anyway, I've got this niggling little storyline in my head, except these excerpts don't do them justice, but I'm too chicken to upload them to ff.net, so instead I'm torturing whoever stumbles across this with them. the characters come from the game Neverwinter Nights 2. This is fanfic expanding upon some of the scenarios in the game. A rundown of the names mentioned:
Neeshka--a part-demon neutral rogue, with a very short temper. one of the companions--group of characters you can choose to journey with you so you don't get your butt kicked, like all the others are unless noted otherwise.
Zhjaeve--githzerai (extraplanar alien-type being) lawful neutral cleric of who-knows-what. annoyingly knowledgable and aloof.
Qara--human dunno sorceress. Most annoying companion available--arrogant and bratty and blech.
Shadow Reavers--minions of the King of Shadows. Evil NPCs. Also, v. difficult to kill.
Ammon Jerro--human neutral evil warlock. Also annoying companion who is necessary in order to beat the game, because he did some part of some ritual that you have to be able to do to beat the King of Shadows.
Bishop--human chaotic evil ranger. Has "perpetual shadow of facial hair" and a hawt-sounding voice actor. Is, er, hawt. Also evil.
Khelgar--dwarf lawful good fighter. the nice companion who coincidentally does A LOT of damage.
Grobnar--gnome chaotic good bard. In competition with Shandra Jerro (dead by this point) for Second Most Annoying companion. Freaking insane, but also short.
Casavir--human paladin. Only official love interest in-game, "in his late thirties," and big subscriber to the British repression system. Apparently had a backstory that involved him leaving Neverwinter because he slept with a prostitute (better yet, the madame of the whore house), but that got cut before the game went out. :-(
Daeghun--Laura's elf foster-father. Not a companion, but a rather constant presence throughout the game.
and Laura's not so...flirty. I mean, she's inexperienced, yes, but she's so in-control...most of the time, anyway...oh bah. And she won't even let herself consider...bah. I'll have to write something that shows the dancing they do around one another.
Anyway, here's some un-betaed fic. Any thoughts would be most welcome. I kinda want to expand this, but I also need to beat the game. Oh, decisions, decisions.
“Wait a minute…she’s waking up!” someone said. “She’s alive, we’ve got her, we can go now,” and she felt herself being picked up and carried in the arms of someone running the hell away from wherever they were. Slowly the pieces of memory fell into place—Zhjaeve and Qara, and Sydeny Natale and the True Names, and facing the Shadow Reaver and oh. She must have died, then. Or almost died.
She was slung into a horse’s saddle and someone got up behind her and rode like hell and the bumps were so jarring she decided it would be less painful—because the pain was catching up as she remembered all the hits she had taken—to pass out again.
When she woke up the first thing she remembered was that she had died, and she organized her thoughts around that fact. It was odd, knowing that you were the only one who could do a task, and yet occasionally was overwhelmed in battle. She had crossed the line a few times before, and every time it was remarkably disconcerting to come back and realize that everyone else had, for a few moments, been paralyzed by the sense of doom that came with knowing all your hopes for stopping the ultimate evil of the day had just fallen. She thought it was ridiculous that so many hopes were often singular, and was suddenly grateful that Ammon Jerro had completed the last part of the Ritual of Purification. Though they were useless without each other, and though she didn’t particularly care for the man, it lessened some of the burden on her.
She opened her eyes and realized that she was lying in her bedroll around the fire circle, and that dawn had just come and therefore Zhjaeve was praying her prayers and she really ought to as well. She struggled to sit up and discovered Neeshka on watch, grinning at her.
“Welcome back, Captain,” the tiefling said, her expression relaying none of the fear Laura had expected.
“It’s good to be…back,” she said, wincing horribly as she put her head in both hands. “Or at least it would be, if I could think straight for more than a second at a time…”
“She up? She moving?”
Bishop appeared from the surrounding woods, carrying what was probably supposed to be breakfast, but Laura’s headache was making her feel nauseated, so she sat back and watched while the others ate, trying to concentrate on healing spells for herself. She felt a little better as time went on, but she didn’t lift her head, preferring to watch how her companions interacted when she wasn’t really around.
