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|It's a question of immortality: do you want it? Somewhat dark, be prepared for a fallen of, shall we say, unusual personality.|
Translations: koishii is an endearment like sweetheart; akki means demon; iki is the word for abandonment.
Edit: I'm still playing with this one. I've made some changes, including finally getting rid of that gawdawful cheesy scene at the end. Now, there is romancy goodness! Bweh. See what you think, and please, let me know.
“Please, Itami, it would mean so much-“
She caught her breath in a not-quite-sob. “…sweet-tongued liar...”
“Itami, don’t do this, I want us to be friends, I want you to be there at my wed-“
“Don’t you dare. Don’t.”
She fled before he could say another word, knowing if she stayed he would see through her, see how it was her words were the lies, how they were flat, with none of the bitterness they should have held. It was the sweet ache of hopelessness in her chest that drove her on, running through the darkness, the slash of trees against the sky flashing past on the edges of her vision as her raven-wing hair swept out behind her like the cloak of night itself. Moon-touched skin almost glowed in the night as she tried to escape, the beating of her heart chasing her incessantly, like a ravenous wolf after an injured doe. The old scent of the forest was all around her, filling every rasping breath she took with the taste of moss and rich earth. “No no no no,” she chanted, a denial accompanying each stride she took. The cadence pounded in her mind, spurring her towards the silver streak of the river. When it was finally in sight she sprinted the rest of the way to the bridge that stretched across the gleaming waters, pushing her body to its very limits. She stumbled onto the worn wood and fell to her knees. Itami clutched the cold metal of the railing to keep herself upright as the swell of despair threatened to explode out of her chest and push past the barrier of choked-back sobs somewhere under her sternum, shattering her very soul. She cried out as a sharp edge bit into her palms; part of the railing was torn away, and the jagged exposed edge had cut her. She balled her hands into fists and let them drop against the smooth front of the barrier, and then rested her forehead against her clenched hands as she allowed her tears to fall.
This was what she never wanted Haishin to see: how fiercely she still yearned for him. When he had asked to see her in the woods, the foolish hope had flared in her that perhaps he had realized his mistake, that he would stop seeing Her and return to Itami. He had broken her heart when she discovered him cheating on her, but she would’ve forgiven him in an instant if she thought he’d come back to her, and end the damned emptiness that was her loneliness. To hear that he not only was not going to stop seeing Her, but also had proposed to Her was a killing blow. The words sliced through her even now, left her bleeding from wounds she’d thought scarred over. “No. No. No,” It was a mere whisper now, a broken refusal to acknowledge how she had longed for him, how she wanted him still. She thought bleakly of how she must truly not have been good enough if he could propose to this woman within three months of their relationship, while he had never even hinted at marriage in all the years she and he had been together.
Red rivulets traced patterns down Itami’s forearms, but she was so far gone that she didn’t even realize how much damage she had already caused her hands, the pain of her body just another agony to run counterpoint to the cacophony of her emotions. One drop of crimson fell to the old wood like the tear of a fallen angel, illuminated by the single lamp that stood at the edge of the bridge. The river sighed beneath her as she closed almond eyes already blind with misery. When, she wondered, had she become this weak?
“Koishii.” The voice came through the darkness as an eel slipping through silver-dark waters. It was lovely and utterly inhuman, with resonance like a French horn played slightly off-key. Itami did not open her eyes, much less look up.
“Akki,” She stated calmly, letting her head fall back
loosely, exposing the column of her throat and sending her black hair rippling
along her back. “You have come for me.”
voice sounded again, a chorus of church bells rich and
ringing. “Yes. But not as you think, nor for such a
purpose as you believe.”
Itami’s eyes fluttered open in
uncertainty. She gazed upwards into harvest moon eyes that were
golden and glowing, and her own brown eyes seemed lightless in comparison and
hopelessly mortal. “Then why, akki?”
He pushed pale hair out of his face, the planes of his features glass-sharp. “I am not akki, koishii, but Iki you may call me. Stand, little one. I would not have you harm yourself any more.”
