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The last hilichurl fell to the ground, knocked out of combat. Aether sheathed the sword with a relieved sigh, and shivered when noticing the flow of energy coming out of it was growing stronger with every fight he undertook. The idea of wielding a weapon so powerful and destructive that could potentially corrupt every human being aside from him was somehow terrifying, but he couldn’t voice his fears out loud, as he had chosen to shoulder such a heavy burden out of his own free will.

« There’s your sketchbook! », Paimon yelled, snapping him out of his thoughts, and she pointed at the soaking pile of paper lying in a puddle not far from them. Even from that distance, it was obvious it had been damaged beyond repair.

Albedo sighed as he took in that pitiful sight. He walked up to the sketchbook and knelt down to examine its condition from up close. « Ugh », he grunted, « There’s been some damage ».

Aether moved closer and crouched besides him, his boots squeaking on the slippery snow. While the alchemist quickly skimmed through the thin paper sheets in search of any salvageable page, Aether’s eyes shifted up to glance at his face, as he unwillingly found himself doing quite often as of lately. There was something captivating in Albedo’s eyes, his expression always impossible to fully decipher. Even right now, lost as he was in his intense focus, there was a sad light shining deep inside his irises, clouded as usual by a mist of apathy and a distant sparkle of curiosity. Understanding what was on his mind was an impossible task he had given up on since the moment they had met.

Albedo snapped the sketchbook shut all of a sudden, startling him. As the pages folded back into place, he couldn’t help but take a glimpse of what was drawn on one of them – wait, was that his own face portrayed in rushed pencil lines?

But he had no time to interrogate him, as the alchemist had already stood up on his feet and shrunk inside his heavy jacket. « I need to go back », he said, his voice echoing in the empty space around, « I’ll see if there’s anything I can salvage. Let’s meet later at my camp, shall we? ».

Aether nodded, and the man left without waiting for them to follow. Although walking across Dragonspine shoulder to shoulder with him felt warmer than being alone, with only Paimon’s company in that desolate winter landscape, this time he preferred things to stay this way, considering the quiet rage radiating from Albedo upon losing his precious notes. He never had a chance to witness his reactions in a similar state of...  agitation, and well, he didn’t exactly feel like experimenting now.

Still, a pressing doubt was nibbling at the corner of his mind. He wasn’t completely sure, but the person in those sketches clearly resembled him. If not the facial features, which he didn’t properly see and might have been misleading, at least the long flowy braid was telling.

He was deadly curious – why did he choose him as a subject for his portraits? Aside from Venti rambling about writing ballads out of his deeds in Mondstadt, no one ever did anything remotely similar with him. He needed to know the reasons pushing him to that. He decided to ask him when they’d meet again, and take advantage of the influence he seemed to have on him to force out the answers he sought.

 


 

But when the moment came, his investigation plans had to be postponed.

In spite of his strong resolution, any idea of bothering Albedo simply faded in front of what he saw upon reaching the camp. He was sitting at the alchemy table, legs elegantly crossed on top of one another, the ruined (and miraculously salvaged) sketchbook laying on his thighs. His hand moved fast as lightning to write down notes from his experiments, and he was so focused, so deeply sunken into his mysterious academic reflection, that he didn’t even see him coming back, taking off his jacket, and sitting near the pot over the campfire.

He didn’t dare to break his concentration. Although he was indeed curious about many things: first of all, how did he manage to save such a ravaged book? It barely looked like it had been harmed now, and only some of the sheets had brittle, shattered corners, while everything else appeared perfectly normal. Was it really simple alchemy?

He couldn’t find the courage to interrupt him with his meaningless lucubrations. He was working, after all, while he was simply relaxing and killing time. That’s why he waited and waited - he waited for so long, until the sun had set, coloring the side of the mountain in warm orange hues first, then in colder, sharper blue undertones.