It was unsurprisingly quiet, aside from good-natured quips between Neeshka and Khelgar (she once again thanked all the gods involved in helping the two reconcile their differences). Zhjaeve wasn’t particularly talkative, and Bishop was…after a few minutes of observing, she gathered that Bishop was in a bad mood, and none of the others knew why, or particularly cared to brave the surly ranger’s rhetoric to find out.
They mounted up again once breakfast was over; the place where the Shadow Reaver had been wasn’t more than a day’s ride from the Keep, but apparently they’d made camp for the night. Probably for the sake of her convalescence. To her surprise, it was Bishop who casually picked her up and threw her into the saddle before mounting up behind her, his manner and expressions all calm and caustic indifference, his grip on her waist unusually tight. They rode straight for the Keep and were mercifully unhindered—Laura wasn’t sure she would be able to stand up yet—and she sent them to gather the others at the Phoenix Tail Inn while she reported to Nevalle.
The other knight was suitably excited to hear of the Shadow Reaver’s defeat and quickly left to dispatch a letter to Nasher, leaving Laura time to stroll around the courtyard, trying to absorb the fact that this was really hers, totally and completely, and that she was in charge, as she did every time she returned here. She didn’t particularly want the degrees of responsibility that came with the establishment, but there it was, and she accepted it as she watched a Greycloak patrolling the wall.
She entered the
“What’s the occasion?” Sand asked, his look one of long-suffering. Understandable, as he was usually stuck babysitting Aldanon and Qara; Laura made a note to find something for him to do, and to hand over the scrolls she had found on the Shadow Reaver’s body.
“Victory,” Zhjaeve said. “Know that we have won this day—”
“Aye, and what a victory!” Khelgar broke in, immediately launching into a description of the battle for Grobnar, who took notes, practically bouncing with excitement.
“Don’t forget the part where our noble leader bit the dust,” Bishop said, leaning across and using the gnome for an armrest.
“What?” Casavir said, far too quickly for his own good. Laura directed her gaze at the portrait over the fireplace as Bishop said, “Oh, yeah. Took a good hard hit from one of the blade golems. Went down like a…”
“But we got her out,” Zhjaeve said, “and she lives still. Know that this is what truly matters.”
Bishop’s mouth twisted in an ugly, ugly parody of a smile. Casavir said, anxiously, “You are all right, my lady?”
She managed a thin smile in return. “Hale and hearty, as always, Casavir.” She hoped he couldn’t see how her legs were trembling with the effort of keeping her up; she would have to sit down soon.
“Thank the gods.”
“Oh, I doubt they had anything to do with it,” said the ranger. “More like Zhjaeve noticing before it was too late to do anything. Not that she’s much help, either.” He took a deep swig from his tankard and scowled down into it. He leaned across Grobnar again, provoking a “Hey!” as he said, “Oh, and don’t forget the devil-girl—”
“Demon,” Neeshka protested.
“—tripped over her own two feet—”
“I did not!”
“Bishop,” Laura said, and from the way everyone stopped and stared she was uncomfortably aware of how they were keyed to her voice. “A word with you, please?”
He downed the rest of his drink and stood, the ugly look still on his face. “Certainly, Captain,” he said, offering her his arm. She refused it and stalked from the room, assuming he would follow.
She intended to lead him back away from the buildings to talk, but she had only gotten around the back of the
He pushed her into the wall as he pushed himself away, turning and ending up in a similar position to her, breathing heavily but otherwise completely expressionless. She was sure he could hear her heart beating a thousand times too fast, but mostly she was afraid to look at him, to say anything, to figure out—
“What in the Nine Hells was that?” Her voice found herself and took over.
There was a long pause, and then he said in his lowest, most spine-tingling drawl, “You died, and I didn’t get the chance to fuck you.”
She processed this for half a second, half a second in which to interpret and decide and act, and she turned so she was the one pushing him into the wall, and she said, “What do you want?”
He stared straight at her, as impassively as she knew she was looking back at him, and then he kissed her again, his lips leaving her mouth and tracing her jaw, down her neck, then back to her lips again. “I want to fuck you,” he said, “and I sure as I’m going to hell don’t want you to die again.”
She considered this for another half-second, and in a moment of brilliant abandon, said, “Done.”
