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Sweeter hands

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“heya, toots. lemme get that for ya, huh? welcome ta the party.”

Lotus raised a brow-bone, but allowed Red to hold the door open for him. “Thank you,” he said politely, though his sockets narrowed when he realized that he’d have to brush up against Red to get past. “How thoughtful of you,” he said wryly.

Red’s grin grew broader as Lotus slipped by him, hip-bone brushing against Red’s lowermost ribs. “sure thing,” he said, following him inside. Lotus was sure he could feel Red’s eyes riveted on his coccyx. “hey, so, uh...ya used ta be a sweet-piece, right?”

Lotus paused. “I was. Why do you ask?”

“heh. jus’ curious. never, uh, ‘met’ a sweet-piece b’fore. didja like it?”

Lotus hid a smirk, realizing that Red was likely more familiar with the street-pieces that worked primarily as sex workers, as opposed to a true sweet-piece like himself. “Oh yes,” he said, smile broadening when he saw Red’s eyelights dilate. “What’s not to like? The robes and the jewelry? The gifts? Fine wine, fine food, and good tea? Playing music—and dancing! I always did love to perform for an audience.” He didn’t try to inject any double meaning into his voice, knowing Red would read it anyway.

Red looked him up and down. “yeah. bet they loved ta watch ya too. any chance i could get a, heh, ‘private dance’?”

Lotus pretended to miss the innuendo. “Oh, no. I couldn’t possibly. I haven’t done it in years! I’m afraid I’m more than a little rusty.”

Red’s eyelights gleamed. “aw, don’ worry ‘bout it. bet ya’d remember real fast. ain’t the kind ‘a thing ya ferget, doll.”

Lotus ignored the way the word ‘doll’ made his lower spine prickle unpleasantly. He pushed the bad memories aside and continued to feign innocence. “You really think so?“

“‘course! ‘sides, i’d be happy ta help ya remember. bet you jus’ need ta, heh, ‘warm up’ a bit.”

His words dripped with innuendo, and he seemed to relish in Lotus’ soft blush and lowered sockets. “Why thank you, darling...perhaps I will take you up on that offer.”

Red hardly seemed able to contain himself. His eyelights blazed, and he caught Lotus by the hand and pulled him close. “yeah? how ‘bout now?“

Now that did surprise him, and his breath caught. “I—“ He looked around. No one else had arrived yet. If Lotus hadn’t known Red so well, it might have made him uneasy. As it was, he was confident Red would stop the moment he indicated he was uncomfortable—he’d likely apologize, too. Whether he’d mean it or not was harder to predict.

So Lotus smiled, catching Red’s chin in his free hand and running his fingers over Red’s cheekbone. “Here? I thought you wanted a private dance, darling.”

Red swallowed visibly, a bead of sweat gathering at his temple. “really? ya’d really—?” For just a moment, a flash of honest vulnerability flashed across his face. There and gone before Lotus could fully appreciate it. Then Red adjusted his collar and smirked, gold tooth flashing as he looked Lotus up and down with lascivious eyelights. “heh. ‘course. knew ya wanted a piece ‘a this.” The door-knob started to turn, and Red caught it, earning a string a swears from the other side. “ya got my number, doll. gimme a call an’ i’ll be by faster’n you c’n blink. anytime.” He winked.

Trying to hide his amusement—and his growing desire to see Red display more of that tantalizing vulnerability—Lotus smiled sweetly. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Red smirked, only to stumble when Edge forced the door open, knocking him to the ground. Edge looked from his downed brother to Lotus, then pulled a face. “Stars on fire,” he grumbled, nudging Red aside with his foot. “Must you try to stick your dick in everything?” Before Lotus could take offense, Edge offered him a respectful nod. “My apologies, Lotus. If you want to get away from this—“ A nudge disguised as a kick knocked an ‘oof’ from Red. “—you’re free to join me in the kitchen. Unlike some, I can keep my hands to myself.”

