[r]ating: G to R
[t]heme: almost all of 30_kisses
[f]andom: Vagrant Story
[s]ummary: A Riskbreaker, an Inquisitor, and a life on the run. A collection of vignettes and stolen moments in the ensuing romantic relationship.
01. look over here
Title: That Forensics AU (potential title: Definition of a Workaholic)
The first time Riot asks her to dinner, he says, "Merlose— scrap of fabric, 3'clock. The victim's?"
"Where?" Automatically, her neck whips her gaze to the other side, and he steps around, claiming her lips with his own.
It figures, he thinks, slightly bitterly, that forensics cleared a better opening than anything else I've tried.
04. our distance and that person
Title: Prison Break
His hand slides, of its own will, to touch the rood at his neck, thinking not of the woman who once wore it, but the woman who hates it. He misses her, and he has only been without her for a week. He worries about her, and it has only been since this morn that he last Scryed upon her.
Not for the first time, he casts aspersions on Dieter Rozencrantz's paternity and sexual partners, past and future.
Dieter, Jan, the Dark. Ambition, envy, the willingness to harness a demonic power, the ability to nullify it...
How are they linked? What is Dieter's relation to Jan Rozencrantz, or is he of any relation? Why doesn't he know?
It doesn't matter. He is on his way home. Whatever Dieter is up to this time, he has no idea, but he has too many other responsibilities to just stay and find out.
He sometimes wishes he could in fact just stay. But then he thinks of the way Merlose's arms slide around him, the way her lips slide against his own, the way she cries out beneath him, and all such thoughts fly from his head.
He was once a Riskbreaker, a professional madman who killed and felt nothing, and here he is, helpless against the yearnings of his loins. Something about the ex-Inquisitor brings him to his knees and leeches away his will. He cannot deny her, he cannot deny himself.
He has lost so much of the self control that kept him going. She is a distraction, nothing more, and yet he cannot seem to label her as that and take actions to prevent further distractions.
He stops, looks around once more. Checks again for wards, for any Churchly means of detecting his presence or magic.
He finds none, and summons his will.
Within moments, he is within sight of the city with the newest safe house.
He hates this particular city. The Bardorba Duchy drives him mad with its additional taxes and entirely too eager standing army.
For example, this particular city has guards who watch the gates. Not only do the guards actually do their job, which inconveniences him, but they seem to genuinely care about it.
Somebody's paying them too much, he thinks.
The bane of his existence, the gate watch, doesn't even stop him this time. He is just another weary traveller seeking solace and an inn.
The fact that the guards can't see the blood that covers him probably contributes to his speedy entrance.
By dusk, he has wended his way to the safe house.
In the front yard, Joshua cups fireflies in his hands. The childish delight evident on the boy's face tear at his heart, opening a wound that will apparently never heal.
There are times Joshua reminds him of Marco so much he thinks he will die of the pain. There are times he wakes, finds Merlose next to him, and does not remember that she dislikes being held. There are times when he offers Joshua a sip of wine or supports him in one of his boyish quests to escape Merlose's influence, just to irritate her because he hasn't done it enough lately, and finds himself instantly reminded of Tia's ire when he turns to face the dark-haired woman who has taken over his life.
As he walks inside, ready to discuss the newest gleanings of information with Merlose, he idly rubs Joshua's head, his palm nearly covering the straw-coloured hair. In the light of dusk, the boy's hair looks brown.
The door closes soundlessly behind him.
Merlose does not look up, and he, just to irritate her and not at all because he enjoys the feel of it, sweeps her into his arms from behind. His lips press against the back of her neck— a kiss she loves to give, but hates to receive.
"Bastard. Why haven't I warded my bed yet?" She snarls.
She forgets her wrath when he whispers his newest discoveries in her ear.
05. "ano sa" ("hey, you know....")
06. the space between dream and reality
He wakes her with a kiss.
Title: Miss Houdini
Ashley Riot didn't expect to find his wayward charge in a tiny rundown restaurant on the outskirts of town, but that was indeed where he found her.
The vexed, shrill telephone calls from her manager had grown in frequency, but all he could think of now was not "my paycheque is going to be revoked" but "where are my pants?".
Taking on this job had apparently been the worst idea he'd ever had. He was going to get himself fired, he was sure of that.
His cell phone rang again. He continued to ignore it, trying to locate shirt.
The lovely body everybody in the world lusted after lay stretched on the bed. No slim, pale finger pointed out to him where his shirt was, and he growled.
"Don't worry," she crooned. "I'm sure you'll find your clothes. Eventually." She paused. "Considering that this is YOUR apartment, don't you think you could just put another shirt on?"
"LeSait is an old man, and don't forget that I can fire him at will. I've got six other people panting after the opportunity to manage me."
"If I get another worried call from him..." He stopped, sighed. "You need to stop disappearing."
"You need to stop throwing ethics out the window."
"You started it."
He didn't respond. She was clearly full of crap, and they both knew it.
