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A Winning Smile

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Leaning on his spear, Estinien didn’t bother to hide his grimace at having to spar with the other Temple Knights.  Upon receiving a dirty look from someone he slouched further.  He was training to kill dragons , not fight people .  Still, he did concede that it was training of a sort, and it would be a bit of a change.  Further, if the damn Empire did march their way he’d have to deal with those sorts, so ehh…

He yawned as the other Knights paired off and found a space to work, glad to be ignored, and considered wandering off to just find a training dummy to work out his irritation on when someone approached him from the corner of his eye.  Shifting enough to give them well-practiced side-eye, he was surprised to see that the other man not only did not seem bothered by his silent command to bugger off , but seemed amused by it, judging by the way his smile got wider, actually touching his eyes and making their blue even brighter.

“Estinien!  May I ask for your company as a sparring partner?” he asked, and it took a moment for the other man’s name to come to him.

He shrugged and resigned himself to being bothered so, but took solace that at least Aymeric was the polite, quieter sort, unlike trainees like Haurchefant, who seemed to take obscene glee in being an absolute nuisance.  “Might as well,” he sighed, falling into step with him and hefting his spear over his shoulder, “make the best of this, even if it is a waste of my damn time.”

A smile once more danced over Aymeric’s lips, and Estinien found himself staring for a couple of seconds.  ...Why was he staring at the swordsman like that?  Aymeric had to be deliberately messing with him, of course, getting into his head even before they started, and he pulled away his gaze quickly.  “Hmm, well, perhaps I can make it worth your time?”  Estinien gave him side-eye again, which was somewhat blunted by the look of curiosity he couldn’t hide.  “I will give you a prize if you are able to win.”

"When I win,” Estinien corrected with confidence, but gave Aymeric a wary look anyway.  “...What do you have in mind?”  The other man winked and grinned at him, and Estinien exhaled sharply through his nose.  “Fine, keep your secrets, I’ll find out what it is in a couple of minutes anyway, when I win.”  Despite his bravado, he felt a small creep of doubt, once more surprising himself.  True, he’d never sparred against Aymeric, but really, he looked so soft and gentle, it’s not like he’d prove to be a challenge.

Away from the others, he finally stopped, sighed, rolled his shoulders to limber up, and took up his usual fighting stance.  Aymeric watched him with interest, then smiled again and took up his own, hefting both sword and shield with trained confidence.  Well, Estinien at least conceded that the other man had good form, so while this would be a fast fight, he’d not embarrass the other man too much.  Waiting a few seconds more to be sure that it was at least sporting, he took a deep breath and launched himself at the swordsman, intending to force him to block, which should leave him open to being disarmed and then knocked flat.  Easy enough, and all just a matter of-

He stumbled as he leapt through empty air, as Aymeric had not blocked, instead stepping neatly aside while still keeping his shield at the ready.  That pleasant smile was now becoming insufferable, and Estinien attacked again, only to once more stab nothing when his opponent dodged again, having the utter gall to swat him on the bottom with the flat of his blade as he went by.  HOW DARE-

Aymeric finally attacked, stepping out with his right foot to use a back-handed swing at him, then closed his position by moving forward with his left foot, again safe behind his shield.  This looked far too fluid to be any of the training that he’d seen the sword-wielding trainees perform, and when he heard Aymeric humming softly to himself he snarled.  That’s right, he was known as an excellent dancer, and it seemed that he had learned to integrate that footwork into his fighting.  Testing something, he attacked with a feint to the left and then stabbed to the right, expecting Aymeric to have left himself open by blocking the wrong side, but yet again encountered nothing when the dark-haired man neatly moved away.  This time, however, the shield caught him in the side of the head without causing any actual damage, and he gritted his teeth, growling in his throat.

“Boop!” snickered Aymeric.  WHAT?!  That cheeky whoreson was toying with him!