“I’m the one with an entire suite to myself,” she said. “You coming or not?”
They fucked whenever they got the chance. She couldn’t come up with a better word for it; “fucked” was the only way to describe a pair of people dancing a dance of emotional noncommitment while having sex whenever they could steal an hour to themselves, the only word for the breathless yet oddly…”passionless” wasn’t the word, but…well, it wasn’t like anything she had ever thought about, when she had thought about it. The lack of time probably had something to do with it—they could hardly hope to conduct a clandestine affair by the fire circle while they traveled, and it seemed that traveling was all they were doing. Still, whenever they returned to the Keep, she always managed to wrestle a few days for everyone to “relax and recharge,” which meant she spent most of her time cooped up in meetings or talking to disgruntled farmers, and then skipped dinner in favor of racing to her room and finding him waiting.
And then they would fuck, and it wasn’t some kind of slow, passionate sex, but it wasn’t like he was the only one enjoying it either. She couldn’t say she wasn’t satisfied (not that she would, even if she was, because that would be admitting that she cared about what she got out of this), even though it was pretty much the same every time (but she also wouldn’t admit she was too inexperienced to try anything else, and anyway he liked being on top). Some nights she’d be so tired she’d have time to fall into bed once and then fall asleep, and he’d cross his arms behind his head and stare at the ceiling while she fell asleep curled on her side facing the wall; and other nights it was like she couldn’t hold him tight enough, like he couldn't stop fucking her, like she couldn't let him stop, on and on until they fell asleep from exhaustion. And always, always, she would wake up alone.
He wasn’t a cuddler. She had figured that out early on, unsure of the etiquette in a normal situation and far too…confused to attempt anything personal. So when he rolled away she didn’t follow, and he didn’t extend an offer, and so she’d lain in bed with the covers pulled up under her arms, trying to figure out exactly how deep was the shit she was in. Because she was totally fucked, in so many different ways, if anyone figured out what was up (not that it would be hard if they looked close enough), if she started examining why either of them had decided this was a good idea, if she started thinking she could affect him in any way, if she started feeling—
But there were no feelings involved. That much was obvious. Besides, it didn’t do to play favorites. She let him fuck her and he did fuck her and they both came away feeling thoroughly well-fucked, and it didn’t seem like anything else should matter.
But it did, and that was why sometimes, when they were both awake but taking a break, and the light in the oil lamp was still bright and she was coming out of the post-coital lethargy and he was staring implacably at the ceiling, she would turn on her side and prop up her head and talk to him.
“Yeah?” he asked, as she rolled over and rested her head on the pillow under his arm.
“I don’t know,” she said, sighing, breathing in the scent of pines and dirt and sweat and sex that clung to him.
It was quiet, except for their breathing, and it was nice to notice that he did normal things like breathe, and his heart beat in his chest (which sometimes was more than he could say for her). Then she said, “…where you’d be, if you weren’t here.”
“That would be telling,” he said.
“You’d be getting drunk at the
“I’m the only available woman for miles around. Neeshka does not, as far I as I can tell, have a libido, one day Elanee is going to break under your mocking comments and castrate you, and Kana…”
“…would just as soon have castrated me the first second she saw me. Care to talk about something other than the loss of my manhood which would also, I should say, result in the loss of my presence from this room?”
“I sleep better when you’re not here,” she said, not quite teasing, not quite truthful.
“Can’t imagine why that would be.”
She felt this would be an appropriate moment to rest her hand, lightly, on his chest; she knew he tilted his head to be able to look at her, but she concentrated her gaze on her hand, brushing her fingertips over his skin. “Though I suppose you could have your pick of any of the peasant girls hanging around here—I doubt any of them would be fast enough to escape you.” She waited the space of his breath (only slightly slower than normal) and said, “Mind, I’m a peasant girl, so if you have anything disparaging to say…”
She was leading him on, and she knew it and she knew he knew it and she hated it, but even Laura, the quiet peaceful calm in-control mediating powerful gentle subtle knight captain commander and a hundred more words she never thought she would hear, had the human weakness of wanting a sense of the person she pressed herself against in complete vulnerability. She couldn’t help it, and it was maddening that she couldn’t help it, and it was worse because of all the men she knew it was the one who hated talking. He was still beneath her fingertips, and she knew he was mulling over an answer in his mind, or whether or not to bother answering, and she waited, afraid of babbling, wise enough to know what not to do but young enough to do it anyway if she wasn’t careful.
