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Now


Title: Now
Fandom: Ar tonelico
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Ayatane & Lyner
Rating: MA
Summary: Ayatane comes back, settles in, and Lyner actually gets a clue.
Notes: This fic and 'Changes' were started years ago, around the same time, and their premises sort of bled over into each other. (Or, well, my headcanon is just really solid.)


Lyner let himself into the small apartment and roughly kicked off his boots while trying to juggle the bag of essentials and funbuns that he'd picked up on the way from work. After a year and a half mostly free of any sort of real excitement aside from dealing with Shurelia's whims and wants, he'd fallen into a pattern of not really caring much about his own living space. He really only ate dinner there a few nights a week and slept there most nights. It was more of a storage facility for his leftover grathmelding parts and extra finished pieces that he hadn't already sold.

As he turned to head towards the kitchen, he froze. Someone had broken in. Someone had broken in and cleaned. Things were on shelves, the floor was clean and... It smelled like dinner was cooking.

Before he could open his mouth, a familiar form popped out of the kitchen.

"Lyner!"

"Ayatane?" Lyner almost dropped the bag he was holding.

"You look surprised," Ayatane said as he glanced quickly into the kitchen and then started towards Lyner.

"Where have you been?" Lyner asked as he practically jumped over the furniture that separated them. "It's been... forever."

"It hasn't been quite that long," Ayatane replied as he took the bag from Lyner's hand, his skin cooler but not at all uncomfortable as it brushed over Lyner's. "Funbuns, I'm guessing."

"A few other things, too," Lyner admitted as he gave Ayatane a quick, manly hug. "You're not wearing your armor."

"I hardly need it," Ayatane explained as he held the bag up and glanced down into it. "I can put everything away if you'd like to change."

"Er..." Lyner glanced down at himself and the dirt streaked down his uniform. "I'd forgotten. Lady Shurelia had us planting some flowers that were a gift. From the Tail of Remembrance."

Ayatane smiled. "And how is Lady Shurelia?"

Shrugging, Lyner tried to think of how to describe the amusing antics of their commander. "She's... fallen in love with the world all over again."

"She would," Ayatane agreed, his smile softening a bit. "I believe that Mother has had a similar revelation, though she has her own ideas... Actually, that's why I'm here. She's doing a bit of traveling - the sort that she has to do alone."

"Alone?" Lyner frowned. He had spent a bit more time with Mir since she had agreed to live peacefully in the world and while she was certainly capable of taking care of herself, he couldn't imagine Ayatane letting her go so easily.

"Mostly," Ayatane said with an unsettling wink. "Now go change and I'll set the table." He paused. "I found your table."

Lyner nodded and headed towards his bedroom, somewhat happy to discover that Ayatane's cleaning efforts hadn't yet reached that far, though he knew that they would. Ayatane had always been there for him in the past, cheerfully cooking and cleaning while still excelling in his duties as a Knight of Elemia. Lyner supposed, as he quickly changed into a casual outfit, that Ayatane technically was still a knight, if Shurelia would have him. If Ayatane was even interested...

Whatever Ayatane had made, it smelled absolutely delicious, Lyner noted as he ran through the bathroom and washed his hands before realizing he needed to wash his face as well. Ayatane had to think he'd become an utter slob and well, he had, but he had good reason. When he wasn't busy with Shurelia, he was either grathmelding or delivering parts and products to the lower world. Lyner hadn't meant to get so... good at his hobby. And he certainly hadn't meant to get to a skill level where his work would be in demand. So in between working, working and whatever Shurelia asked him to do (up to and including playing through the stories she wrote for enjoyment in the binary field), his apartment had gotten beyond his control.

"Lyner, are you coming?" Ayatane's voice echoed down the hallway just as Lyner opened the bathroom door.

"Yeah, sorry," Lyner replied. "You could have told me that I had dirt all over my face."

"I thought it was charming," Ayatane said from near the stove top as Lyner walked into the kitchen.

"Whoa!" Lyner exclaimed as he looked at the table. "You didn't have to make so much food..."

"Of course I didn't," Ayatane commented. "Now sit and eat."

Lyner nodded and sat, rather happy that he wasn't just going to eat a few funbuns and then meld until he couldn't keep his eyes open. He had orders, however, that did need to be taken care of...

"Something wrong?" Ayatane asked, looking over the table.

"Not with the food," Lyner said, blinking before reaching to grab a little bit of everything. "Just thinking..."

"That would be the problem," Ayatane agreed. He smiled. Lyner laughed.

