coronaviridae: (arrogant bedo)
[personal profile] coronaviridae
AlbedoxShion demismut. Will also have KevinxShion and AlbedoxKevinxShion at...some point.



Paths of Desire

She has become so used to his habit of sneaking into her quarters that her first thought is not how he found her or that he's been dead for six months, but what it is he needs from her. Pulling away from her dreams has been harder than ever since she left Vector; they are more a comfort to her than anything in a waking world gone increasingly mad. So when she calls his name, half-awake and fogged with exhaustion, she can't judge if he's truly there, or just another dream.

By the time he answers, ghost-silent where he's standing by the wall, she knows he must be real.

"A...Albedo? Why are you--how--how did you find--what do you want?"

His laughter, too, is a real thing though it's more subdued than she remembered it. "Don't you know I'd cross half the universe to see you? It's not like you went very far, when you ran." He laughs again when she draws herself up, clutching the covers to her chest and staring like the child she feels. The uniform is familiar; she's seen the like somewhere before. Not on him, though; there is a faint flush of irony to the fact that white isn't his best color.

With a whisper of rustling fabric he settles himself on the end of her bed. "Now you're making me feel like a prude, hiding like that; it's nothing I haven't seen before." He reaches for her hands where she's knotting them in the sheets, as if to pry them away. "Unless it is," he adds. "It's been a long time."

The touch of his too-real hand against her fingers is enough to shake her from the familiar lassitude of shock. She's reluctant to believe this particular illusion, resisting his efforts to pry her fingers off the sheets, to let him pull her hands to him. "You're dead," she insists as she finds her mental footing. "Supposed to be dead. Junior said--once he came back to us, that you were--" He's really very intent on getting at her fingers; he's as stubborn as she is and it's always irritated her.

Another hole in the theory that this is all a dream. "--Albedo, stop that," she finally says, exasperated. He cocks his head at that, smiling that same cocksure smile he shares with his older brother.

"You'll do something if I don't, woman?" he retorts. As always, he doesn't stop pulling at her hands; he's never done anything she tells him to, unless she's got other leverage. Leverage she's groping for, scooting back further in bed and reminding herself that she's probably imagining all of this. He's dead. Right?

Dead; of course, that jars a thought loose. "I won't tell you the rest of what Junior said about you."

When he fumbles in the wake of those words, she pulls hands and sheets and all out of his grasp, staring back at him defiantly. She doesn't know she's put her lower lip out like a petulant child, giving her the wrong image entirely. But for someone concerned as he is about images, he's also never been able to get over his obsession with words. Or his other obsessions, for that matter.

"That," he says once he's settled back, far enough back he can look her in the eyes without stooping. "Was a very low blow." She feels a touch of guilt she never has before when she's done that kind of thing; maybe it's because he seems so calm, so well-reasoned, a mood she's only ever seen him in rarely. It's a dangerous mood, because at least when he's mad and laughing he's predictable in a way.

She reminds herself that he'd never listen to her otherwise; all he seems to understand are low blows, shots at the gut or the heart. She's just playing by his rules, ones they'd established a long time ago. It's not healthy, but neither was courting a lunatic behind the backs of everyone who thought you knew better. But now it's his turn, and he will retort in kind and they will argue until they're thoroughly sick of it or he's on the verge of violence, but instead of that turn to sex to settle the issue--ceasing for a little while to be Shion and Albedo, enemies in potentia; being instead man and woman, not in love, just hungry for a little human contact that doesn't hurt.

When instead of replying, he just watches her for a long moment, she gets the sudden, sickening feeling that the rules have changed; and this really can't be something of her imagining because she'd never put that twist to it. The smile he's wearing is ill reassurance; there's something unhappy behind it. No, not unhappy--disappointed, and that's something she's never seen from him. "I won't," she says to that disappointment. She sounds petulant even to her ears, but she needs to say something. Somebody needs to say something, and he's not supposed to sit there and stare at her.

"All right, all right. I concede the point, touché, you win." The sarcasm, the way he raises his hands just so to give up the metaphorical prize, those are familiar. "Tell me, so I can get back to undressing you with my mind." If I can't do it literally remains unspoken.

She huffs at this. "He did say you were dead," she repeats, trying to gain a little ground that wasn't forfeited.

"Do you always believe anything anyone tells you?" The old back-and-forth is on now; it's the eternal problem of a contrarian and someone who has to be right in discussion. The gleam of malicious amusement (maybe a little more the latter than the former) is back in his eye now. "That's a horrible way to live. Letting anyone walk in unannounced and rearrange all your thoughts just by opening his mouth."

"He's never lied to me before! What am I supposed to do, not trust a, a--perfectly good data source?" She folds her arms beneath her breasts, a move that gets his attention--but not enough of it to keep him from talking.

Or laughing, a thready chuckle that's not what it used to be, not how she remembers it. "I won't say NEVER lied to you," he replies. "But of all his faults, falsehood isn't one of 'em. Prevarication, now, and anything that feeds into that ego of his, then you can be assured he's a master of invention."