Itami noticed the extent of the damage she had
caused to her hands for the first time, and slowly unfisted
them. The reality of pain flashed through her with a startling
burst, her palms awash with fire. She
bit back a moan as her mind finally realized that she was injured and her
nerves screamed at her in fury. The
demon made a small gesture towards her hands as if releasing a butterfly and
the pain was replaced by a cool sensation that tingled and soothed. She gave
him a measuring look, and then rose to her feet. She curled her
hands against her stomach with a suspicious, guarded movement, the ruby
latticework of her blood showing dark against the skin of her
forearms. “Don’t play with me. I know what you are.”
His smile was bittersweet, the vellum-fine skin around his tawny eyes crinkling in what almost looked like grief. “No, you don’t. But you will.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Itami replied, “It doesn’t matter. Demon or not, I have no use for you. I won’t play your games.”
sighed like winter wind blowing across a frozen lake. “No games, koishii.”
“Good. I’m tired of games, and I’m tired of this,” She looked at him, brown eyes piercing his golden ones. She hesitated, looking all too vulnerable. She glanced at her hands, reflected on how he had relieved that pain and wondered. “Can you take the hurt?”
He paused. It was obvious that she wasn’t talking about the cuts on her palms, and he gave her the best answer he could. “Yes. But again, not in the way you think, koishii.”
Itami glared at him, and rocked back on her
heels, annoyed. She took solace in her
annoyance, holding it up as a bulwark to stave off the impossibilities of all
of this. “Can’t you answer anything properly?”
Iki smiled again, but this time it was more
like sunshine on ice. “Yes. But only the proper
questions,” He grinned unexpectedly, enjoying himself immensely to Itami’s vast frustration. Iki suddenly tossed his head playfully, white silk hair
flaring out in a charming arc. “And you haven’t asked any
yet.” He stood hipshot in a casual stance with his arms loosely folded
in front of him; the black of his clothing so stark against the pale metal and
wood of the bridge made him an eerie silhouette in contrast to his playful
whimsy, a specter walking the night. “I may answer any question, koishii, but unless you ask me the correct ones, they will
not be the answers you desire.”
Itami started, thrown off by his unexpected
impishness. She looked at him
uncertainly, not sure what had thrown him into this mood. She studied him critically for a moment, and
then nodded briefly as she saw the crack in the mask. This she could understand. She had worn a
mask over her own emotions too often to not recognize it in another. She played along, strangely unwilling to
shatter that carefully placed façade.
“Now you’re just being silly.” It may have seemed odd, but
his silliness had eased the ache in her for the moment, and she was
grateful. “So, I suppose asking you what the proper questions are
wouldn’t be a proper question, would it?”
That gorgeous grin surfaced again, a lotus blooming in the dawn, as his golden eyes sparkled mischief tinged with that fleeting hint of sadness she wasn’t supposed to see. “Oh, good try! But, no, no it wouldn’t be.” Itami felt her lips reluctantly twisting into a half-smile. It faded as pain clogged her throat again, a different smile filling her vision, dredged up from memory. Her eyes closed against tears she refused to shed and she turned her face away, the curve of her cheek softened in the moonlight.
Iki gazed upon that delicate arc and lost his grin as he watched her fight the need to cry, his face falling like shards of crystal into shapes closed and frozen. Once more he was a creature of shadows, his secret sorrow enclosing him like a cloak. “Ask me, koishii. You know what the first question is.”
opened eyes lost and empty, looking down at the lines of blood on her skin.
There was a strange beauty there in the ruby patterns; still wet, they
gleamed in the light like a garish painting. When she lifted her gaze
again it was hard and bitter. “What are you here for, Iki?”
shook his head, voice soft and sad. One
pale hand curled in the crook of his other arm, the pearl perfection of it
lovely against the darkness of his clothing. “You. But
you already knew that. Try again.”
She snarled and her fingers crooked as if she had claws, opening the wounds again and letting the red tide of her blood flow. Iki winced and made that same little gesture as before, strengthening the tingle along the jagged rents and stopping the blood. She never even noticed as she howled at him, all the anger and hurt and grief welling up inside her too much to contain, releasing itself in two words. “Why me?”
deeper than space and twice as cold flashed at her and seemed to reflect her
image. “Ah, that’s closer to the right
question, but not quite, koishii. I’ll answer it as best I can. You because you ache so much, because
you grieve with your whole being, because you’re something…different.”