Lotus raised a brow-bone. “Really? How disappointing.”

Edge blinked, then flushed, and left them to themselves, muttering that they deserved each other. Red cackled in response.

-

Red never really expected to hear from Lotus about that ‘private dance’. He knew Lotus was out of his league, knew he wouldn’t look twice at a fat fuck like him. It was fun to tease, though, fun to flirt.

So he raised a brow-bone when his phone flashed with Lotus’ name. Not really believing Lotus would be calling him for anything in particular. “heya, doll. whatcha need?”

“I was bored,” Lotus said lightly, “and looking for something to do. I thought you might be interested.”

“in?”

Lotus’ chuckle was low and breathy. “Me, darling.” Red, disbelieving, didn’t reply at first. “Are you interested? I can call someone else—“

“uh—nope! no! don’ gotta call nobody.” His slack mouth morphed into a cocky smirk. “i got what ya need right here.” He palmed himself through his gym shorts, suspecting Lotus had some of Boss’ abilities. “be there in a blink.”

“No need to rush, dear. I’m bored, not desperate.”

Red chuckled, climbing to his feet. “not yet, maybe.”

Lotus started to say something, but Red hung up and—spritzing a bit of bone cologne under his arms and between his legs—he teleported directly to Lotus’ living room.

Lotus stood in the hallway, phone still in his hands. He sighed and shook his head, but Red barely noticed—he was too busy looking at his outfit. A purple robe, thin and gauzy, was draped over his shoulders and tied loosely at the hips. It fell to mid-thigh, revealing a long, tantalizing stretch of bone. And bits of lilac lace underneath. Red’s grin grew larger.

“stars, doll.” He walked toward him, swaggering. “i’m gonna show ya a good time. a real good time. you wear that just for me?”

Before he could touch him, Lotus held up a hand. “Wait. I want to discuss a few things—“

“ya can’t greet me wearin’ that, then tell me ya wanna talk. just ain’t gonna work.”

“Either we talk or you leave,” Lotus said firmly.

“oh, yeah?”

Lotus’ fingers twirled, and blue magic loosely wrapped Red’s soul. He raised a brow-bone, looking down at Red imperiously. With a huff, Red said, “alright, alright! fine! ya made yer point. whaddaya wanna talk about?”

“Nothing too complex. I just want to establish a few ground rules. Set some boundaries.”

Red nodded absently, staring at the bit of sternum visible between the folds of Lotus’ robe. “sure, doll. whatever makes ya comf’table.”

“First—“ Lotus lifted his chin and forced Red to meet his sockets. “Don’t call me doll. Or whore. Or slut. Nothing degrading. Sweeter pet-names, are fine. Love, for example, honey, darling, dear, etcetera.”

“...don’ know ‘bout you, but ‘etcetera’ don’ exactly get me goin’.” Red drew away from him, pulling back to look him up and down. “‘sides, you ain’t gonna care what i call ya soon as i start—“

“Sans.” The sharp, clipped tone cut through Red’s comments. He looked up, and Lotus held his gaze. “I spent years catering to the whims and needs of other people. I was not allowed to set my own limits or make my own decisions. I owed a debt to Mettaton, and he decided who I would or would not fuck. And what I was or was not to allow. Even after I owned my own contract, I still had to fit myself to my clients’ tastes, even if I was able to choose, to an extent, what I would or would not permit, who I would favor. But.” He lifted his chin. “Here, on the surface? I’m done fitting myself into whatever mold my partners expect of me. If you cannot abide by my rules—or if you feel we would be incompatible—then you can leave. Am I clear?”

Red swallowed. He looked away, scratching the back of his neck. “uh, yeah. got it.”

Lotus softened marginally. “I want to extend the same courtesy, of course. Is there anything that makes you uncomfortable?”

Red laughed. “heh. think i’ll be fine, d—uh.” He tried to think of a more appropriate nickname and floundered. He cleared his throat. “uh, yeah. i’ll be fine.”

