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Synthesis Failed (The Other Way)

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The stack of Studium library books in his arms was so high he had to crane his neck around it. Why he'd agreed to haul these at all was hardly a mystery--Moenbryda had angled her head, smiled hopefully at him in a way he knew--knew--was utter put-on, but she was--well, she was Moenbryda. And he wasn't even strictly a student here any longer, coming and going between Sharlayan and Eorzea as he did, yet here he was across the square and into the wing of the residence where Urianger's room was. On the top floor. At the very end of the hall. He was very fond of the fellow, but the introversion did make him occasionally inconvenient.

Mildly impatient, he knocked without listening for an answer, and opened the door. The nearly physical sensation of cloying sweet warmth that blanketed his sense made him stagger back, slamming the door shut and dropping the books.

The thumps of vellum-bound paper on stone barely registered as he leaned against the door, his eyes sliding out of focus and his mouth open, his limbs suddenly heavy with a heavy languor that settled in like ink or oil soaking into dry paper, spreading down, covering everything.

He took a breath of the sweet air, then slowly tasted his own lips, the sensation of his tongue against them such a perfect thing in his comfortable daze, wet and smooth, and the warmth spreading through him thickened. He raised a hand to his chest, slid it over himself, pressure delicious even through the cloth--and even because of it, soft, worn cotton over his skin, his nipples.

All of it lacked any direction, any urgency, he could've stayed there and lingered in a slow wallow of sensation, but through half-lidded eyes he made out the shape of someone on the floor, tall, long limbs, slight shifts of weak movement.

He blinked, and old instincts stirred, rousing beneath the sweet fog in his mind, ingrained street-taught sense for danger--don't take what y'don't make--put it in yer drink, yer food, take you and sell you--y'feel you aren't you, GET OUT--and there urgency was, clawing at his awareness, nearly drowned but making enough gaps in the fog for some reason to penetrate.

Where he was. Who that was.

"Urianger." He staggered forward.


He squinted at what lay on the desk, drying slime and burnt morbol seedling.

The mess had half-covered a volume but when he leaned on the steadying surface, hands well away from the splatter and scorched plant remains, he caught the words malboro and enhanced potency on the page, and aphrodisiac distillation. A thread of hysterical humour snaked through him that Urianger of all people had been the one of Louisoix's students to try one of these kinds of concoctions.

He looked over, stared down, struggled against a slow but inexorable tide of arousal for a man laid out immobile and seemingly unaware he was even there. A dogged need to find some solution kept him afloat while he felt his cock stir and his fingers shift with the desire to touch.

He rubbed a hand over his eyes instead, heard his own voice's little noise at the reaction in him that simple contact caused, and yanked it down. He dragged his gaze back to the volume. Shakily he peeled up a residue-soaked page, turned it, grit his teeth and followed the blurring words down each line. And here--improper application of aether may bring on a surfeit of intended effect, or base-ingredient side effects--

Thancred looked at the remains of the plant. Morbol toxin; paralysis, blindness, or some measure of the effect, mingled in with the spell's original aim.

--in such a case physical stimulation or allowing effects to recede passively is recommended as dispelling via aetheric spellcraft may…

He made a face at the descriptions. The listed consequences were akin to days-long hangover, and while he was not a stranger to some hours of ill-feeling after a good night, days of acute nausea and dizziness surely could not be the best option.

He braced two hands, knelt unsteadily down to the floor. He dropped his hands from warm wood to cool stone. Was it to be waiting, then?

Could he wait?

"Urianger," he called. His voice was rough with the effort to speak, and the sight of the angle of Urianger's jaw made his body lurch forward.

Thancred was very occasionally drawn to men, though never yet to one like Urianger, but his mind's eye spun his few dabbling experiments into lush recollection, rough stubble scraping his cheek, his neck, inside his thigh, broad chests and backs, the plain and telltale sign of arousal that was a man's erect cock, through clothing or against his belly, and just thrice ever, slowly pressing into him. He jerked bodily at that remembered sensation, swallowed and reached out, pushing so Urianger rolled to his back.

