Fandom: Tales of Vesperia
Notes: Written with the game still unfinished because spellcoats and mourir are enablers. Set shortly after the aftermath of the Heracles.
Summary: History and all-too-current desire turn a sparring session into something more.
The tip of her spear scraped against his dagger, and he blocked it without even having to think. Maybe it was because he wasn't thinking that he let the words slip out. "You're not goin' easy on old Raven, are ya, darlin'?" Stupid. Stupid. Of course she was going easy on him. It was just a spar, and even if it weren't--
She pulled back her spear and caught it lightly in her hand. They had been nearing the Blade Drifts of Zopheir when they set up camp, and it was starting to turn chilly, but she seemed as unbothered as ever. "I won't risk guild property. That would be irresponsible of me."
Damn it, but he was usually so good at reading people. At seeing the little fears and big desires waiting in their eyes. All he saw in Judith's gaze was serene understanding. Raven wished the moon weren't so full or the stars so bright, so that he couldn't see it so well, or maybe that they weren't hidden from the rest of camp by an outcrop, so that he could congratulate himself on faking it for the others if not for her. Too bad. There was nothing to be done about it except to fake it some more. "Property, eh? Oooh, does that give me chills. Thinkin' of what you might want to do to me!"
"It should," she said, shouldering her spear. "I think I'll order you to give Ba'ul a bath the next time we see him."
"Hold on one minute here!" He raised his hands beseechingly. "You can't saddle an old man with a task like that."
"Why not?" She seemed serious enough, but she often did, in that light way of hers. "You belong to Brave Vesperia now."
"This sparrin' session's over!" He wasn't going to get any more relief here, not with her going so easy on him; he might as well use the joke about Ba'ul as an excuse to leave. He made a dash for the corner of the cliffside to round the hill back into view of their camp. It would have worked, too, except that Judith was faster than he was, and in an instant her spear was in her hand again and barring his way.
"I was only warming up," she said.
"These legs can't carry me to safety any longer," he lamented. If he played up the melodrama enough, she'd probably let him go, wouldn't she? "I'm trapped! Cursed to follow the whims of a cruel but beautiful mistress...hey, that's not so bad, now that I think about it..."
She hefted her spear again. "Raven," she said. "Why was your guarding so sloppy?"
"Can't hide anything from you, can I?" he said. He hadn't meant for it to come out sounding so bitter. There were still cracks in his facade, he supposed, beyond the ones he cultivated as obvious distractions. The memory of Yuri's fist in his face instead of his blade on his throat was still too recent.
"You can't honestly think I'd hurt you," she said. "So you probably just wanted to vent."
She was too good. "Hey, if I was ventin', you'd see the smoke comin' out a mile away," he said, even though it didn't really make any sense. It was better than saying anything that did make sense, at this point.
"We could talk instead," Judith said.
He almost blew her off again and tried to make another dash for it, but this time, only her eyes stopped him. There was a hunger there he hadn't seen before. "And just what would this old man have to talk to a beauty like yerself about?"
She glanced away. "It was only a thought."
He'd been right, then, and she didn't want to say it either. It was about the war. The thread that bound them together. "Yeah, well," he said. "Some thoughts just make things worse, if you get my meaning."
She stabbed her spear into the ground with a little more vehemence than he was used to from her. Good. He'd gotten to her, just like she'd gotten to him. But just when he was expecting her to flinch, to look away, she lifted her gaze to look him straight in the eyes. "Can you stop thinking those thoughts?"
Damn and damn again. He sighed and looked down.
"No," she said. "It's like I thought."
"So perceptive, our Judith," he said. "And that's just part of how you stole my heart." On the inside, he braced himself and waited for her to take the bait. He didn't want to talk about the blastia in his chest, but it was better than talking about the war directly.
She smiled. "What would you ever do if I took you seriously?"
"Huh?" Off guard again. He didn't know what she meant. But that hunger was back in her eyes, and it made her look almost imbalanced. "Darlin', if the aer's gone to your head you oughta--"
"Quiet." She took a step forward and reached out. Her fingers brushed his chin, then stayed there. "I want to find out. Is that all right with you?"
"Find out what?"
She kissed him.