“Really? So you don’t mind pain-play? Degradation? Choking? How do you feel about soul-play?”

Red first went ramrod straight, then he took a step away from Lotus...but his eyelights were dilated and his soul was pounding. “hey, uh. ya never said....”

“Of course not—and I would never be so bold with a partner I didn’t know.” Lotus stepped close, touching his chin. “But I hope I’ve made my point. You don’t need to hide anything from me, Red. You have nothing to prove here.”

His soul was still pounding. “i.” Red swallowed. Then he jerked his chin up and stuffed his hands deep in his pockets. “heh. c’mon. yer not exactly threatenin, are ya?” Lotus’ sockets narrowed. “i don’ think i got anything ta worry about. an’ you don’ either—just sit yer pretty coccyx down an’ lemme take care ‘a ya, yeah?”

Lotus stared down at him, red eyelights shining like embers. “Oh, really? Come here, then, dear. Impress me.”

Red, smirking now that he was on firmer ground, stalked forward. Lotus caught his chin and drew him up, forcing him onto the tips of his toes. Red blinked in surprise, but recovered quickly when Lotus kissed him. His touch was light. Tentative. Teasing.

Red grabbed at him, determined to dominate the kiss, but Lotus slipped from his grasp, pulling away with a gentle smile. “Are you coming? Or not?” Then he swept down the hall and into his bedroom.

Red, with a quiet growl, followed him. He blinked, his eyelights adjusting to the dim lighting, and his breath caught when his gaze landed on Lotus. The lilac robe pooled at his feet, revealing a lace babydoll negligee. It set his soul pounding, and magic pooled in his pelvic cavity. “fuck me, yer so fuckin’ pretty.”

“You think so?” Lotus smiled and motioned him forward. “Come show me.”

He sat and spread his legs, revealing the glimmer of red magic between his femurs. Red’s tongue formed instantly, and without a thought, he dropped to his knees and grabbed Lotus’ thigh bones, pulling him close. Lotus yelped, steadying himself by planting a hand on Red’s skull. “So eager,” he breathed, claws catching on Red’s coronal suture.

“yeah, babe. eager ta fuck this sweet pussy.”

Lotus laughed. “Get me ready, then, darling.” He pressed one foot into Red’s pelvis, and the hand on the back of his head urged him forward.

Red was barely paying attention, focused on the velvet-soft folds in front of him. He dove in, spreading Lotus’ lips wide and tonguing his entrance. He dropped one hand to his own pelvis, stimulating the magic gathering there. He imagined driving into the hot, tight pussy, imagined Lotus moaning and begging. His magic grew hot under his hand, shaping itself into a hard, thick cock.

He stood, dropping his track shorts. “you ready for me, babe—“

Lotus blinked up at him, then crossed his arms and his legs, one brow-bone raised. “You’re not...?” He frowned, head cocked slightly.

Dumbfounded, Red tried not to fidget under his scrutiny. “what?” Lotus took a deep breath, looking away from him. Growing irritated and feeling exposed, Red said, “hey, c’mon—“

Lotus shushed him. “I’m thinking, dearie. No, no, don’t put on your pants.” He stood, straightening his clothing. “I’m still interested—Are you? Yes? Very good—but I believe we need to adjust how we’re approaching this.”

He circled around behind Red—who jerked when Lotus caught and held the back of his neck and his wrists. “hey, whaddaya—“

“Shhhh. Easy, darling. Relax. Take a moment and tell me—honestly, if you please—are you uncomfortable? Does this feel alright? Do you want me to stop?”

Red’s soul was hammering, and it felt like it had dropped through the bottom of his ribcage to squirm in his abdominal cavity. “i—“ He was breathing hard. Lotus’ fingers played soothingly over the back of his neck. “i—i think....”

“But what do you feel, dear?”

