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Trigger Warning: This story contains themes of hospitals, medical emergencies, and a tired author who only performed cursory google searches on the responsibilities therein (I am not a medical professional, I’ve just been Humpty Dumpty’d back together a number of times). If these inclusions may cause you discomfort, they can be skipped without taking away from the core story. 


In his hospital bed, Benjamin Lawson lay still. The crisp linen sheets against his chest shifted with his breathing like a shallow, weak tide. Various machines beeped and whirred around him, singing a terrible symphony as they worked diligently to preserve his life, but the music was lost on him much like the attention of the crowd that had swung through mere hours ago. As it were, he slept peacefully for once, plagued neither by nightmares nor the crushing emptiness of half-sleep that descended upon him more often than actual rest these days. Instead, he dreamt vividly, no doubt aided by the cocktail of drugs swimming through his veins.

As the credits screen appeared, the man known as Marshall Law leaned back in his chair with a satisfied huff, pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes until the familiar starburst appeared. He stretched, then, and adjusted his headset afterward, careful not to bump the microphone. “And that’s all she wrote, folks–literally, since the girl who wrote this clearly knocked it out of the park. This game still has a lot to offer and I’d bet that the replay value is strong, since it’s puzzle-based. In case you missed it, you can find it on Indigineer. Let me know what you think in the comments, but no spoilers!” He snapped his fingers and winked, flashing a winning smile to his webcam before cutting the feed.

Just as he was hanging his headset back on their hook, ready to turn in for the evening, an electric blue text box popped up on his now-black screen:



You have buried the princess and honored her with your bravery. 

She wishes to offer a sign of her gratitude.


Marshall blinked at the screen, surprised. Two simple boxes lingered beneath the text bearing the words, “accept” and “refuse”. When he moved his mouse, he noted that the small quill he’d begun with as a cursor now reflected the dagger he’d chosen in the game. For a moment, a corner of his mouth tipped in an appreciative grin. “Attention to detail,” he muttered, moving the tip of the dagger to the “accept” box and tapping it. He could feel the ache in his body persisting, his chest heavy and his joints protesting his sitting position that he’d been maintaining for hours, but even in the face of his current illness-or-whatever-it-was, he proceeded greedily, delighted that the game had even more for him.

After accepting the game’s offer, it dropped him right back at the ending cutscene. His character knelt faithfully at the modest headstone he’d shoved into the ground, impervious to the sheets of rain that crashed down around him and soaked through his cloak. Smiling softly to himself, he leaned back in his chair, wondering where the ending would change. Just as he was pulling his feet up to cross his legs beneath him, the game offered another text box, this time properly startling him:


This experience is available in virtual reality.
Caution is advised.



His brows furrowed in confusion. He certainly admired Sam as a creator (and as a person, he mused, though that was dangerous territory as of late), but…virtual reality? Did she even have the technology for that? He moved the mouse to where the word “continue” pulsed gently, glowing and fading, glowing and fading. He noted that there was no option to deny the “experience”, despite caution being advised. Was this a bug? Maybe something that she’d forgotten to remove before publishing? Chuckling to himself at finally finding something he could genuinely criticize after all the drama they’d been through, he shrugged and adjusted his feet beneath him, clicking continue and anticipating a crash.

What he received instead was a heavy feeling that swept over him, like vertigo that forced electricity through his veins. Pins and needles covered his body in a prickly, uncomfortable sensation, and he braced a moment, unsure of where he could even steady himself, when it stopped nearly as soon as it had appeared. When he opened his eyes, he gasped aloud–

There, in front of him as real as anything, sat a fresh grave. At its head was a simple cross made from scrap wood and decorated with an amateur wreath. The scent of the wet soil and the forest surrounding him was nearly suffocating as he drew in a long, deep breath, shivering lightly in his saturated clothing.

He was the bard.

Taking a moment to acclimate, he craned his neck, peering around at his surroundings. He’d dabbled in VR a handful of times, mostly at sponsored events, but even those hadn’t been quite this immersive. He’d always been acutely aware that he was somewhere playing a game, leashed by wires and human handlers and game mechanics. This, however, was on a level he didn’t even realize existed yet, and as a bolt of lightning raced across the sky above him chased by a crack of thunder loud enough to rattle his bones, he ducked frantically, forgetting the gravity of the situation he’d witnessed just minutes ago.

Seconds later, an ethereal hand appeared inches from his face, slender and feminine. He glanced up and noticed the beautiful ghost that had haunted him throughout his playthrough, abruptly remembering that he still had an ending to finish. Before he could say anything, however, she drifted closer, her eyes locked on his in anticipation. He had only a heartbeat to draw in a breath before her mouth was pressed against his, her lips full and firm as they found their target.

Confusion muddied with surprise as he could feel her clutch onto his hood and move to deepen the kiss, parting her lips slightly so that he could invite her in. He wasn’t quite certain what kissing a ghost should feel like, and certainly not a ghost embedded in a virtual reality, but the feeling of her against his face was…warm, like a summer breeze, and as he pressed his hands into the wet earth beneath him to push himself up and further into her embrace, his eyes slid shut.

The rain was nearly stinging against his skin, rattling through the leaves on the trees and bringing more lightning dangerously close to them. Despite the long, menacing rumbles of thunder that bellowed across the countryside, he could focus only on her as she kissed him like a long lost lover: tender, yearning, her fingertips searching along his jawline and through his unruly hair. His body felt weightless as their tongues collided and he felt himself rising up from the ground, his feet finding their way beneath him without concern for the awkward position he’d been maintaining for several minutes, and then…she was gone.

He blinked in shock, his lips awkwardly cold from her abrupt absence, and he watched, awestruck, as she evaporated before his eyes.

His confusion bled into disappointment immediately. This wasn’t an alternate ending at all, he mused, remembering this from before the credits had rolled. Perhaps the virtual reality portion was the alternative? He reached up and brushed his bottom lip with his fingertips, surprised to feel her absence still lingering there. Before he could turn to figure out how to exit, however, a disturbance in the air before him caught his attention and he tried to focus on it, finding himself struggling to see exactly what it was. The air shimmered slightly, like hot air above asphalt, and as he squinted and reached toward it, he nearly leapt backward when a very real person began to materialize before him.