"No... I have a couple things I have to make tonight. I've been grathmelding a lot," Lyner explained. "Tomorrow I need to make a delivery to the lower world. Most of it's done, but this morning..."

Ayatane chuckled. "I can't promise anything, but I'll try to help you."

"Hey, you already have," Lyner said between bites. He'd almost forgotten how amazing Ayatane's cooking was. Everything was perfect and he knew he was eating like a half-starved wolf but he really didn't care. "Just having some clear space will be helpful."

"Lyner, I am in your debt," Ayatane said almost softly.

Shaking his head, Lyner wished he didn't have to finish chewing and then swallow before speaking. "No way. You don't owe me anything. You're my best friend."

"I still intend to do whatever I can for you, while I'm here," Ayatane said with a smile.

"While you're here?" Lyner asked, trying not to panic. "You don't mean you're, um, well..."

"My basic existence has been tied into the tower," Ayatane explained with a chuckle. "As long as you protect Lady Shurelia, I'll be fine. I mean that I'll do what I can for as long as you'll have me, since I don't have a residence in Platina anymore."

"Oh, right," Lyner said. He felt a little silly but after having so many close calls in the past, he hated to think that anything would ever happen to Ayatane. "Well... I guess you could stay here for awhile if you really want. Why don't you stay at the inn?"

"I can do that," Ayatane replied after a pause.

"I mean, this place is small and needs cleaning and... I suppose it would be just like when we were in training..." Lyner trailed off, smiling. "I just can't promise nothing will fall on you during the night or there isn't mold growing somewhere."

"I'm sure I'll be perfectly fine." Ayatane sat back in his chair and Lyner looked at his friend closely. He knew, quite well, what Ayatane looked like without his armor, but after years of patrols together, it was always weird at the end of the day when Ayatane shrugged it all off and revealed his pale skin. At least Ayatane was wearing a red shirt - that made things a little easier. Lyner smiled before shoving the rest of his dinner into his mouth.

They were going to have so much fun.

They were going to have so much fun once his grathmelding was finished for the evening.

An hour later, once Ayatane had cleaned up the entire kitchen and Lyner had figured out where Ayatane had put everything necessary for the items he needed to make, both men sat on the living room floor, staring at order forms and supplies.

"This is 'Just a few items'?" Ayatane questioned. "This would take you most of the night without help."

"That's why you're helping?" Lyner replied with a little nervous chuckle. He'd underestimated what he thought he hadn't finished. That or Ayatane had found more orders while cleaning, which also wasn't impossible and was probably for the better, since he would have had some angry customers otherwise.

"It is," Ayatane said. He smiled at Lyner and Lyner knew that everything would be okay. Ayatane started shuffling through the forms, seemingly looking for a good starting point. "Now, let's sort these by..."

"Mmm?"

"Three of these are from Aurica," Ayatane said, holding them out. "She's quite the customer."

Lyner nodded. "I make her the parts and she makes them into music boxes. They're really popular in Nemo."

"I'm glad she's doing well," Ayatane replied. "Tell me what I need to grab and we can get to work."

Despite taking the better part of an hour to fall into a rhythm, by the middle of the night, Ayatane was delivering parts and boxing up orders while Lyner worked. They collapsed, not long before sunrise, onto the sofa together, looking out over a sea of boxes with invoices taped onto them.

"Time for a quick nap?" Lyner asked. "We don't have to head out too early and it'll be easier if we're rested."

Ayatane nodded. "That sounds like a plan. I expect we're taking an airship and not meandering through the tower..."

"Airship is the only way to get everything delivered in a day," Lyner interjected. "And don't worry, it's a two-seater and Krusche gives it a tune-up at least once a month. More often if she can get her hands on it."

Chuckling, Ayatane nodded.

Lyner said nothing when Ayatane followed him into his room, though he was a little surprised that Ayatane didn't pause to pick anything up. There was a laundry basket right there after all, void of laundry while the floor was still quite covered.

Apparently, Ayatane was far more exhausted than he was letting on.

Fussing around in a drawer, Lyner pulled out two sets of pajamas and threw a pair in Ayatane's direction.

"Here..."

Normally, he just stripped down and slept in his underwear, but that seemed a little rude considering present company.

"Thanks," Ayatane replied, catching them and unfolding them. Plaid, thankfully, and not any of the weird patterns that Shurelia had been looking at that day. She'd insisted he had plenty of clothing and taken him shopping, though in the end she'd bought twice as much for herself.