Finally he said, “Rape is…a bother.”
It wasn’t his normal cold drawl, though it was certainly a drawl, more of a drawling rumble of a murmur, the sort of quiet, tired response that made her think maybe, just maybe, he was being honest. He was almost always truthful, but he wasn’t completely honest, yet when he was tired and well-pleased he sometimes didn’t seem to see any harm in talking, and these were the moments she pounced. She waited, still tracing circles on his chest with her fingers, nails barely brushing the skin, tickling the light hair that curled over it.
“I mean, what do you get when you rape someone?” he said, staring at the ceiling again. “A whole lot of pissed-off people, and the law, and her brother or uncle or cousin or the boy down the street that’s too scared to talk to her coming after your blood, and it’s just not worth the trouble. Whores may cost money, but in the long run it’s cheaper than dying, and worth being able to show your face in town when you have to.”
“So it’s the principle of the thing, really.”
“Randomly bedding a girl against her will is free but has more repercussions than a night spent with a whore.” A very, very tiny part of Laura couldn’t believe she was having this conversation, the same part that liked making daisy chains and was horrified that she had let this man be the first one (though if he had noticed that, which he almost certainly had, he had curiously never mentioned it). It was the part that wondered what Daeghun would think to know she was lying naked in a bed with a man who may or may not have actually raped someone in order to come by the knowledge he was espousing. “So where does seducing your leader come in?”
“I should start charging you. Or just take it out of your cut.”
“What cut?” There was a hint of actual interest in his voice, now, not just the lazy humoring of before. He was coming out of his stupor, then, or else he really wanted his cut. She suspected—hoped?—no, suspected the latter. “I’m pretty sure my last cut disappeared the same time Veedle was building that tower for that ridiculous planewalker of yours.”
“He’s not mine,” she said. “I don’t own anyone.”
“No?” He looked down at her again.
“No,” she said. “I can’t help the fact that they want to be here, that they think—I give orders because they expect me—they want something to do, and so I give it to them. I don’t own anyone.”
“So if they didn’t follow your orders…”
“Well, I’d wonder why they bothered being around in the first place, knowing that I had been placed in charge…but I can’t—slavish devotion isn’t…” She trailed off, afraid of saying too much, because they second they started discussing their feelings was the second he bailed—or he won their battle of the wills. She wasn’t sure which scenario frightened her more. “But if you can pay a whore, I think you can pay me part of your cut. I bathe and this bed is much nicer than any whore’s bed.”
“Oh, that’s definitely true.” He cast his eye about the room, and she heard the disquiet in his voice, barely disguised, as he said, “Your lovely big bed in your lovely big castle, all stone and walls keeping you safe and warm…”
She looked up at his face and saw in the downturn of his mouth the same emotions she heard in his voice, and her stomach—her gut—clenched painfully inside her because she knew, she knew, that he wouldn’t stay, and there was no way to make him stay. And she couldn’t say why she wanted him to stay, except that when he fucked her it was the most breathlessly exhilarating feeling she knew and when he laughed with her instead of at her she—
She focused back on his chest, on the solidity of him, on all the things she liked about having a warm body in her bed and none of the things she wasn’t sure about, and it stayed that way for a long time until he broke the silence and said, “What?”
“Are you thinking?”
“Yes,” she said, and the half-formed thoughts pressing to complete themselves in her mind renewed their attack, and her fingers convulsively curled on his chest.
“Well now,” he said, turning, one arm coming down to run a hand through her hair, “we can’t have that.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, tilting her head up, calm again, flirting.
“Thinking’s dangerous,” he told her, shifting again as she acquiesced and pressed herself down into the bed, his body coming over hers.
“Then make me stop,” she said, looking up but unable to meet his eyes, afraid he would see that somewhere inside she was begging.
He chuckled, a low, dangerous sound that vibrated against her skin as he kissed her neck. She closed her eyes and put her arms around him and dug her fingers into his back and pushed all her worries aside in favor of the feel of his skin sliding against hers.