“What?” she snapped, “Because I’m hurting you decide you’re going to come here and toy with the mortal? You want to see my pain?” She thrust out her arms with her palms up and her fingers spread, the red of her blood stark and angry. “Here!” He flinched away from the sight, eyes closing against the starkness of her grief as he tried to hide his own, the reality of her torment making his heart burn, a supernova contained within his chest. “This is my pain! I did this without even caring because I am in pain! My heart cries out for something, anything to save it, and you answer? Drain me then, demon! Consume my pain, feast upon my torture and be done with it.” She looked at him, fierce and proud and wounded, her words a hopeless snarl, a trapped animal’s last reaction. She stared at him, then shook her head as her breath hitched ocne. “Damn you.” It was a tired whisper, the faint echo of a heartrending scream held behind compressed lips. “I can’t fight you, akki, and I know it. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stand for being played with. End this, and take what you want.” She trembled with emotion, hands still outstretched as blood welled sluggishly from her palms, a lurid offering.
Iki bent his head, seemed to shrink into
himself at her harshness. He seemed small, and uncertain, and almost
mortal. “No, koishii,
you don’t understand. I don’t want
to take anything from you; I’m not here to feed off of your anguish,” He
refused to look up at her, instead passing one hand over her palms, and the
gashes closed in the wake of his movement, leaving nothing more than silver
scars. She stared at her hands,
unbelieving, then snapped her head back up as he continued. “I am iki. Iki. I’m not truly a demon as you call me, but
neither am I a being of light. I am here for you, but not to hurt you, Itami. Never to hurt you.”
He looked up at her then, the emotion in his eyes unreadable but potent
enough to sear through her anger.
Itami’s gaze had sharpened as he spoke his name,
the sound finally blossoming into comprehension as the word for abandonment when
he threw her off with his use of her
name. “You know my name?”
moved closer to her with a motion as supple as a snake twining around a branch,
enough that she could feel the chill radiating from his body, and smell the
scent of rain and lightning on him. His ocher eyes bored down into
hers, his hair falling around her in a waterfall of pale silk, curtaining them
off from the world within a soft tangle of their own
breath. He spoke, and she felt the sighing exhalation of words
on her lips. “Yes, koishii, I know
your name. I know the shape of it, the
feel of it, the sound of it in silence and song. I have watched you, Itami,
for a very long time now. I first saw
you when you sang the sunset to night from your cabin window, and though you
never knew it, you captured me. Your
face was so sad, even then, that I couldn’t bear to turn away. When I saw him hurt you right now
after everything else he has already done, I had to come to you.” Itami started at the venom in his voice as he said that, and
wondered how he could hiss a word without sibilants. He continued, oblivious to her
startlement. “I stood by when he broke
your heart the first time because I wasn’t allowed to let you see me; I
couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t. I’m sorry, koishii,
I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you. I was
there, I swear I was, I just couldn’t show myself to
you. I wanted to so much, wanted to hold
you until the pain left your eyes, until you forgot all about him and the hurt
he caused you,” Iki cupped her face with one cool
hand, the feel of his fingers against her skin as soft as the lapping caress of
the ocean. “I won’t let him hurt you
again. I’m here to give you a choice.”
The feather light touch of his hand was doing strange things to her heartbeat as she stood there on abruptly weak legs. Her voice wavered for a moment, uncertain and shocked that this moonlight being was actually touching her, and then she cleared her throat and pulled herself together as the meaning of his words came clear. “Watching me? For how long? I haven’t been to the cabin in almost two years now… That’s…I mean, a demon…stalking me…” Iki’s face went blank for a moment, unhappiness turning the corners of his mouth down, sullying his radiance. “I don’t really like that, Iki…what do you want of me?” She drew herself up, willing her legs to hold her no matter how much they wanted to fold, when a fragment of memory crashed into her.
Right after Haishin had told her about Yuuchi and left, when she had collapsed into sobs in the middle of her living room, there had been…something. A feeling, an ephemeral caress. There had been a presence that she couldn’t place, a sensation of safety and warmth that she had clung to desperately. That phantom embrace had been and gone in an instant, enough that she had taken comfort in it, even though it made her question her own senses. Could that have been…Iki?