Lyner changed quickly, glancing away and piling his clothing on another pile, likely the one from earlier. He'd definitely have to do laundry in the near future. He just really hadn't thought about it - he still had clean socks and underwear so it wasn't a priority yet.

Glancing over in Ayatane's direction, Ayatane had changed his bottoms, but still had his shirt off, revealing an intricate red pattern across his back that Lyner didn't remember ever seeing before.

"Ayatane..." Lyner closed the distance between them and reached, running his fingers over the marks. Ayatane shivered and let out a soft moan. Only then did Lyner realize it looked a bit like an install port on a Reyvateil, except larger and still somehow very different.

"I... I'm sorry." Lyner drew his hand away quickly. But Ayatane shook his head.

"It's okay. I just wasn't expecting that," Ayatane replied, turning and then pulling the pajama top on, buttoning the buttons on the front quickly. "That's what ties me to the tower. It's a little different than all of the codes and marks a Reyvateil might have, but it's working."

"It's beautiful," Lyner said softly, almost without meaning to. "I was just worried that it..."

"It doesn't hurt," Ayatane assured him. "It didn't hurt."

Nodding, Lyner gestured that maybe they really needed to sleep. The bed was more than big enough for two, after all, and they'd shared plenty of times before over the years. Having Ayatane with him was comforting.

"I am going to have to clean this entire room when we get back, you know," Ayatane said as he settled under the blankets.

"I know," Lyner replied, turning out the light. "It's really not that bad, under all of the clothing."

"When's the last time you vacuumed?"

"Probably the last time you vacuumed..."

"Oh, Lyner..."

Lyner shifted, closing his eyes. His weariness hadn't really sunk all the way in until he was horizontal. He was fairly sure that he'd be out like a light in seconds.

"G'night, Ayatane."

He yawned. He was fairly sure Ayatane answered.

And rather annoyingly, seconds after he closed his eyes, he was opening them again to a sea of sunshine.

Had he even really slept? He didn't feel horribly rested. But it had definitely been a few hours and Ayatane...

For the first time ever, Ayatane was still asleep. He couldn't ever remember waking up to Ayatane still being in bed. No, normally Ayatane was making breakfast or starting laundry or vacuuming or any other bit of cleaning he could find. Sometimes he was still in the shower, but never still asleep...

Ayatane was downright gorgeous when sleeping, and Lyner wasn't at all bothered by the thought. He never had been - it was Ayatane, after all.

"Hey... good morning..." Lyner reached for Ayatane's shoulder to nudge him awake. Just as he touched Ayatane, he realized that something might actually be wrong and Ayatane wasn't just oversleeping. But no, a moment later Ayatane opened his eyes and blearily stared up at Lyner.

"I overslept?" he questioned softly, before chuckling. "I guess that's a first."

"I feel like I didn't sleep at all," Lyner replied, wincing before scooting back so that Ayatane could sit up. "I'm a little jealous that you were out cold."

"You could sleep a bit longer while I make breakfast..."

"We'll pick something up on the way," Lyner interrupted. They needed to get going. "You can have the shower first, though."

"My hero," Ayatane said flatly, swinging his legs over and getting to his feet. But he was smiling a moment later.

Getting clean and getting dressed took less time than Lyner had expected, and somewhere in there, Ayatane had still picked up half the bedroom. Together, they loaded the airship and though Ayatane had insisted that funbuns weren't breakfast, they most definitely were and they'd be in Nemo by lunch time anyway and could get something good at Claire's place.

There wasn't a single person they saw that they both knew who wasn't surprised to see Ayatane. Even Aurica gave him a tight squeeze when she saw him.

Exhausted, it was after dark by the time they got back to Platina. They had another pile of orders, boxes of parts and materials, and best of all, money.

"What are you going to do with yourself?" Lyner asked once they'd carried everything in and piled it as neatly as possible for the time being.

"Mmm?"

"Well, I have patrols... Do you want to see if Shurelia will...?

"I don't think I'm reliable enough to be a Knight," Ayatane said. Lyner was only partly surprised by the statement. He was more surprised with how close Ayatane was to him. It was comforting, really. He was always happy to have Ayatane at his side.

"Oh..."

"I'll find something," Ayatane continued. "Aside from being your housekeeper and assistant."

Lyner chuckled. Ayatane had a point. He could use someone just to manage his grathmelding side job. As long as Ayatane lived with him, Ayatane would have plenty of money and wouldn't have to worry about anything...

"Okay." Lyner smiled.

