Chapter 139: Shahin
Something's made your eyes go cold
C'mon, c'mon, don't leave me like this
I thought I had you figured out
Something's gone terribly wrong
Shahin hugged her cy'ree-mates goodbye - Kendra and Callista were already beginning to shut down, to close up - and hurried down the hall, forgoing seemliness for speed. She needed to see Emrys again. She had been away too long; she needed to feel his arms around her.
She let herself into their room silently, hoping to surprise him.
He was surprised, all right; and so was she. Emrys was lying facedown on the bed, shirtless, with Xaviera kneeling over him, giving him a massage.
Shahin shut the door silently behind her, staring at the two of them. Her luggage fell to the floor. "Well."
Xaviera nearly leapt aside as she spoke, though Emrys was more composed, of course. He sat up, turning to face her with a warm smile. "How was your trip?"
"Entertaining," she said, biting off the word, "although clearly not as much so as your stay." She swallowed the pitiful I missed you that wanted to sneak out.
"Not so much as you'd think," he replied with a dismissive wave. "We missed you, though." We.
She turned her attention on Xaviera for a moment. The blonde girl was cringing, more so for Emrys' off-handed dismissal. "Did you?"
"Yes, mistress," she replied meekly, folding her hands in front of herself like a scolded child.
Shahin took a deep breath. She was not Ib. She was not Ofir. Slowly, not trusting herself yet to look at Emrys, she took of her shoes and shrugged off her jacket, setting them carefully on her desk.
Then, and only then, she looked back at her lover. "I missed you," she said quietly.
Now he was rising, stepping forward, extending his arms towards her. "It's actually been kind of tense, just waiting for you," he admitted.
She stepped into his arms, but couldn't help murmuring, "it looks as if she found a way to relieve the tension."
"She wanted to help, of course. She's Kept; she can't really help it."
"Mmm," she conceded. "It seems it hits everyone differently. But you allowed it."
"Of course I did." He sounded surprised that she would even mention it. "We took her into our bed. Why wouldn't I, except to be mean?"
We. Our bed. Deflated, Shahin sighed, not yet happy but out of arguments. "I suppose you're right," she allowed weakly.
"But I'm glad you're home," he smiled, clearly more than willing to let the matter be concluded.
She sighed, frowning at him. He had this way of making even rational complaints sound silly. He undermined all of her points, but it didn't diffuse her anger. It just made her feel stupid and helpless on top of the anger.
First things first. If she was going to be naked to him, she'd rather do it alone. She glared at Xaviera, taking a deep breath to not be as cruel as she wanted to be. "We'll see you later." She let the slight tone of menace stay.
"Of course mistress," the girl squeaked in a single breath, not quite tripping over herself to leave.
Shahin watched her dispassionately, then turned back to her lover. What had he been doing while she was gone? How much of it was honestly to be kind to Xaviera?
Of course, he wasn't going to return to that subject on his own. "Did you have a good time, at least?"
"I did," she answered softly. "I missed you, though." She paused. "I thought about you every night."
"I missed you more than I realized I could," he replied, offering a rare moment of weakness.
"I..." She clung tighter to him. "How much did she keep you company?"
"A lot," he admitted. "She felt your absence too I think."
"It's not my absence I'm worried about her feeling."
She found a smirk for him. "If Xaviera were a man, and I'd been the one left alone with him...?"
"I really don't think he'd measure up."
"You wouldn't think a god would measure up," she snapped. Quieter, she added, "so does she?"
"Think a god would measure up? Probably not; she's Kept."
"Did. She. Measure. Up?" She bit out the question, on the verge of tears.
"She's not you, Sheen," he replied softly. "She couldn't possibly be."
She clung to him, hating how relieved that answer made her, trying and failing to swallow her sobs.
"Hey, hey." He held her tightly, one arm around her waist and the other at her shoulders. That only made her cry harder, but she pulled herself together quickly, looking up at him through damp lashes.