Briefly, he brushed his lips against hers. "Liar."
She turned away. "Shut up. I OWN you, remember? Not LeSait, ME. You are OWNED."
He sighed. Being a bodyguard was such a pain in the ass, sometimes. Not only had he breached ethics by sleeping with a client, he was lying to one of his superiors and encouraging his client to perform actions that weren't in her best interest.
Not that he was TRYING to encourage her. But the fact remained.
He found his shirt just as his cell phone began to ring again.
LeSait's fretful calls were starting to get annoying. But if he told the old man that Callo was safe and had been for over three hours, he would be out of a job.
"Looking for her," he snapped into the phone.
"Are not," the old man replied, sounding smug. "I had a GPS unit installed in your cell phone and her favourite sunglasses. You two have been in your apartment for over three hours."
Ashley didn't swear. Instead, he rolled his eyes and replied, "She didn't want to return to the hotel. I have a safe house here, and thought it would be best to keep her in one place until she was ready."
"Liar. I have your apartment bugged."
"What are you DOING?" Callo demanded. "Why are you telling him anything?"
"Safe house," he told LeSait through gritted teeth.
"Whatever. I have it bugged."
"WHY are you telling him where I am?"
"Oh, and tell Cal that I'm the best manager she's going to find, and if she fires me, it'll be HER cute little ass pushing a shopping cart through the snow and freezing to death on the curb, hmm?"
Ashley dutifully repeated the message.
Her face turned an interesting amount paler. "I hate that man. For the record, I REALLY, REALLY HATE THAT MAN."
"He has the safe house bugged," Ashley replied. "Just so you know."
"Hurry home," LeSait laughed and hung up.
Ashley pulled on his shoulder holsters, covered them up with the jacket, and turned to face the naked woman on his bed.
She pulled the covers over her head. "LeSait can fuck himself. I'm not going back to that hotel until I want to."
Ashley's cell phone rang.
"I think he heard you."
Title: In Between Time
She sits and soaks. Joshua, she conquered an hour ago and sent to bed. It took her quite some time to draw her bath, but now that she's managed it...
It feels wonderful. The hot water drives impurities from her flesh, and the washrag only adds to that very specific, soothing feeling that is being clean.
She smiles in relief as the steam of the bath releases a heavenly scent.
The scent of fresh cut gardenia.
Clouds of sweet smelling steam rise from the tub, and she inhales them. There is nothing more refreshing than a long, hot bath.
She glances, briefly, at the cut blossoms on the floor. They litter the dirt floor like leaves in a forest. Soft, white-petaled, sweet smelling leaves.
As is her custom, she puts her time alone to good use. These times, "in between times," as she likes to call them, are her only times for introspection. At any other time, she must constantly move or think about somebody else.
A little selfish, perhaps, but being a little selfish sometimes can be a good thing.
It was during an in between time that she discovered a peculiar irony: many of her best, her favorite moments, occurred in those stolen hours in between. Her life happens in the moments between moments.
...After Lea Monde, but before Je Bardeau...
...After... but before...
The course of her life changes at the slightest provocation. It twists and it turns, this way and that way and all around, but it always comes back to one thing.
After, but before.
Beside the tub, should she decide to get out before Riot returns and has a panic, hangs a white swath of linen.
She stares longingly at the blossoms floating, water logged and limp, in the water, at the foggy mirror.
Her gaze returns to the linen.
With a weary sigh, she rises, takes the linen in hand and wraps it around herself. She dries off and gathers a few of the blooms on trhe floor.
Upstairs, a fire roars in the living room fireplace. The flames lick along the logs, a caress that blackens, kills, consumes. She wonders, for a moment, if the logs feel pain. She swiftly dismisses the question as irrelevant, even stupid.
Logs come from trees. Trees don't feel pain. And would it matter if they did?
She watches the dead logs grow deader from the flames' deadly kisses and settles into one of the room's few armchairs to watch the fire burn. Almost sentimentally, she begins to dry and brush her hair.
After a while of this, when she has tired of dragging the brush through her hair and squeezing the water out, she sets the brush down and takes up the blossoms again.
All but one of the blooms land in the fire. The last, she keeps to treasure its scent, even as she watches the others burn. They darken at first, their crisp white going a brittle cream, then gold, then brown. At last, they fade to black with flecks of red.
The black flowers turn to ash. Like her bath, this pleasant (if soporific) experience comes to an end. She carries her remaining gardenia to her bedroom. Little as she likes it, this is where Riot goes first.
There, she inhales the scent of her freshly clean bedsheets and waits for Riot to return. She turns down the covers, running her fingers along the cloth. It feels nice.
It is not for some time that Riot arrives. He wakes her, and she discovers that she had fallen asleep along the length of the bed, with only her towel-sheet covering her.
She blushes, as is expected, and behaves appropriately embarrassed, of course. He apologizes (such a chivalrous one, that one) for entering without giving warning. Neither of them is embarrassed, in fact. Riot might well have ice water in his veins, and she has been nude before too many people to care.