It started with her feet, bare and dainty, buried in the thick mud of the grave he’d dug earlier. His eyes followed as it trailed upward, revealing strong, slender calves, curvy thighs that dipped into–

He choked, averting his eyes with a blush.

It would appear as though clothing did not materialize with reincarnated princesses.

Staring firmly at literally anything else, he yanked his hood back up and over his head for a moment before a hand reached out to him a second time. This one was very real, and cold, and wet from the rain, gently dabbing at his chin in an attempt to get him to return his gaze to the girl that had just come to life before his eyes. Refusing to disrespect her by gawking at her body, Marshall instead made quick work of the bead and loop that held his cloak shut and ripped it from his body, thrusting it out to his side for her to take from him. Even in a game, he wasn’t about to go full perv.

The cloak left his grasp and after a few moments, he risked a glance back toward the spot where she’d stood earlier. She was still there, and still very real, though covered much more modestly now in his black cloak. It dwarfed her, the hood coming down and over her face nearly to the mouth that had been pressed against his. Instead of the glimmering, translucent beauty he’d gotten used to, however, the lips he’d kissed were now pink and plump, one of which was pulled between a straight row of white teeth as she worked it anxiously, waiting for him to do something.

Pausing a moment, he considered his options. This was a game of discovery and logic, rather than brute force, and so the obvious choice was typically the incorrect one. He’d realized that this time around. But what was the obvious choice when a ghost girl laid one on you, then turned real and really naked in front of you? He tapped his fingers against his thigh, wishing for a moment that there was a “pause and think about it” button, but dismissed the idea after a second. He’d already beaten the game, right? This was an alternate ending, not a side quest, and therefore should be the reward for a job well done?

Musing in the rain and watching her release her bottom lip, now swollen from being worked between her teeth, he huffed a quick chuckle. Time to find out if this was a good ending, then, he supposed. Taking a step forward, he reached to her now, letting her eyes stay covered but dipping his hand into the hood to cup the back of her neck. His fingers trailed up into her hairline and he fisted the locks gently, wondering just how far the game mechanics would allow him to press his luck. It wasn’t designed as a romance sim, after all, but… she had kissed him first…

Holding her in place with his hand in her hair, he drew himself even closer, hoping that she would be able to feel the heat from his body as he leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. It was feather-light and experimental, his mind still unable to fully allow his senses to become completely immersed in this world despite all indicators to the affirmative. It was only after she gasped quietly and tried to turn to meet him, stopped by his hand still resting in her hair, that he grinned, delighted by how detailed this really was.

“I see,” he murmured, their lips brushing together as he spoke to her. His voice was nearly inaudible over the storm, but he continued anyway, forgoing logic to embrace video game law instead. “Burying you and marking your grave still wasn’t enough, was it?”

For the first time, she responded, her voice shaky and new as if she was still unsure if it would work at all: “Th-there’s something else I need from you…”

He paused, curious, and reached up with his other hand to finally push her hood back. The eyes that peered up at him were the same color as the drenched earth beneath their feet. He leaned back to peer down at her. “What is it?”

Her body trembled a moment, wracked with shivers from the relentless rain that beat down around them. “You must take me to the castle.”

“Th…the starting area?”

She gestured vaguely behind him, her hand still covered by the cloak draped over her. In the distance, he noted the various turrets of said castle peeking above the treetops.

He looked back at her, engulfed in his soaking wet cloak, the mud seeping up through her toes. Her body was trembling violently now, unfortunately no longer impervious to the very real and brutal “real world” physics that assaulted her. Frowning, he let go and instead bent to lift her into his arms, surprised to find that she was, in fact, real. Her body was thin, but soft and strong, and he adjusted his arm beneath her knees to support more of her weight. Instead of protesting, she leaned into him, pressing her forehead into the side of his neck and settling against his chest. The rain had finally slowed to a lazy drizzle and he took a deep breath, setting one foot in front of the other toward the castle.

– – –

Ben stirred, becoming fitful as a nurse busied herself with his vitals. His eyes rolled in their sockets but he didn’t wake, too oppressed by the exhaustion and drugs in his system to fight his way out. As the sheets were pulled further up his body, his lungs drew a deep but weak breath, his heartbeat erratic. Machines began to blare around him and the nurse turned, assessing them with an acute stare.

Beneath her, his brows pinched, but still… he slept.

– – –

Marshall sat upon the enormous canopy bed and tapped his fingers against his knees, content. A fire roared and cackled merrily in the stone pit embedded in the opposite wall, warming the room to a nearly uncomfortable level. After the storm he’d endured earlier, however, he leaned into the heat, allowing it to soak into his bones and thaw him from the inside out. It had been a wild ride since arriving at the castle with the naked, disheveled princess in his arms. He’d fully expected to be tossed in the dungeons and punished with a surprise “bad” ending, but instead he’d been bathed, clothed, fed, knighted, and even offered the princess’s hand in marriage.

Fairytale endings didn’t do a whole lot for him most of the time, since he was, at his core, still a murderhobo. He’d committed himself to seeing the whole ending through, and so he’d accepted the offer with as much grace as he could muster. Seeing the undiluted joy in the princess’s eyes had sealed the deal for him and he decided to embrace the feel good of it all, relieved that the weight in his chest and over his shoulders was all but gone for a short time. He’d hung his newly-adorned knight’s regalia on a cast iron hook that jutted out from the back of the wooden door before sitting, patient in his white linen shirt and too-tight pants. He still wore a simple leather belt despite needing a crowbar to remove his trousers, and the only accessory that remained with him was his trusty letter opener. He’d expected the game to end and hurl him back to reality after his acceptance and knighthood, but instead he’d received yet another whispered request from his betrothed:

“You must wait for me in my room,” she’d murmured to him after the Queen had placed their hands together.