Albedo sat at his working station the entire afternoon, progressing with his research, copying and rewriting from scratch the notes he couldn’t save from the most damaged pages, and throughout the whole process he looked like a true professional. He barely flinched when Timaeus left for the night, heading back to the camp at the base of Dragonspine, escorted by a trembling and reluctant Paimon.

Only Aether was left, the blanket he had borrowed pulled over his shoulders to shield him from the burning cold winter coming from outside, as he mindlessly played with the handle of his new sword, rubbing his fingers along its smooth surface.

« You’re still here », Albedo suddenly said, « I thought you left with the others ».

Aether jumped on his seat, startled. Silence had been their ruler for so long, he almost forgot they were able to speak. « Ah, no, I did not », was his smart answer.

Words were hard to formulate for his lethargic, half-asleep brain, and he was clearly not a master at small talk. Plus, there was no real reason behind his stay at the camp, aside from the fact he was completely entranced staring at the man’s profile in the dim light of the cave. But he couldn’t tell him such a thing, of course.

« Sorry », Albedo said, finally standing up and stretching his arms up into the air, « I got immersed in my research and didn’t notice time passed by so fast ». He closed his sketchbook and swatted away some dust and a few piled up snowflakes from his back.

Only when he saw that, Aether realized how cold he was feeling, as if that sight had awoken his numb senses. He shivered, sinking deep into the padding of the blanket. « Don’t worry », he answered, « I understand. That’s why you’re the best alchemist in Mondstadt, I guess ».

Albedo looked at him, the faint moon light reflecting in the corner of his eyes. « To be fair, I’m not overly fond of the title », he said in his usually soft voice, « I simply do what I enjoy, in the most accurate way I can ».

Aether wasn’t sure he grasped that concept fully, as he thought he was definitely deserving of his high rank in the Knights. No other alchemists, not even the passionate Sucrose or the zealous Timaeus who taught the basics to him as well, shared his profound knowledge, his insatiable hunger for more, his insane precision and meticulous eye for detail. He was one of a kind.

He glanced at the book once more. « Believe me, though », he said, « Your drawings are wonderful. You have quite the talent ».

Albedo smiled, and even though his face seemed somehow emotionless – as if it was a mere gesture of courtesy and he didn’t really feel it in his soul – his words expressed sincere gratitude.

« Thank you, Aether », he said, and Aether’s heart skipped a beat hearing his name being spoken in such a tender tone, « Your compliments flatter me ».

They fell again into steep silence. Aether had no idea what the other was thinking, and was too shy to speak. Useless chit-chat surely didn’t interest him, and the last thing he wanted was to appear boring to him, since they still had to spend so much more time together while researching Durin and the infamous sword. He had to make a good impression at all times. Still… he was dying to know something, and he sensed the moment had come for him to throw away his fear and ask.

« Listen… », he said, carefully wording his question, « Can I have a better look at your notes? ».

Albedo stared at him, eyebrows furrowed. « My notes? », he repeated, « Are you interested in a specific matter? It’s late, but I can explain it to you if you wish so ».

Aether shook his head. Oh no, the last thing he wanted was to be lectured at night about concepts he was way too dumb to understand – even if he knew it was petty of him to only show interest in himself and the drawings he had spotted. He wasn’t that vain. Was there any point in lying to him, though? He could probably see through his lies in the blink of an eye.

« Well, honestly, I just want to look at the pictures », he admitted.

Albedo blinked twice and then chuckled – was he disappointed, perhaps? Sometimes Aether wished he shared his same enthusiasm towards alchemy or the wonders of Teyvat, but his interest was purely… aesthetic, more than scientific, and all those abstracts concepts and complex laws of nature gave him heavy headaches.

« Usually, I don’t let people touch my sketchbook », Albedo said.

He hesitated, and Aether started fearing his request would be turned down, thus making him fall into the most awkward situation he’d been in the past month. Maybe he didn’t trust him enough to bend his own rules for him, and the whole influence story was Paimon’s fantasy and nothing more.

