The smell of gunpowder brought Florian awake with a start and he froze, knowing that he needed to run away from something but he didn't know where he was supposed to run to - or where he was running from. It was dark in the bedroom and he shook, too terrified to move. He had to... He couldn't remember what he needed to do and that just made the fear worse because he couldn't remember and that was because... because...


He jumped as a hand touched his shoulder and he wanted to scream but his voice was frozen along with his body. Not again. He didn't want to do it again but he had no choice, he was trapped. It hurt, it hurt so bad inside of him and he was going to be sick, from the pain and the fear and the sweet-sick smell that clung to everything, That sweet, cloying scent was inside of his head, sticking to everything he touched, everything he looked at and it was all around him, inside him, chocking him and stealing his breath. He was going to die in this bed and all he wanted was to see Noir one last time, one last time before he...

"Florian, wake up."

Rough hands shook him and that wasn't Azura's face above him. He didn't quite understand why there was someone not Azura in Azura's bed and that someone was familiar. The face was shadowed but the voice...

"Noir?" Florian blinked, scattering the last remnants of the dream and finally he was able to see what his mind told him didn't really exist.

"It's about time," Ray grumbled, but the look on his face wad concerned, his eyes softening in a way that he said he really did care even if he acted otherwise.

But it was hard for Ray to be truly convincing in his callous act when Florian was sleeping in his bed.

He didn't flinch when Ray touched him, though the instinct was always there. Sometimes he wished he hadn't remembered what had happened with Azura because he hated being so scared every time Ray tried to touch him, but in a way that would probably worse since there was a good possibility he'd still be scared at the thought of someone touching him and then he wouldn't know why.

Ray's hand rested on his cheek and Florian kept his eyes open, forcing his mind to recognize who was touching him. Ray leaned forward, his hand slipping around to cup the back of Florian's neck and he didn't need to keep his eyes open. He didn't need to, but he wanted to, because Azura had never been this kind to him. Only Ray. Lips covered his and the bad memories faded enough that he could pretend they were forgotten, replaced by his body's memories of Ray.

"Nightmare all gone now?" Ray asked as their lips slowly drifted apart.

There were an number of answers he could give, some only half-truths, and he knew the likely outcome of all of them. He didn't like to think about why he knew this, since that led him to consider exactly how many times he'd woken up like this. He thought he was getting better, but it was hard to tell for sure.

"Not entirely," Florian whispered. It was the truth. He could still feel Azura's hands on him, a ghost of a memory that continued to haunt him. He leaned forward, chasing after Ray's lips as his own kind of cure.

The kiss made him forget Azura, and Ray followed it up with more - pressing Florian slowly back against the bed. They'd gotten into the habit of sleeping naked, whether or not they'd had sex the night before. It made things more convenient, especially as it seemed like once Ray had found out how easy it was to get Florian in his bed, he never wanted Florian to leave it.

"Let's see what we can do about chasing the last of it away," Ray whispered against his skin. He left a trail of kisses in his wake, moving slowly √ almost reverently, from ear to shoulder and then down Florian's chest. This was why Florian stayed, this loving gentleness that made all the rough moments - and they had many - worth fighting through.

Ray had been rough with him once and only once, after a caper where they'd both made mistakes and nearly gotten killed. Florian didn't quite remember all the details, but he distinctly remembered crying and he must have screamed because Laila had burst into the room. It had been enough to make Ray never try it again, and Florian was thankful. Maybe someday, a few years from now, thoughts of Azura would have faded enough that he could forget, but he preferred Ray as he was now.

"Look at me," Ray commanded and he did, shifting his attention back to his lover.

He hadn't realized how much his thoughts had drifted until Ray pushed himself inside. Florian tensed, more from surprise than pain and Ray whispered in his ear - the words too low to be distinguishable but they comforted him nonetheless.

"Let me in," Ray added at a higher volume.

Florian shifted his legs, parting them a bit wider and bending his knees until his feet were flat on the bed. Ray lifted him, keeping them pressed together as he slid a pillow under Florian's hips.

"There we go," Ray mumbled to himself and Florian thought of replying - of telling Ray that he was alright and that he was ready and that they could...

Ray's hips moved and he lost his train of thought. He moaned, blushing as he met Ray's gaze but he knew how much Ray liked being able to look him in the eyes.

Ray's hand slid over his erection and it was a fight to stay quiet - a fight that he lost, spectacularly. With Ray he didn't worry about holding his composure, at least not anymore. He could give in to his passion and let his careful manners fall away. His body arched up into Ray's thrusts, his face turning red as he moaned as wantonly as a peasant quarter whore, and he didn't feel shamed by it. Ray may try to tease him for it later, but in that respect Florian had learned to give as good as he got. He could always tell Laila how Ray held him tightly as they both came or all the sweet words Ray whispered when he was inside Florian. They both had secrets in the bedroom that they trusted the other to keep.

Like now, for example. Ray was panting, his breath coming almost as loudly as Florian's own and he carded his fingers through Florian's hair, holding his head still while they kissed deeply. Ray was watching him still - always - his gaze enraptured by Florian's amethyst eyes. Ray had told him once that they shined the brightest when Florian was on the verge of release and it was at that moment that Ray would whisper Florian's favorite endearment.

"My most precious treasure."