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you can't have peace without a war

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The floor was cold against Akihiko’s bare forearms as he rested his weight on them, not daring to move. The sharp tip of a rapier held steady at his throat, barely brushing his adam’s apple, but his attention was focused somewhat… lower. A stiletto heel rested a hairsbreadth from his groin, pressing at the crook of his inner thigh, making his cock twitch with anticipation. What that said about him, he didn’t particularly feel like examining at the moment, but it couldn’t be anything good.

“Do you yield?”

The woman wielding both weapons tilted her head, curls shifting over her shoulder, blood red against the white silk of her skin and the black cotton of her sports bra. There were bruises blooming blue-violet on her exposed ribs from the hits he’d managed to get in, and her expression said that, if he yielded to her, he’d be paying for every single one.

He hadn’t been looking for a fight when he’d come downstairs, hadn’t even been dressed for one, but instead had been simply looking for Mitsuru. She’d had an important meeting with several government officials earlier, one that apparently had not gone according to plan. Unsurprising, considering one of the men she was dealing with was not known for his equal treatment of women, and nothing made Mitsuru more angry than being underestimated because of her gender.

Regardless of the particulars, she was practically radiating tension that needed an outlet, an impulse he more than understood. It had been a long time since they’d sparred, and he hadn’t been able to resist the temptation of testing his strength against hers, no personas allowed. She was one who’d proposed the terms to their match. Thinking back, he probably should have seen the predatory gleam in her eye and run screaming, but it wasn’t in him to back down from a challenge.

And the prize she offered, should he win, was too damn good to pass up.

Though she’d come a long way in the months since they’d started sleeping together, maintaining control was still a thing for her. She hated giving it up, so she was in charge of every encounter. While that was mostly fine with Akihiko, when Mitsuru had laid out the condition that, if he won their bout, he could take her anyway he chose… Well. Maybe he hadn’t let his brain do the thinking for him on that one.

It was unlike him to get distracted, especially during a fight, but the mental image of Mitsuru splayed out beneath him, knees hooked over his shoulders and writhing in pleasure, was beyond persistent.

The fact that she was wearing nothing but a sports bra, yoga pants, and heels probably also had something to do with it. Mitsuru was always almost inhumanly beautiful, whether she was wearing a catsuit or a ballgown or business casual. But in workout gear, with her hair messy and pulled up into a ponytail, sweaty tendrils sticking to her neck as she tried her best to knock him into the dirt?

That was more appealing than anything else he’d seen in his entire damned life.

With so much of his attention focused on her as a woman, and not as a combatant, the conclusion they’d reached seemed inevitable. The tiny smirk that twisted one corner of her lips seemed to indicate that was her plan all along, and now he was flat on his ass, totally at her mercy.

“Akihiko.” There was an edge of warning to her tone, and the tip of her sword pressed just slightly harder against his throat, breaking skin so that a bead of blood rolled down his neck.

If he didn’t yield, he risked bodily harm, possibly execution -- Mitsuru had him beat soundly and fairly, and not yielding would be out of pure stubbornness, something that she despised. But if he didn’t, then she would claim her prize. Namely, him, in whatever way she chose.

He swallowed hard, throat shifting against the blade. “I yield.”

Just like that, the sword came away from his neck and clattered to the floor behind her, while the foot that was pressing down on his groin slid sideways, her instep rubbing briefly against the bulge in his pants as she pulled away, and Akihiko groaned.

Mitsuru stepped closer, feet planted on either side of his hips, and bent down, one hand curling around the back of his neck. “If you call for Caesar, I will stop. You don’t need to actually summon him -- if I hear his name from your lips, then whatever I’m doing, no matter what, I’ll stop. But until that point…”

Excitement, edged with just a hint of fear, flashed through him. They’d played little power games before, but this was the first with the rules laid out so plainly. This was the first with a condition of what would happen if he broke.

His left hand clenched into a fist, and he grinned. No fucking way was that going to happen. “Understood.”