But, in the end, he smiled. And this time his eyes were glowing too, shining with brand-new, genuine emotions. « Well, I suppose I can make an exception for you », he said.

He lifted the book and handed it over to him. Aether grabbed it with shaky fingers, partly because of the cold and partly from the excitement. Their knuckles brushed against each other for a second, and his skin instantly heated up for that contact, in strong contrast with the cold of his limbs.

He shyly opened it and began browsing through it. Dozens of sketches of hilichurls and geovishaps greeted him at every page flip, together with what seemed to be in-depth analysis of their symbolism. Some notes and experiment results framed the corners, and Aether couldn’t but notice how orderly Albedo’s handwriting was, suiting his personality to perfection. Detailed landscapes, studies of wild plants, formulas, scribbles – everything was so beautiful and detailed, yes… but that’s not what he was interested in. He pretended to lay his gaze on every figure and text, hoping Albedo wouldn’t be upset about his true aim, and faked surprise when he finally landed on that page.

Filling every inch of the off-white paper were tons of portraits of his face, from all possible angles. Front views, profiles, back shots of his hair… It looked like studies of a foreign creature. Well, in a way that’s how Albedo often said he considered him: a curious being, an uncommon person to conduct experiments on. And for some weird reason, he didn’t mind at all.

Albedo sure had put a lot of care in polishing some details – the snowy scenery was reflected in the shading of his eyes, some precisely drawn hair tufts were escaping his braid, his lips seemed to shine so brightly, in contrast with the dull surface of the paper. The clothes were barely sketched, but he supposed that hadn’t been the focus of his attention.

It was… embarrassing, indeed. He had never been the model of any painting, and he had never remotely considered the possibility of someone drawing him, as he was hardly interesting or beautiful at all. Even more confusingly, a small voice in his head reminded him that they actually never spent that much time idle in the same place to explain these perfectly rendered pictures, which meant he probably spent some minutes – maybe hours – afterwards to polish his work.

His cheeks flushed thinking about the amount of attention he had dedicated to someone like him.

« Ah, those », Albedo peeked what he was staring at, and his voice sounded unfazed, as if he didn’t feel an ounce of shame, « Yes, I did sketch you a few times ».

“A few is an understatement” , Aether thought.

Albedo moved closer, reaching him. He walked behind the stool he was sitting on, his knees brushing lightly against Aether’s back, as he leaned forward to look at the sketchbook with him. Too many parts of their bodies were unexpectedly touching, and he felt much like a matchstick starting to catch fire.

« Why me? », he asked, already out of breath.

At the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of Albedo shrugging. « I can’t tell why you are such a pleasant subject to observe », he explained, « There’s something attractive in you. After all, you and I have so many things in common, we are both… different from the others. The things I sense when I look at you, the curiosity that drives me to study you, I don’t feel any of those towards anyone else in Teyvat. You fill me with adrenaline like no one else  ».

Aether’s cheeks turned a new shade of red. Albedo was so confusing. His words sounded like a full-fledged love confession, of the cheesy kind he’d expect to hear from cute teenage girls instead of a grown man with a thriving professional career and a clinically rational mind. But the way he spoke made it seem as if he was presenting the results of his last alchemical research – so cold and impersonal it almost hurt. His brain, though, could only process the words “love” and “confession”, and it sort of blanked out.

He chuckled, painful awkwardness in his laugh. « Hey », he said teasingly, « Why do you sound like you have a crush on me or something? ».

Oh, no ”, he thought. Had he gone crazy all of a sudden? What in the world was that? Whenever he felt the tiniest bit uncomfortable, words flew out of his mouth freely, and he ended up twisting things in the most embarrassing ways. That was it for his resolution of making a good impression on Albedo! What a genius he was.

He could already foresee the end of this mess. Albedo would have either been disgusted at the idea or, perhaps more likely, he’d just coldly reject him. He didn’t think he was actually in love with him, but imagining such a cruel refusal felt like a stab through his chest.

