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fanfic fanart original work the forsaken and the forsworn about

Hells for Leather

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The Forsaken and the Forsworn
Gabriel Berthelot/Hugo Melançon
Gabriel Berthelot, Hugo Melançon
January 2023
Pirates • Boot Worship • Boot Blacking • Service Submission • Power Dynamics


There's liking something, and there's a different kind of liking something, and maybe Gab's of a mind to figure out what makes that difference tonight.

aka Gab gets up close and personal with Hugo's boots.

Business more or less taken care of at his end of things, Gab finds Hugo at the rear of the navy vessel, his sharp features picked out by the bright moonlight and the burning sails. Not in as fine a mood as Gab expected, frowning as he is at the splayed body of the captain he's gutted all over their own quarterdeck. He's tracing out the uncoiled avalanche of their vitals with the tip of his rapier, resigned like he's already heard what they got to say and knows that a third or fourth telling ain't going to change the story.

He looks up at Gab's approach and gives a disdainful flick of his fingers. "Less than favourable omens, if I'm not misreading."

If he's asking for a second opinion then it's sure not great. Gab wipes his cutlass clean on the tail of his sash and sheaths it, so as to better put both hands on his hips and contribute an assessing hum. The sky is afire with spiralling cinders and lively with screaming as the rest of the crew deliver the remaining navy dogs to the Fury. Marks of a successful boarding, even if the erstwhile captain's entrails glisten menacingly in the flamelit dusk. It's true that they ain't got nothing nice to say.

"Yeah, can't say the particulars here are all that pleasing."

Gab gives the body a kick for the spite of it. Fresh blood gouts from their slit-open belly and over the cap of Hugo's boot. The pool's already spread enough to lick at his outsoles, but seems like this still warrants a cutting glare. Gab grins back, always able to find a good omen in Hugo's quiet threats. He's inclined to more bad behaviour that'll be lavishly reinforced under the guise of some reprimand or other—but before he can see about that, he's rudely interrupted by the corpse at their feet letting out a rich, burbling groan.

Hugo sighs and rolls his brine-black eyes, the same time as Gab says, relieved, "Well, there's your problem, Captain, you got a spirited one."

No wonder things were reading grim; divining from a still-breathing body is a more pernickety art than post-battle auguring. He drives his cutlass through the slat of their ribs without further fucking about, giving Hugo's boots another generous taste of the salt price in the process.

He doesn't edge back, but he does click his tongue. "I trust you know you'll be cleaning these tonight."

"I'm your first mate, not your godsdamned manservant." Gab lets his grin turn feral as he twists his blade. Bones crack; the navy captain convulses, innards shifting over the deck as they writhe their last and then get properly dead.

"You've watched me do it often enough, and intently at that. I know it's not beyond you even if you think it's below you." The tails of Hugo's coat brushes the deck as he crouches down, gloved finger following the twists of spilled guts as he scries. A pleased sound escapes the back of his throat.

"Fair portents after all."

"Don't try and tell me they say anythin' about a spit shine," Gab says, pulling a dry laugh out of him.

He hunkers down to read for himself, though his attention's not so much on the entrails cooling on the deck. As ever, Hugo draws his awareness like a deadly riptide. He's limned by guttering sailfire, hair escaping from its neat tail and the layers of his impractical getup liberally spattered with the night's work. Gab used to think he was all sorts of pretentious about his appearance, but that was before the bloody-mouthed, knife-in-the-thigh situation that earned him the captaincy. Since they got more tightly acquainted, Hugo's proved over and again that, yeah, he's pretentious about it, but he ain't afraid to get as dirty as he needs.

Right now he's handsomely filthy, dark gore soaking his cravat and silk waistcoat, glistening in the heavy wool of his coat, a smear over his cheek like a holy anointment. Despite his grousing, his boots are no exception.

Considering the amount of saltwater and blood they see on an average voyage aboard the Screaming Squall, it's no surprise that Hugo's built a whole routine around keeping his various pairs in fine condition. Once a week his cabin's resplendent with brushes and rags, soap and blacking, and a whole lot of meditative buffing. Yeah, you wanna talk pretentious and impractical, Gab could reel off a list long as his arm on why all that lacing and leather's a stupid choice, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't like sitting in on the ritual.

