Brand new member here, and I come bearing a gift! At least, I hope you guys like it enough to consider it a 'gift'.
Title: For Lovers
Warnings: Sex and guilt
Spoilers: For a big fat chunk of the show. Let's just say it doesn't spoil the last ten or so episodes, maybe.
Summary: Saya couldn’t help but think that this was what Diva used her chevaliers for.
Notes: Wrote this for this last round of springkink, and cross-posted to blood_plus Enjoy!
It was a lot colder here than in Okinawa. At least, that was what Saya kept telling herself. It had nothing to do with the fact that she was rapidly losing time, that she slept longer every day and that sometimes she might go several days without the slightest indication that she would be waking any time soon. It had nothing to do with how insubstantial she was, how much blood she lacked, or how weak she was slowly becoming. No; it was colder in New York City. Everyone knew that. It just meant that she had to put a lot more effort into keeping warm.
“Thank you,” she said softly as Haji handed her a cup of piping hot tea (that was the only way she could take it anymore; anything less than that would have her shivering like a newborn). While it wasn’t much, it still helped her to maintain the appearance of strength, which would suffice during a lazy morning such as this one.
Haji nodded and took a seat in the chair beside the bed. Blowing at the steam above her tea, Saya took a grateful sip, relishing its pleasant heat. Back in Okinawa, the scalding liquid probably would have choked and scalded her, but now it was just what she needed. Already, she could feel the heat of it spreading through her stomach, into her limbs and the tips of her fingers.
“Is everyone up?” she asked, glancing over her teacup right into Haji’s contemplative gaze.
He nodded once, shutting his eyes. “David and the others are out investigating Diva’s whereabouts. They should be back before long.”
Hmming in response, Saya turned toward the window, looking out at what she could see of the New York skyline. The sun was high outside and doubtlessly hot—Lewis would probably be buying a bag of ice from a vendor to help combat that before the day was out. It made the fact that she could still feel a chill running across her skin (despite the warm cup of tea in her hands) a hard one to brush off. “Are Mao and Okamura all settled in?”
“They finished this morning,” Haji answered, and she could almost sense him following her gaze. “I believe they’re discussing financial matters.”
“Probably about their old apartment,” Saya added conversationally. Not that she had to guess. She’d been woken up by them shouting about insurance premiums and dirty yakuza funds, after all.
Drinking the last bit of her tea, Saya set the still lukewarm mug down against her thigh, giving her full attention to the closed window. However, she saw none of the buildings outside, none of New York City at all. She was looking past that, to Los Angeles, to a decimated apartment she’d never seen and never would. Thanks to Diva.
If she’d had the strength, this would have been a perfect occasion to break something out of frustration. All this time, all this work, and nothing to show for it. In fact, despite her efforts, things seemed to get progressively worse with each passing day. Despite all of Saya’s efforts, the world seemed to be bent on landing squarely in the palm of Diva’s hand. It didn’t help that, while Saya’s sleep was steadily approaching, Diva had at least a year left to whittle away without any opposition. Saya knew she was running out of time, and it was rapidly starting to get to her.
She was tired. She was frustrated. She wanted to scream, maybe strike something.
And she was cold.
Setting her empty cup down, she stood, brushing at her nightgown. “I think I need a shower,” she said, rubbing warmth into her shoulders as subtly as possible. It didn’t matter, of course. Haji would know what was happening to her whether she made it clear or not. “I’m still kind of cold.”
Haji nodded, standing and grabbing her cup as she headed for the door. The way he moved—all slow, practiced motion, granting elegance to something as simple as lifting a cup off the edge of a bed—he seemed untroubled, even relaxed. His nonchalance was so convincing, in fact, that she almost believed he didn’t notice when she stopped in the doorway, turning back toward him.
“You should—” she started, paused, backpedaled, tried again. “If you want, you should…”
She wasn’t sure what gave her away. Perhaps it was the way she plucked at the hem of her nightgown, tugging it down and wringing it between agitated fingers. Or perhaps it was the way she couldn’t help but glance at said twitching digits, barely looking up at him despite her forthright tone. However, whatever it was, it seemed to get the point across.