Contrarily to his tragic scenarios, Albedo simply mumbled under his breath, lost in thought.

« What do you mean with “crush”? », he asked.

Aether turned around to glance at him – and damn , was he close, so much his nose almost rubbed into his shirt as he moved – only to see real, genuine confusion in his eyes.

Okay, he must be messing with him. It’s impossible for someone to survive so many years ignoring a basic concept like this. Yet, he knew him well enough already to tell apart the rare times he was joking from the moments he was serious, and that glimmer in his eyes definitely belonged to the second category.

« Y-You… don’t know what a crush is? », he asked, stuttering way out of control, « For real? ».

Albedo shrugged nonchalantly. « Care to explain? », he asked.

Aether’s brain melted. If only he hadn’t spilled blatant nonsense, now he wouldn’t be stuck in this terrifyingly awkward situation. His face lit up, the absurd closeness of their bodies not helping in the slightest. He ran away, standing up from his stool, as he took a few shy steps around the cave, the blanket dropping from his shoulders to the cold floor.

Busy trying to find the right words to clear up his doubt without sounding like a child or a complete fool – which he fully believed he was, after this pitiful scene –, his eyes wandered between the items scattered in the lab, jumping from the wooden board in the corner to the phials dumped on the crowded table.

There was no easy way out of it, so he simply decided to bypass the question, like Paimon had taught him to do so well. « Let’s say », he said, finally turning around to face him, « When you see me, what do you feel like doing? ».

Oh now, that was some awful wording. He didn’t know himself what he was trying to achieve with that – he honestly lost his train of thought and was unable to get back on his feet. It happened too often around the alchemist, and he hated that inexplicable insecurity.

Albedo’s eyes lit up, sending a shiver down his spine. He didn’t like that look. It was eerie, so untypical on his usually composed face.

« Can I really show you? ».

Wait, what?”. Aether took a big gulp of air, to scare away the lump in his throat. His voice was smooth and gentle, almost a whisper, and every single word he spoke sent a shudder through his veins, heating up every inch of his numb body.

There had always been a strange tension between them. An ambiguous one, constantly swinging back and forth between attraction and distancing, pulling them together from their first meeting and then suddenly making them part, to the point Aether was always left tingling after being with him for the whole day. Ah, this sounded so cheesy in his head. Maybe he had been the one candidly crushing on him all along. What a fool.

« S-Sure? », he said, « Go ahead ».

What happened next is but a blur to him. Albedo walked up to him with a stone-cold stare, moving slowly, painfully slowly, every step he took ringing and echoing in Aether’s ears like drums. Trepidation was killing him, gradually driving him crazy.

He shivered, a sudden chill running through his body as the alchemist got closer and closer, until their bodies were touching again. He pushed forward, and Aether felt himself pressed against the board, Albedo towering over him – had he always been this tall, or was it because his own legs were too shaky to sustain his weight?

They stared at each other for the longest time, Aether getting lost in his eyes, trying to grasp the emotions hidden inside those teal irises, their secret intention, as cold sweat ran along his scalp.

And just when he was about to ask him what was wrong, Albedo kissed him with unprecedented force. Aether instinctively jumped back, his head hitting the hard surface of the board, as their lips fiercely blended together.

Aether wouldn’t know how to define that kiss – it was for sure full of confidence, yet it had a shy note of insecurity in it, a goofy fret he wouldn’t expect from someone as precise as Albedo. Something deep in his soul knew this would happen one day, seen the constant pull he felt towards him, the way he found himself staring at all times without realizing, the faint thrill upon hearing his voice, the constant need for excuses to stick by him even past the needed hours.

He pushed against his mouth with all the strength he could muster, although he wasn’t an expert kisser himself – their movements were sloppy and didn’t match at all, making them look like young kids tasting love for the first time.

But as soon as Aether relaxed his muscles, letting go of the piled-up tension in his nerves, everything clicked. Their lips snapped back into synchronicity, and finally he could let himself fully enjoy that moment of affection, the outlet of all the emotions he had secretly been harboring for Albedo and that he could never admit to anyone, including himself.