One second, two seconds with her mouth on his; her lips were warm in the cold air, her hand hot against his face. Raven grasped onto that as an explanation. The cold was affecting his brain like heat would a normal man, making him imagine warmth where there wasn't any. In just a moment, he would snap out of it, and Judith would be waiting to continue the spar. Just a moment, that was all it should take. But in the mean time he was thinking of her eyes and the desire he had seen in them. He must have been imagining that, too.
She pulled away from him, and he used the opportunity to take a stabilizing breath. Big mistake. He should have used it to talk, to cut her off before she could say anything herself. But he didn't, and so she said, "You know, you should really shave more often. That felt like kissing a thornbush."
Raven discreetly dug a heel into the ground to make sure it was still underneath him. It was solid. No escape that way. "Kissin' a thornbush mighta been a better idea."
"Oh?" She looked at him. The hunger wasn't in her eyes anymore. He'd imagined that much, at least, hadn't he? Now she just looked playful. "What makes you say that?"
Well, if he were being honest, there was the plain fact that he wasn't the kind of man meant to be kissing anybody. But he wasn't being honest, so instead he said, "Darlin', what makes you think this old body of mine could withstand a full assault from your charms? I'd crumble like dust!"
"So that's what happens, then," she said.
"Well, maybe not that exactly--" he began.
She cut him off with a tilt of her head. "Not that part. I meant what happens if I take you seriously. You just push me away. I thought that would probably be the case."
He had the odd feeling that she was calling him a coward. It wasn't like that mattered, though, did it? Dead men could be cowards all they liked. Even dead men forced to live again by Brave Vesperia. "Oh, I get it now. You were teasing an old man for fun. Well, since we're not gettin' any more practice here tonight, I'm goin' back to camp."
"That's not true at all," she said. "I just changed my mind about what you needed practice with." She paused. "Mmm...no, I'm no good at lying. I might have had it planned from the start."
"Pretty awful plan, if you ask me," he said. He wanted to start back to camp, but he couldn't quite make himself. He was looking at her face, at the curves of her body--how could she stand to wear so little in this cold? He realized, abruptly, that if he weren't wearing his boots, she'd be taller than he was.
"I'm not the child I was then," she said quietly. It was a little too much like she'd been reading his mind. She lifted her gaze to him, and the longing was back in it. "Why don't you stay a while?"
"I shouldn't even be thinking about it," he said.
She reached behind her back, and for a moment he thought she was stretching, getting ready to pick up her spear again. Then things would go back to normal. Instead, he heard the snap of something coming undone, and her chestplate tumbled down to hit the ground around her feet with a faint clang. "I'd make a terrible seductress," she said. "I'm far too direct."
"You're gonna get cold like that, y'know," he said, resisting the sudden urge to rub at his eyes to wake himself up. "Though I ain't sayin' I don't appreciate the view."
"But you don't," she said. She was still calm; he could tell because her breathing was perfectly regular. And he could tell that because her bare breasts were rising and falling in perfect rhythm. "Isn't that right?"
"I can't say I know what you're talkin' about," he said, trying not to look too much.
She smiled. "You won't even look. I know it's not something wrong with me. So it must be something wrong with you." She reached out and caught hold of his chin, her grip suddenly like steel. With one hand she tilted his head so that he was looking right at her breasts, pale in the starlight save for where they darkened to rose and hardened at the--she was turned on? No, she was probably just cold. "Let me fix it."
There was time for one last-ditch attempt at keeping the mask on, but paradoxically, the only thing he could think of to hold it in place now was brutal honesty. "Baby," he said, "there's nothing left here ta fix. Just ruins and a whole lotta wind blowin' through my empty bones."
"If that's the case," she said softly, lifting his head so he had to meet her strangely eager stare, "let me see what stripped you bare in the first place."
"Come on, Judith," he said. "You already know."
Her grasp on him loosened. She was giving him his volition back. He could turn and run. "Can't I feel it, too?"
And then he couldn't turn and run, because he could suddenly see that the knowledge in those wise young eyes of hers was empty, too. Of course. They were both missing things. "You really can't think of any better way ta get in touch with your past?"