It was always strange catching Haji by surprise. As unmoved as he appeared to be as he straightened up, teacup in hand, she still noticed a few changes in his demeanor: the cup shook once, minutely, like a tiny jolt of electricity had leapt through his arm. His eyes widened, and he stood just that much straighter. No. He wasn’t relaxed anymore.
However, it didn’t last long. At least, the need for it didn’t. After actually stopping to take stock of the situation—Mao and Okamura were still here, and who knew when Kai and the others would be back—Saya shook her head, waving the almost-suggestion off with a flick of her wrist. “Never mind,” she said, smiling wearily. “Sorry. Forget I said anything.”
She didn’t think much of the fact she could still feel his familiar gaze on her back, following her out into the hall. She continued to not think much of it as she headed into the bathroom, slid out of her gown, and turned on the shower, all without bothering to lock the door. And somehow, she wasn’t surprised when, over the gentle thrum of falling water around her, she heard the door squeak, the knob turn slowly…
Mao’s voice, however, was something she hadn’t quite expected.
“What are you doing?” Saya heard, the sound clear as a bell over the noisy cascade of water. “Don’t you hear the water running? Saya’s in there!”
Silence followed for a moment, undoubtedly while Haji was responding. As penetrating as his voice was, he didn’t have the sort of talent Mao did for making himself loud enough register on earthquake meters several continents over.
“Yeah, that’s a likely story,” Mao finally responded, and Saya could almost see her flipping her hair in marked skepticism. Despite the suffering Haji was doubtless going through, Saya couldn’t help but smile the tiniest bit at the image.
Another stretch of silence, shorter this time. Probably real silence. She knew how Haji could speak volumes with seemingly blank eyes.
“If it weren’t you,” Mao finally responded, sounding at least somewhat satisfied as the sound of her voice moved past the door and on down the hall, “I’d say you were a pervert.”
Silence again, though despite the deafening beat of water falling around her, Saya was sure she heard another set of footsteps—quieter, but heavier—heading in the opposite direction.
Sighing, Saya rested her hands against the opposite wall and bent her head, unsure exactly what to think. It wasn’t until now that she realized the strange sensation in her chest, like her heart itself was splitting, branching out until it felt like it was too big for her chest. She could feel it pulsing through the pads of her fingers into the tile, sending a prickle through her skin as it bounced back.
What, exactly, had she been expecting? There was no way she’d really expected him to take her seriously. That would have been silly. She had no reason to think he would, after all. Even if he made a point of letting her know that he would always do as she wished, she sincerely doubted that something like that was really included in the bargain. Of course it wasn’t. That would be silly.
But then, she thought, squinting down at the tiles and trying to unearth some small bit of still forgotten memory, maybe—
Then the door opened, and the time for thinking was promptly over.
Slowly, Saya glanced up, hands still pressed against the tile. Beyond the glass she could see no more than a large black blob standing before the door, its features obscured by steam and condensation. However, that mattered not at all; she didn’t need features to tell who it was.
For a moment, she didn't say anything. Just watched the tall, black, water-obscured form of him as he slowly reached up to pull the tie from his hair. Even behind the fogged glass, Saya could see the grace with which he imbued even that simple gesture, and she knew that he gave it no more thought than she did to stumbling out of bed or putting a skirt on backward. It was amazing how stunning he could be, even as a blob on the other side of a pane of glass.
Still . . .
“Haji,” she said, forcefully turning her eyes toward the shower’s tiled wall and running her hands through her hair. “It’s okay. I’m fine. You don’t have to—”
“Saya,” he interrupted, and it was all there. His rationale, his explanation, weaved in like a mix-matched thread in a quilt, or a secret code in a photograph. All there, in one word. He’d gotten remarkably good at that over the years.
A chunk of black near the middle of him disappeared, replaced by bright, clean white as he shrugged off his coat. As he folded that neatly, set it aside, then went to work on his shirt, Saya quickly turned away again, picking at the tiles underfoot with a toe. “Haji?” she started, doing everything in her power to keep from watching him, and not quite pulling it off. “Have we—I’m just wondering, have we ever…?”
He paused for a moment, shirt resting half-folded in open palms, before he raised his head and turned toward the shower door. His gaze, unlike hers, didn’t seem to be hampered by glass and steam; Saya swore she could feel it burning through the fog, piercing her just as effectively as if he’d hurled his dagger through the glass. Suddenly, despite the nearly scolding water still pouring down her body, she felt something still hotter prickling along her spine, a flare of guilty realization shooting through her.