She nearly stumbled against him as the shock of it rocked her. Was it possible? Could this stranger in front of her be no stranger at all, but the fleeting something that comforted her in her dark moments? The touch upon her cheek that she thought she’d imagined, that had held the loneliness at bay at those times when everything seemed lost? She wrapped her arms around herself and cast her eyes upward to his face as she tried to recognize someone she’d never seen.
Iki smiled sadly at her, the dimple at the corner of his mouth fascinating her for a moment, even as she scolded herself for it. He spoke, the music of his voice low and intense as he trailed his fingertips down her cheek, leaving a blazing trail of heat in their wake even though they themselves were as cool as a fall breeze. “I wasn’t stalking you; I told you, I don’t want you like that. Not as prey. I was watching you. Not all the time, just when I had idle moments. Two years is nothing to me,” He lifted a lazily arrogant brow at her, reminded her that he wasn’t human. “After all, I have all of eternity to do what I wish.” He paused, and then gave her an exasperated look. “And I’m not a demon.”
She frowned at him, brows drawn down in a sweeping v, like moth wings. She still didn’t like the implications of that. “What do you want of me, Iki?”
He drew his thumb over her cheekbone gently as he answered her, the feel of her softer than the petals of moonflowers opening under the evening sky. “I want to give you a choice.”
“What?” Her chest was constricted; it felt as if the night air had become as thick as the folds of his clothes, smothering her as she stared up at him, caught tightly in the compelling snare of his gaze.
Iki grinned puckishly as she asked and exclaimed, “Up or down!” and then caught her around the waist, swinging her up and around and making her shriek in surprise. His sudden mood swings were making her dizzy, and she couldn’t figure out how to tell when he would be whimsical and when he would turn cold.
“Down!” She squeaked breathlessly, and he put her back down gently and smiled at her, his gold eyes so bright and sparkling that she had to smile back at him. Even as rocky as his humor seemed, there was a constant sadness about him that she couldn’t explain, and for that reason she could put up with the lightning changes. She smacked his arm lightly for startling her like that, still smiling.
She then realized that she had just hit an immortal being. “Uh, oh, I didn’t mean to, I mean, I was just, you surprised me…” She trailed off and gazed up at him through her lashes, acutely embarrassed and mildly worried that he would take offense. He looked at her for a long moment, taking in the dark lushness of her lashes against her cheek, the sweet artlessness in her eyes that made his own so hotly gold; she shifted uncomfortably, and he broke his hungry gaze.
Iki shrugged and tweaked her nose, playing off the moment as if it were nothing. Itami gave him a look of such indignation in reaction that he burst into laughter himself, the sound of it a rush of falling stars and firelight. Her stare gentled then, his laughter wrapping her soul in a warm embrace. Her lips curved into a soft smile and her brown eyes melted into pools of shining darkness. Perhaps the reason his laugh touched her so much was because of what he was, but she doubted it. Itami had never heard anyone laugh like that before: joy burbling right up out of the heart and expressing itself. No, she thought, even if Iki had been mortal, she would have noticed his laugh. She poked him with one finger. “Hey. You didn’t answer me, Iki, not really. Up or down couldn’t be what you were talking about.”
His laughter stopped, and she wished she had let him continue for at least a little while longer. She felt the loss of his mirth like a knife wound, a twisting in her side. Then he looked at her with such wistfulness that it nearly squeezed the raw, shattered pieces of her heart to dust. “This isn't the only realm of existence, Itami. There are so many you don’t even sense beyond and above this, spirit-places. I don't want to watch them lower you into the earth, I couldn't…I couldn’t bear seeing you so still, so empty...I'm offering...the opportunity to come with me.”
She slanted him a dubious look, rubbing one hand against her jeans absently, the material rough beneath her now unbroken palm. “What do you mean? Go with you where? The spirit world?” She forced a laugh, her nerves ringing at the thought of those places that aren’t places. “I don’t think I can, Iki, I’m mortal, remember?”