Despite his outward irritation, Estinien’s blood sang in his veins.  A worthy opponent!  He threw himself into combat, caught between being angry that he just couldn’t get anywhere inside of Aymeric’s defenses and delighted that he had finally encountered a challenge.  After a few minutes he began to learn his movements and chose to press the offensive.  To be fair, he had been attacking the entire time anyway, but most of it was probing and exploring, and he was impressed to notice that Aymeric was doing the same.  Even the jumps that took him over and behind his foe (that usually sealed his victory with others!) were either avoided or outright blocked, and worse, he had been forced to retreat every time!  This was unacceptable!

At last he had learned all that he needed to finish this, and he glared at Aymeric again, giving the impression of being annoyed and therefore liable to make mistakes.  The way that the other man’s lips quirked up for a moment told him that he’d taken the bait, and he jumped again.  This time, though, instead of going over and behind like he’d had before, he landed almost where he’d started, and too late did Aymeric realize the ruse.  The swordsman tried to pivot swiftly, bringing up his shield to block the incoming attack, but this was something else that Estinien had predicted and swung his own weapon the other way, catching the edge of the shield and knocking it wide, further opening Aymeric’s position.  Next the sword was raised in defense, and the butt of the lance snapped up to catch Aymeric’s wrist, causing him to drop his sword.  Continuing with the momentum, Estinien smirked with satisfaction as he shoulder-checked his opponent, sending him to the ground, and planting a foot in his chest and the point of his lance in the ground by his head.

"I win," he gloated, but found it difficult to enjoy it, as the other man looked positively delighted!  Bright blue eyes wide with surprise and pretty lips parted with delight, Aymeric laughed at his defeat, and Estinien felt a strange surge of...something in his stomach.  What the-

"You have won, and it is well-earned," the swordsman smiled, holding up a hand, "it is time for your promised reward."  This produced that odd surge in Estinien's stomach again, and he stepped back half a step, wondering what the seven hells was wrong with him.  Still, it would be rude to make him get up on his own, so he grasped Aymeric's hand and-

He gasped when the other man pulled hard, not intending to get up at all, but to pull Estinien down to him.  The lancer grunted as he landed atop his opponent, now thoroughly confused, and propped himself up on his elbows to give Aymeric a piece of his mind.

...

That had been the plan, anyroad, but that smile...  It distracted him enough that he didn't notice the hand that reached up to cup the back of his neck and pull him down, and once the initial shock had passed of being kissed, he moaned quietly into it without thinking.  This was completely new and bizarre, yet...he didn't mind?  He felt Aymeric's tongue trace the seam of his lips, and he gasped softly at the brazen act, giving Aymeric the chance to intrude further and deeper.  Still he didn't mind, and...  MORE...

Aymeric clearly had had practice at this, and he was enjoying it so much that Estinien should have been offended, or at least annoyed, but for some reason, the only thing that bothered him was his own lack of skill at such a thing.  When he pulled away to catch his breath, panting as though he'd just run a malm in armor, he found himself without his customary biting sarcasm.  Or even his quiet disdain.  Then he realized that they probably shouldn't keep laying there where someone could walk up and begin asking questions, so he scrambled to his feet, offering a hand again, but gave Aymeric a warning glare to not do that again.  The swordsman laughed, and for the third time that strange rush of something turned Estinien's stomach into a storm, and he was both annoyed and puzzled by it.

"...You aren't going to do that again, are you?" he asked, trying not to sound cautious and not hopeful, but knew that he'd failed.

Dusting himself off, Aymeric put a finger to his own lips and winked.  "Only if you win again.  Although, if you'd rather get right to it, you could always ask."

Estinien blushed to his ear tips, and then stared off at nothing in shock.  He didn't blush!  That was for maidens and...and-!

He grabbed his weapon and took up his stance again, trying to hide behind a facade of irritation.  "Where did you even learn to do that anyway?" he asked, mostly out of fascinated curiosity.  Aymeric seemed like such a shy, unassuming sort, who knew he could do that with his tongue, and therefore, what else could he do-  NO, STOP THAT-

Retrieving his own weapon, Aymeric flowed into his own stance.  "Ah, you'll just have to win again.  Don't worry, I won't make it easy for you-"  He laughed when Estinien interrupted him with a powerful lunge, and they were locked in mock combat once more.  Though he refused to admit it to himself or Aymeric, Estinien was having a good time and...now he really wanted to win.