“How am I going to know which one is yours?”

For the first time since he’d first spotted her ghost, a wry smile curled her lips, highlighting her girlish features. “It will be the only door you can open.”

“Ah, no treasure hunting, gotcha.” He grinned back at her. “Still gonna try though.”

And so he sat, assured that there were no easter eggs or legendary armor to be had, waiting on his bride-to-be. It was a weird ending, he admitted, to be sitting here wasting away the minutes with only the fire and the clear night sky outside the window for company. There wasn’t even much for him to explore in the room itself: a large cedar chest sat at the far wall, joined by a tall wardrobe. There were a few decorative items hung on the walls, but nothing unexpected. A staircase led up and away from the bedroom, but when he’d traveled to its destination, it led to an unfinished area of the castle that boasted only wooden crates and hay.

Just when he was preparing to go back on the prowl for anything he may have somehow missed, the wooden door that now bore his jacket creaked open slowly to reveal curious brown eyes peering at him through the crack between the door and the jamb. He smiled warmly at her and patted the bed next to him, fairly certain what this situation implied, but hesitant to believe it. It was a puzzle game, his mind whispered to him as he watched her enter the room, not a romance simulator. He equally knew that more…spirited games…existed, but once glance at Sam would tell anybody not to expect that from her own creation.

Still, he watched as his fiance padded toward him, a shy smile on her face, and he found himself holding his breath.

She was…stunning, really. The crown she’d worn still perched atop her braided hair and contrasted with the violet of her dress beautifully. Her cheeks were flush with life now, still chapped from the cold but vivid against her pale skin. As she reached up to remove her earrings, her smile never wavered. He admired the way her waistline was framed by the gold belt below her bodice as her hands busied themselves with her jewelry. As she finished the task and moved both earrings to one hand, he watched in amused surprise when she slipped them into a pocket.

It was a fantasy. Of course it had pockets.

He waited for her to say something, but she simply removed her crown and set it on a velveteen pillow next to the bed, then stood there, waiting as patiently as he was. Marinating in his awkward confusion for a moment, he realized that this was another quest point. He’d been expecting a cut scene ending but had near-immediately discarded that assumption back at the grave site, and it appeared as though this was yet another prompt for action. Bringing an ankle up to rest on his knee, he leaned forward, opting to try for speech clues. Accustomed to dialogue wheels and charisma stats, however, he found himself floundering for any sort of inkling that would nudge him in the right direction.

Ruminate, however, was rather bereft of hand-holding, he recalled. As the doe-eyed girl stood in front of him, still smiling, her face placid and patient, he grumbled under his breath. “A hint would be really handy right now, Sam.”

The princess immediately reached for his hands, placing them gently at her waist.

He blinked in shock.

“Is this not what you asked for?”

Her voice was soft and musical with amusement, though she did nothing further to aid him.

“I can ask for hints?”

“This is your ending,” she continued, “our ending. It is what you have earned, Hero.”

He paused, turning the words over in his mind. Stifling his irritation over the newfound assistance he didn’t know he could receive, he used his thumbs to trace the outline of the gold fabric that supported a heavy gold crest just below her navel. “I’ve been rewarded with knighthood, love, and royalty. What more could there be?” It was directed more to himself than to her, but he looked up at her when she stepped forward, anyway.


He blinked stupidly at her. Distantly, he realized he had uncrossed his legs to make room for her approach. As she stood between his knees, still smiling down at him, he let his hands fall, his forearms resting upon his thighs. “…you?”

She reached for his face as she had by the gravesite earlier, her fingertips impossibly gentle as they traced from his temples to his jaw. Her eyes finally left his as she looked down to take his hands in hers, then placed them back upon her waist, letting her own palms rest against the backs of his hands for a moment as if to emphasize the action. After a few heavy seconds passed between them, he realized what the implication was and let out a low whistle. “I…didn’t think this was that sort of game.”

Her head tilted. “Do you…reject this offer?”

His body startled, his thoughts still lost in this new development, and he eyed her for a beat. Did he reject it? Did he reject…her? His eyes drooped from hers to trace the outlines of her body, clad in skin-tight velvet to her waist before the fabric flared out from her hips in a waterfall of decadence. Unsure as to why it was such a heavy decision–he’d dabbled in otome games before, of course, and was no stranger to flirting or implied sex–he let his hands slide a few inches so he could slip his thumbs beneath her belt. He’d wanted to smooth them against her hip bones, but found only layers of fabric beneath his touch, concealing her form from him. Mentally shrugging, he instead pulled her even further forward, his face now a scant few inches from her bound bosom. “…no, I’m not rejecting your offer.”

She stared at him plainly, nearly drawing an eye roll from him.

“I accept.”

Joy shined in her eyes, then, forcing a smile to his lips. They remained there a moment, savoring the sheer happiness of the exchange, until he slid his hands along the curves of her body. They traveled almost lazily up her sides, the outside of her breasts, up and over her shoulders… When they reached the sides of her face, he guided her to him in a gentle pull, drawing her into a chaste kiss.

– – –

The monitor next to him beeped rapidly, its shrill voice calling out to the empty room and alerting the only occupant to an elevated heart rate. His breathing had quickened, the mask over his face an opaque jail behind which parted lips gasped for oxygen. His chest rose and sunk rhythmically beneath the sheets and trembled with his heartbeat. The weakened muscle within his body tried valiantly to accommodate the dream that still held his mind in a vice grip, vivid and comforting.

Although sweat pooled in the hollow of his throat and dampened his bangs, he took no notice, focused entirely on the imagery his brain provided in the absence of his body’s operation. Despite his weakened cardiovascular system, the rest of his body took little issue with attempting to seal the deal that sent him here to begin with. Beneath the sheets further along his body, another organ stirred, relentless in spite of his broken heart.

The machines around him pleaded desperately for his body to wake and calm, but the tones fell on deaf ears.