Lotus’ hands were strong and firm. Red tugged on his grip, and Lotus’ hands tightened. His soul squirmed, and for a moment, he was skirting the edges of panic, then Lotus bent down and blew softly over his neck, kissing along his jaw. The anxiety morphed into something else, something hotter and wilder. His knees went weak, and he moaned. “shit—i—fuck—“

“This is good, then?”

Helpless, Red nodded. He didn’t know what was happening, or how Lotus had known to do that, but it had his soul squirming in the best way, and his cock had only grown harder. “y-yeah. ‘s good.”

“Excellent. Please tell me if I do anything you don’t like, hmm? I’ll stop immediately.”

Red just nodded weakly as Lotus nuzzled the back of his neck, shifting his grip to cup the underside of his jaw and forcing his head back. A soft sound escaped Red, and Lotus chuckled. “Stay still, darling.”

Red blinked as Lotus’ hand left his wrists, but before he could think to break away—did he even want to?—he’d wrapped the sash from his robe around Red’s hands. “Still okay, dear?”

Red swallowed, not sure, until Lotus’ hand closed over his cock. “fuck! yeah, it’s—it’s all g-good!”

“Excellent!” He rubbed his thumb over the head, and Red moaned, head tilted back as he saw stars.

“fuck, that feels—that’s so good. it’s—stars, i’m—“

Lotus chuckled and the sound sent a shiver down his spine. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. But you’ll have to earn it if you want to cum.”

“huh?”

“Dear, that was a rather poor attempt at cunnilingus—“

Blinking, Red started to struggle. “hey, i—“ But Lotus squeezed his cock, riding on just the right side of painful. Red started panting, eyelights rolling into the back of his skull.

“None of that.” Lotus nuzzled the side of his skull. “I’m giving you the chance to redeem yourself. Unless you want to leave us both unsatisfied, I suggest you take it. So, darling? Are you willing to try again?”

Lotus pulled his hand away, leaving Red hard and aching. His hips twitched, but Lotus’ hands were back around his wrists, rubbing soothing circles in his carpals. “i—fuckin’—fine! if tha’s whatcha want, then fine. get this thing off ‘a me.” He jerked his wrists. “i’ll fuckin’ show ya a good time,” he muttered, sounding more like a threat than a promise.

“I think not. You hardly need your hands. Besides, I think I prefer you like this.”

“an’ what’s that supposed ta mean, huh?”

“You seem to need a little guidance and I can provide that more easily like this.” Red’s mouth popped open and he glared. Lotus just patted him on the head. “Don’t look so affronted, dear. I’ve certainly had worse.” Conspiratorially, he murmured, “Though most of them were paying for the experience. Now—!” He guided Red over to the bed, sitting before him once more. “Would you like to try again? Or have I wounded your pride a bit too deeply?”

Red struggled with himself, glaring at Lotus. But his cock was still hard and the tip was weeping pre-cum. Besides, his soul still felt jittery and unsteady—almost like an oncoming panic attack, but the anxiety was so intricately tied to his arousal that he couldn’t tell where one emotion stopped and the other began. “wan’ another go at it,” he finally bit out.

“Is that how you ask? Not very polite....”

Red flushed, but Lotus just smiled sweetly, his legs crossed primly. “can i...” He looked away, blush growing brighter. He didn’t know why he felt so embarrassed—something about Lotus’ expectant gaze and the knowledge that he had Red so thoroughly in hand. (And the fact that that understanding sent a spike of need down his spine didn’t make him any calmer.) He swallowed. “...can i eat ya out?”

Lotus seemed to study him, chin resting on his fingers. “I suppose a ‘please’ is too much to ask at this juncture,” he said with a sigh. “You may—but you will follow my instructions.”

Red huffed. “yeah? an’ if i don’?”