“Good.” Mitsuru’s grip on this back of his neck tightened, her nails digging into flesh as she pulled his head up to hers for a bruising kiss that left them both breathless.

She let go and straightened so suddenly that Akihiko almost dropped onto his back, but caught himself at the last moment. “Bedroom. Now.”

He brought a hand up to rub his neck, wiping away the half-dried trail of blood. “And what if I say no?”

The terms may have said that she could have what she wanted, but that didn't mean he was going to make it easy for her.

Sharp red eyes met his, and she smiled. “That would be incredibly unwise, Akihiko.”

A lazy grin spread itself across his features as he held her gaze. “I’ll take it under advisement.”

Flicking her shoulders in a shrug, Mitsuru turned and walked towards the stairs, apparently trusting him to make the intelligent choice and follow her. The door closed behind her before he moved to stand -- and not just because he’d been enjoying the view, though that was certainly part of it. Whoever invented yoga pants deserved a medal. Same for high heels. Combining the two should be illegal, and Akihiko didn't really even have any special attraction to that particular part of a woman's anatomy.

He took a deep breath to steady himself and get his body back under control (the last thing he needed was to run into a maid in his current state) and then followed.

When he made it into her bedroom -- he still couldn't really make himself think about it as theirs despite the fact that he spent the majority of his nights here -- Mitsuru was standing in the middle of the floor, something coiled in her right hand. The look she gave him had an edge of uncertainty to it, and Akihiko could have slapped himself. Of course she’d taken his slowness as hesitation. Mitsuru wore that imperious mask like she was born to it, but he knew better than most how much insecurity it could be concealing. It was just hard to tell, sometimes, when it was an act and when it wasn't.

He ran through his options: 1) apologize and possibly make things incredibly awkward, or 2) be, as Shinji liked to put it, a “cocky little shit” and antagonize her back into whatever she had planned. Also possibly end up a human popsicle, but hey. Worth a shot, right?

Akihiko tugged his right glove off with his teeth and tossed it on the bedside table, the left following it as he dropped down on the edge of the bed and smirked. “Well? You were planning on making good on those threats, right? I've never known you to make idle ones.”

He watched her eyes as a flicker of relief shot through them, and she visibly relaxed. Mitsuru crossed the room in two long strides and was suddenly on him, knees on either side of his hips and mouth crushing down on his. He was so occupied with having a sudden lap-full of warm, soft, more-than-willing woman that he didn't realize the intent behind it until leather pulled snug around his throat.

Mitsuru pulled back to look him in the eyes and smile as she locked the collar into place, tight but not choking. “You’re correct, I don’t. ”

A potent mix of emotions -- confusion, shame, anger, incredible brain-breaking arousal -- surged up within him, but he tamped them all down with an effort as Mitsuru stared him down, daring him to protest. When he didn't, she looped one manicured finger through the metal loop in the front and tugged, yanking his head to hers for another kiss.

Lust shot through him like lightning, and Akihiko curled his hands around her hips, pulling her down against him and grinding, desperate for some sort of friction.

The metal buckle of the collar suddenly flared icy cold, and he jerked back with a gasp.

“And here I thought you might actually behave yourself. It would appear I was mistaken.” There was a sharp click at his throat, and Akihiko glanced down to see a length of leather coiled around Mitsuru’s hand. “While you wear this, you are not to seek or achieve any sort of gratification for yourself. You may touch me only when I specifically permit it. You will do as I say. Otherwise, you will be punished.”

Her words washed over him. He knew they were important, but-- A leash. She had not only collared him, but leashed him, like a dog.

“What the hell, Mitsuru?”

“Whatever I want, remember? Those were the terms of our agreement, were they not? And I believe you lost.”

The way her eyebrow quirked as she emphasized her final word, the light, matter-of-fact tone -- she was goading him. Instead of provoking him, her words had the opposite effect, squashing his defiance. After all, Mitsuru Kirijo never made a move without a tactical reason for it, and he needed to figure out what that was. Why would she demand obedience but then needle him? What was the win condition, here? Submit, or resist?