She quirks a brow; elaborates: "Did you just say something nice about your brother?"

"Ha! No, I just didn't say something awful about him. I can make up for it, if you want; three bad things for every complimentary thing I just said, starting with his nasty personal habits." He raises a hand to tick the points off on his fingers. "He always drinks the last of the milk straight out of the bottle, picks through and reads your mail if it looks interesting, I once found his dirty underwear in the fridge--"

Before he can get much beyond that, she shoves him. It's far from enough to tumble him off the bed, but she's upset, and he doesn't even need the empathy to know that. "Stop it! Don't make fun of him like that!"

Her heart has always been a soft one; it used to be a source of endless amusement to him, and it's still funny enough to make him laugh at her, albeit softly. He's never seen her this concerned about his brother, though. She kept to the sidelines when they fought in front of her, yelling advice here or there but never taking an active role. "You can't mean to tell me," he says, "you wouldn't say the exact same things about your brother if you had the chance."

She isn't the only one who knows which buttons to push. That cuts deeper than she's willing to admit. "I--n, no! I wouldn't--you're so cruel to him, putting him through everything you did--letting him think you were dead!" The deep breath she takes hardly serves to cool her anger, and she clenches her hands into fists, staring balefully at him.

"And now you're back here to make fun of him for not knowing you're alive? He beats himself up over you, you know! He's, he's so convinced that if he--had done things differently, you'd still be alive--but you ARE alive, and you've just been hiding it all this time." She'd hit him, but she's certain he would enjoy that and it wouldn't get her point across. "And instead of--instead of going to him, you're here and you're mocking him and--"

Words fail her in favor of a brief, unformed noise of anger. Still, he has yet to respond, watching her instead. That, more than anything, unnerves her once the emotions have run their course. He isn't known for his silences; equally foreign is the slight lift of the head, the way he watches her as if expecting her to realize something, so he doesn't have to point it out to her. You aren't that stupid, the look says. You know better.

The silence gives her time to think about this. Yes: She knows better, knows better than to let him lead her around in little verbal circles, away from the meat of the problem. When she touches the back of one hand to her mouth it's purely instinct, kinesthetic outlet for the frisson of shock down her spine. The dead, it seems--the truly dead--do walk; something she's suspected for a long time but didn't want, couldn't imagine it to be confirmed. "You really are--"

"What reason do you have to doubt?"

"--so why me, why not--"

"--because there are things I need to do, things that wouldn't get done--"

She balls her hands up in front of her face, shaking her head. This has to be a dream, if only the force of her wishing could make it so. It has to be, because there's a hundred things she wants to ask and to tell, why-mes and why-yous, and things ripped wide open that could have been so neatly resolved if only he were really gone or really alive and lying all this time.

"Scientist," he accuses her, not unkindly. "Can't leave any loose ends behind. There's got to be some kind of closure, a conclusion to every problem. Where a solution doesn't exist, it becomes necessary to invent--"

"Stop it!" Her voice breaks into a shriek; that little betrayal upsets her almost as much as he does. "Stop it! Just stop!"

She draws in an abrupt breath that ends in a hiccup, moving her knotted hands to her mouth and curling around them. Her stomach hurts; the space behind her eyes is starting to ache with tension. It's because he's right, she knows, and that upsets her as much as his needling does. As much as the traitor thought she might have actually been happy to see him still alive, in some part of her heart, even knowing he's better off dead and they're all better off with one less thing to worry about. (This doesn't even touch on the Pandora's box memory is prying open, unable to leave alone where she's seen that uniform before and maybe, maybe she wasn't delusional and hearing things half a year ago.)

A faint noise of dismay, distress escapes past her hands and that makes him chuckle a little. "Except for that last part, you almost had me going there, you know." She feels the bed shift a little as he gets to his feet again, and--tossed a verbal lifeline--looks up from her internal misery to stare at him.

"What?" she ventures, a little muffled. She knows she doesn't want to know, but can't help but asking. "Had you going about what?" Tears make her voice thick and choked; she swallows them by necessity, sniffs, puts her heart to rights to all outward appearances.

The only problem is that he sees through her outward appearances. "That you actually cared about us. I should've put more trust in history; you never interfered unless it was convenient." He's standing there at the foot of her bed, one hand on his hip, head thrown a little back, with that smirk on his lips that makes her want to kiss him or hit him, whatever it takes to wipe the expression from his face. She's done both in the past.

"I don't know how you feel about Rubedo, but it couldn't've been much. Or do you usually let your friends get strangled right in front of you?" She colors at the memory; it gets another laugh out of him. "So maybe you do; I'll admit I don't know that much about you. But what I do know--it's pretty damning."

He hunkers down, enough that he can stare her in the eyes from where he's standing. "I was just filling a hole for you, wasn't I. In more ways than one, huh?" The gesture he makes is both eloquent and crude, much as he is wont to be. She cringes back, not out of propriety but out, out, away as if she could so simply duck out of this web he's spun, that she asked for, that's already too well-formed to make escape so easy. Stupid little Shion, always running full-tilt after what she wants, hands outstretched to grab and take and hold, and damn the consequences if it's a viper she's clutching to her breast.