– – –

He was standing now, had risen to meet her without breaking their kiss, and his hands found their way back into her hair. It was silky and slipped between his fingers easily, no longer the frizzy mess he’d encountered beneath his hooded cloak. She smelled of rose petals, no doubt doted upon during her bath with the handmaidens, and he drank her in greedily, kissing her with authority but still too cautious to be forceful with her. She responded to his advances by melting against his body, but her torso felt hard and impenetrable against his chest, locked behind a bodice that was tied tight enough to double as armor. Tabling it for later, he instead reached behind her and slipped the tie off the end of her braid, shaking out the plait with his fingertips until it fell around her like an auburn aura.

Her lips ignited him and he found himself surprised by how easy it was to immerse himself in the exchange, no longer distracted by choices and puzzles and potential. He was simply there, and so was she, and when her hands found their way to his chest and pressed gently so that he was again seated in front of her, he decided he scarcely cared whether this was real or a very, very well-engineered simulation. It was his, and damn it, he was going to enjoy it.

Sitting forward so that he could reach her face once more, he dodged her attempts at meeting his mouth and instead opted for her jawline, soaking in the softness of her skin against his lips as he dappled her with butterfly kisses. He could feel her gasp catch in her throat as he continued, suckling lightly at the spot where her bone relented to soft, tender flesh. The sound shot through him and settled neatly in his loins, which were responding enthusiastically to her willing participation. Almost too enthusiastically, he mused as he reached down to try and adjust himself, but his pants were too tight to fit a hand inside of them and it brought a frustrated pout to his mouth. If he didn’t fix this soon, it was going to get painful, and that was going to kill this ending faster than a failed speech check.

Baring his teeth, he snuck his hands back into her hair, searching for a clasp or buttons to begin removing her dress. It wasn’t difficult to manipulate what he found, and in a moment, he had her bare to the chest, the fabric pulled away from her neck and collarbones. As his mouth trailed further along the newly revealed skin, he tugged lightly at the velvet, assisting her as she extracted her arms from the clingy fabric. He could feel her reach for the rest of it as she shoved it further down her body, struggling out of the dress as his mouth moved along her shoulder, nibbling gently and soothing the path with the tip of his tongue.

“H-hero,” she murmured, and he paused, glancing up at her. Her brows were drawn in frustration and her thumbs were still caught in the bodice high on her ribcage. “You must help,” she tugged down for emphasis, failing to move the dress at all. “I’m…stuck.”

Tell me about it, he grumbled mentally, his erection trapped in a prison of clothing. Frustrated that his problems returned so rapidly, he frowned at her and then turned his gaze to peer behind her, finding no remaining hints as to how to rescue his princess properly. He’d been expecting a corset tie, or perhaps hooks at the very least, but all he discovered was a solid wall of fabric. A low growl escaped his throat, startling the woman he’d been kissing moments ago, and as he removed his hands from her body to grip the fabric of the comforter beneath him in frustration, he felt his thumb brush against something attached to his belt.

A flash of brilliance rippled through him and he nearly cheered in triumph. The letter opener.

He glanced down, reluctant to tear his eyes off of the milky landscape in front of him, and found that it still hung faithfully from his belt. He quickly undid the small leather hoop that secured it and held it up between him, grinning with victory. What he saw, however, was no longer the unassuming dagger he’d first purchased, but an odd-shaped tool with a violent hook on the end of it. Running his finger along the tip, he discovered that the outside of the tool was utterly dull and useless, but the inside was wickedly sharp, the very edge glimmering silver and sinister in the light of the fire. Palming it, he planted his hands against the princess’s waist and turned her, lying her on the bed in a movement that was less gentle than he intended.

Her gasp had barely left her lips when he descended upon her anew, devouring her. Their mouths clashed and their teeth bumped as he kissed her hungrily, manipulating her arms above her head until he could pin her wrists to the plush blanket that cradled her. Her breath hurried in soft gasps and quiet moans that urged him further, punctuated by the hooded, lust-filled gaze that seemed to stare right into his very soul. This was new for him, this connection; sex with Monica had been excellent, but it had never been this…raw.

Her piercing gaze made him feel a myriad of complicated emotions. He was pinned, vulnerable, and yet feeling protective of this little slip of a princess that had offered herself to him in her gratitude. He was eager to satisfy them both and yet tempted to linger, to see just how far he could push his luck. He wanted to make her scream for him and watch her become undone and yet… As she watched him still, her lips swollen and her chest heaving, he leaned down to bump the tip of his nose against hers. “Do you trust me?”

Without hesitation, she nodded, their noses still touching.

Bringing his other hand up to her chest, he hooked the knife into the top of her bodice and pulled, the fabric parting like water beneath the blade, baring her body to him in an instant.

A blush devoured her as she peered up at him in shock, and he gave the dagger one last grateful glance before chucking it aside. She hadn’t shifted despite the violence of his actions, instead lying patiently with her arms still stretched above her head. She was bare to her abdomen, now, her pale skin flushed and her chest heaving unrestrained. His eyes narrowed as they caught sight of her breasts, ample and round with swollen, puffy nipples just aching to be bitten and sucked. Her tight belly tensed with each breath and he felt his hands twitch at his sides, impossibly eager to run them along her curves.

He allowed her little time to recover as he leaned down once more, letting go of her wrists so that he could slide his hands along her ribs as he took a soft, pink nipple into his mouth. Her body jerked at the contact but instead of relenting, he worried the flesh first with his lips, and then his teeth, dabbing at it with the tip of his tongue and sneaking a glance upward to watch her reaction. At some point, her head had fallen back against the mattress, her mouth slightly open as she gasped beneath him. Her skin was pink and flush and alive, her heartbeat rapid and her fingers twisted in the comforter. She was no longer the frightened apparition lurking in the shadows of the forest but a young woman, aroused and beautiful, and the sight of her brought a smile to his face.