That was the whole game. He was playing against his own pride. Yielding entirely was out of the question, and would likely be considered a forfeit, but put up too much of a fight and he’d lose outright. And Mitsuru always played to win, using every weapon in her arsenal to do so.

Fine, then. He was up to the challenge.

Akihiko crossed his arms over his chest and stared right back at her, doing his best to ignore the lingering cold at the back of his neck. “Do your worst.”

As expected, her smile sharpened to a dangerous edge, and Akihiko only had time to very briefly wonder what he’d gotten himself into before she stepped back, walking backwards to a high-backed chair on the other side of the room, and letting the leash unwrap from her hand as she did.

The last few steps before she sat down, the rope pulled taut, and Akihiko was forced to stumble along after her, dragging his feet and refusing to break eye contact.

“Take off your clothes.”

“Aren't you always trying to get me to put more clothing on?” Show up without a shirt one time, and suddenly now you have to wear multiple layers at all times or else run the risk of being called a pervert. Nudity wasn't sexual. It was just skin, and he didn't really see why people got so up in arms about it.

“Are you trying to make me angry, Akihiko?”

Mitsuru crossed one leg over the other and drummed her nails against the wooden arm of the chair she was seated in -- one that looked, with her in it, considerably more throne-like than before. Then again, Mitsuru had that effect on her surroundings, easily making anything look refined and elegant. Even a leather leash, curled around one hand. He briefly wondered what they looked like from the outside, as she gave a sharp tug and pulled him a reluctant step forward. A spike of desire ran directly from his throat to his cock, and he clenched his jaw against the urge to wrap a fist around himself at the mental image.

Deciding not to push any more for now, he shucked all his layers quickly and efficiently -- if she wanted some sort of striptease, she’d have to be disappointed. He wasn't self-conscious about his body, but he’d had enough of being stared at like a piece of meat by girls to last a lifetime. Not that Mitsuru was just any girl, but still.

It was welcome, then, when Mitsuru’s eyes swept over his body, her gaze more assessing than consuming, not lingering anywhere in particular, except the small scratches where her rapier had torn through his clothing.

“Come here.”

Akihiko was so used to doing what that voice asked of him that he was standing in front of her chair before he remembered he was supposed to be resisting her.

That got a smile, a genuine one, though smug and possessive around the edges. “Now kneel.”

“No.”

Mitsuru pressed her lips together in an expression of disappointment, but he didn't think he’d imagined the flicker of approval he’d seen in her eyes. “You refuse?”

“I do.”

Instead of using the leash, like he’d been expecting, Mitsuru stood. She paced around to his side, fingertips trailing along his shoulder, and then suddenly kicked him hard in the back of the knee with pinpoint precision. It wasn't enough to do any major damage, but his leg buckled underneath him, and he fell, catching himself against the chair.

One hand curled into the short hairs at the back of his neck and tugged, leaving him no choice but to rise back into a kneel, injured knee throbbing at the same tempo as his cock.

“I had intended on allowing you to touch me, but it seems you must earn that right.” Mitsuru leaned down, and brushed a light kiss against the scar at his hairline, the whisper of a Dia spell sliding over his skin and pooling at his knee, smoothing away the ache. “If you move before I tell you you can, I will freeze you solid, understand?”

The gentleness and the threat nearly turned his bones to water. God, she was terrifying, and it was doing things to him.

Akihiko was so preoccupied with his own reactions that he didn't realize Mitsuru had released the leash and walked across the room until he heard her pick something off her bedside table.

Slowly, and only once she had his attention, Mitsuru put on his discarded gloves. They were too big for her, not fitting snugly over her delicate, long-fingered hands, but the effect was incredible, regardless. Especially once she peeled herself out of her clothes and walked back to the chair, settling herself down in front of him wearing nothing but high heels and his black leather gloves.