Hugo straightens up, more blood dripping off his fingertips and pattering onto his boot's squared toe. It follows the swoop of broguing like a sacrifice bleeding out on an altar, clotting on its journey along the patterned toecap. A knot of heat ties tight and low in Gab's belly at the sight.

There's liking something, and there's a different kind of liking something, and maybe he's of a mind to figure out what makes that difference tonight. Call it a celebration, call it a reward—hells, it's not like he ain't angling for the punishment.

Done eating up the sails, Sparrow's incendiary shot sinks its fiery teeth into the mainmast. There's an increasingly loud groan reverberating through the ship entire, and the vessel is beginning a slow list to starboard. Hugo jerks his head in the direction of the Squall.

Gab fills his lungs.

"Listen up, you lot! Time to grab your shit and bail!" he bellows, voice amplified by a roll of the Fury's thunder. "All hands back aboard the Squall! Quick as all hells now, or I'll come at your hides with a sharp blade and a clear conscience!"

Hugo gives Gab an approving pat on the cheek, gloves sticky with cruor, then leans in close. "With me, Berthelot," he says, and turns on his heel, leading him on a bloody trail back to their ship.

One hand fisted in Gab's hair and the other on his shoulder, Hugo's attempting to press him to his knees with some application of strength but mostly by sheer force of will. The chair from his desk is upset onto its side and his charts and correspondence scattered over the thick rugs of his stateroom, cravat yanked loose and his cheeks flushed from their tussling. The crest of one cheekbone is wet where Gab licked it clean of its smear of blood. All signs point to Gab winning this round, and yet—

"Down on your knees before I put you there myself," Hugo snarls into his ear. "It's not a request, nor is it a suggestion."

"You ain't askin' a favour either, so why don't you go ahead and make it an order, Captain."

"I know when it would be a waste of my time." Hugo wipes his cheek with his thumb. "If you're so eager to use your tongue, you know what you can do."

Gab's got plenty of his own ideas about that, but seems like Hugo's already decided what he's gonna be tasting tonight. He laughs, baring his teeth when Hugo swipes at his lower lip and flicks at the ring pierced through it. He's in a hells of a mood, high with satisfaction and on the hunt for more, but he's right that he's never gotten what he wanted from Gab by asking nicely.

"I'll clean your boots for you, Captain. Hells, might even kiss 'em, if I find myself so overcome." Another brutal tug of his hair has Gab banking his pride and going to one knee. "But I have a line, and I draw it at lickin' them."

With a doubting hum, Hugo lifts one foot and rests it on Gab's broad thigh, slowly twisting the toe in the loose drape of his slops until it pulls taut over his crotch. The jolt of pleasure from the fabric dragging over his half-hard dick has Gab clenching deep and hissing a curse through his teeth, his pulse thundering up a storm. All that does is encourage Hugo to slide his toe inward and nudge between his legs until Gab gets all the way hard, then rest the flat of his sole against it, pushing it against his lower belly.

The toe of his boot scuffs Gab's bare stomach. His eyes flutter shut and he blows out a breath from his nose. "This ain't the way to get them cleaner, just so you know."

"So I see." Hugo sounds real pleased about the fact. "All the way down, Berthelot, or I'll put my boot on your back next."

The insult of it rides on a violent stab of lust, almost decking Gab without warning. He directs a poisonous glare up at Hugo. "Get your dirty bleedin' footprints on my bondmark and the night ain't gonna end the way you think."

"Then it's in both our interests if you do as I say." Hugo's leaning more of his weight onto Gab's cock the longer his demand goes unanswered, and Gab's pulse throbs against the sole as the bastard rocks the ball of his foot, hobnails biting his skin even with his slops taking the edge off. He wrestles down the wild urge to catch his ankle and hold his boot steady so he can rut against it.

Instead, he tucks his other knee under him and settles down. He even puts his hands behind his back.

"There. Now you can get on with polishin' your boots on my dick to your heart's content, or whatever it is that's got you all hot under the collar tonight."

He's not sure that Hugo taking his boot away is fair reward for this fine display of obedience, but that's what he does.

"I've no doubt you would enjoy that." Instead of releasing his grip on Gab's hair, Hugo gives a rough tug forward, unbalancing him so he's forced onto hands and knees or risks hitting the boards face-first. "But I said all the way down."