He took her nipple back into his mouth for a moment, his cheeks hollowing with the force of his suction before releasing her with a light pop. Before moving to the other, he took a moment to brush his lips against the swell of her untouched breast, letting the heat of his breath tease her instead of his tongue. It was utterly indulgent, the way he pressed his face into the heavy, taut mound of beauty, nuzzling into her and suckling at the ivory skin until it darkened in his mouth.

The keening moan that slipped from her was a symphony.

As his mouth paid attention to her other nipple, his hands began to move, parting the ruined bodice and dress away from her. His heart was racing with arousal as much as it was with curiosity, and as she lifted her hips to allow him to pull away what garments he could, he watched as the various layers of her clothing slid to the floor to reveal her hips encased in simple linen bloomers. Raising an eyebrow, he nearly laughed, though he wasn’t quite sure what he’d been expecting. It was…admittedly much different from the scandalously tiny thongs he was used to encountering, but as a furious blush overtook the princess he’d spun up into a frenzy, he decided it would likely be better left unaddressed.

Unfortunately, he was no longer able to do the same for himself, and certainly not with what he had planned for her. Straightening, he reached to his belt and made quick work of the buckle, tossing the entire accessory aside. He was nearly desperate at this point, his erection a painful mess in his pants, and as he fumbled with the buttons in growing frustration, he was startled when delicate hands came up to rest upon his own. Nearly groaning in distress, he leaned down to plant a hasty kiss against the woman’s mouth. “Princess–” she kissed him again as her fingers began to fight against his, “normally I’d be taking this a little slower, but if I don’t get these pants off I might actually die.”

Her eyes flared for a moment and he wondered if he’d upset her, but she simply pursed her lips and looked down at where her hands were still fiddling with his, batting them away. He watched dumbly as she then expertly manipulated the buttons where he’d been struggling, popping them from their straining prisons as if she’d done it a thousand times. Instead of reaching in to free him, however, she smoothed a palm down his thigh until she reached the tip of his erection, outlined by a growing wet spot that darkened the fabric of the cursed pants that kept him away from her. The evidence of his arousal had soaked through, highlighting the swollen head that strained to be touched, and his body jerked violently as she moved to swipe a thumb across the sensitive tip.

He wanted to say something, or moan, or gasp, or give any indication as to how good it felt to have her working his dick through his trousers, but he found that any response he tried to summon simply stuck in his throat as she squeezed him rhythmically. The fabric between her palm and his tender skin oddly highlighted the sensation as much as it dampened it, removing the need for lubrication as her skin slid along the fabric that encased him. They both watched, enraptured, as she worked impossibly more pre-cum from him as she stroked, finally earning a guttural moan as her thumb swept over his weeping head once more.

As she finally, mercifully released the endless wall of fasteners, he allowed himself a selfish moment of relief, both physically and mentally. He hadn’t realized how sick he’d gotten lately, and this new, abrupt feeling of how healthy his body was nearly overwhelmed the arousal he was sporting. His muscles and joints felt strong and supportive as he stretched for her, pulling his shirt up and over his head while she tugged his pants apart. When she shirt hit the floor, her hands returned to the bed so she could admire him and wait for his response. Unwilling to make her wait any longer, his hand reached into his trousers and adjusted the throbbing shaft until it stood proudly against his belly, freed at last.

He knew he was well-endowed. Even at his most sheltered moments, he’d had access to the internet, and he was no idiot. He and every other young, competitive boy had googled the statistics a million times, wondering how they shaped up against each other without crossing a weird line to ask directly. Even so, when he glanced down to gauge her reaction, he couldn’t help but straighten a bit with cocky pride as she admired him. His erection stood tall and straight, bobbing gently as he flexed for her. A thick, branching vein twisted across the side of it, waiting for her mouth. As she reached up and gently wrapped her slender fingers around the base of him, he groaned quietly, thrusting minutely into her touch. The daintiness of her grip served only to enhance the generous size of his cock, and he bit back a hiss as another bead of arousal traveled lazily down his shaft.

He kissed her again in gratitude, lingering against her lips and tasting her, taking in the smell of roses and sweat and fire. As her fingers cradled his balls, however, he smirked against her mouth and shook his head minutely, stopping her by pressing her back against the bed. It was a fantasy, but he was no selfish lover even in a simulation. He fell to his knees in front of her and braced his hands on the sides of her thighs, eager to find out if she was as lithe under his touch as she looked. He dragged his lips along her belly, pausing to tongue the outline of her navel. He could feel her tense at the sensation and his smirk spread to an outright grin, the temptation to drag his fingertips to her ribs profound and mischievous.

His eyes darted up to meet hers as he began to walk his fingers up her legs threateningly. Her gaze shifted immediately from a lustful anticipation to a warning glare, freezing the movement immediately. It was impossible not to laugh against her belly, then, and he placed a firm kiss against her abdomen in a half-apology. Instead of continuing forward to tickle her in spite of her protest, he simply curled his fingers into the waistline of her…rather extensive underwear…and pulled, sliding away the last barrier that sat between him and the rest of her body. It slid effortlessly along her thighs and over her knees to fall and catch at her ankles, where she shook it free of her feet and kicked it lighty aside. Smiling softly at the casual action, he shook his head and returned to her in earnest, pressing his forehead into the valley between her breasts to begin a trail of wet, heated kisses down her body.

Even in the face of their entanglement, he felt light and free like he hadn’t in ages, finally afforded the opportunity to be anyone other than himself. He supposed it should have concerned him that he was suddenly this other entity, a made up character in a false world, but with the shift in reality came a lack of responsibility, and he’d be lying to himself if he said that it wasn’t the only thing in the world that he’d been begging for.

Here, he was the bard, or perhaps the ranger, or maybe a ranger-bard? Shaking his head, he dodged the dappling of dark hair that tickled his chin and instead trailed a line of kisses along a delicate hip bone, bringing his hands back to the pair of graceful thighs that were beginning to tremble under his touch. Here, he was only known as the newly-crowned prince, a man who had soothed a dragon with a song and rescued the King’s cherished daughter. There was no pressure to be anybody other than who he wanted to be, to do anything other than make the princess before him happy and satisfied, and he was going to take advantage of every second of this vacation from being…him.