She blinked. Once. For a moment he thought he'd scored a hit, but then she just kept looking at him like he'd missed the point. "Humans and Krityans can't interbreed, so I'm not worried about that."
Was he blushing? Now that was a horrible thought. "Do you want me to kiss ya or not?" he asked. "I don't exactly got the time ta shave right now."
"Don't worry about it," she said. Her hand finally dropped away from his face. Back to her side, her fine wide hips above those long legs--damn, why'd he ever let himself start noticing these things for real? He'd never stop now. But she was speaking again. "The thornbush experience isn't all that bad."
He took her by the shoulders and kissed her. Heat on his lips again, like a blessed relief instead of the warning it should have been. Her tongue, flickering against his teeth, quick and agile in his mouth, as if he'd expected anything less of any part of her. Now that he thought about it, this wasn't such a bad idea after all. It was easy to forget some things with her graceful fingers twining in each other at the small of his back. Things like how frustrated he was that he was still breathing.
No, wait, her arms weren't wrapped around him anymore; her hands were busy elsewhere. She was undoing his belt. He broke off the kiss to protest, "You gotta give an old man some time to breathe here!"
She looked at him. "Are you really going to keep that up the entire time?"
"The whole way through, baby," he said.
She sighed, lifted one hand to grab his ponytail, and pulled him back down to kiss her again. Before he could even start to recover from that, she'd pulled off his belt and was tugging his pants down. "Hey!" He broke free again, at least enough to speak; her hand was still in his hair. "Wait a minute. We're not doin' this standin' up, are we?"
"Don't tell me you can't handle it," she said.
"I can't handle it," he said. "I'm not as young and limber as you, darlin'."
She rolled her eyes and gave him a shove. He went with it, tumbling to the ground, and waited for her to follow. She didn't at first, though. Instead she stood over him thoughtfully, a finger raised to her lips--the same lips that had been on his a moment ago. A part of him couldn't help wondering where else they might go. At the thought, he felt himself rising like a summoned ghost. As expected as it was, it was still kind of a surprise; it had been so long since he'd really let himself feel things like that.
A smile flickered onto her face as she looked down at him, with his pants down around his hips. "So I do have your attention," she said. She unlaced the ties of her own skirt and let it fall around her ankles; he couldn't take his eyes off the way it brushed down over her hips and thighs, leaving them bare except for the leg holster beneath them, which he now saw functioned as underwear too. At least partially. It didn't do much to cover up the dark blue hair clustered between her legs, but what it guarded--
He remembered to breathe. He felt a little dizzy.
"Am I going too fast for you?" she asked, crouching down, her breasts spilling forward almost to his chest.
"I'll say!" It wasn't so bad, though; except for his pants (except for where it counted, really), he was still totally clothed. As opposed to Judith...
"That's just too bad," she said, and she calmly and methodically unsnapped the leg holster, pulled it off, and set it to the side. She was wearing nothing but that little jacket and her sandals now. How could she tolerate the cold? He was only wondering about that in an attempt to distract himself, though, and he knew it.
"No fair," he said. "Now I've gotta play catch-up." He reached out and slid a hand up her thigh, slipped his fingers into the crook between it and the rest of her body. Oddly enough, he felt a faint assortment of invisible little scars on her leg. Riding around smashing blastia must have taken more of a toll on her than she let on. He thought about this only distantly, though, because for once he was more preoccupied with her simple warmth.
He moved to cup her in one hand, but she stopped him as his fingers hovered just under their target, her own hand clasping down on his wrist. He twitched a little in surprise--not at her for stopping him, but at himself for being so eager to keep going. Was this what he'd come to? Aching for a girl not much more than half his age, just so that he could forget for a little while how sorry he was to be alive?
"Oh," she said. "Oh, you're trying to talk yourself out of this, aren't you?" She pulled his hand away from her, to the side.
"What gave it away," he began, but then she let go of his hand and abruptly pulled his coat off his shoulders and over his arms instead. "Hey! You're not gonna let a poor old man freeze to death, are ya?"
"I don't think you'll freeze," she said, and then there wasn't any question of him talking himself out of it any more, because she settled her hands on his upper arms and pushed him against the ground with only his coat to cushion him. He'd have to fight if he wanted to get up now. She must have seen the protest forming on his lips, because she smiled and shook her head. "Don't say anything. It'll only be some excuse about why this is bad for me. I've made my choice."