Lotus smiled, and there was something sadistic in it, something hungry. “Oh, dear. I can think of a great many things I would love to do to you as punishment.” Something in his abdominal cavity twisted pleasantly, and his eyelights dilated. Lotus touched his chin but sighed wistfully. “Alas, darling, there are a few lines I’m not willing to cross unless I know I have your consent.”

Red swallowed thickly, that jittery, antsy feeling returning with a vengeance. “can ya jus’—jus’ tell me?” His soul was hammering.

Smiling, Lotus took his cock in hand—not pumping, just holding. It sent a shudder down Red’s spine. “I’d put a cock-ring on this, to start,” he mused idly, sockets half-lidded. “I’d work you hard then. Tie you down and make you beg for relief. If you behaved yourself, perhaps I’d give it to you.”

Stars, why did that sound so good? Why did he suddenly want that? “what else?” he croaked.

“Well...if you enjoy pain, I have some other options we could explore. A sounding kit for this.” Another squeeze. “There are ways to bind it too, so you get no pleasure, no relief. You have the look of a man that could learn to forgo his own pleasure on occasion.”

Stars above, Red could hear his pulse pounding through his skull. Why did he want that? He couldn’t want that! But he did. He could feel the desire building, stronger and deeper than the pleasure he got just from sticking his dick in someone. Somehow, Lotus had caught on to something deeper, something Red himself hadn’t been aware of, and now, Red was left harder and hotter than he’d ever been before.

Breathing hard, he swallowed and asked, “if-if i do good taday...c’n we talk ‘bout this more? maybe...make sum arrangements?”

Lotus’ smile was pure sin. “Of course, dear. But...” He hooked a finger around Red’s collar and drew him close. In his acoustic meatus, he murmured, “Don’t behave too well. I do enjoy your fight.”

Red made an undignified sound, cock twitching. “g-got it.”

Lotus patted him on the head and sat back, spreading his legs. He teased the hem of his neglige up, only revealing the barest glimmer of red magic. “Come here, then. On your knees.”

It was a little awkward with his hands behind his back, but Red managed to sink to the floor. Lotus looked down at him, the corners of his sockets crinkling in satisfaction. The weight of his gaze was nearly palpable, and it left Red feeling anxious and embarrassed. His cheekbones flushed with magic. Shameless, Lotus spread his legs further, inviting him in. “Come on, dearie. I’m growing impatient. It won’t bite~.”

Red shot him a glare. “yeah, yeah. wouldn’t s’prise me if ya had teeth down ‘ere....” He tucked himself against Lotus, nosing the hem of his neglige out of the way. He tried to free his hands again, but the sash held. Lotus pointedly didn’t help him, just cupped the back of his head as Red positioned himself.

“Now, darling, a little more finesse this time, hmm?”

Red wanted to glare, but all he could see were velvety folds. He swallowed, knowing there was a good deal more riding on his performance than he was used to. “h...how?” He cleared his throat. “how d’ya wan’ this?”

The claws on the back of his neck scratched along his coronal suture, sending pleasant shivers down his spine. “Gently, at first. Teasing. Work me up slowly, dear. Start from the top.”

Red felt strange at first. He’d never taken such care with this, so he’d missed some of the finer details. The softness of Lotus’ labia, the way they parted for his tongue to reveal his clit. It swelled under his ministrations, and Lotus began panting, fingers scratching at the base of Red’s skull. “Ah, yes! Yes, darling! V-very good~!”

Red was starting to realize he’d missed a lot in his past encounters.

He trailed his tongue down to Lotus’ entrance, tracing the opening gently. “No more teasing, now,” Lotus said, breathing hard, “More aggressive.”

He obeyed. And continued to obey as Lotus rode his face, red magic smearing across his mouth and chin. He stood suddenly, pushing Red onto his back. “hey—“

Lotus stood over him, a delicate foot planted on his chest. He was breathing hard, his cheekbones lit with magic and his eyelights blazing.

He was magnificent.