Calmed and changed he might be, but he still has all his old instincts, like the one that makes him wait in expectant silence, letting her run that thought into the ground. The expert torturer knows when to turn his victims on themselves; a small part of her, detached enough to notice, allows as how she's been all too willing to be turned. Awful, thoughtless, selfish, uncaring--all denied in the clear light of day; but then, he's always come to her at night. "Biding your time," he says, voice so hushed and even as to insinuate itself into her thoughts. "Until something better came along."

Maybe this is all in her imagination. She swallows hard once more, scrubbing at her eyes with the palm of one hand. "And you weren't, too?" She scrabbles a moment for an even tone, finds it, takes hold. Once she's started talking, it will get easier--it's those first words that are the killers. "I didn't think--I know you never cared, I was just--there."

One hand sliding down to secure the blanket once more, she gestures open-palmed with the other, unaware that she's mirroring his own give-away motion. "A woman, for you to take advantage of." Bitterness seeps into her tone. "Why would I care about someone like that? At least Ru--at least Junior pretends to care most of the time. You just--you practically--"

"Raped you?" His voice is oil and silk now, as he settles himself on her bed again, a great white-winged bird. The image comes complete with a predatory stare, as a hawk might regard a mouse, though it's ruined when he laughs again. "If my memory serves," he taps two knuckles against one temple, "which it doesn't usually, I was the one who ended up getting tied to a chair, that first time. Should I be filing suit against you for the sake of our poor, neglected, unborn children?"

Despite herself, she sputters at this, then laughs--weakly, with no heart in it, but laughter still the same. "You let me! And that's only after you, after..." She trails off, looking down at her hand curled in front of her, feeling the heat in her cheeks and her ears. Memory conjures tickles of sensation: light and shadow seen through a blindfold, the heat of another body, searching hands and that clever tongue... "It wasn't right. I didn't ask you--I didn't want that!" Only after she's said that aloud does it occur to her she's playing with fire. Recognition comes with a giddy thrill of terror; this is what brought her back, time and again, whether it was staking life and limb on an untried theory or--this.

"Ohh, yes-you-did. Why else would you stick around for a second course if you didn't like the taste of the appetizer?" His grin is nothing short of salacious. "Although to be fair, I did most of the tasting. It was exquisite."

He's right. He's right and she can't let him be right, not from the bottom of this muddle of shame and disgust and discomfiting longing--so she slaps him, the crack of flesh like a gunshot in the quiet of her quarters. The victory is short-lived, though; even supposing he's dead, his reaction time is still better than hers, just a little faster than human, and he has her wrist well in-hand. It only needs to be bent just so to make her squirm uncomfortably, but the pain sharpens her resolve. "Ahh--let go, let go of me!"

Her struggles only encourage him and in short order he's got her pinned, straddling her legs with her hands trapped beneath his own. "How about that," he grates, bent so close to her they're nearly nose-to-nose, his white hair tickling her brow. "Not more than twenty minutes into our reunion and you're already aching to tear into me. Has it been lonely these last six months, ange? Should I help you with that?"

He has to let go one of her hands to tear away the thin layer of blanket and clothing between them, and while he might have size and strength and speed on her, this unwonted error leaves her free to arch her back and grab a fistful of his uniform, to try to shove him away. A momentary desperate silence reigns as they test strength against strength and guile against guile, breathing in brief, hissing gasps punctuated by tiny noises of pain. If she didn't think it would end up the worse for her, she'd be screaming bloody murder; try as she might, he has the upper hand.

A minute, two, they writhe against each other like this; the irony of the situation falls flat in the face of desperation. She makes one last determined effort to get away, biting, flailing--but it only lands her back where she started, except this time with a hand over her mouth and an arm across her throat, holding her down. He's cutting off her air, too, and she manages a stifled whimper. (She knows from gruesome experience that he likes to toy with his prey as a cat does, drawing out the eventual dying agony until it amuses him to end it. This isn't a comforting thought, especially when she'd believed herself immune.) The noise only causes him to smile the wider, leaning more of his weight against her compressed lungs and staring down at her.


At her. Not into or through her, at her. Not as an animal might when trapped or deprived of prey, seeing its tormentors as obstacles; not as if she weren't even there; like she's another person. He's angry, frustrated, possibly murderous, but he is all there and recognizes her.

She hasn't seen him look at her that way before. Or at anyone that way before, except perhaps his twin. She goes limp, weak with suffocation and shock both, no longer struggling. This at least seems to make him back off the brink and he settles back, letting her breathe again but not freeing her hands. She sucks in a deep breath of air, afraid that there are tears in her eyes, and afraid more that they will only urge him on.

But he does not attempt to smother or break her again, settling back a little further and narrowing his eyes at her, almost as if he's surprised to see her there. "Well?" he repeats, more patiently (patiently!) this time, remembering to actually remove his hand from over her mouth.
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coronaviridae: (Default)

February 2012

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