Aether winced as Albedo’s hand left the board, to find a better resting place on the curve of his back, pulling him closer to his chest and deepening the kiss. His lips were forced open, allowing their tongues to hastily meet. He melted in the warmth of his mouth, forgetting about the winter cold biting at his limbs, as if it never existed.

That kiss sure was messy – he struggled to breathe, but he refused to distance himself from Albedo, enjoying that contact far too much. Legs quivering, he grasped at the hem of the alchemist’s jacket to support his weight, as their tongues continued dancing and intertwining in a sloppy, wet disaster.

When they finally parted, desperate for air, his lungs were screaming. Unruly tufts of hair fell down his forehead, sticky from the sudden sweating, and his huffs were so loud they echoed everywhere – in his ears, in his chest, in his head. Or was it just the unstoppable beating of his heart?

He glanced at Albedo and almost choked. He would have looked completely unfazed, if it wasn’t for the faint blush on his cheeks and a shiny drop of saliva twinkling on the corner of his lower lip. His smile was wide, brighter than a million suns.

« If having a crush on you means this », he said, his voice still breathy from the kiss, « Then yes, I suppose that’s how I would define my feelings ».

Aether was at a loss of words. If the heat he felt was anything to go by, the color of his face probably betrayed his emotions like transparent glass. He had no idea how he managed to not faint and collapse to the ground, melting into a fizzling puddle of love.

Albedo was simply too much to fathom.

His silence must have been quite eloquent. Or, at least, Albedo interpreted it as a sign of comfort, an invitation, and promptly leaned back in to make their mouths meet once more.

There was more confidence in his movements now, in the way his hands ran up to trace the contour of his waist, his spine, his shoulders, until Aether found himself embraced in his arms, lips on fire for the harsh kisses.

He didn’t know that’s what he had been craving and needing his entire life, but now all he could think about was to dive deeper into his mouth, the best beacon of warmth he could hope to find in that cold world – even though he could barely feel his face, and saliva was dripping everywhere. He surely looked like a dribbling mess, but little could he care about that. He only wanted Albedo, to be with him, to touch him, to feel him everywhere, on and under his skin.

Although Albedo still retained some clumsiness, clearly relying on his sole instinct as a guide, Aether couldn’t wish for anything better. He couldn’t bear to deal with someone with much more experience, when he had no clue how romance worked.

One thing was sure: Albedo gave him no breaks. Whenever they interrupted their kisses to fill in their lungs, he hesitated but a single instant to jump at his lips once more, until Aether completely forgot what it meant to breathe. He blindly went along with the flow, letting himself be carried away, until he was left an utter mess unable to even remember his own name.

A shiver. Albedo’s hand pulled at the hem of his shirt – the one piece of clothing he enjoyed making fun of, calling it too thin, too unfit for the mountain weather, but that Aether still stubbornly wore, in spite of almost freezing to death in more than one occasion –, his fingers whimsically sliding below the fabric to caress his belly.

But now he had no reason to worry about the ruthless cold air coming through the entrance of the cave, because Albedo’s fingertips were boiling hot on his skin, so much he thought he would burn himself with every lingering touch.

Their lips united again and again, and with every meeting and parting Aether felt his lucidity gradually fade, until the moment his shirt was slowly moved up to expose his chest. Their mouths separated for only the mere second it took for Albedo to force his arms up and slide it off, fated to be abandoned at their feet and forgotten.

An unknown kind of embarrassment lit up Aether’s face, at the thought someone – namely Albedo, who was such a perfect human being in his head – was seeing him with so little clothes on. It wasn’t the first time it happened, as he did camp outside with other males before, but this  context was way different, with all the kissing and touching making it a brand new experience for him. Eyes half closed, he took a shy peek, and noticed Albedo’s eyelids were tightly shut, meaning he wasn’t exactly staring . He sighed in relief.

