Since entering the fourth stratum of the Labyrinth, Lynus had noticed that Axel had been holding great tension in his neck and shoulders. Axel had tried to ignore it, either figuring that he was simply working too hard, or not to cause Lynus any alarm.
But Lynus noticed.
Although having a great deal of experience dealing with torn muscles and healing strains and pains, Lynus had little experience with massage or physical therapy. So, with whatever spare time he could muster between helping out at the hospital and trekking through the labyrinth, he had taken it upon himself to learn as much as he could about massage.
For Axel's sake.
Lynus quickly learned that the neck and shoulder region of the human body tended to accumulate more tension than any other area. Tension headaches and upper-body stiffness could be traced back to the neck, which, in turn, could be agitated by bad posture or sleeping position.
Whatever the cause, he was in discomfort. And there was no need for him to suffer in silence.
"Axel, you neck and shoulders are hurting, aren't they?" Lynus stated, more so than asked, as he walked up to Axel and wrapped his arms around his waist from behind.
"Hm, just a little stiff," Axel murmured in response.
Lynus pressed himself against Axel's back and nuzzled his cheek between his shoulder blades. "I'll make the pain stop."
Removing his arms from around Axel's middle, Lynus reached up to take Axel's hand and lead him toward their room. Once inside, he closed the door to give them some privacy and wordlessly helped Axel from his shirt, his red-haired Landsknecht allowing him to fuss over him.
Lynus, despite himself, had to take a moment to admire Axel's taut chest. He then led him over to a chair, instructing him to take a seat with his front side facing the chair's back. Axel folded his arm over the back and leaned forward.
Moving to standing behind Axel, Lynus opened his hands wide and placed each hand on Axel's shoulders. His hands moulded over the top shoulder, but he kept his thumbs on his back. Slowly, he began to move his thumbs in a circular motion, applying gentle pressure.
Axel groaned lowly as he dropped his head forward, his forehead resting against his folded arms. He wasn't in pain. He was feeling relief. Lynus' gently, warming touch was easing the knots and soothing the tension of his shoulders. He was realising how much pain he was unconsciously holding.
Kneading slowly, Lynus moved from the interior of Axel's shoulders, near his spine and toward the outside. Both of his hands were moving in tandem, as if there were a mirror in the middle of Axel's back.
Allowing healing warmth to spread from his hands, Lynus proceed up and down Axel's shoulder blades with his thumbs. "How is it? Too hard or too soft?" he asked.
"Hrm…" Axel murmured. "It's good…"
Lynus felt a smile spread across his lips as he began to incorporate his other fingers, the ones on top of Axel's shoulders, by squeezing slightly and in rhythm with his thumbs. He didn't move too fast or too slow, finding the perfect rhythm that was soothing but also comforting.
The soft, little sounds of bliss Axel was making was encouraging. It meant that what he was doing, the way that Lynus was touching him was bringing him pleasure. Not sexual or even sensual pleasure. But comforting. Reassuring. Loving.
Axel had such a strong back, smooth and flawless. There were a few minor scars from past injuries, but to Lynus they were quite beautiful. They were proof of survival. Proof of strength. Anyone who received an injury and kept moving forward, kept battling was truly amazing.
Easing his thumbs toward the bottom of Axel's neck, where it met the shoulder, he gently worked up toward the base of his skull. He worked carefully as he could feel small knots in his muscles, concentrating on them until they were gone and continued to knead the smooth skin.
After a few moments of gentle kneading and sensing no more tension from Axel's shoulders, Lynus leaned forward and slipped his hands over his shoulders, wrapping his arms around Axel's neck. He nuzzled his cheek against the side of Axel's head, Axel making a small, appreciative noise as he reached up with his hand to touch Lynus, threading his fingers through his hair.
"Feeling better?" Lynus asked.
Axel then turned his head and gently tugged Lynus' toward him, where they pressed their lips together, their kiss soft and loving.