It didn't seem at all odd to settle into bed with Ayatane, close enough that at one point he got a handful of Ayatane's top instead of the blankets.

Ayatane had just chuckled and settled closer.

In the morning, everything was right back to normal. Lyner could smell breakfast cooking and the spot next to him was empty. Also, the rest of the clothing strewn around the room had been piled into the hamper and a basket beside it.

"Good morning, Lyner," Ayatane called when Lyner stumbled into the kitchen. He wasn't quite awake, but he wanted to see if the food looked as good as it smelled.

"Morning," Lyner managed. "I have patrols today, but only in the morning..."

"I have laundry and inventory," Ayatane replied, gesturing at the boxes piled in the living room. "I expect that to take at least the entire morning."

Lyner chuckled. That was a fair assessment and also depended wholly on how much laundry Ayatane was planning on doing. At least he had his own washer, crammed into a tiny utility room between bathroom and kitchen. That would help.

"I might give you a tiny grocery list later." Ayatane turned back to the stove, fussing with the contents of one pan for a moment. "Might clean the fridge out, too, if there's time. There are things in the back that seem to have stopped being food back around when Mother was young."

"It's not that bad," Lyner replied, marching over to check. But... there were a couple of containers back there that looked rather disgusting and perhaps Ayatane had a point. "But I can definitely pick a few things up. Especially if you're going to be cooking like this every day."

Ayatane smiled and flipped off the heat. Again, he was far closer to Lyner than Lyner had realized. He... stared at Ayatane for a long moment, swallowing hard, before slipping away. It felt like the sort of moment that should be something more, but he didn't know what. He felt like he was missing something.

"Lyner?"

"Mmm?"

"Close your eyes," Ayatane ordered, and Lyner complied without really thinking about it. He was surprised, a second later, when Ayatane's mouth was against his. But Ayatane was right. That moment... he'd just sort of missed it. He should have kissed Ayatane. Because yes, that was...

It took him another second before he reached to touch Ayatane, kissing back slowly and only parting his lips when he felt the soft push of Ayatane's tongue. It didn't feel unnatural at all - instead, this was something that probably should have happened a long time ago.

Lyner couldn't help moaning into Ayatane's mouth when Ayatane's tongue brushed against his own. It sent a spark through his entire body, making him very aware of everything about Ayatane.

Finally, about when Lyner thought that maybe he should figure out what to do next and try it, Ayatane pulled back.

"Oh..." Lyner managed. He sucked in a bit of air and just watched Ayatane give him a soft little smile and go back to dishing up their breakfast.

"That's all I get?" Ayatane questioned, setting their plates on the table. "Obviously I need to try harder."

Lyner shook his head. "I... really have to go patrol."

They were the quickest patrols of his life, except for the one day there had been new flavors of funbuns released and honestly, they hadn't been all that good. Not that he was expecting anything not-good with Ayatane. Just that....

He was slowed down by his own thinking, mostly. Which wasn't so much thinking as daydreaming about both that first kiss and the second one, which had occurred as Ayatane had ushered him out the door.

He really wished he had some idea exactly what else he should be daydreaming about, but he'd... never been that far with a girl and certainly not with a guy.

Ayatane was nowhere in sight when Lyner arrived back at the apartment. He glanced around the living room, which was clean. All the boxes had been sorted and shelved and all of the order forms were in a neat pile. The kitchen was gleaming and there was a shopping list stuck to the fridge. The trash was also empty, which meant the fridge had probably been cleaned and the contents immediately dealt with.

The washer was whirring through a rinse and after a quick sniff, Lyner dropped most of his clothing right into the basket beside it that contained things very obviously still dirty. Bathroom was clean, bordering on also-sparkling and Lyner felt a little guilty about washing his face and hands and leaving a tiny grease smear on the towel. He wasn't even sure where he'd been that he would have picked up the grease, though there had been a couple of stuck doors and a short-circuited elevator that he'd repaired...

"Ayatane?" Last place to look was the bedroom - Lyner wasn't surprised to find Ayatane there, fishing out dirty balled socks from under the bed, but he was surprised that Ayatane didn't have a shirt on.

"Mmm?" Ayatane looked up. "You're back early."

"You..." Lyner gestured to Ayatane's back and that intricate and mesmerizing design.

"Splashed water from my lunch dishes all over myself," Ayatane admitted. "I was going to just wash everything I'm wearing in the next load. But I was going to get the bedding, and then saw a sock."

He frowned. "And another sock, and then underwear and several other socks..."