But his breath instantly halted as he felt playful fingers messing with his nipples.

A telling moan escaped his control, and Albedo had mercy on his lips for a moment. He moved to whisper straight into his ears, steamy hot breath mercilessly tickling his skin. « Should I stop? », he asked.

Aether had honestly no idea. Rationally, he should have said yes – there was something deeply wrong in making out with someone he had met not too long before, more so if in a cave, surrounded by chemical components and hilichurl scribbles, on top of a stormy mountain. His brain urged him to stop, but his heart… Oh, his heart was begging for more.

« No », he mumbled, and he was the one to grab the other by the collar of his shirt, better reaching out in search of his lips.

Albedo quickly reacted, welcoming his mouth, soon gaining the upper hand in their kiss, and Aether let him have the honor, as he much preferred being led than in charge.

Fast fingers ran all over his chest again, brushing against his nipples with sweet strength, drawing muffled sighs out of his busy mouth. Aether had never been touched in such a persistent, passionate way, and he failed to control his reactions, his shameless moans and pants echoing on Albedo’s tongue.

Their lips parted, a single string of saliva connecting them as Albedo’s mouth quickly ditched his in order to rush for his neck, pressing a constellation of scorching kisses on his soft skin. Aether flinched under his touch, wondering how it was even possible for a man stranded for weeks in a constantly icy weather to have such soft, feathery lips.

« You seem especially sensitive in this area », Albedo whispered at the base of his neck, making him shiver, « That’s hardly surprising ». In spite of the self-confidence he was trying so badly to display, Aether could hear the trembling in his voice.

« Disappointed? », he teased. Albedo smiled against his skin, then resumed his activity, leaving small kisses everywhere from his collarbone all the way to his chin, rubbing his nose along the contour of his jawline, faintly suckling on his earlobe. Every single one of his movements took a breathy sigh out of Aether’s shaky lips, as he was shoved repeatedly in and out the doors of paradise. Oh, was he good at this – it felt as if he had been born for that moment, only to know what it meant to be handled with so much honest passion and love.

Albedo seemed satisfied with the reactions he was drawing out of him. He shifted positions, pushing Aether down and forcing him to sit haphazardly on a nearby wooden box. The books resting on top of it were distractedly slammed aside, until they hit the floor in a loud thud. That didn’t break the magic, as Aether’s confusion was instantly wiped away before he could interrogate him – the now familiar, divine mouth had begun spoiling him again.

Hands still playing with one of his nipples, Albedo’s tongue wrapped around the other one, warming it up and fiddling with it until it hardened under his touch. The corners of his jacket scraped against Aether’s exposed torso, tickling his belly button. He chuckled, the first sound he was able to let out among his pleased huffs.

« Sounds like you are enjoying it », Albedo murmured under his breath, looking up to meet his gaze.

Aether’s cheeks flushed beyond any limit as he fully realized what was going on. Albedo had bent down, his nose sinking softly into the skin of his belly, hand teasingly pulling at the hem of his pants. “Is this really happening?” , he thought, incredulous.

« I-I guess… », he breathed.

Albedo grinned. There was a new, unseen emotion in his eyes: malice, and an undertone of challenge. Deep inside his soul, Aether was scared to death. « I suppose it's fine if I carry on, then? Or… », he pulled at the fabric, teasingly, « Perhaps you wish for me to stop? ».

Aether shook his head in disbelief, but he didn’t seem to accept it as a valid answer. He really wanted him to say it out loud, didn’t he? For some reason he saw it coming – Albedo definitely gave off the gentle but sadistic vibe. Or was it a way to test the limits of his pride, to see how far he was willing to push himself just to be touched more?

Well then, so be it.

« D-Don’t stop », he begged, « Please… ».

And with that, whatever leftover brim of his dignity disappeared, vanishing inside Albedo’s smug smile. Seemed that’s all he needed to proceed with his plans, as he immediately lowered Aether’s pants and underwear in a single swift movement, leaving his erection exposed to the cold air. He had been so focused, so lost in that hot embrace, that he didn’t even realize how tight things had become down there, how eager his lower body was for more contact.