As his mouth began to snake up along the inside of her other thigh, his left hand began to travel as well. Her skin was smooth and soft beneath his calloused palm as it wandered closer to her core, lazy but focused, until his mouth and hand paused just overtop of where she desperately wanted him. He let his eyes drink her in as he lifted his gaze to hers, only partly surprised to see that she had leaned up onto her elbows to watch him. He held her stare as his thumb moved slowly to slip between her glistening folds and tease lightly at the swollen bundle of nerves at their crest. At the contact, she sucked in a short breath, her eyes widening but staying on his.

The tip of his thumb moved again, dipping down to trace her entrance and back up to circle her, spreading her wetness over her center. Her breath left her in a rush and he watched her lids droop halfway, her hands fisting in the comforter at her sides. Still holding her gaze, he brought his thumb to his mouth, inches from where it had just taunted her, and lapped at it, tasting what she offered him. Impossibly, her blush deepened, the trembling in her thighs now overtaking the rest of her body. A warm smile curved his lips at the sight before he ducked his head, not quite ready to give her what her eyes begged him for, and breathed deeply.

The scent of her arousal was like a drug, filling his senses and nearly knocking him dizzy for a moment. There were hints of her earlier bath and of the sweat that now coated the both of them, but most of it was uniquely her, feminine and wanting. She had drawn her knees up to place her heels on the bed for him, gifting him with a surprisingly bold invitation of what she offered. He felt oddly greedy and yet patient, as if he’d been served with an unusually luxurious dessert he intended to savor. Before he dug in, he reached down with his free hand to stroke himself as he admired her.

The hair that crowned her was fine and soft, only partly hiding thick lips that glistened with want. He kept his pace languid as his eyes trailed further, catching just the slightest glimpse of the thin pink petals that snuck out from behind their fleshy prison to taunt him. Further still and he could see how badly she wanted him, her entrance dripping, causing his mouth to water. She was plump and wet and delicious, and he finally allowed himself to feast upon her, tracing with his tongue where his thumb had been moments prior. He held her steady with his left hand on her hip, taking his time despite her efforts to press further into him, tasting her as delectably as the finest honey. As he ran his tongue along her in long, lazy passes, teasing them both with his unhurried pace, he heard her cry out softly into the room before her back hit the mattress gracelessly.

It was the cue he’d been waiting for, and he wasted no more time before he closed his lips around her glistening bud and sucked, squeezing the base of his erection as he drank from her. She rewarded him with a hand in his hair and a throaty gasp, encouraging him further as he caressed her with his tongue through the suction. At long last, he let his eyes fall shut and enjoyed her, devouring her, savoring the way her body shook beneath his touch. Just as soon as he’d settled in, however, he felt her thigh tense beneath his forearm and her back arched, her voice shrill as she screamed for him into the heat of the room around them.

Blinking in surprise, he glanced up to watch her abrupt climax, continuing his ministrations until she stilled against the bed. Her chest heaved as she panted and he sat back on his heels, taking his hand away from his own arousal so he could soothe her with gentle strokes along her calves. It was a little…soon, he mused, but he could work with that, too. He waited patiently for her to come down from her high before he stood, allowing her a brief moment as he tugged his pants the rest of the way down his legs. It was still a struggle to remove them but he managed with enough agility so as to not embarrass himself, and when he could finally kick them away, he did so with no small amount of disdain.

When he turned back to her, she was smiling at him softly. It wasn’t her earlier smile, full of grace and calm, but slightly unraveled now, letting the pearly tips of her teeth peek through. Her hair was disheveled and wild across her forehead and shoulders, and her eyes were glossy with deep, genuine content.

She was…transcendent.

– – –

Deep within the sterile, cold confines of the ICU, a nurse leaned against the wall for a brief moment and sighed. Exhaustion permeated her very soul, she hadn’t had a chance to use the restroom in hours, and food was all but a distant memory. She was ten hours into a twelve-hour shift and sitting down was a flat-out fantasy at this point, so she’d settled for the wall, just for a moment, just to catch her damn breath.

As if knowing she’d taken a few seconds of solace, the little alarm on her lanyard began to cry out for her, alerting her to the patient several rooms down whose heart rate was now elevated to a concerning level. She heard it as if it were far away, almost a memory, or perhaps a hallucination… There were so many, all of the time, and she was just so damned tired. Closing her eyes, she shoved her bangs away from her face and clenched her teeth, summoning the strength to just finish out this shift. Just a little bit further to go.

Probably just getting up to go pee or something… She tried to muster the energy to push away from the wall and address the issue, tried to tell herself that every alert needed to be treated like an emergency, that maybe this one was different from the countless others she’d tended earlier on and found to be false alarms… Just get up, girl. You can do it. Go check on him and see that it’s a bum sticker and you can come right back here to this spot on the wall. It’s only going to take a minute. You got this.

Taking a deep breath, she willed her body to move, but her feet and her heart were equally heavy.

The alarm persisted, and she cringed, wishing she had the energy to cry.

– – –

The fire that had roared for them earlier was now reduced to glowing-hot embers, throwing a muted, crimson glow along the stone walls that surrounded the two bodies that now lay entangled beneath the ornate canopy at the far end. Marshall took little notice of it and scarcely cared besides, his body grateful for the uninterrupted chilly breeze that rushed through the window to soothe his back. His fingers were buried deep inside of the princess that lay against him now, her body trembling and her thigh hitched up and over one of his hips to give him access to her. Her forehead pressed into his collarbone as she moaned softly, overtaken by the way his fingertips stroked her from the inside. His other arm was curled around her protectively, his lips tight to her ear as he whispered filthy little nothings under his breath to encourage her.

She was tight as he worked her, gripping and releasing him rhythmically in time with the pleasure he gave to her body. He wanted her relaxed and comfortable before he gave himself to her completely, intent on avoiding any pain that he could, and so he continued diligently, curling and thrusting and pressing until she came for him once more. Her voice caught in her throat, her face contorting into a silent scream into his shoulder as she writhed, pressing herself down onto the fingers he’d sunk into her. He cradled her and watched, almost entranced, as the spasms in her body matched those that clenched down upon his fingers.