"That sure is nice fer you, but what about--" She must have learned amazing timing to do all those acrobatics of hers, because she was using it now. When he opened his mouth to say me, what about my choice, she leaned forward, grabbed his chin (again! He should have been ready for that trick this time!), and pulled him to one breast, effectively muffling his words.
Raven felt himself arch up a little in desire. Her body was so warm in his mouth, against his tongue and teeth. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her swing one leg over him so that she was straddling his hips, and he tried to process what was coming next. If he really wanted to, he could push her away now.
He didn't want to. He was a selfish man, and the thought of losing himself in her for even a few minutes was too tempting for him to resist.
She was still smiling. "Besides," she said, "if I stopped now, you might freeze. I can't have that on my conscience." She twisted, lifted her breasts away from him (but damn, they were still beautiful in the starlight, she was still beautiful in the starlight), and started to shift her weight.
He groaned. "Judith, darlin', you'll kill me before this is over--"
She held him in place by the shoulders and pressed herself onto him. For a moment he was just barely caught inside her, just enough to feel how slick she was and know the lust he'd seen on her face was, inexplicably, quite real. He felt his fingers start to dig into the ground, then corrected himself and lifted his arms to catch her at the hips instead. He didn't even have time for his hands to brush her skin before she took a sharp breath and slid the rest of the way down onto him. By the time he was finally holding her, he was already fully inside her too, and she was amazingly tight and hot around him.
"This isn't bad at all," she said mildly, with a look of pleasant surprise.
Oh, no. It was worse than he'd thought. "Don't tell me this is your first time!" he said, not bothering to hold back the panic in his voice. He glanced down at their joined hips, starting to cringe, waiting to see blood spilled, the criminal evidence that he'd deflowered an innocent maiden.
Nothing. Just the perfect shape of her body against his. "I haven't really had the chance until now," she said.
"Oh, that." She glanced down. "I've led an active life, you know. I know you don't like to hear it, but there are other things than this," and here she moved up a little so she could take hold of his shaft at the base; he nearly doubled over, "that can do away with a young woman's maidenhood. That's the term for it, right?"
He bit back a moan. "Yeah," he said. "That's the one. Why didn't you tell me?"
"You would have used it as an excuse to turn me down, of course," she said. She still had one hand around him, guiding him inside her; for someone new at this she was an awfully good beginner.
"I shoulda known you'd play dirty," he said.
"Yes," she said. "You should have." And only then did he realize she was unbuttoning his shirt from the bottom up.
"No," he said. "Don't."
She stopped moving for a moment (although he could still feel her around him, still couldn't help moving inside her as he breathed) and looked down at him in silence for a moment. Did she understand? Did she realize that there were things he didn't want to think about now, things he was doing this in part to forget?
Yes. He could see it in her eyes, too clearly. She knew what he was saying. "All right," she said softly. But there was something unsated in the look she gave him, too, and a second later he felt her hand slide up his chest.
Don't say a thing, he thought. Don't mention it. Don't touch it.
"Aha," she said. "So that's why you get cold so easily. You have bad circulation, don't you? You poor thing." She was smiling again, and then her hand was sliding down to rest over his stomach.
"Something like that," he said.
"I'd better keep you warm," she said. Before he could protest, she leaned forward to fold herself against him, her body heat radiating into him. And she kissed him again.
At least that kept him from moaning openly. He slid his hands around her back, played his fingers over her spine. He'd seen her twist and fly so effortlessly in combat, but right now her back was straight, matching his prone form even though she hardly needed to.
"You should keep doing that," she said, her mouth still close enough to his that he could feel her lips move. "It feels good."
"I'm just gettin' started," Raven said. He shifted his hands a little to run the tips of his fingers over her back, letting her feel the calluses from a thousand pulls on a bowstring. She arched against him, and for a moment he could feel all the acrobatic potential in that slender body of hers. He might have been lying a little about being too old for this, but at least it was true that she was more limber than he was. Although, come to think of it, he wasn't sure how he felt about that. It was a little difficult to think, with her this close, her body heat shielding him from the chill around the two of them. She was kissing his jawline now, heedless of all the stubble she'd chided him for earlier. "Careful, darlin'. What was that about thorns again?"