He remembered. Whatever the answer was, he remembered it, and she didn’t. Suddenly, she could sense a distinct tinge of melancholy in the fogged pseudo-silence.
“Yes,” Haji finally answered, betraying nothing as he returned to the meticulous task of folding his shirt. “In Russia. You were . . .” He paused again, searching for the right word as he set the neatly folded shirt atop his coat, arranging it contemplatively, “troubled.”
Slowly, Saya put her hand to the shower door and brushed away the condensation, fingers squeaking less-than-subtly across the glass (just to get a better look at his expression, she told herself, despite the way her eyes insisted on focusing on newly exposed flesh). “Did I—” she started, gaze falling to the floor as her arms curled around her stomach and she tried to ignore the incessant pulsing neither her navel. “I didn’t . . . tell you to, did—?”
That sentence was promptly cut off, however, when the shower door opened with a nearly silent click, and she turned to find an unclothed—and nothing near blurry—Haji standing before her.
Her first instinct, unfortunately, was to gape and blush like a school girl. Apparently, that part of her old self hadn’t quite been overwritten (or, perhaps, it wasn’t supposed to be; hadn’t she blushed and chastised him for wandering around half-dressed in Russia?). She wasn’t sure if it got better or worse when he stepped inside and shut the door, filling the tiny space until it seemed she could barely breathe without touching him.
He flinched a bit under the heat of the water, shying away from it as best he could in such a confined space. Impulsively, Saya turned and reached for the temperature knob (it wasn’t like the water being a little cooler would hurt), only to be promptly intercepted by Haji’s earthen-colored, claw-like right hand. Slowly, he wrapped it around her wrist with the sort of gentleness that it didn’t appear capable of and that, oddly enough, she had come to associate with it. He let it run, seemingly of its own volition, up her forearm, along her bicep (lingering for half an instant where it nearly met her breast, and she realized that the heat was starting to get her when she momentarily thought it intentional), and up her shoulder to her neck, her cheek.
Tracing one clawed finger perilously close to the corner of her lips, Haji leaned forward, resting his face in her hair (and though she’d been expecting it, she quickly realized that it was good—and made sense—that he didn’t kiss her; that sort of thing was for lovers, after all). His own hair, weighed down by the water, was the only thing that betrayed his controlled grace, falling into Saya’s face and blocking her eyes. However, she paid it little mind; her focus was on something much more pressing.
She wasn’t sure whether to be ashamed or not at the way her knees started to fail her, something like numbness shooting through them and making it nearly impossible to stand on her own. It wasn’t long before she had no choice but to lean into him, arms snaking beneath his own to wrap around his back, hands clinging to his shoulders. Ever the gentleman, he responded in kind, hand sliding over her shoulder and down her back until he got a good hold and pulled her tight against him.
That, unfortunately, just exacerbated the problem. She could feel him pressed up against her stomach and she immediately tensed, nails digging even deeper into his abused shoulders. Her hips, lost to the same force of free will as Haji’s hand, rocked into his as her equally sentient toes pushed her up, putting him within reach.
However, even as she was viciously bemoaning the height difference between them (it had gone from being annoying to being a veritable nuisance) she couldn’t help the tight, unpleasant feeling that was building in her stomach, as if someone had reached inside and clenched their hand in her innards.
Haji, meanwhile, seemed much more focused on the former, and primarily on compensating for it. Slowly, he slid his unoccupied hand onto her hip, finger-by-finger, tracing circles so softly across her skin that the air around them suddenly felt heavy, not to mention the water. Meanwhile, as his other hand began to make its way down (across her cheek, along her collarbone, over her breasts), he followed it, slowly pulling out of her grasp and kneeling before her.
Water ran down the back of Saya’s neck as she bent her head, watching his slow descent and swiftly gasping in a lungful of vapor. The shower wall, chilly compared to the steam around them, bit into her back as Haji pushed at her hips, gently securing her against the cold tile. His breath coasted over her thighs, sending a surge of heat through her that even the nearly boiling shower water could not provoke.
Then, the hand in her stomach twisted.
