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Dec 04, 2020 5:44 PM
the rest of the yeerk war
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Leareth is shielded, of course, at a basic level, and the lightning doesn't really injure him but it definitely hurts, and is incredibly startling and for an instant he's even less here than he's been - it could be any of a thousand, a million, fights over millennia, some of which he lost, at the beginning, and sometimes died for it, but he hasn't lost a fight outright in a long time - 

- and he doesn't hesitate for even a fraction of a second, he flings up a barrier-shield in front of him, that takes barely any time at all, and then a paralysis-spell at Matirin, that takes slightly longer but still less than half a second, and if Matirin successfully holds it off he'll do it again and then shove him to the ground with a burst of force and pin him there with another barrier and see if he's stopped moving yet - 

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He is; he's breathing hard, insofar as the paralysis spell and barrier lets him which is not very much, and in - less pain, actually, than he had anticipated, but still a reasonable amount of pain - <I yield> he thinks at Leareth, distantly -

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A dizzying, disorienting feeling of everything flipping, and then Leareth is back fully in the moment - this is Matirin, pinned to the ground, they're fighting because Mhalir, his younger self, is dead - for some goddamned reason Matirin just threw magic at him instead, with no warning, Leareth could have killed him... 

<All right.> His thoughtspeech is level, the emotions . He loosens the restraints enough that Matirin can breathe freely but doesn't release him entirely. Just stands over him, looks him in the eye and brings his tail-blade to Matirin's throat - 

- probably he should be thinking about something other than how this is incredibly hot, which is a weird sort of thought to be having at all given the headspace he was in seconds ago. 

<I would like to know what you were thinking> he says, still very calmly, and Fetches Matirin's Thoughtsensing talisman neatly into his hand. 

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He is also thinking that this is incredibly hot, it turns out. 

The rest of it is more complicated - firstly, it was bad behavior, you obviously shouldn't change the rules during really serious sparring, Leareth would be justified in being angry but also Matirin wouldn't have done it if it'd be bad for Leareth, he knows Leareth well enough to make decisions like that, it's impolite but it's safe, toeing the real boundary instead of the one people are confined to when they might be wrong. But it was bad behavior and he can feel faintly apologetic, on some level, while also - there's some kind of power, see, in knowing someone well enough to know when you can break the rules - (and he was, actually, confident in his own survival, he's in morph, he's seen Leareth fight for real)

(It's incredibly hot.)

- he's been building a picture, for the last ten rounds of this, of what it's doing for Leareth, he started out confused but he's been getting steadily less so and at this point he can understand it much better than he can put it into words, but Leareth needs - needs competition without superficiality, needs to win on his merits at things that really matter when the stakes are not imaginary, needs to leave this awful unfair world behind in favor of one that's much simpler - and sparring does that, does it really well, but there's a level on which the sparring isn't real, because Leareth is holding himself back from using almost all of his power. And Matirin wanted, very badly, to see what it was like when he wasn't. 

(It's incredibly hot.)

And beneath all that he's sad, and hurt, and directionlessly angry, and tired in a way that isn't about having spent the last hour sparring - they both are - and this is bright and blazing and different than that and he needs it very badly and this line of thought is bleeding into the one about how attractive Leareth is, again, about how appealing this is which he wouldn't have expected in the slightest, it's the sense that it's real, it's not pretend, but he trusts Leareth totally, and loves him, and wants to fix the worlds with him - and that makes it more real, rather than less so -

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Leareth keeps his tail-blade at Matirin's throat for what is, honestly, kind of an embarrassingly long time, as he tries to soak up all of it. 

He's not angry. He feels - well, exhausted, heart pounding, also breathing hard, both his body and his Gifts aching with exertion - but Matirin is right (unsurprisingly, really), there's something so beautifully simple about this, something bright and clear, that he can bring into focus even when the rest of the world is all muddy confusion. 

<I could> he says, mildly with a hint of amusement, <just leave you there. If I wanted to.>

There's some confusing giddy feeling in knowing he could, theoretically, do whatever he wants, he's more powerful here - but also this is exactly what Matirin was scheming for, not Leareth's own plan at all... 

<However, instead I think I feel like going somewhere else> he says.

And he steps in so he's standing directly over where Matirin is pinned, hooves placed carefully to avoid literally stepping on him, and in five seconds or so he brings up an unscaffolded Gate big enough to fit both of them, flat on the grass, and he drops them neatly through into that nice big meadow in Canada, where he ran around the other day - yesterday? - it feels like it's been way more days than that. 

He releases all the magic holding Matirin and steps back, and waits to see what he's going to do. 

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He pulls himself up to a sitting position and curls his tail around himself and takes in his surroundings. His body language is - very pleased with himself, mostly. Very, very tired. 

He tilts his head at Leareth. <Are you done with me or are you more out of ideas.>

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Leareth stays standing, also looking pleased. <Oh, I am definitely not done with you. You are not exactly going anywhere, it takes you forever to do a Gate, and I thought it polite to let you catch your breath.> 

He pets Matirin's face. Since it's awkward to reach with his hands without settling down on the grass as well, he does so with the flat side of his tail-blade. Very carefully. 

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Matirin shivers and tilts his head up to meet the tail-blade. He has all four eyes on Leareth and still looks very pleased with himself.

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Leareth is, in fact, kind of short on ideas for what to do with Matirin now that he apparently has him here and very pleased about it - it's not like he had advance warning of this situation so that he could brainstorm for it this morning - but he's not going to stop now

He keeps one stalk roving and his Othersenses open, someone should be on the lookout for bears and Matirin does not seem to be doing that, but situational awareness takes only a tiny fraction of his attention and the rest of it is on Matirin, as he lightly caresses various reachable parts of him with his tail-blade. 