And then. Oh god, and then she popped two gloved fingers into her mouth, and he realized exactly what she had planned, and he didn't even care that she was going to ruin his favorite gloves. His hands curled into fists so tight he could feel his knuckles creak, and he watched as her fingers drifted lower, sweeping from inner thigh to groin, up and then in.   

A deep, half-feral growl rumbled against Akihiko’s eardrums, and it took him a minute to realize the person making that noise was him. He watched as black leather slid into pink flesh, rhythmic and entrancing, until the top of a foot brushed a long stroke along the underside of his cock, causing his entire body to jerk at the sensation.

His eyes snapped up to hers, unsure if that reaction counted as moving or not, but Mitsuru just smirked through the blush that was pinking her cheeks, her breathing sharp and ragged as her hand moved between her legs.

This was a performance, for his benefit. Mitsuru had mostly stopped being shy about her own orgasms a while back, but this was a whole new level for her. The fact that she was doing something so unspeakably sexy but simultaneously probably deeply embarrassing, just to tease him, to try to make him break under the pressure that was building in him, refortified his will.

He kept his eyes open, even though they wanted to drift closed and reduce the sheer amount of stimulation he was getting, making himself imprint to memory every shiver, every muscle contraction, every short shallow gasp. He watched as she arched up off the back of the chair and clapped her free hand over her mouth, failing to stifle a moan that coiled and pooled into white heat at the base of Akihiko’s spine.

Slowly, the unconscious tension that Mitsuru always carried with her melted away, and Akihiko knew intimately how it felt to have a woman made of steel go limp and pliant in his arms and he wanted--

Damp fingers brushed lightly against his lips and he pulled them into his mouth, tasting the heady mixture that was leather and her. God, he was never getting those gloves clean. Not that he was entirely sure he even wanted to. He’d be lucky if he was even able to look at them later, without thinking of them buried inside her. 

Mitsuru tugged the glove off her free hand with her teeth -- he was going have to stop doing that in public if it was even half as erotic when he did it as Mitsuru made it look -- and scraped her nails lightly over his scalp. The sensation almost overloaded his nerve endings, the simple touch sending goosebumps crawling all over his body. He shivered and leaned forward slightly, wanting more, wanting any kind of contact, but she withdrew, instead.

Akihiko bit back the whine that threatened to betray him, catching it in his throat and straightening his back. He could manage this. He could take it. Patience was not something that came easily to him, but it was preferable to failure.

For just a split second, Mitsuru’s mask fell, and she looked at him without any pretense. “If I've gone too far, you only have to say the word. There’s no shame in it.”

He just raised his chin and stared her down.

She looked at him for a moment more, likely trying to decide if he was being too stubborn for his own good again, and then shook her head. “Very well, then. I will trust you to know your own limits.”

The imperious veil drew back over her features, and she stood. “Stay there. Don’t move until I come back -- Artemisia will know if you do.”

With that, Mitsuru walked into the adjoining bathroom and closed the door. Akihiko focused inward, trying for some kind of calm, until the sound of running water jolted him out of it. She was taking a shower. And she had just left him there.

Caesar turned over in his thoughts, drawn uncomfortably close to the surface by the mixture of anger and sheer hunger in his master’s thoughts. Too much stymied adrenaline, building at the base of his spine and making his fingertips tingle like a Ziodyne held too long.

Instead of receding with time, the frustration continued to build, fraying at his control as he waited.

By the time Mitsuru came through the door, hair blown dry and wearing only the corset piece of her catsuit, Akihiko had to literally lock up every muscle in his body to keep from lunging at her.

She resettled herself back in the chair and picked up the leash again. “I think I've made you wait long enough, haven’t I?”

He opened his mouth to speak, but his throat seemed to close in on itself, the leather band trapping the words inside. He swallowed, and tried again. “Are you going to take this damn thing off?”

“In a moment. Provided you meet my performance standards.”

Trust Mitsuru to treat sex like an exam. He might have laughed if he weren't so focused.