Red swallowed his protests, caught up in the moment. “You did well, dear. Now, tell me what you want—my mouth? Or my cunt?” He teased the neglige up just a little, giving Red a good look.

Soul still hammering, Red stared up at him. “i-i don’—“ He took a breath. “i wan’ whatever you’ll give me.”

Lotus’ sockets were half-lidded. “Good answer.”

He folded gracefully to the ground, one hand on Red’s sternum and his legs folded alongside Red’s hips. He reached between them, gripping his cock to guide him inside. Red groaned, feeling Lotus’ walls clenching around him. “s-stars—“ His hips bucked, and Lotus hissed as he bottomed out.

“E-excited, a-are we?” Lotus said, breathless.

Red smirked. “heh.” He rolled his hips and Lotus inhaled sharply. “not too much fer ya, am i?”

Catching his breath, Lotus’ fingers hooked around Red’s ribs. He squeezed his cunt, making Red mumble a string of swear words, his breathing ragged. “I’ve had kings beneath me, darling. Don’t flatter yourself.” He shut his sockets and leaned back, hands flat on Red’s chest. He bounced once on his cock, and Red swore again. He tried to adjust his hands so his wrist wasn’t biting into his spine, but the discomfort remained. Lotus settled onto his cock, walls fluttering. “Something wrong, darling?”

“my hands.”

Lotus studied him. “I’m not sure I’m ready to free you just yet....” He smirked. “I believe I have the solution.” He reached down and untied Red’s hands, but caught his wrists before he was fully free. He rearranged his hands so they crossed on top of his spine, then wound the sash around his wrists and vertebrae. “There. How’s that?”

Red glared, squirming. “aw, c’mon. i ate’cha out, didn’ i? did a good job, didn’ i? lemme go, why doncha?”

“Because,” Lotus purred, leaning close, “I think you like this.” He flexed his hips, starting a slow rhythm. Red groaned, trying to set a faster pace, but Lotus held his hips down, stilling them.

“aw, c’mon—!”

“No, no, dear. You’re going to be a good boy—“ Red’s soul beat harder at that, and his breath quickened. “—and take what I give you. That’s what you asked for, isn’t it?”

He set an almost torturously slow pace, holding Red’s hips down so he couldn’t control their rhythm. Red tried to fight him for a while, but Lotus only seemed to find this amusing. Finally, he relaxed his body and tilted his head back, accepting that he had no control here, and no choice but to submit to whatever Lotus desired.

Seeing that, Lotus purred quietly, running one hand down Red’s cervical vertebrae. “There you are,” he said, satisfied. “Shut your sockets, dear, and just...feel.”

Red nodded, tired of trying to fight him. Now he could admit that he enjoyed the way Lotus’ pussy pulled him in, the way it gripped him perfectly. “See? It’s better this way,” Lotus said, starting a faster pace. “Better when you let me guide you.”

Red groaned, nodding without thinking about it. His breathing came faster now, and he could feel pleasure coiling in his abdominal cavity, at the base of his cock. It mounted slowly, teasing along his spine. His breath caught and held, ribs tense. Above him, Lotus moaned, and his cunt gripped Red’s cock like a vice, walls pulsing.

Red cried out, hips jerking as he came. Raw magic flooded Lotus’ channel, a brighter shade compared to his darker magic. It wrung another small orgasm out of him, and a startled moan. For a few moments, they held their respective positions, both breathing hard.

Lotus recovered more quickly, wiping sweat from his temples and pulling off his cock with a wet sound. Cum dribbled down his femur, and he made a face, cupping himself to keep from sullying the floor. Red stayed on the ground while Lotus left the room.

He shut his sockets, suddenly humiliated that he’d allowed Lotus—a damn sweet-piece—to not only subdue him but dominate him completely. His hands were still tied, but the arousal that had seemed to heighten when Lotus bound him and talked of punishment had faded. Now he wondered how he ever could have wanted such a thing, and why. He struggled to sit up, trying to decide if it would be more humiliating to teleport home and ask Boss to free him or to stay and face Lotus when he—

“Oh, dear. No, no, stay there.”