<Are you hurt?> he asks after a moment. <I did not mean to shove you at the ground so hard.> Matirin's Thoughtsensing amulet is still in Leareth's hand and Leareth skims his surface thoughts, half to make sure he's answering honestly, half to grab any inspiration for what Matirin wants to happen here. 

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<Ony a little bit, I can morph it off> and he does, from Gifted-Matirin to normal-Matirin, which he can do without moving from his position on the grass though it does tire him out even further. He's being honest, it'd be silly to give Leareth bad information about his physical state. He has no particular intentions for what happens next and is enjoying seeing what Leareth comes up with but is nonetheless advantaged with a much better understanding of what Andalites can do to one another for fun. (Leareth could tell him to roll over.)

(Matirin does not usually find it pleasant to be vulnerable during intimacy and it's sort of distantly fascinating, that he's having so much fun, but he is.)

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Leareth watches him, backing off a little bit while he's morphing, and then sure, he'll tell Matirin to roll over, and then figure out why either from Andalite instincts, which he's being very attentive to right now, or from Matirin's thoughts.

He also finds it very intriguing that Matirin is enjoying this. And how much he's enjoying himself about it, it's not exactly surprising now that he considers it but he'd never really thought to consider it before. 

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His Andalite instincts think that he should be very pleased to have attained this and should put his tail-blade at Matirin's throat so he doesn't get away, which is kind of concerning when you think about it, and then that he should feel Matirin's fluffy underfur - feeling for something, in particular, though instincts being instincts are nonspecific about what - 

(Matirin is trying not to think of the answer because this is incredibly entertaining -)

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Leareth thinks it's very valid on Matirin's part to be entertained, mostly he thinks that whatever way Matirin wants to feel about it is great as long as it's a positive feeling, and also this is in fact kind of hilarious from an outside viewpoint, although he is not, himself, currently inhabiting that outside viewpoint and is instead very focused.

It's a fascinating experience, actually, trying to pay fine-grained enough attention to what his morphed body wants and finds appealing and feels urges toward, so that he can guess how this is supposed to go. Leareth is pretty sure he's never paid this close attention to his actual human body. He wonders what interesting facts he would notice if he did. 

He's going to ignore the tail-blade instinct, though, because it's way easier to pin Matirin with an efficient coil of magic, and then he can settle in closer and pet Matirin with his tail-blade - and maybe slice away a teeny bit of his lovely soft underfur, from a spot where it won't at all be visible when he's on his feet - while he keeps looking for whatever-it-is.

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Matirin will be helpful, sometimes, when that's fun, and insofar as it's possible when he's pinned by magic, and mostly be inordinately pleased with himself both about how nice this is, being touched, being here and not everywhere else in the universe that lately feels like it is looming over them, watching Leareth set himself to this puzzle with his very characteristic enthusiasm and a fascinatingly odd set of priors - how must human sex work - 

- this is not, actually, the outcome he expected from pushing Leareth with magic while they sparred but it feels like maybe one of those things he knew with his intuition out ahead of his reason. 

Eventually Leareth will get fairly competent at this and he will stop having opinions that require putting whole sentences together.

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It's an excellent puzzle, one that can fill all of his attention for a long time, and Matirin is delightful, especially once he's so thoroughly distracted that his thoughts are all in trailing fragments and also very flattering toward Leareth. Leareth is still very unsure if he has any idea how this is supposed to work, but 'supposed to' doesn't feel like the thing that matters, right now.

Eventually he's very tired, and very content, and he un-pins Matirin and moves his tail aside, shifts position and just pets Matirin's face for a moment. 

<...I think I am done with you now> he says, offering back the Thoughtsensing amulet. 

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He takes it back, puts it on. <You're scary when you want to be.> It's a compliment.

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<I know.> Leareth is appropriately flattered. <And you are very devious when you want to be. I - needed that, I think, and had no idea of it. I would not at all have predicted that - this - would be my response to you surprising me with a magic attack.> 

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<I would not have predicted it either! Sometimes I get a sense of what will be good for someone that - is not produced by or particularly interrogable by explicit thinking - but usually it is more like 'I should set them up with this other person we know' or 'I should give them a new assignment' than 'I should provoke them with magic in the middle of a fight'. I think I still do not totally understand - why - but I needed this, too. Apparently.>

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<You seemed to be having a very good time - I hope that is still true in retrospect? I...realize now I was rather rude, though to be fair you were rude first. In future, if I want to read your thoughts or kidnap you to Canada, I will ask.> 

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<Since you were reading my mind, I assumed you could have noticed if you were pushing it.> His tail settles comfortably around Leareth's flank. <If for some reason I didn't tell you. Which I would do. I endorse all of my choices today ...except not sneaking along with you and Cayaldwin to the Yeerks so I could keep him out of trouble.>

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<...Yes, there was that.> Leareth is going to go back to not worrying about Cayaldwin, though, his future self can handle it. 

It feels good, sitting nestled up with Matirin's tail around him. He coils his own tail over and around Matirin's. Andalite tails have such a satisfying range of motion.

He remembers the first moment of reading Matirin's mind, standing over him in the field, still riding the adrenaline from the fight, confused and off-balance and giddy with it. Seeing how much Matirin trusted him... 

<I love you> he says, trying and failing to remember the last lifetime where he said those words to another person. Surely at some point in the last few millennia, but - not recently. 

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<I love you.> And the world is pressing back in, now that they're not playing games, grim and tragic and complicated, but - but not over, Cayaldwin's wrong about that, the world has better things ahead of it than it has ever seen before.

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