After a long moment, he pulled his hand away. Evidence of her pleasure dripped languidly down his knuckles and he brushed them against the head of his length before grabbing it in a tight fist, shivering at the small relief the pressure brought him. He wasn’t going to last long; the way her body responded to him so eagerly was perfect torture, and if he didn’t sink himself inside of her and seek his own release soon, he was fairly certain his body was going to finish the task on her behalf. Unable to stop himself, he pumped his erection a few times, groaning into the chestnut hair that still bunched against his face.

The woman in his arms made a small noise in response and reached up, smoothing her palm over his flat, muscular chest. Her touch was cool against his skin as it moved up along his neck until she cupped his face, drawing his gaze to hers. As he looked down at her, his hand still moving between them, she smiled and kissed him for a moment. It was simple, not at all like the feverish exchange they’d started out with, but as she brushed her nose against his and looked back up at him with a satiated, adoring stare, he realized it was an invitation. She certainly didn’t say much, but he supposed she didn’t have to–there wasn’t much else that look could say in this situation, and he wasn’t about to need a second hint.

Their bodies rolled effortlessly and he took care to support his weight above her, the pace between them tempered by her satisfaction. He positioned himself at her entrance and paused, taking a moment to drag the head of his erection through her wetness that waited for him, as much lubricating himself for her comfort as he was selfishly indulging his own desire. His breath left him in a shuddering rush as he stroked himself against her, dipping inside of her briefly and then sliding against the sensitive flesh, his pleasure now aided by the slickness of her orgasms. As he teased them both, she shifted beneath him, bringing her knees up to his ribs and bracing her hands on his forearms.

Halting once more at her entrance, he gave her a meaningful look. “Don’t be afraid to let me know if I hurt you, okay?” He guided himself inside of her just enough to let go of his throbbing shaft, bringing his other arm up so that he could lean above her comfortably. At her nod, he thrust gently, giving her the first few inches of him. He watched her face carefully for any sign of discomfort, but all she offered him was a small gasp as the corners of her mouth tipped upward, her eyes hazy. He pulled out and thrust again, flexing his hips and pressing into her, working his way inside of her inch by inch. His body was tense to the point of agony, but he refused to rush things, knowing full well that he could injure her if he wasn’t cautious with his size.

After several languid thrusts, he was seated within her in delirious heat, and he dropped his forehead to her shoulder to press a kiss to her collarbone. When her fingers wound their way into the back of his messy hair, he remained there as he began to move, dragging his erection from her body and pressing the full length back inside in long, delicious movements. She gripped him eagerly, her walls hugging his member as if made for him, and the relief of finally getting some earnest stimulation was so strong that he shivered, his body electrified. Beneath him, a breathy moan filled the air and spurred him further, but still, he took his time, drawing out his final reward like it was his last meal.

He could feel her lips searching for his, fluttering against his temple as she turned her head to him. As he tilted his face to meet hers, he seated himself inside her and held himself there, high on the feeling of being encased by her wet heat. Their tongues met one another and he could feel her thighs tense around him, urging him to keep moving, to do anything that would give her more of what his body promised. They parted and he pressed a kiss to her forehead before continuing, keeping his hips tight to hers as he ground against her body. His arms snaked around her shoulders to cradle her head as he moved inside of her slowly, savoring the sensation of closeness.

After a long moment of teasing himself with minute movements, he pressed against the mattress, raising himself above her so he could watch her body move when he increased his intensity. With each press of his hips, her breasts bounced beneath him, moving in a way that tantalized him. He dragged his eyes down along the rest of her until he could see himself sinking inside of her with each thrust. It was his own private show, complete with her sexy gasps and moans beneath him, and the view lit a fire in his loins that he’d not felt in ages. Crushing his eyes shut and groaning low, the noise escaping him nearly as a growl, he pulled away from her completely and silenced her immediate protest with a long, impatient kiss.

He was getting closer. There was an ache in his groin by now, insistent and growing from being denied release for so long, but he wasn’t quite ready to give up the illusion just yet. It was a selfish move, he knew, to draw it all out purely to avoid being himself again, but it was too good here, and he refused to let go until he was forced to. Breaking away from her and pulling out completely, he bent down once more, planting his mouth firmly against the swollen flesh between her legs and sinking his tongue inside of her. Her body jerked violently beneath him at the contact, so he brought his hands up to crush her thighs against the sides of his face, unrelenting.

He could spend hours between her legs. He wanted to drink her in, to draw out every single moan and gasp and scream he could discover and then hear them all again. He wanted her fingers fisted in his hair and her thighs clenched and her teeth bared for him as he sucked, licked, and panted against her. Her heels dug into his back in a near-painful effort to prevent him from stopping, but leaving her like that was the furthest thing from his mind. Instead, he reached between them and sunk two fingers inside of her as he worked, his actions aggressive now that her body was used to him, and when she came, her body contorted, shivering and coiled behind a scream that shook the birds from their roost beneath the window ledge.

As he laid his head against her trembling thigh, he could feel more evidence of his need dripping down the shaft of his erection. Still, he waited, tempted to rip yet another climax from her body to serve his own greed.

She held out a hand after a long moment, her palm facing him in a gentle halt. Behind it, her eyes were glossy and pleading above her flushed cheeks. “P–please,” she panted, “I don’t think I can take another one.” Despite her words, a small smile curved her lips as she huffed a short, incredulous laugh. It forced a grin to his own face as he leaned up to press a kiss against her palm as a silent agreement.

Instead, he slid up alongside her, guiding her onto her side so he could press his chest to her back. After guiding her knee until it was bent nearly to her chest, he placed himself at her entrance and slid easily inside of her, punctuating the movement with a wet kiss against her shoulder. When he could give her no more of himself, he wrapped a muscular forearm around her thin body and pulled her tight to his own.