She moves out from under the sheet, draws closer to Riot.
Their lips touch. It is no accident, but neither of them started it, or meant to do so.
The kiss deepens, and Riot casts aside his clothing, tossing it all in the general direction of away.
They stand naked before each other for a moment.
And then he closes the distance, locks her in that kiss again, and they touch each other, skin sliding and colliding with satisfying sounds. They become a blur of colours, her pale skin beneath his dark, her dark hair against his pale. Cream and red and gold and white, his skin and hair, his eyes, the parts of them the sun doesn't usually touch.
And like a fine thread through it all is ash black, the colour of their hair.
All their colours swirl and mingle, flashing brightly like the gardenias in the flames.
15. perfect blue
Title: Perfect Blue
The water felt cold in the strengthening sunlight. Had Merlose any choice in the matter, she would not even consider bathing here.
But it was cover herself and her nigh weightless charge in water, or... She could practically hear the hounds barking.
"Quickly," she murmured, helping tiny, pale fingers to undo the numerous fastenings of his clothing.
She watched him step in to the water. Short as he was, it came up to his waist. On her, it would rise to her knees.
She stripped also. Knelt in the water, made sure every part of them dripped rivers.
Riot's hands did not tremble at the reins the way Joshua's had trembled, re-fastening his clothing.
For once, they all travelled together. What, she wondered, has possessed Riot to disregard the risk in travelling together? This was unlike him.
Also unlike him was the way he kept brushing against her. She knew that he didn't have to touch her if he didn't want to, so perfect was his balance. And yet he hadn't stopped touching her. Even the smallest excuse would do.
Resolutely, she stared at the sky and the road ahead.
The sky was a lovely expanse of endless blue.
The summers of her childhood are lazy and seem to stretch on forever. Days pass like years; afternoons last for months.
Above her, a dragonfly flits past. Its wings beat a rhythm she odes not, cannot, comprehend.
Sometimes she wonders what enables the dragonfly to fly. Sometimes, the shimmering colours and schizophrenic equivocation between stillness and movement hypnotize her. She seems them at least once every summer, but they never cease to intrigue and amaze her.
When she reaches out and takes one in her hands, she cannot but remember the ocean.
She misses its blue-green waves, its roaring, endless perfection.
His lips met hers, but she did not want comfort.
16. invincible; unrivaled
He returns to their current hideout fair covered in blood, his sword sheathed but left insecure in its scabbard. His sword rattles in the scabbard with every step he takes.
The blood, hot and dark, is not his own. It never is. He is invincible.
She always feels so frail when he is near her. He is like a giant to her. His shoulders fair catch in the doorways, and he must bend over to keep from hitting his head on the lintels of the doors.
Her hand seeks his shoulder, finds it smooth as her own, unscarred, unwounded.
Nothing touches him anymore. He is now as impervious in the flesh as he once was in his soul.
It is she who breaks the seal on his body, she who makes him remember he is not a corpse.
They do not speak. Words have long failed them both. The world has failed them both.
She gave her heart and soul, the same way he did, to a circle of Knights that repaid her only in her own blood and the taste of ashes in her mouth.
He looks down at her, his hand rising to clasp her own. He seems to animate-- once weary, his hand fair trembles as he touches her skin. The light of her candle reflects in his eyes, and at last, he seems to notice it. His right hand moves to her candle, comes so close to the flame. Pinches.
They are alone in the darkness. Around them, the night sings its own lament.
The now extinguished candle falls to the floor and she runs her other hand along the side of his face, tracing the line of his jaw.
He smiles. It might once have been a bright expression. Now, it is grim. Where once he bore the brightness of leaves changing color, he seems carved from the harvested earth and made of crumbling leaves.
Almost playfully, he tugs on one of the twin braids, like black ropes, or the links of chain she sometimes wishes would bind her, that swing beside her face. She responds in turn.
It is no accident that their lips meet.
His is perfection too pure for accidents; hers is care and craft too great.
The memories of sweetness and summer belong to him, but it is she who understands the coming spring.
They separate, needing no words to know what must happen next.
There is no armor to strip from him. He has no need for armor— if ever an arrow found his flesh, he would not die. He has no need for a shield, and little for a sword. The strength of his sinews pales in comparison to the other strengths he has gained.
The trenchcoat already gone, he must only shirk his trousers and disarm. His eyes alight on her as she undoes the laces of her simple dress and tosses it away from her.
She moves closer, her hand finding its way to the center of his chest. She walks her fingers downwards, to his navel, and lower.
He startles, shoves her hand away and grips her shoulders.
Their lips meet again, and it is not the clash of wills it was when they first reached this understanding. It is a sharing.
Neither conquers, neither yields. There is no victor here.
How could she hope to defeat him? His is perfection. She has learned this in her examinations of him. She has tested him and found him true, battled him and found him strong.
Yielding is so sweet, like the waves that crash to shore without the bitterness of salt.