With a gentle tug, she pulled him closer to where she sat, until his cheek rested against the inside of her thigh. One leg wrapped around his back, foot stroking up his spine and urging him even closer.

A hand in his hair directed his mouth exactly where she wanted it, and Akihiko remembered the game in time to press a chaste, close-lipped kiss against overheated skin.

“Akihiko.” Her tone was a warning, as was the sharp rap against the metal buckle at the back of his neck.

A chuckle rasped out of his throat, but he went to work. His mouth moved over slick flesh, channeling every bit of frustrated energy into eliciting undignified moans and hip twitches, relishing the way she gasped and dug her nails into his shoulder. The sharp pinpricks of pain provided a counterpoint to the storm brewing inside him, one that only heightened in intensity as Mitsuru twisted and bucked against his mouth.

The hard planes of her thighs tightened around his ears, squeezing as she arched nearly off the chair.

The leather band around his neck tightened as she used it to pull his head up and away, one hand fumbling at the back of it as the other angled his mouth for a kiss, messy and inelegant as she only ever was in the moments following release.

The buckle sprang open just as she broke away for air, and the release of pressure around his throat, combined with way she said his name, throaty and liquid with satisfaction, shattered his few last remnants of self-control.

He buried his face in the crook of her neck and wrapped his arms around her waist as lightning shot down his spine, sparks tingling in his muscles and curling his toes as he shuddered in its wake.

It wasn’t until a loud pop sounded above them and he opened his eyes to see Mitsuru’s hair fluffed into a static-halo around her head, that he realized the metaphorical lightning had, in fact, been actual lightning. Caesar had receded from his thoughts, and Akihiko thought he detected a hint of smugness from his persona. That asshole.

“Shit. Are you okay?”

She flicked one eyebrow up, looking considerably more amused than he’d expected. “I’m fine. You channeled the majority downwards, I think. Though I believe that means that you effectively Maziodyned my house.”

A quick glance around revealed that, yes, pretty much electronic device in the room was blacked out or blinking, and the pop had been the explosion of one of the light bulbs overhead.

“Fuck. Mitsuru, I--”

“Enough. No major harm was done, and you had the presence of mind, even in your state, to direct the worst away from me. I cannot fault your willpower, not after this. Impulse control, perhaps.” The side of her mouth quirked up in a small smile. “Nothing I wasn’t already aware of, in any case.”

Confident that he wasn’t about to get a lecture, Akihiko relaxed. As he did so, his attention drew downwards. Black vinyl stood out against pale skin, cinching her waist but leaving her chest gloriously uncovered. “This is… uh. This is a good look for you.”

Bright pink spread across Mitsuru’s cheeks as she dragged a hand through her hair, trying to wrestle her frizzed-out curls back into manageability. “Mm. I thought you might like it.”

“I do. A lot, actually.” It also might make future missions rather devastatingly distracting, but he decided not to tell her that part.

She gave up on trying to tame her hair, and slid one hand along his throat where the collar had been. “I was rather fond of yours, as well.” Her smile took on a slightly possessive edge, and Akihiko shivered.

“Should I leave my gloves on next time?”

A sudden spark of heat sprang back into her eyes. “That certainly wouldn't go unappreciated.”

Before Akihiko could act on the rekindling of her mood -- and god, did he want to -- a sharp knock sounded at the door.

“Lady Mitsuru! There’s been a power surge, and it seemed to have originated from your room. Are you alright?”

Mitsuru flicked a glance down at herself and Akihiko, half-to-completely naked and sticky with sweat, and suppressed a noise that, coming from any other woman, would have been called a giggle. “Yes, Kikuno. I’m fine. Get things back up and running as best you can, I’ll be down later this evening.”

“Yes, ma’am.” They listened to her steps recede, and then Mitsuru tapped him on the shoulder.

“Come on. We should get cleaned up.”

Akihiko flicked another glance at her clothing (or lack thereof). “I didn't really get a chance to properly appreciate all this, you know. Seems like a shame to take it off so soon.” One hand slid up her side, lingering over the texture of the corset, and then up to palm one breast, thumb tracing light circles around the peak while his lips ghosted over its twin.

