object, and stepped out of the shower. “Do not leave any, ahem, matter on the floor. That might get us both actually whipped.”

“You were the one who did that!”

“Yes, I do remember. But then I wanted Sigurd to be angry with me, and it worked quite well. You do not seem to want the same from him?”

Fei grunted something that sounded half reply, half being preoccupied with what he was likely doing at the moment, while Citan put his glasses back on for a moment and turned his attention to the bath and hot tub. He enjoys bubble baths the most, so I will choose the options for that, with holographic cherry blossom images on the water for myself.

Citan heard more grunts and the shower run again as he dimmed the lighting, took off his glasses once more and sat them on the table next to the tub, sank into the hot water, and sighed deeply in pleasure. He had always loved the water, loved baths of any form - even the old bathtub he had made from repurposed oil drums at his house - and this felt amazing. Sig definitely has good taste. Or shall I say, the Fatima dynasty and Shevat has. Not sure whose idea it was to install a combination hot tub and bath in the captain’s cabin, but…

He slowly reached a hand under the water and began to stroke himself - the memory came to mind of the first time he had came, himself and Sigurd in one of the showers at Jugend, Sigurd’s hand on top of his own guiding him in this now-familiar act until that moment of absolute bliss and release…

Fei’s hand on his shoulder drew him out of the memories. “Getting ahead of yourself there?” he teasingly said. “I know I took a while,” he said as he climbed into the bath, and reached for him. “I need you,” he whispered. “Just slow and close and-“

Citan nodded, and sat up from the water on the bath’s shelf. He put his glasses on once more to find the lube on the same shelf - that Sigurd kept a bottle there made him very thankful he didn’t have to go looking. But how many other people does he fuck in this tub? Oh well. He squirted a generous amount of lube into his hand, and slicked his cock as he put the bottle back with his other hand.

Fei fell back into his arms, and Citan knew the position well, one of their favorite. He sat there on the shelf just up out of the water, gently bringing Fei down to sit on him, to slowly adjust to the entry, kissing his neck, his back as they moved down into the water together.

“Mmm. That’s nice,” Fei mumbled as he leaned back against him and slightly wiggled his hips. “I love this. I love you.”

“Yes, and soon I am certain you will be saying that a bit louder.” Citan moved one of his hands to Fei’s nipple, the other to grasp Fei’s cock, earning a cry of delight from him. “Do what your body craves, my Fei. My Anonelbe…” He kissed the side of Fei’s neck, then licked up to his earlobe, as Fei began a slow rocking motion at first, one that felt so good as he began to thrust into it to meet it.

Suddenly, Fei stopped, and Citan held back his need to snap at him for doing so. I would have come had we kept that up, and he is stopping? Is he switching . He felt shocked at how his words escaped in a needy whine. “Why did you do that?”

“It was almost over for both of us.” Fei panted, his body trembling. “You were hitting it just right and right now you still are, it feels so good to just feel you pressing against it, and… I want to be here like this. With you, our bodies entwined as one, floating yet together…”

Citan moved his hands at that, from Fei’s chest and cock, to an embrace, as much as the need for release ached within his own body. “Yes. I do love this myself. To feel you so close to me, to give you pleasure as I take my own…” He kissed Fei’s neck, then stayed still inside him for a little while as they sat there amidst bubbles and a curtain of holographic cherry blossoms. “Would you like to go over the edge? I could move again, and we can lie together afterward as always-“

“Do it! Fuck me again!” Fei said, and Citan felt Fei move, his legs behind him to allow him to go deeper, move faster. He grabbed onto Fei’s hips with that, and let his own move up beneath them in the water in a fast rhythmic motion he soon felt himself losing all control over, as he felt the heat, the need, everything building within him as Fei whimpered in delight and rocked back onto him and groaned.

“I think I’m gonna… oh, I can’t hold it back anymore, It’s coming, I’m coming even if we stay still and with you doing this it’s, I’m-“

“With this, I never want you to hold back…” The way Fei’s body tightened and moved as he got closer to that point of no return, it had him almost there himself, and with that last thrust he knew would do it, he felt it and there was no way he could hold back, the onrush of intense feeling and the little tingles up his back until he felt his mind blank, his cock jerk hard, and his body wrench a sound he barely recognized from his mouth.

Fei slid off of him in the now-cooling bath, to simply rest between his legs and lean back against him, his head on his chest, something he became aware of as he opened his eyes. “So I must be really good at this,” he said, sounding awed and yet teasing at the same time. “I made Citan Uzuki scream.”

“Well, Fei, it is not the first time - though it is the first time I have in pleasure, rather than in fear of your… other self.”

“I think he’s happy too. We were both enjoying this a lot,” Fei said. “I feel kinda bad for you. When I come I get three orgasms in my head all at once. You just get one.”

“With how good that felt, one was enough for me,” Citan smiled at him and ran his hand through that long, now soaked once again hair he so loved down. Why does he have to wear those damn ponytails? “I could not imagine three of those at once. Except once we recover, I do wish for another tonight.”

“I do too!” Fei climbed out of the tub and reached for one of the towels to dry off. “I need sex all of the time. Do you think that could be a problem with the Wave Existence, or my abilities, or?”

“Absolutely not, Fei. When I was twenty, I felt the same, even without my sacral nerve and prostate being bridged as yours is, and something about you makes me feel it all over again.” Citan got out of the tub himself and shook out his hair, leaving a spray of wet droplets as he reached for his glasses.

“Then I guess-“

“Tomorrow we need to find the actual location of the Eldridge cache. If it does not exist, we must explore other likely locations for what we need to get the Yggdrasil here into space. Also, I need to read the schematics and documentation once more, and you will need to help me since Lacan knows the Shevatian of the era it was made in better than I know more recently and-“

Fei stepped in front of him with that. “Not tonight. Tonight… let’s just be together. No world problems, no thinking about refitting the Yggdrasil, none of my past incarnations… just us. You and Id and the Coward and me.”

“...Do you think Id is safe to be present? He is still very dangerous and-“

“With you, he feels safe. Almost happy, the first time he has been from something other than a battle victory or a kill. Though he’s still a little angry at all you put me through to get to him. But… we can all talk about that tonight.”

“That you are one of the few people who does not mind my talking all the time, is something I very much appreciate.” Citan hugged him once more. “You’re right. Tonight...everything and everyone else can wait.”