He leaned nearer, pressing his forehead against hers. It was cool, and that movement sent his scent washing over her, a wave of bonfire smoke and crisp autumn nights. “I’m asking you to be mine, koishii. To come with me to that place between stars where dreams live. Be as I am, and we will stand forever forgotten to this world and make our own. I can show you how the moon weeps for her lover the ocean and let you taste her tears, take you to listen to the wind as it sings to the heavens on the highest mountains and dance with you on the peaks of the stars. We could do all of this together. Come.”
She gaped at him. Was he really asking her to give up her mortality and become one of the moon’s creatures? Itami had dreamed of this; of someone coming to take her away from everything here that had caused her so much pain. She thought of everything in this world that was left to her. She was an orphan, never knowing parental love, much less a stable home; no friends after Haishin had finished isolating her to keep her blinded; a job that she went through as rote; an apartment that seemed too empty and too lonely. Then she thought of how the birds sang outside her window, and the children that ran through the park, and how nice it was to sit with a hot cup of tea on cold days. She turned her eyes up to him, questioning, and he drank in the sight of her as she asked. “I would be like you? I’d be a demon?”
Iki shook his head slowly, rocking it against hers and keeping her eyes locked with his own. The utter yearning in his eyes pierced her, reminding her that though she had never seen him before, he had known her for years. A trace of amusement showed in his face as he sighed in exaggerated exasperation; the emotion softened him, blunted the diamond sharpness of his features and smoothed the glass-edged planes of his face. “For the last time, Itami, I’m not a demon. Just…a bit further from grace than most.”
Itami licked lips dry as ancient tomes as he looked at her with those gold, gold eyes. “Iki, would I lose myself? I mean would I lose my self? My body…it isn’t immortal like yours…it would have to die, wouldn’t it? I would have to die…I don’t want to die…”
He tightened his arms around
her, meshing their silhouettes in the moonlight. “You would not lose who you are, but you
would lose who you would have been. Some stranger in the future, a
person you don’t even know, have no prediction of. If you choose me, then you cannot ever return
to humanity.” His voice was low and harsh with longing, the music of it
changed to a strange dissonance. The
rasp of it was rough and full of need, an entire world of emotion behind the
words. “...but would that really be so bad? We
may not be a part of humanity, but we watch it. We touch lives
even though we cannot touch the rest of the world. We are outsiders,
observers, gazing upon the pattern of life that unfolds over time. We have seen the rise and fall of empires,
danced to music lost to time, sung with the comets and watched as the world
changes in ways subtle and overt,” He raised one moon-fair hand, fingers hovering
just above the curve of her cheek, a swan poised to land in a mirror pond. The cool sweep of his words ran over her lips
like a rush of chilled silk, sending tremors through her soul. “Say
the word and it will be done.”
She hesitated, weighing the
decision in her mind. To lose her humanity…and gain
what? A view of the world unseen to mortal
eyes? Would it be enough? She looked at him,
seeing the desire in his eyes. Was that for her? What could he know of human love, this
quicksilver being of quixotic passions? Who could say that his obsession
would last a week much less a lifetime, once desire was quenched beyond Time's
reach? She tilted her head and murmured, “With you?”
His eyes flashed, honey-colored
and sweet. “Always. Always with me. You would lose your life here,
but you would have me. For as long as forever, Itami. I have
been so lonely, koishii. We could save each other from that
Itami knew she wanted to be with him, as crazy as that was. She felt something resonating within her that was echoed back by him. There was the feeling of recognizing him, as if they had known each other for years; which, she supposed, was half true. At the same time, she knew that she could never give up her mortality; it was what made her everything she was. Seeing him here, a radiant star against a backdrop of the mundane, made it heartbreakingly clear that he was unlike her; his kind of light didn’t fit into this world. Her world. Her world was the everyday things, the little joys and hurts of daily existence. Pain was part of life, and without it the things that made her happy would lose their savor, dulled by having nothing to contrast it to. Immortality wasn’t worth that loss. “Iki…” She almost couldn’t continue as she looked at his face, so shiningly hopeful; a resplendent, exotic, elegant creature offering to share its beauty. “Iki, I can’t. I was never meant for immortality. I have a life here, and though it seems empty right now, I can’t give it up, even for you.”