"It's been hard on you to be away, too, hasn't it?" he said sympathetically.
"Has it, for you?" she countered, sniffling.
"The 'too' does imply that." He wouldn't be Emrys if he didn't take a shot like that, but his tone was gentle.
"Sometimes a girl likes things spelled out," she countered, any heat gone from her voice, too.
"Shahin, we Belong to each other. What more is there to spell out?"
She sighed, wondering if she should just give in. "It was hard on me," she conceded. "I had trouble sleeping without you there. Much less thinking."
"I expected that - you did too, I imagine - but anticipation doesn't really prepare you for it, does it?"
She shook her head. "No. It was like going through withdrawal all over again."
He nodded slowly. "Yeah, in a way it kind of is."
"I don't really have any desire to get over you, though."
"Good." He kissed her forehead softly.
"And you?" she murmured, hating pressing but needing to hear it.
"I love you, Sheen. I can feel it, all the time, but especially when we're together like this. Can't you?"
She shivered in his arms. "I can," she admitted. It was like a drug, like unfiltered sunlight, like a dip in the ocean in mid-winter. "I still like to hear it. I walked in here, and saw her and you…"
"And it shouldn't matter. You've had her; did it mean anything to you, in the way you're worried about? Of course not."
"So it was just…?"
"A distraction, for both of us."
"Ah." She glanced at the door guiltily. "I should go get her."
"I'm not a hundred percent sure of her side of things," he warned gently. "We may need to talk to her."
"So," she replied slowly, "this was just a comfort-and-loneliness thing to you, but she may have imprinted?"
"She's coming at it from the other side. Neither of us have spent a lot of time there, but you know what it's like."
She nodded in reply, thinking of Callista, of Kendra, of Nydia. "It can't help, the way Ardell treated her."
"Probably not, no. So, yes, getting her is a good idea, but. We need to talk about her situation more anyway."
"We do," she nodded. "We can't keep her indefinitely."
"And our initial reason for doing so has been ameliorated."
"Original… it has?" She blinked at him.
She blinked again. "Io… Tolly?"
"Well not directly, but yeah."
"Well." She smiled faintly. "I… lucky Ayla, to have a girl like that."
"She is, yes. But, about our girl?"
"Well. Can we help her?"
"How do you mean 'help?'"
"Well... help. Ardell really did a lot of damage to her."
"That's true," Emrys said slowly. "If you think we can, I'd like to. She's not such a bad person, underneath it all."
"I think we stand a chance," she agreed quietly.
"For the time being," she nodded. "Let's go get her."
Emrys turned to open the door, and Shahin was startled to find Xaviera still there, not against the door as if eavesdropping, but across the hall and in plain sight.
"Xav?" she asked, startled. "What's wrong?"
"I'm not... sure?" the girl offered, looking up at her through downcast eyes. Her hands were still folded in front of her, and she was nearly trembling.
"Come here. Did you go back to my room, or have you been standing here the whole time?"
She stepped forward hesitantly. "I didn't want to leave..."
Feeling like a heel, Shahin stepped forward to hug the girl. "All right, come on back in. You don't have to leave, tonight."
"Thank you," she murmured softly, hesitating a moment before adding, "Are... are you mad at me?"
"I was," Shahin admitted quietly, "but I'm not, anymore."
Xaviera's relief was palpable. "Thank you, mistress."
"Shahin," she corrected softly.
"Y-yes, m... Shahin."
"Come on in," she repeated, taking the girl's hand and tugging lightly. "Let us hold you for a while, all right?"
"All right," she agreed readily, accompanying Shahin.
Shahin, in turn, reached for Emrys with her free hand the moment the door was closed. She didn't want to be out of contact with him any longer than she had to.
Emrys took her hand, glancing between the two girls. "So what now?"
"Now," Shahin answered, thinking as she spoke. "Now we finish what I interrupted."
"I can't argue with that," Emrys replied.
"Nor I," Xaviera whispered.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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