Urianger shifted against his touch, took a hitching breath. His fingers had closed around Urianger's shoulder, warm and solid, and he ran his hand over his chest, up to the bare skin of his neck. Smooth body heat and the firm line of it… Thancred's eyes slid towards shut, and Urianger sucked in a long breath that became a moan as it ended, loud in the small room.

Thancred rocked backward, his head glanced off the edge of the stool before the desk with smarting pain and a welcome jolt.

"Urianger," Thancred repeated raggedly. "It's--I can't…"

"Than...cred…" Urianger managed a syllable each on an inhale and exhale, the effort through the weight of the spell all too apparent. "No… oh… sssorry…" He was aware, if only as much as Thancred was. He'd heard. He knew.

Thancred sat heavily, hunched back, leaning away.

Urianger rolled his head against the stone, hood fallen back, mussed hair sticking to his forehead, and made a little pained groan. "Moen," he said, thickly pleading, and Thancred squeezed his eyes shut. She wasn't here.

If he could only--but it was beyond him. He could barely fathom rising to reach the door.

"Can't… Sorry," he told him, in return.

He wasn't her. And Urianger wanted nothing like this from him, nor had Thancred ever looked at him the way his body craved so much now. This was not them.

Thancred swallowed, open-mouthed, and the way that sounded in the nearly silent room was so wet, so good, the promise of--he could just--

Urianger moved, or tried to, where he lay, breathing unevenly, on his back. His hand stretched, jerkily, reaching.

Enough? Maybe? Surely, enough to say he wanted, he'd welcome--Thancred clenched his fists against the urge to lurch and lunge over him. No.

Thancred couldn't tell if this backfired alchemy... spell... mess had reached the plateau of its effect. But even had it done so already, this enveloping weight would wear him down, and down.

He slid a hand over his own neck, bit down a moan at the feeling. He could touch himself, at least...

Thancred could touch himself, but Urianger could barely--

But if he could? It would be--Thancred clenched his jaw, lurched himself forward. He put his hands on Urianger's robe, one clenched in his chest and behind his shoulder, staggered himself half upright and pulled.

"Come on," he gasped. "Come on."

The man was near-grown long-limbed elezen and Thancred's current stumbling coordination nearly put him facedown on the stone tile against the dead weight of him, but he tried again, hauling Urianger the interminable distance of three fulms to the side of his bed, dragged him into a sagging seated position.

He was so warm to the touch, even through all the cloth. Thancred wanted nothing more than to bury his face against that long neck, mouth down the line of it and lower, lower--he drew back with an effort and slid in a near collapse to sit beside him, their backs against the side of the bed. Urianger's greater height let his head tip back against the mattress, his lips pulled wide in a grimace, though he said nothing more.

Thancred took a breath, held it. He undid Urianger's robe with unsteady fingers, his chest clenching at the initial flinch from his touch, but Urianger didn't move to resist. Thancred pulled open the front, took in with a head-spinning push of arousal the lean chest bared before him, hurriedly dragged the robe open down to his groin, and then reached for Urianger's arm.

Less limp than before, Urianger's fingers made a slow sort of spasm, opening and closing as Thancred pulled at fastenings until the ringbands fell away with a clatter.

"Here," Thancred said with a heavy exhale. "You."

He pulled Urianger's hand to the trapped line of his cock, watched those long fingers curl slightly and close a little against the cloth, and the little whine in Urianger's throat at the contact made him swallow again.

A moment to slide the barest edge of his thumb into the damp warmth, the pause as his body fought for him to reach in and touch and stroke and lean down to taste--he shakily pulled the cloth down, away. He found he was leaning close against Urianger, sides together, his head resting against the overheated breadth of his chest, but found no way to avoid it now as he tried to guide his half-paralyzed hand to hold and stroke.

He couldn't fathom how it felt, or more like didn't feel. This was some tangled pretense, his hand holding Urianger's own fingers closed around his cock, Thancred setting the rhythm of motion, not however Urianger might do this himself. Not on the cold floor of his room, surely.