He pulled away, and the loss of his body against hers was an almost physical pain. She gasped at the unexpected pang, and the bereavement of his form trembled through her, making her shake with unanticipated sadness. The taste of it at the back of her throat was bitter, a sour note in the former sweetness. He stood with his back to her, shoulders hunched as if against a chill. Itami reached out, then hesitated, afraid to shatter that tightly held pose, terrified that he would break like a fragile, blown glass vase. When he spoke, his voice was rough, the music of it completely gone. “Itami, why? I thought you would want this; it would take away your pain, and you would be with me. I want you to be with me!”
That last word cut through the night like the cry of a wounded animal, wild and agonized, even as the raw, childish plea slashed through her reluctance to touch him. She gave a muted mewl of misery and reached for him again, unable to leave him in such pain. As she touched his shoulder she felt him trembling, and she lost it. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed against his back, holding him and pleading for his understanding. He shuddered, grief racking his frame with inhuman sorrow. “Iki, Iki, don’t, please. Hush, now, it’s okay, it’s all right.” It felt odd to be the comforter rather than the one comforted, but not in a bad way. Rather, it filled her with warmth to soothe him, and as she tried to quiet his pain it blunted her own.
Iki turned in her arms, facing her again. Little licks of light trailed down his cheeks as he stared at her out of dim eyes. “It’s not okay.” He scrubbed at his face awkwardly with one hand, a child denied his sweet and bewildered at the rebuff. “You don’t want me. I thought… I thought that I would come here and tell you how you could come with me, and you’d rush into my arms,” He closed his eyes and dropped his hand, and more flickers of light traced the line of his jaw. “It was silly of me, I guess. We’re not supposed to interact with mortals; I think I know why now. This feeling…oh, koishii, it’s worse than loneliness. It burns me…it hurts more than anything I’ve ever known. I just thought that maybe…” He hunched his shoulders, defeated and heart-bruised.
Itami raised one hand and let the tips of her fingers brush against those small drops of light that still streamed from his eyes; the radiance of them clung to her skin. She marveled at her fingertips and the visible proof of his emotion, and then smiled, slow and soft as a mother’s first kiss. “I never said I didn’t want you, Iki. Just that I don’t want immortality.” She tipped his chin up enough so that he was looking into her eyes, the contact surprisingly intimate. She smiled again, directly into his golden gaze. “We humans are kinda strange; we like to take time to do things, even though we have so little of it. It’s having such little time that makes it all that more precious, and I don’t want to give that up. It’s taken time for me to heal, and even now I still have scars. They come with all the good things we get, too, make us appreciate them,” She stroked her fingers down his cheek, wiping the last of the light from them tenderly. “Time is precious to us. I wish I could spend time with you, Iki.” His eyes lit up again, shining as bright as the harvest moon once more. She chuckled at the way his emotions shifted so quickly, and he blushed to the surprise of them both. Itami’s laughter pealed out, and he joined her, laughing because she laughed, their delight twining upwards to the heavens.
He smiled ruefully as their laughter faded away, and rubbed the heel of one hand against his cheek. “I suppose that’s something, then.” Her grin brought his own to his lips. “I guess I don’t have much experience with mortals,” His smile turned wistful, as fleeting as river mist burned away in the dawn. “Will you…teach me? I want…I want to know more.”
Itami contemplated him for a moment, studying this being of moon-washed nights and lilting nightingale songs, a creature of eternity. She tucked a strand of his star-colored hair behind his ear, leaving her hand at the back of his neck. She drew in a breath laden with his scent, the smell a sweet taste in the back of her throat of lilies and roses and sugar and dew, and then released it slowly. She pitched her voice low, reluctant to say the words out loud. “Iki, I…we… We’re so far apart.” She went to remove her hand from his nape when he caught it in his own. Wintry fingers closed about hers and he brought her hand to his lips, laying a kiss in her healed palm. Her breath lodged in her throat, an immovable lump of surprise, wishfulness and heartbreak. “Iki…I said I wished I could spend time with you and I meant it. The thing is…well, the thing is that you’re immortal, and I’m not. It…it couldn’t work like you want it to.”