"Oh," she said. She rubbed her cheek gently against his. "I don't mind thorns, really. They give character to roses. Don't you think?"
"Havin' a little trouble thinking right now," he admitted, realizing only after the fact how honest that had been.
"You thought I'd go easy on you, didn't you?" She pressed so close to him. "That was a mistake." And she was wrapping her legs hard around his hips, pushing him into her until she had to release her hand from him so she could envelop that entire shaft. Instead she put both hands on his arms again and pinned him down, so she was holding him everywhere: strong hands around his arms right where his sleeves ended, soft lips and the promise of teeth on his collarbone now (with her head nestled against the underside of his chin), her hips pressed demandingly against his, her wet warmth tight and tighter around him...
Raven shuddered and exhaled and felt his entire body uncoil with the motion; oh, damn, but he'd been a bow pulled taut for too long, and he couldn't help but let go when she dragged him so effortlessly towards release.
Judith was silent for a moment. She traced her tongue once more down the angle of his collarbone, then sat up. "You said something about just getting started."
He turned his head to the side to avoid her amused gaze. "Ol' Raven mighta underestimated ya there."
"Or overestimated himself." She lifted one hand to stroke his hair away from his forehead, then turn his head back to face her again. "You do have hands, though. Go on."
His mind still hazy, he had to pause for a moment, gaping a little, to figure out what she was telling him. But then he grinned. "That's right. This ain't over yet."
"It had better not--" She cut off in mid-sentence as he ran his fingers down her stomach, following the thin trail of blue hair from where it was light enough to be invisible to where it was thick enough to lose his fingertips in. "Ooh."
"That's the spirit," he said, and he pressed his hand in between their bodies, his fingers finding the place to stroke and tease.
"Mmm." She still didn't look particularly flustered. "You'll have to do better than that."
He was going to go soft inside her if he didn't finish this soon, and that would just be embarrassment on top of embarrassment. "This old man's got some pride left," he muttered, realizing to his surprise that he meant it. Then he caught her between his thumb and forefinger, and as she suddenly shivered, he knew he'd hit on the way to go.
She licked her lips and looked down at him with a gleam of hope for satisfaction in her eyes. He kept going, his fingers with all their calluses shifting against her in a rhythm he was more used to using for the string of a bow in combat. She began to twitch a little, the one hand that remained on his arm tightening its grasp.
He stroked her more swiftly, with more vigor, and she began to twist against him, her control at its limits. At them, but not past them. Was this impossible? Could she let herself go enough for this to even work?
"Judith, darlin'," he whispered. "Let go."
"Ah--!" She arched against him one more time, and as if in slow motion he caught sight of one lock of hair coming free from her coiled bun, snaking down her almost-bare back as she moved. Then she was trembling lightly and he knew it was over.
After a moment, she let go of his arm and sat up, braced against the ground with her knees. Then she smiled. "That was fun, don't you think?"
He stared at her, trying to figure out where the hell she was going with that. With the arm she'd just freed, he reached up and tried to tuck her loose strand of hair back into the bun. It was a lost cause; only she knew how to handle that. So he gave up. "I'll say."
"And just think," she said, finally pulling away from him, leaving him sprawled helplessly on his back with his coat off and his pants down, "if we'd gone ahead and killed you back in Baction or on the Heracles, you never would have gotten the chance."
He hadn't been expecting that at all. He gaped at her. "What?"
She started putting her clothes and armor back on. "You heard me."
She'd gotten him. She'd well and truly gotten him. And now she was picking up her spear and walking back towards camp. There was only one thing he could do. "Hey! Wait! Ain't you at least gonna offer an old man a helping hand back up?"
"Oh, I think you'll manage," she said, smiling. "There's more left in you than you know."
He pulled himself to his knees and looked around for his belt. Where had she dropped it? When he looked back up, she was gone. Raven sighed. "The lady doesn't even make second dates," he said.
There. He found his belt and pulled his pants back up into place. "Ah, well," he said to himself. "The worst of it is that she's right."
Even with his coat back on, he didn't feel as warm as before.