"I still have clean ones," Lyner pointed out. He then remembered that he was also rather under-dressed. "I just threw most of my clothing in the laundry on my way by. Ah... save you some trouble."

Ayatane chuckled. "I'm not sure if I should thank you or not. But I do appreciate it. Did you have a good day?"

"Yeah," Lyner replied, walking over to crouch down beside Ayatane. "Need a hand with my socks?"

Ayatane shook his head. "I've got most of them. I will have to vacuum later, though."

"I really haven't been home..." Lyner didn't even know why he was making excuses - he wasn't much for cleaning and he knew it and Ayatane knew it. Ayatane reached for one last sock and Lyner, without really thinking about it, reached to trace his fingers over the design on Ayatane's back.

Ayatane hissed and froze, and Lyner pulled his hand back like he'd been burned. "Sorry!"

"Do it again," Ayatane said softly. "It's okay. It feels good."

"But..."

"I'm just not used to anyone touching it. But go ahead..."

Lyner reached carefully and with one finger, started tracing one spiraling whorl. Ayatane gasped and shifted, flicking the sock he'd snagged off to bounce once against the dresser and settle by the already-retrieved pile forming there. Slowly, Lyner kept going, following the curves and angles, touching dots and diamonds and plumes. It was beautiful, as beautiful as any install port he'd seen and certainly as ornate.

He added a second finger, and then his whole hand, listening to the noises Ayatane made and a little surprised by how his body was reacting to them.

"Lyner..."

Lyner wanted to protest as Ayatane drew away, backing up and sitting on his feet for a moment before almost tackling Lyner down onto the floor.

"Ayatane!"

Ayatane's mouth was against his again, and Lyner didn't dream of resisting. He kissed back, surprised with himself. Ayatane's skin was almost warm against his, a bit of a surprise since Ayatane's body was usually cooler. And as he reached to again touch Ayatane's back, Ayatane pushed a hand down between their bodies to palm Lyner's growing erection.

Lyner moaned into Ayatane's mouth, pressing up and trying to get more pressure. It felt good, and he realized after a moment that Ayatane was just as aroused as he was. He tried to shift, but he was trapped. All he could do was stroke his fingers over Ayatane's back and kiss as fiercely as he was being kissed.

"Bed?" Ayatane suggested when he finally drew back. He was breathing hard and his hair was hanging in his face. "Now."

Lyner nodded, speechless. He wasn't entirely sure what Ayatane wanted to do, but he also didn't really care as long as it felt good and if it made Ayatane feel good.

Ayatane hauled himself up, not pausing with modesty as he undid his pants and slid them off. Lyner knew he was staring but couldn't help it. Ayatane was perfect and really rather... impressive.

Ayatane smiled at him, and Lyner sucked in his breath. This was Ayatane, after all. His best friend. He scrambled to get the rest of his clothing off, a little amused that for once, Ayatane had just left his clothing on the floor in a pile too.

Once on the bed and settled, Lyner finally reached to stroke the length of Ayatane's erection. He was a little surprised at how natural it felt. He knew what he liked, and he hoped it wouldn't be too different for Ayatane. He'd try...

Chuckling, Ayatane slipped closer, half on top of Lyner. Lyner closed his eyes as Ayatane started kissing him everywhere - neck, shoulder blades, down along his throat. He tried to keep his hands on Ayatane, one on Ayatane's back, one on Ayatane's erection, the same as Ayatane kept stroking him. He knew he was moaning and shivering and somewhere in there, managing Ayatane's name, but the closer he got to the edge, the more there weren't specifics, just his body and Ayatane's body and them-- together.

"Nnn... Ayatane..." He buried his face against Ayatane's shoulder, almost embarrassed as he came. He'd somehow wanted for Ayatane to reach orgasm first, but he'd failed. A moment later, still shuddering, Ayatane's hand was over his own, guiding him until Ayatane cried out.

He didn't pull away immediately, instead opting for slow kisses.

"Wow," Lyner managed, finally, once Ayatane had dragged himself off to the side and was watching Lyner with curious eyes.

"Wow?" Ayatane questioned, chuckling.

Lyner nodded, wiping off one hand before reaching to again to touch Ayatane's back.

"If you do that, the laundry won't get done," Ayatane warned. But he was smiling a soft, content smile.

Lyner considered the importance of laundry for less than two seconds before deciding that he really didn't need clean socks just yet.

...

Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!
Disclaimer: I don't own it, I'm just playing with it. All titles and characters belong to their respective creators and companies.