Reaching down, she gently cupped his face, turning it upward. Quickly, she searched it—his brow, the corners of his lips—for even the slightest hint of obligation. Then, finding none, she focused on his eyes. However, in the few seconds she had before a scant smile curled the corners of his lips and he bent his head, effectively obscuring his eyes, she again found nothing to provoke or quell that pressure in the pit of her stomach.
Yet, as she compliantly reached up and pressed her hands against the shower walls, nails scraping against the grout as she felt the foreboding tickle of his bangs against her thighs, Saya couldn’t help but think that this was what Diva used her chevaliers for.
The first touch, warm, careful, and very nearly inquisitive, had the same effect of a bolt of electricity or a bullet to the shoulder, her legs tensing and tightening about the knees. Caught off guard as she was (and just how that managed to happen, given that she’d witnessed the preparations herself, she would never really know), she was just able to choke back a gasp, turning it into a muffled sound of shock before it ever left her throat.
However, as Haji quickly grew bolder (very possibly, she realized with a pang, remembering something that had worked last time), that sense of control rapidly began to fail her. Suddenly, that same bolt of energy that had drawn her muscles taut began to numb them until, in the midst of trying to swallow back what felt to her more like shrieks for breath than mere gasps, she had to press her hands even tighter to the walls to keep from collapsing.
She knew this feeling. Slowly, against all her inclinations, her well-honed restraint was dissolving like rice-paper in rain. It was the one that had ruled her mother, her sister, and every queen that had ever been. It was the same one that, in moments of weakness, had her gazing longingly at Kai’s neck, or watching a bit too intently as Mao bandaged a cut.
Or forcing a compliant Haji to the ground and taking him, drinking what he had to offer until he could no longer stand.
Choking back a quivering breath, Saya slowly glanced down, her gaze meeting a soaked mass of black hair. For a moment, despite how wildly wrong in felt in this situation, she thought of Diva; of the way she pointedly toyed with Solomon’s collar, or fluidly wrapped herself about Amshel in what no one could mistake for innocent play. Saya knew—knew; there wasn’t a cell in her body that questioned it—what Diva used them for, knew what a century and a half of trying to become pregnant had entailed. And she knew that what she herself was doing right now was no better.
Another tremor shot through her body, and a single yelp escaped her lips as she swayed on the spot, hand sliding on the slippery tile. Before she could go far, Haji pushed her back, pressing her hips against the wall with shuddering hands, doubtlessly made that way by her own erratic quaking. However, despite this interruption, he never once slowed, and even increased his pace to send a fresh blast of smoldering energy rushing through her.
This was his obligation: to serve Saya in whatever capacity she wished or needed. That was what he’d told her, what he’d said in that one word (and if he hadn’t already destroyed any capacity she’d had for coherent thought, she might have realized just how painfully ironic his word choice had been). She was everything. He existed for no other reason than to serve her.
And she let him believe it.
In between blasts of raw, painful satisfaction, she knew she had to say something. Had to say—had to let him know—he was more than that. She had to fall to her knees beside him, tell him he was more than a servant, a thing. She had to turn up his eyes and hold him there, tell him that she—that she lo—that he wasn’t like them! He wasn’t Amshel, she wasn’t Diva. They were—he was—not Amshel. Not Amshel, not Solomon, James, Nathan, Diva—he was, he was—!
Then she buried quivering fingers in his hair and, whimpering as much out of sorrow as release, pulled him closer.
As always, his hands were gentle as he caught her slumping form and, getting to his feet, pulled her up with him. Again she clung to him, tightly gripping his shoulders as a punctured afterglow engulfed her, pulsing with the unpleasant pang in her stomach. Subtly wiping at his lips, Haji pulled her into a gentle embrace, surrounding her in warmth and contentment of his own (after which she realized that that contentment came solely from the fact that she was satisfied, and the stinging in her abdomen became even more intense).
Saya knew what she should have said. She could already feel the words on her swollen lips, realized how easy it would be to tilt her head back just a little bit further and lean in…
But she couldn’t; those words were for lovers. Still, though it was all she could say, her shaky “thank you” felt vastly inadequate.
Two nights later, she dreamt of cold, frost, driving snow, and a pair of lips on hers.