Urianger's hand under his seemed to firm just a bit. Thancred should've closed his eyes now, should've but didn't, couldn't, and so stared down transfixed at the flushed and shining head of Urianger's cock as they stroked, the muscles of his stomach faintly flexing and sweaty with the strange heat of the room.

Thancred too was hot, under his hair, his clothes, burning as he resisted doing anything more than just this.

And soon, oh, too soon, mercifully soon, Thancred yanked his hand away as Urianger's body tensed and his cock jerked, ejaculating along with a noise of something that did not sound like pleasure, then he tensed bodily, gasping too deep, too fast and Thancred fell back for a terrible moment of sinking worry until, all in a moment, it passed, less like coming than like just… ending… And abruptly Urianger's body seemed to be all his own again, he leaned forward without difficulty and reached quickly up to hold closed the front of his robe, the goggles hiding his eyes aimed at the floor.

Thancred's distant relief for him was short-lived as he felt heat surge awfully, and languor burned away. He gasped, rolled over, curled in on himself.

He panted and lay, turned his head to press his cheek against the cool stone of the floor, a small, sharp contrast against the crush of arousal. He endeavored with all his might not to move. If he couldn't get out the door, at least Urianger could leave him here.

It was a limbo that couldn't possibly have lasted as long as it felt, Thancred searing and sweating under his clothing, one hand curled but unmoving around the desperate ridge of his erection, his own seething breaths the loudest thing in his ears, the cold floor under his cheek a slowly failing anchor to his control.

Then the sound of shifting cloth behind him, the faint sense of presence that would've been so much more acute any other time than this, and then a hand rested on his side, the touch and the pressure provoking a groan. He tried harder to curl up, but, "ahhh, oh, please. Please," he heard the whine of his voice.

"But I--this should have freed both." Urianger's voice was far away, worried and low, words meaningless right now. "No--no, thou hadst released me…" silence for a moment while he held mindlessly on. "Thancred," came to his ears, and he made some small, ragged noise.

He just wanted--the hand slid up to his shoulder and then fingers in his hair and oh--

For lack of more his mind flooded him with all it could bring back; fingers gripping there, holding him to an eager mouth, a soft breast, a cunt, wet and lush, pulling and guiding and then holding him just so when he'd fulfilled its most favourite goal.

Urianger's fingers carded through the hair at his nape, the skin at the back of his neck sensitized and he ducked his head, wanting more. So much more.

If he could--he could, now, surely--yes--he clawed at the button on his trousers, pushed a hand in and found the relief of pressure, his own familiar grip--thumb through the slick at his tip and just tight enough--he drew swift, sure strokes, and the too-heavy sickly sweet sensation wrapped round him and carried him forward in a near suffocating clench, sweat-hot and spilling with shuddering sigh.

The heat lifted, dissipated with startling speed, the unbelievable final pressure of the spell gone. He shivered once, a faint, bodily tremble, as his mind emerged from the haze and Urianger withdrew his hand after a last, soft pet of his hair.

He lay, letting his breathing return to normal. Didn't roll over. "Thank you," he murmured, sincere and wrung out. He stared in front of him, listening to the sounds of what had to be Urianger tidying himself and his things. He had more than a few usual ways to navigate the minutes after sex, depending on the other person, but nothing for this. This barely qualified, he had no easy words at hand, nor much energy to muster them, only tired relief it was over.

He closed his eyes a moment, just for a moment, found he couldn't quite muster the wherewithal to open them again, and just sank away from consciousness. Before he was altogether gone, there was the slide of warm arms under and around him, lifting him from the floor.

He woke not on cool stone, but on the bed, a blanket pulled over him, and blinked grittily the full way awake, raised his head. Urianger was leaning over his desk--the books that had brought Thancred here in two neat stacks on one end--with a bowl of something, scrubbing at the surface with a rag.

He pushed himself upright, rearranged his rumpled clothes with much more care than he really needed to just now, and looked up. Urianger had pulled his goggles down so they hung from his neck, pushed his hood back. His pale eyes were startling, a rare thing to see, usually only when Moenbryda or sometimes Yda, coaxed the goggles off.