And then, he began to move.

His thrusts were consistent and strong, his body finding an easy rhythm with her soft, pliable form in his arms. He couldn’t hold back any longer, the pressure and ache low in his belly threatening to overtake the pleasure he took freely from her now. As he panted against her neck and quickened his pace, she reached up and threaded their fingers together, pulling him impossibly closer and guiding his palm over the swell of her breast. His brows knit together at the contact and he shifted his grasp so that he could roll her peaked nipple between his fingers, pulling a surprised and heated gasp from her mouth.

“Princess,” he called to her quietly, his voice hoarse with tension and need, “I’m… I–” His words caught in his throat and he grit his teeth together, fighting desperately to keep control of himself but unable to resist the white-hot band of pleasure that rapidly uncoiled inside of him. He thrust once, twice more and froze, his hand clamping down on her hip in an iron grip to keep her flush against him as he pulsed inside of her. His climax seemed to last for an eternity and he could distantly hear his voice cry out for her as wave after wave of pleasure shot through him, matching the strain in his member as he filled her.

When he finally settled from his high, he blinked, realizing that the princess that was still encased in his arms had taken to running her fingernails gently along his forearm. The touch was impossibly soothing and a stark contrast to the sensations that had just ripped him apart from the soul up. Huffing a short, humorless laugh, he buried his face into her hair and stayed motionless, refusing to pull away from her for even a moment for fear that the second he did, he’d be launched back into his weak, failing body.

As the minutes ticked by, however, the glow of the embers bared witness to both the Hero and his Princess slipping off into an exhausted slumber, entwined in a lover’s embrace.

– – –

In the darkness of the hospital room, Benjamin Lawson lay still, impervious to the glare he was receiving from the nurse who’d finally found the strength to arrive to save his life. Beside her, a CNA shifted awkwardly, his arms full of fresh linens that she’d demanded a few minutes earlier. He didn’t typically work the night shift and had only met her once, and so the thunderous look on her face as she stared down at the frail young man in the hospital bed gave him a much stronger preference to avoid any further nocturnal obligations.

A casual glance at the bed taught him precisely why she was so furious and he quickly averted his eyes again, feeling both awkward and empathetic. There was a fairly generous wet spot that marred the otherwise pristine sheets covering the man’s body, and it…wasn’t a drool puddle, either. Shifting his weight from side to side, he cleared his throat. “You uh, want me to take care of this?”

The nurse sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose for a moment. “Yeah, sorry. He’s fine, it’s just been a bad night. It’s a little touch and go with his condition so I was worried something had happened, but he just…” She planted her hand on her hip, trying to stifle her irritation.

“…nocturnal emission…” the male murmured, cringing on Ben’s behalf as he recalled her charting it. Embarrassing enough on its own, but he imagined it would be much worse discovering that an entire medical team would know that your fragile condition had been aggravated not due to an actual emergency, but because you simply had a wet dream. As his coworker strode out of the room in a hurry to be anywhere else, he sighed, dropping the linens into the chair next to the bed and set to work on changing Ben’s sheets and gown, taking care not to wake him in the process. His heart rate had already fallen back into a safe range and he was sleeping peacefully, a light coating of sweat across his forehead remaining as the only evidence remaining of his cardiac event.

When Ben was alone, he let his eyes open, nearly wincing against the scratchy movement. His mouth was sticky and dry, and his body hurt. Really, really hurt. He shifted slightly, refusing to groan in mortification over the conversation he’d just had to hear. There was a cup of room temperature water with a straw in it sitting on a small table next to him and with a great deal of effort, careful not to disturb the IV still attached to his arm, he reached up and brought it to his mouth. After moving the mask away from his face, he began to take small sips of the liquid, eternally grateful for its soothing presence in his otherwise dry mouth.

I came in my sleep. He winced at himself and set the cup back down on the table, replacing the oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. It had been an excellent dream, he reflected, the first sexy dream he’d had in as long as he could really remember. Only one thing truly stood out to him, however, and he sighed gently as he settled back down against his pillow.

The princess in his dream… It had been Sam.

It hadn’t been Sam in her game, he mused, but for some reason his brain had decided to supply him with the image of his introverted neighbor in all her resplendent, naked glory, and the thought baffled him as much as it very, very secretly piqued his curiosity. Further than his shock at dreaming about burying his nose between Sam’s legs, however, was how unbothered he was by it. He’d had other dreams before his depression had stolen them from him, dreams of girls he grew up with or met at conventions… Those dreams had surprised him, made him laugh with shock or shiver with confusion and refusal… But as he grasped at the few lingering spiderwebs of his delicious “virtual reality”, trying in earnest to remember the way things had played out, he found that he really didn’t find it so undesirable.

As exhaustion and medications began to pull him back down into the abyss of sleep, he resisted the urge to rub his eyes and let out a long, slow breath. He hadn’t really looked at her that way before, but now that he’d dreamt of her? Now that he had even a fantasy glimpse of the way her body might move when in the throes of ecstasy, of the way she could taste on the back of his tongue…? He stifled a groan, feeling himself begin to swell at the thought of it.

At least it was unlikely to ever come to fruition, he mused. He had Monica, and while the thought of having both of them was tantalizing enough on its own, he dismissed the thought as soon as his mind offered it to him. Still, he thought, taking another deep breath as he sank further toward unconsciousness, it had been a very nice dream. And a wonderful ending to the game that was so good, it nearly killed him.

Perhaps he’d hold onto his secret ending just the same, just a special one for him, to get him through the darkest nights he was sure were yet to come. It would be a place he could retreat to, where he was healthy and bold and brave. It would be somewhere he was loved because he did the right thing and saved the day, where he had a beautiful young woman with whom he could fall into bed without worrying about paparazzi or gossip or keeping up appearances. It wasn’t what Sam had intended to give him, but it was one of the best gifts he could have asked for, this little sanctuary in the back of his mind.

You’re welcome, Princess, he thought with a small smile. And thanks, yourself.


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