A sharp inhalation turned into a sigh. “You are completely incorrigible, you know that, right?”

Mouth occupied, he just chuckled and set to work leaving a tiny love bite on one side of her cleavage.

Laughing -- really laughing, unrestrained and unworried in the way that always made him feel kind of warm and floaty -- Mitsuru shoved at his shoulder. “Fine. Get into bed.”

Unwrapping himself from her lap and rising on stiff, unsteady knees, Akihiko walked over to the bed and dropped down onto the edge.

Mitsuru just crossed her legs and held his gaze for a minute, a small smile on her lips and her chin propped on her fist, the regal look only slightly spoiled by the fact that her hair was still fluffed out to twice its normal volume. Then she stood, stalking towards him with a particularly feline grace, and shoved him back onto the bed before she pounced and kissed him.

---

Acrylic nails scraped softly over his scalp as they lay curled in bed later, and Akihiko thought about allowing them to lull him to sleep, but his curiosity managed to override his exhaustion. He pressed a kiss against Mitsuru’s now-bare collarbone, then glanced up at her.

“So… how’d you get the idea for all of this, anyway?”

After everything he’d just been through, it was beyond gratifying to see her cheeks flush bright pink and her eyes flick to the side in embarrassment.

“Well. My bodysuit took some damage in the Inaba incident, and I was looking for some new design ideas for a spare.”

“Don’t you have people for that?”

“I do, but I prefer to have some say in my combat wear. My original suit came from a design based on my own specifications, but I thought perhaps I had made a few oversights. In any case, I stumbled across some, well. Some information, I suppose. Apparently my bodysuit carries certain connotations among certain groups that I was not aware of. Which would explain the reactions I got in Inaba, honestly. I confirmed my suspicions with Yukari, and as it turns out, I was dressed somewhat inappropriately. At least for contact with high schoolers.” Her mouth twisted in distaste, and she shook her head.

“I’m sure they didn't think anything of it.” The Inaba kids seemed pretty level-headed, and it wasn’t like they didn't have better things to worry about at the time, after all.

“Akihiko, between Aigis obviously being an android, me showing up dressed like a dominatrix, and you being half-naked and wearing a cape, I’m reasonably certain they all thought a lot about it.”

Why was she acting like he was the weirdest part of that whole thing?

“In any case, when I discovered exactly what sort of image I’d been projecting, I did a little research. For PR purposes, of course. And then I was… intrigued.”

“Intrigued.”

“Mm. Oui.”

There were all sorts of follow-up questions he wanted to ask about that -- what exactly she’d encountered to spark this “intrigue”; when she had decided that she wanted to try this with him, specifically; what other things she might have planned; if she had acquired any other designs for her catsuit; but all of them made him feel tongue-tied and too embarrassed, like he was prying, so he settled for a simple:

“Was it as good as you’d imagined? I mean, aside from me causing a minor blackout.”

One hand slid to the back of his neck, and a long leg twined itself between his as she kissed him, long and slow and thorough. The liquid warmth of a healing spell wove its wave through his body, easing the aches in his muscles, like some physical manifestation of her affection.

There were definite perks to sleeping with a woman with such exquisite control over her own power, that was for sure.

When she pulled back, she was smiling, all soft and relaxed. “It was better, actually. You exceeded my every expectation.”

Akihiko tucked an arm under his head and let the praise bring back some of his earlier confidence. “Glad to hear it. But I wouldn't get used to this, if I were you. Next time, I won’t get distracted, and then I’ll be the one calling the shots.”

If he was being very very truthful with himself, deep in the darkest corner of his brain, he really would be happy with either outcome, but the flash of excitement in Mitsuru’s eyes only reinforced his desire to never, never let her know exactly how much he’d enjoyed this encounter.

Although, knowing her, she probably did already.

“We’ll see about that.”