"With respect, fuck you," Gab says, mostly talking to the toes of Hugo's boots, what with them being an inch in front of his nose and solely occupying his vision all of a sudden. One is thick with tacky drying gore, but the other is clean. Cleaner. He can see the fancy pricked-out patterns and the neat lines of stitching, at least. The deep brown leather darkens to a black patina at the toecap, its usual burnish scuffed and dulled over the course of the day.

He's done far worse for his captain's gratification, but it's a small relief that he can't see his own face in the finish as he ducks his head and presses his mouth to the boot leather. The clinging, acrid scent of cannon-smoke fills his nose, then the bitter taste of blacking and the more familiar metal-sharpness of salt and blood overtakes his senses. He isn't gonna fool himself about the rush of heat this brings to his cheeks, the way his heart punches into his throat, even if his humiliation throws the fight as quick as it starts it. It's a thrill the way it makes Hugo's breath catch. Always is, to know he's hot for whatever Gab's got for him.

Gab slides his hand up the supple leather encasing his calf, kissing firmly just under where the laces start. The leather is softer here than on the plated toecap, and Gab makes sure Hugo feels his attentions as well as getting to look his fill. The laces rasp against Gab's face as he mouths upwards, tongue stud and lip ring ticking against the metal eyelets. The further up he gets, the more a heavy musk mingles with the leather's scent, and the hotter his blood runs.

Must be hells of a sight for him too, knowing what he's about. Gab's wide back bent at his feet, bondmark on full display as he worships at an altar that sure ain't Xeheia's. Yeah, Hugo can talk about dirtying up his mark, but this is how the sacrilege's making itself known tonight.

Hugo nudges his toe under Gab's chin hard enough to make his teeth click, encouraging him to look up at him. A stab of heat runs Gab through at Hugo's flushed cheeks, his eyes like pitch in the cabin's lanternlight though he's long shaken off his trance. "That's enough," he says, swallowing as if that'll take the rough edge of desire out of his voice, like Gab can't practically taste it. "You know where the kit is kept."

That he does. Gab keeps one eye on Hugo as he fetches it, watching him lose the coat and turn up his shirtsleeves. He rights his chair, bringing it to the middle of the cabin to sit with an elbow propped on one scrolled arm, a godsdamned sight with his gloved fingers fanned at his mouth, watching Gab right back from under his lashes.

Gab kneels without fuss this time, laying out the accouterments in an arc on his right hand side, including the basin of freshwater that both of them had neglected to clean up with, having opted to wrestle on the desk instead.

"Laces first," Hugo says, lifting one foot.

Gab catches it, palm cupped under the heel, and brings it to rest in his lap. The corner of Hugo's mouth lifts, a rare dimple making an appearance, and Gab leers cheerfully back at him as he unbuckles the straps at the knee. "What," he says, hooking two fingers into the first rung of his bootlace. A quick yank draws the loop wide, and more importantly, pulls Hugo's heel firmly against his dick. "I get to have my fun, too."

"If you must," Hugo says dryly. He's relaxed, allowing each rough whip of the lace through the eyelets to shift his foot, and Gab indulges himself. By the time he's stripped both boots, he's dampened the front of his slops. From the weight of Hugo's heel, from thinking about the laces and how they'd have a mean bite if he was tied with them, and from the sight of the encasing leather steadily loosening from around Hugo's calves. He ain't one for resisting temptation any more than he'll deny himself a pleasure, so he slips a hand inside the boot, stroking over the warm wool of Hugo's stocking, his hairy shin, the indents left in his skin by the tightness of the lacing.

That gets him Hugo's hand back in his hair, though raking through it instead of a punishing grip, not that it matters to Gab's dick. He leans over and Gab rises to meet him for a sharp kiss, taking the opportunity to run a hand up Hugo's lean thigh and cup him through his pants.

The heel of Hugo's boot digs in. Gab moans into his mouth.

"Finish your task here first, then you can please yourself." There's a rasp to Hugo's voice that means he's putting effort into restraining himself, which is almost as satisfying as his crisp irritation. "Which means you'll have to start it. Soap, Berthelot."

"Godsdamned bossy son of a bitch." Gab gets a bite in at Hugo's mouth before being shoved back, ass against his heels. "Should make you do it yourself after all."