He closed his eyes, his lashes fanned against his skin, pale and long. He murmured against her palm, the vibration of his words against her skin making her shiver. “Someone once told me that any feeling is that much sweeter if fought for. What I feel for you is already sweet, so imagine if I fought for you.” His eyes opened and darkened from gold to rich amber, drowning her in their depths. “What if I were mortal, Itami?”
The world stopped. That was the only way she could explain the cessation of everything in that one moment: her heartbeat, her breath, her thoughts. His question hung in the air, the syllables almost palpable. What if he were mortal?
She took a breath and the world rushed in at her again, flooding her with a swirling vortex of thoughts and emotions. She didn’t know this creature who had watched her for years. But I want to. It was too fast. It doesn’t have to be fast, together. It wasn’t possible. He heals wounds at a touch. Why not? It wasn’t sensible. So what? Sensible has gotten me nowhere. Maybe some magic in my life is what I need… She shook her head violently, trying to rid herself of that persistent little voice that kept rebuffing her reasonable thoughts.
Iki furrowed his brow, puzzled at her actions. He hesitated, then released her hand and touched her shoulder. “Itami…?”
She blinked up at him, trying to gather her scattered thoughts. “Uh…” She steadied herself mentally, and then exhaled slowly. “If you were mortal… I would love to spend time with you and teach you everything you needed to know.”
His smile lit the night and his eyes were molten, boiling gold, tinged by the twin fires of hope and resolution. She was lost in his eyes, caught up and thrown into the whirlpool of the deeply profound want, and need that swirled in those scorching orbs. He drew her closer, then closer still, until it was impossible to distinguish any boundaries between them. “Itami…koishii... I would do anything for you,” He traced the line of her jaw, marveling at the warmth spreading through his chest as he gazed upon her, the sensation one of summer nights and strawberry-flavoured kisses, centered and magnified by her nearness. He leaned down slightly to bring her lips near his own, desperately wanting to taste that promise of honeyed sweetness and not yet daring. “Teach me to be mortal, love. Bring me into your world until there is no trace of what I have been, only who I am with you. I want that. I want to become a man who deserves your heart.” She felt his smile more than she saw it, the feel of it a blossoming rose spreading fragrant petals to be warmed by the sun. “I warn you, I’ll take it now by any means possible. I intend to be with you, koishii, and nothing will stop me from that. But, I promise you, I will earn the right to be by your side someday. Give me that. Make me mortal.”
Itami stared at him, shaken with emotions that wrapped around her throat like an insidious vine, quelled her words. She opened her mouth, but could not raise the merest squeak, much less an acceptance. So instead she raised her mouth to his and kissed him. The world didn’t stop. It exploded. The moment her lips met his, a surge of heat detonated in her core, made her a smoldering being of passion and belief. Iki wrapped steely arms around her, drew her flush against him as he returned her passion tenfold, caught up in her blaze, consumed by it as much as she was. They lost themselves, burned away by the flame of their kiss, ignited against the backdrop of the sky. For one timeless moment everything was contained in this single, perfect act; immortality, humanity, happiness, loss, and a wild, fierce love that refused all boundaries and limitations.
His lips were warm. That was the first thing she noticed when she could actually think again. Warm, not cool. She opened dazed eyes to look at him as he did the same, both of them still in shock from their sizzling convergence. “Iki…” She breathed his name like a vow, the whispered syllable full of the subtle potential of realization.
He gazed down at her, hearing everything in the world in her voice. He broke eye contact and laid his cheek against the softness of her hair, murmured to her as he did. “Just keep me with you, koishii. Don’t send me away. I know…I know it’s a lot to ask. But I have to, and,” he added with a wistful note in his own voice, “I’d like to think you could get used to me. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even love me as much as I love you.”
Itami grinned and shut her eyes again, marveling at how he disarmed her so much. “Well, okay. I guess you can hang around. We’ll just have to see where it goes from there.” She hugged him tight, then released him enough that she could look up at him. Golden eyes still flickered with inhuman light, but it didn’t bother her as much as she thought it should. He wasn’t quite mortal yet, but nor was he immortal. At the moment, it was enough that he was here and trying. “And now…let’s go home, Iki.”
|Wer 2||The Ballad of Auralee|
|Morning Star||Sending Butterflies|