Albedo took an eyeful of that view, resembling for a scary second a scientist in front of his study case… or rather a hunter in front of his prey.

All of Aether’s thoughts halted abruptly when the alchemist lowered his head and took his erection fully into his mouth, beginning to suck. He gasped for air, desperate, and failed to hold back a loud moan – which apparently only fueled Albedo more, as he brought a hand to help him pump with more force.

Aether winced, his fingers frantically running through Albedo’s hair and pulling at it, to seek support and relief from the excessive pleasure he was being given. This time he was the one to draw an aroused groan out of him, and the sound crashed against his shaft, making him squirm more in a vicious circle.

Albedo dutifully worked out his cock, while his free hand moved over on Aether’s behind, to grab one of his butt cheeks and squeeze it in his palm, as the harmless victim could do nothing but squirm in vain - compressed against the wall as he was, squeezed between his lover and the cold hard rock wall. He blanked out, won over by the warmth and the bliss, sighing and whining out of control, without even making the effort to be quiet anymore. He was powerless, completely at his mercy, and he gladly surrendered to him.

Albedo was so delightfully good at this, and so very diligent in the way he made sure no inch of his erection got neglected for more than a second, hastily providing heat to the entire length with his fingers, his mouth, his tongue . Aether found it so absurd that he had no clue what crushing on someone meant, yet he clearly had some experience in this field - or well, at least he had the skills . It was so different from the times he touched himself, and way more intense than any of his wild fantasies - so much, that it didn’t take long for him to blank out and give in to the pleasure, releasing his seed deep into his mouth without a warning.

The adrenaline rush slowly fading, Aether gradually slid back into consciousness, exhaustion taking over, as he became fully aware of what he had done – yet all his attempts to apologize to him all turned into shapeless mumbles upon leaving his lips.

Albedo let out a surprised groan, but thankfully didn’t seem upset. The opposite, if anything. He carefully licked clean the tip of Aether’s cock, and ( “Oh, no” ) seemed to be examining the taste of his cum. If he hadn’t been too tired from their intercourse to flush any further, he’d surely have gone crazy seeing that, especially that smug, satisfied look on his face.

« Hm, it tastes good », he had the audacity to say, « A little different from what I was expecting ».

Aether was in utter shock. How could he even think of such an embarrassing sentence? It was so bold, he almost felt like a little clueless child. Which was kinda strange, considering what he had just done.

He flopped down, collapsing onto the box he had been thrown on, completely drained. « Hey, d-don’t say that », he protested in a high pitched voice he didn’t recognize himself.

He sure had a way to talk. There was genuine confusion in Albedo’s eyes once more, and Aether could swear he had never met anyone who managed to be so sweet, so innocent yet so naughty at the same time. It was almost charming.

Albedo stood up, his legs trembling lightly, and licked away a leftover drop of cum from the corner of his mouth (and oh, that sight made Aether’s crotch twitch ). He sat down, joining him on the unsteady box, and straddled his lap in a gentle way, hugging him tightly.

Aether was a bit uneasy, still naked as a baby against his fully clothed chest, and the hard bulge in Albedo’s pants pressing against him sure didn’t help. But there was something objectively irresistible in the affectionate rain of soft kisses he was pouring on his cheeks, in the safe solidity of his embrace, that he couldn’t dare reject. He accepted his warmth, and pulled closer to rub their noses together, closing his eyes to focus on him and only him.

« Your reactions are so beautiful  », Albedo whispered softly, « It’s worth some further research… don’t you agree? ».

Aether’s eyelids snapped open with a scared shiver. « What do you mean? », he asked.

He looked up, meeting a pair of longing teal irises. As their gazes locked, he felt a hand caressing his behind again, this time with unforeseen possessiveness.

And in that moment, he knew he was done for.