For all his protest, he dips a rag in the water and touches it to the soap, enough to kick up a thick lather but not get too frothy, and attacks the bloodier of the two boots. It comes off easy enough, congealing as it is but not dried-on, though there's challenge in scrubbing it out of the stitchwork and swirling perforated patterns. Some of that needs the bristle brush. It ain't the hardest work he's done with his hands today, but it’s still vigorous enough to get him warm.

He finds a working shanty in the back of his throat, humming under his breath as he wipes off the soap scum with a damp rag and dries each boot with a clean one. Looking better already even if he does say so himself, though he can already tell it's gonna take some elbow grease to get the lustre back into them, saltwater having done its wicked work.

He glances up at Hugo. Not for his approval or anything; Gab already knows he's doing a fine job. Just because. He looks serene, eye half-lidded and a gloved hand relaxed in his lap, but he ain't fooling anyone.

"Don't hold back on my account," Gab says, uncorking a small bottle of oil. The scent brings to mind other kinds of vigorous work they do together, and his dick gives a powerful twitch. He holds it up to Hugo, offering a drop to slick up with. "Least give me something interesting to look at while I do your drudgery for you."

"Does the current view not satisfy?"

"Could be better."

Hugo laughs, soft and low, then gives his thigh a jab with his toe. The ache is brief and fades with each throb of his pulse, intensifying the heat between his legs instead. Doesn't help matters when Hugo reaches up and tugs his hair out of its tail. It falls around his face, sleek and dark as the midnight sea in the moody light of his quarters. Not so thunderous a sight as when he takes himself in hand, but one that stirs a storm in Gab's ribcage nonetheless.

"Suppose that'll do." He catches the flash of Hugo's grin from the corner of his eye as he gets his head down and applies himself to applying the oil. It sinks into the leather, enriching the colour as he rubs in steady circles. He pays most attention to the brittle creases over the toes and at the ankles that look on the verge of cracking, finding satisfaction in how it restores the suppleness, makes it all soft and pliant again.

He feels Hugo flex his foot within the boot, and—godsdamn. The back of his neck heats, his cheeks feel like they're burning. If Gab's ragged on him for getting off on weird shit before, then Fury mark him a hypocrite. The urge to press his mouth to the boot again rushes up on him, to rub the bridge of his nose on it, inhale the scent of the tanned leather deep into his lungs. To turn his head and sink his teeth in, tear at it like Hugo tears out a throat.

He restrains the impulse for now, though only because he wants a fair chance to finish the job at hand.

The upper part of his boots get less wear and tear and splash and spatter, so from what he's noticed when Hugo attends this task himself, Gab figures they only need a fresh coat of wax rather than an oiling. Maybe he's trying to hasten things along here for his own ends, but Hugo doesn't remark when he reaches for the pewter tin. When he thumbs off the lid and presses a rag into it, it's too solid to be useful, though. Should have put it by the stove to warm before getting himself spread out over the desk like one of Hugo's maps, but hindsight and all that.

He sniffs and goes to put it aside in favour of the oil after all, but Hugo catches his wrist.

"No, you were right. Use the wax," he murmurs, but before Gab can make some innuendo about it being too hard for the rubbing, his other hand weaves into the string of Gab's focus, knuckles resting against his collarbone and brushing a coil of his mark that creeps over his shoulder.

Gab inhales through his teeth, his instinctual, fierce indignation at the trespass warring with the pleasure of watching Hugo wade into the shallows of Xeheia's waters. His eyes darken, the thrum of magic filling the air, the closed loop of his hands against Gab's skin generating an energy that's as much their own wild chemistry as it is the Fury's influence.

Hugo's fathoms-deep eyes shine with an uncommon devilry, and the energy sparks to life, racing along Gab's skin and plucking his arm hair up—and suddenly discharging against the tin with a bright arc and a sharp snap. He almost drops it as the lightning bites his fingertips, shock tingling up to his elbow and a jolt of an old fear down his spine, but manages to keep a grip.

The tin heats in his hand, softening the tallow-and-wax concoction within.

"Show off," Gab says as Hugo sits back again and returns his foot to Gab's lap, smugly satisfied and radiating it shamelessly. He knows fine well that for all the dread and envy he's got tangled up in it, Gab can't help but admire how deftly he wields the Fury's lightning. Everything's an exercise in brutal precision with him. Gab'd be lying if he claimed he didn't admire that, too.