Red’s throat was tight, and he looked away, trying not to let his bones rattle. “he-heya, thanks f-fer the good time, toots, but uh, i-i need ta get movin’—“

Lotus’ arms suddenly enfolded him, and he pressed his face into Red’s cervical vertebrae, untying the sash. “I’m sorry, dear. I shouldn’t have left you alone. I...I’m afraid I’ve conducted myself rather poorly tonight.”

Red stayed tense in his arms, shuddering as he tried to keep from sobbing. “wh-whatcha talkin’ ‘bout? ‘m f-fine—“

Lotus kissed his forehead, then hugged him close. “Hush, dearie. Come now, let’s get on the bed, hmm?” He lifted Red up and settled on the bed, still holding him close. He pet along his spine and skull, quietly projecting / peace / serenity / care /. “Relax, dear. It’s okay. Talk to me, now. How are you feeling?”

“tolja, ‘m fine—“ Lotus pulled back to meet his sockets. Red’s throat tightened, his words stolen. “i-i—“ He swallowed. “what’s wrong with me?” Red tears rolled down his cheekbones, and Lotus wiped them away, sockets full of compassion.

“There’s nothing wrong with you, dear.”

“then why did i let you—?” His throat closed up again.

Lotus’ sockets widened. “Oh—I thought.... I’m so sorry. I thought you’d played these games before.” He winced. “That’s a failing on my end, I’m afraid. I should have discussed matters with you more fully before we went so far.”

Red shook his head, trying to push him away. “what? y-ya think i can’t handle b-being tied up?”

Lotus pulled back and cupped his face, forcing him to meet his sockets. “I think there’s a difference between being tied up and being dominated, darling.”

Red bristled, affronted by the implication that Lotus had— “ya didn’t—i didn’t—i—“

Lotus raised a brow-bone. “I see,” he said, shifting so they were both leaning back against the pillows and Red was in his lap. “Red, dear, tell me something—would you have thought less of me if I’d allowed you to tie me up? Or if I’d played submissive for you?”

“no! ‘course not!”

“Then why do you think less of yourself for doing the same?”

“‘cause it ain’t s’pposed ta be like that. i’m s’possed ta....”

Lotus sighed and rested his chin on Red’s head, stroking his sternum and projecting gently. “You are supposed to enjoy whatever you do in the privacy of your bedroom, dear—or in the privacy of mine. I’ve had plenty of experience pretending to be something I’m not and pretending to enjoy things I do not enjoy, for the benefit of people I had no desire to be with. I at least got paid for doing so. Why would you deny yourself something you enjoy? For pride? Darling, there’s no shame in wanting what you want. And no reason to be proud of denying yourself something you enjoy.”

Red was still shaking, but Lotus held him close, always projecting / security / safety / stability / care /. He asked if Red wanted anything—food or water, tea?—but Red only shook his head and cuddled closer. The shame lingered, but it faded as Lotus held him and murmured soft words of praise and thanks.

As the night stretched on, Red’s shaking quieted, and he began to purr in Lotus’ arms. Lotus smiled and kissed the top of his skull, still gently petting his arms and spine and sternum.

Red swallowed. “you, uh...ya said we could maybe talk ‘bout doin’ sumthin’ like this again.”

“I did.”

“that offer still open, or did i blow it by gettin’ all weepy an’ clingy on ya?”

Lotus kissed his temple. “This is part of it, dear. Aftercare. It’s part of my job to make sure you feel good about yourself and about what we did. So, yes, the offer stands, but we’ll take things more slowly next time, and discuss things more thoroughly.”

Red nodded. “thanks,” he said, settling into his arms. “yer...yer sumthin’ special, ya know tha’?”

Lotus chuckled indulgently. “Of course! Were you expecting anything less?”