He was staring at Thancred with a disconcerted and sort of pained gratitude.

Would it be easier to ignore it all? "Thanks for getting me off the floor," Thancred offered with a half-grin.

But no, this wasn't to be avoided. Urianger sat heavily down. "I cannot but offer abject apologies for this--this--" he started and halted, at a visible loss to describe what had happened. Thancred nodded, which seemed to relieve him of the need to find a suitable noun.

"Shall we say… an accident. It's sorted," Thancred said gently.

"Thine intervention," and Urianger coloured visibly, eyes huge and acutely embarrassed. "'Twas… appreciated. The manner of it--I--" he managed a quick, jerky nod. "You have my thanks."

Thancred found his face couldn't settle on an expression. This was, despite two healthy people achieving orgasm, not quite his usual contented aftermath to that kind of event.

So a grimace eased into a faint brief smile and he pushed a hand back through his hair, then tilted his head to one side, and the other. Neither of them seemed to be in any measure of actual offense, though with each moment that passed, Urianger was looking ever more as though he wished the floor would swallow him up.

At least Thancred did not detect the poisonous aura of shame anywhere about him. "It seemed--best." he said carefully. "I enjoy a great many things, but a willing partner most of all. I'm disinclined to touch anyone without their say-so." And he still wasn't sure what measure of say either of them had had, in the midst of… that, but in the sum of things, he'd rather this had happened than Urianger suffering alone for hours in that state.

The abject apology that came over Urianger's face made Thancred put his hands out in a gentling motion. He was getting the feeling that the most severe outcome of this was their mutual worry for each other, a peculiarly warm realization considering the circumstances today, but part of him would always be the homeless child yearning for stable affection that he'd been before Louisoix had found him. Whatever mishaps should happen, he'd gained that here. He'd certainly no romantic designs on Urianger, not, in honesty, on Moenbryda, nor on Y'shtola, Yda or Papalymo (or, gods forfend, Louisoix), but he'd fight until he died to preserve these friendships.

"This happened to us both," he reminded him. "It was… strange. But I'm well. Are you alright?" he asked, slowly and seriously.

Urianger looked at him thoughtfully, then his eyes unfocused, inward-gazing for a moment. When he focused on Thancred again, he inclined his head.

Thancred nodded back once, decisively, and Urianger straightened, some measure of weight falling away.

A quiet chime from the wall clock made them both glance over. An hour until Thancred was to join Louisoix in a discussion with second-year students on the current state of Eorzean politics. Always well attended each time he returned from there, and he'd do well to make himself properly presentable. Urianger had no impending classes that Thancred knew of, though the amount of research projects he took on-- usually more relevant than this afternoon's mishap--meant he was always busy.

So Thancred slid from the bed, straightened his tunic and moved to leave.

"My thanks for the tomes," Urianger said, as he opened the door, his mouth quirking slightly at the very ordinary return to manners after this very un-ordinary… occurrence.

"Of course," Thancred replied, then paused as he opened the door. "I am sorry I wasn't Moenbryda," he said, and Urianger looked down and to the side a moment, faintly blushing.

"For good or ill, 'twas not so." He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, fingers lacing together. "I cannot say it was for ill." He gave Thancred a steady look. "I apologize once more for thine ensnarement, for neither wouldst thou have made this choice in the presence of any alternatives."

Thancred shrugged. He had a growing feeling he could see making this choice, where it ever offered, in other, non-addled circumstances.

"You are a sight better than many alternatives, my friend," he said frankly. At Urianger's widened eyes, he shrugged. "I suppose it could have been worse all 'round, hm?"

Urianger tilted his head thoughtfully, and Thancred left it there, heading off with a last wave.

Could have been worse, indeed. And Urianger certainly deserved better from him than what he'd endured here. Might there one day be a chance for it to be good? Thancred more than halfway hoped he'd get such an opportunity… one should always strive to leave a proper impression.