This part goes quick by necessity: if the wax cools too much then it makes for an uneven finish.

Still, he takes care around the eyelets and the stitching so as to not leave any greasy residue. Anticipation for what come next builds in him like a great wave rolling over the ocean, but there's satisfaction in this too, and Gab takes a particular pleasure in holding the leather against Hugo's calf, heel resting snugly in his lap as he briskly works the liquid wax into the upper span of his boot, or whatever it's called. There's probably some proper names for all the different parts, like there is for a ship. Likely Hugo knows them, and might even tell him if he asks, probably in an inventive way such that he'll never forget.

Gab shifts the boot so it's propped on his thigh instead. He runs his hands over it, toe to heel, ankle to knee, enjoying the texture of the leather and the solidity of Hugo's body beneath it. Hugo tenses, then takes a deep, deep breath through his nose and shifts in his chair. The scent of him laces the air.

For all he connives and machinates and works out all the different straits a plan can sail down, seems he didn't expect to enjoy this to the extent that he is, and they ain't even got to the lacing-up yet. As much delight as there is to find in Hugo accidentally edging himself all night, Gab finds a morsel of pity for him. He places Hugo's sole flat to the floor, then props his chin on his knee.

"You wanna give it to the wind, Hugo? We can come back to this later."

"No." Hugo lays his hand on Gab's neck and then his bearded cheek. He gives it a pat. "No, I enjoy watching you work. Finish what you started."

"I ain't ever known a moment's rest," Gab says, like he's not about to get his hands dirty with his favourite part of the proceedings. Hugo wears gloves and makes meticulous use of a rag for this, but Gab eagerly sinks his bare fingers into the pot of blacking. Its distinct, pungent scent grabs him by the throat, the hot weight in his belly growing heavy as an anchor.

He can feel Hugo's gaze burning into him; he mutters his disapproval as Gab gets an inevitable smirch on his plush carpets like he ain't scrubbing blood and firepowder out of the pile on a weekly basis. He lifts one boot again, cradling its heel while he smears the blacking over the toe in messy two-fingered circles, driving it into the leather until it's thoroughly coated—dark at the toe, fading into rich brown past the swoop of broguing.

When he's got both toes rendered matte with a layer of polish, Gab sucks on his own tongue to wet his mouth, lowers his head as if in reverence, and spits.

Hugo blows out his breath and tips his head back, and Fury help him, Gab feels his toes trying to curl in the confines of his boot. He's gone lax in his chair, shoulders rounded, his throat exposed and pulse pounding in it. Gab would feel stupefied looking at him even without the terrible splendour of his magic thrumming through the bond, a dark threnody that lures him to the threshold of Xeheia's realm and leaves him unable to do anything except shake with lust for a long moment.

"Gather your wits, Berthelot." Hugo cracks open a jet-black eye. "I don't tolerate shoddy work on my ship, and if I have to finish this myself because you'd rather cavort in the Watcher's Depths, be assured you won't get a second chance to prove yourself."

"Liar," Gab says, but it spurs him into reaching for the boot brush. "You'd have me doin' this morning and night if you thought I wouldn't mutiny over it."

"Is that what it would take?" Hugo closes his eyes again, smile crooked. "And here I thought it would be the blasphemy."

"That didn't sound like a denial to me, Captain."

"Nevertheless, I expect to have your undivided attention until you're finished."

It's a struggle for Gab to keep surfaced as he sets to the leather with a horsehair brush in hand, but he makes the effort to stay present as he devotes himself to this instead. The rhythmic hush of the bristles, the steady back-and-forth of his arm as he buffs the first boot is a prayer all of its own— one that threatens him with some revelations he ain't countenancing for now, so instead he concentrates on getting the leather to come up nice, earnest effort and the sweat breaking over his back rewarding him with a soft, radiant burnish.

It ain't the glossy mirror-shine the Imperial navy dogs strut around with, but who'd want to look like those assholes?

Sure as hells not Hugo.

Instead of moving to buff the second boot, Gab shakes out the laces to give his shoulder a break. He hears Hugo make a protesting sound in his throat and so preempts his bitching with a raised hand, glancing up at him. "It'll all look the same once I'm done, so stow it for now and let me get on with things."

"Impertinence noted," Hugo says, but suffers Gab feeding the lace through the bottom two eyelets and his tugging back and forth until it's even.

His patience being what it is, Gab keeps this simple, folding and tucking Hugo's breeches flat behind the tongue, then lacing up in a criss-cross pattern. He winds the lace around his fists and pulls things tight on every other pair of eyelets—any sailor who don't take all kinds of ropework seriously ain't worth salt nor sail—until the boot is fitted snugly to the contours of Hugo's narrow ankle and toned calf.

All that's left is to fasten the buckles and straps just below the knee, and secure the lace with a double-slip reef. Perfect, by his eye, but his eye ain't the one that matters.

Hugo leans over and slowly runs his gloved hand from toe to knee, fingers bumping over the tight laces. He gives a small nod of approval, but Gab hardly has time to enjoy it before the son of a bitch lifts that foot and settles it on Gab's shoulder. He hooks his heel and drags Gab down until he is bowing over the unlaced boot.

Blood thundering in his ears, between his legs, behind his ribs, Gab spits again.

Hugo groans softly, and over the roar of his pulse and the rasp of his bristle brush, Gab hears him finally unfasten his belt.

Buffing the remaining boot takes an eon, the burn in his shoulder and the battle against a reckless plunge into the Fury's depths working him into a lather, composure shattered like seafoam exploding against a rocky headland. It takes all of his focus to lace up. His fingers disobey as he feeds the aglets through their holes, frustration harrying him as he misses an eyelet and has to pull out some rows and start over. Pressing his face into the firm, warm leather of the boot slung over his shoulder ain't grounding at all—it makes some awful swamp of emotion roil up in him:

humiliation, lust, surrender, worse—and he's sweating by the time he ties a bow on things, panting like he came up from a deep-dive, his whole body pounding with a frantic need.

Hugo removes his boot from Gab's shoulder and crosses his legs at the knee, hauling him up by the braid with a gloved hand and wedging his toe between Gab's legs, lighting him up in a flare of glorious sensation. Godsdamn—Gab jerks involuntarily against the pressure, a clumsy, desperate roll of his hips, while Hugo watches him with colour high in his cheeks. Bastard releases Gab's braid only to grip his chin hard instead, fingers digging into the soft flesh under his jaw and forcing his leather-clad thumb into his mouth, reeling him in like a fish on a hook.

"My boots are looking much cleaner. A pity I can't say the same for you." For all his superiority, he's sounding as breathless as Gab feels. "Though I've no doubt you're about to make even more of a mess of yourself."

With a snarl, Gab bites down on Hugo's thumb. He'll show him a mess. He wipes his blackingcoated fingers on Hugo's fancy cream shirt and then goes for his face, smearing it down his cheek, and he has to brace himself on Hugo's thighs when he retaliates with a sparkling glare and a vicious upward shove of his foot. Gab grinds down on Hugo's boot with the same violence, polished leather slipping between his thighs, the laces rough against the underside of his aching dick as he rides it hard.

Hugo keeps yanking his chin up so he can't watch him stroke himself off, though Gab can feel the motion of it and the way he tenses and shudders under his palms, can hear the slick wet sounds. Gab knows what Hugo looks like, too, when he's close, the particular way he wets his lips and grimaces. With a little fortitude, Gab reckons he could outlast him here.

...Or not.

Hugo tugs his thumb free and pulls Gab in closer to kiss him ferociously. His body slants as he eagerly leans in for it, the lacing of Hugo's boot presses into his bare belly, and fuck him all the way to the seven hells if he doesn't make some godsawful sound and spend himself ruinously, dick throbbing where it's pressed against the smooth, hard toecap.

There ain't no elegant way to dismount from someone's boot. Gab collapses back on his haunches, slops soaked and the aftershocks forcing a few more curses out of him—and yet more when he sees the state of the leather he's been toiling over. It's dripping wet with his release, glistening in the cabin's lanternlight.

With some godsdamned measured calm for a man with two fingers on his clit, Hugo uncrosses his legs and places both feet flat on the floor, tilts his head to one side, and makes a show of inspecting the damage. He clicks his tongue in faux-consternation.

"Well?" An amused smile plays at the corner of his mouth as he extends his sullied toe. "Is there something you're waiting for?"

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