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[X] Anger. She knew he wanted her now. She felt that! And so she would tell him, even if she blushed while saying it!
Anger. Anger was it. Anger would serve. Should serve.
She couldn’t afford overmuch consent—not with the ghost still making its plots, nor with her pride still firm in its place—but too slow a going on the flipside may reverse the progress she had seen done until now. The more window she gave him, the more like he’d slither out of it someway. Anger, on the other hand... Anger should communicate what needs to be, Satori reasoned. Garion had witnessed her angered before, and, to her deepest hopes, realised sometimes—just sometimes—his tiny hostess said things she didn’t exactly mean when up in arms. As well as it was usually with a good cause. Satori did not anger at nothing. And while she wished what they were doing was but a simple nothing to them, for now touching her in her “sleep” justified at the least a brief spell of criticism.
Yes, thought Satori. Now all I need is to make myself actually angry. She summoned up all the instances he’d given her offence in those past weeks and finally worked out the most beautiful from her repertoire of frowns.
The boy flinched when she rose up on her arms and unleashed it on him in full strength.
“And what are you doing?” she demanded.
If ever he had shown surprise, it was now. For a moment, his slate-grey eyes went round. They were back to their dark, expressionless norm very soon, but a victory was a victory, however small. The look behind them anyway told volumes of how much she’d startled him. As did his tightened jaw.
“Satori.” He pronounced her name like an accusation. Am I supposed to apologise? Satori wondered quietly.
Ultimately, she decided against it. She had to strike on, while the boy was still off-guard, and more importantly while the image of him refusing to chance the woods with her those long weeks ago was still clear on her mind. The frown was hard to maintain when he was so close to her, so big and so warm. Truth be told, at the present moment frowning was the last thing on her mind. At such close range, her willpower had as well been made of pudding. Satori had too soft a heart for things like these. Too soft for her own good at times.
At any rate she forced herself to press on.
“Were you expecting someone else?” she asked acidly. “Or perhaps you have been sleeping around with so many girls you simply forgot which one you were with today? You’re a forgetful creature, Garion. Why, if I hadn’t known that already, I would have been cruelly disappointed.”
The boy gave her a difficult look. “You are cross.”
Satori snorted. “You think?”
“What an amazing thing. And wouldn’t you be,” she asked, “if I had grown so forgetful as to who I took to my bed after so many weeks of talking and fighting and sacrificing: so forgetful that I wake up in the pale morning not remembering who it is lying atop me and having to grope their buttocks to remember?” She gave him a little pause. “Well, Garion? You would be, wouldn’t you?”
A look of perplexity flickered across the boy’s stony face. Then his eyes fell to the bedside.
When he spoke, his voice was rasping and faint.
“... I apologise.”
And there was the guilt again. Stronger, more marked. Genuine.
Satori felt a tingle of triumph, but discreetly schooled her expression. Turning his eyes again her way, the boy squirmed under her glare. She felt his mind twist like a pinned snake. Not because he did what he did, she realised with some surprise. He’s labouring over being caught. Not touching me – but my finding out. That was more difficult. A question arose in her head, but Satori ignored it for the nonce. There’ll be time for investigating later. Now I must continue to be angry.
She inspected her memory for something to fuel her irritation and was stunned to find she had so many. There were grudges—some bigger, some smaller—literally in dozens. Am I really such a resentful person? She worried at it for a breath or two. Well, no matter now, she supposed. At length she decided on a certain evening, when the boy had wounded her by out of nowhere questioning her affection, and heaved herself up to a sit.
The covers whished and spilled down the length of her back. Satori felt the sweat on her arms chill. That wasn’t what made her shiver, though.
He was still holding her. Oh gods, he hasn’t let go.
Without a miracle happened and the boy felt inclined to explain why, she mightn’t ever know, but the matter of fact remained there were two large, rough hands locked about her hips. And I’m sitting right on top of him. Two cold, callused thumbs were pressing into her flesh, just low enough to graze the bands of her underwear through the gown.
Satori made her best effort to ignore them.
“I understand,” she told him in a deceptively silent voice.
Garion blinked up at her, his eyes wholly innocent of comprehension.
The small hostess tightened her legs around his sides, swallowing.
“I understand,” she said again after a breath. “You have these urges. I do, too.”
“I know, Garion. I really do. I, too, get... lonesome... every once in a while – like any creature with a heart. I do have a heart, by the way, otherwise to popular belief. You as well. I know, I know – I crawl close to you when we sleep; I can no more help that than you can help that haystack on your head. But—” her eyes narrowed, “—that does not, I repeat, does not. Give you! A free ticket! To touching my deuced butt!” She sensed the boy twist between her legs. “Who in Old Hell and all its holes gave you permission to man-handle me in my sleep, Garion? And my deuced butt, of all places! What were you thinking, touching me without my leave like that?!”
“I did not—”
“Oh no, oh no – you’re right. You didn’t. You didn’t just touch it, Garion. You squeezed it.”
Garion’s mouth tightened.
“You aren’t fooling me, Garion,” said Satori. “Not me. I felt it. I felt it, Garion! Gods, I’d have to be dead not to feel! Did you even realise how hard you were squeezing? What if you bruised me? You probably have, too! I told you specifically how easily I bruise! And, to top it off, you didn’t even have the common decency to give me a prior warning! Why do I have to wake up to you crushing deuced my butt?! Tell me, Garion! Why?! Tell me!”
The boy told nothing, to no one. Only stared, each of his breaths pushing at her sharply from below.
Satori stared as well, though her mind was wholly elsewhere. Still, there was naught behind those steel-grey eyes of his for her to see – naught but the mirror image of her as she was now. Any other thought that came forth was curbed beneath a will so keen, so quick and savage that Satori quailed from peering straight into it. The only thing which remained in full view was she now: frowning down on him, gripping his sides between her calves; ringlets of hair hanging down her brow. A light trace of a button marked still her pale cheek. She was angry, but innocuous. Small and beautiful. And she was mussed. So very mussed.
Against all her intents, Satori felt her face growing hot. Am I beautiful because he thinks so, or because he believes it will mollify me? Or did I affix that on my own? Am I mistranslating it? Might it be too wishful? What is it about him that makes my heart so confused? Am I so desperate that I’ll blow every tiniest sign going for me out of proportion? She felt her will draining. Why do I have to bear this? she lamented. This is so absurd! Am I a feared Satori or a silly teenage girl fallen in love for the first time? Why can’t I stay angry with him? Why does my heart flutter? What’s going on with me? What else will?
“... What are you thinking about?”
The question brought her out of her agonising.
The boy’s face hadn’t changed. Yet his voice carried a hint of... something in it. Something not entirely wanted. Not of his own will. What is he doing? That he was trying to placate her was plain – but why? What business had he in it? Trembling, she stole a peek into his mind.
It was blank. Taut as a bowstring, yes, and threatening to loose, but rid already of whatever impulse had made him to speak. She was too late. Again, Satori. How tardy are you? Whatever it were at any rate, Satori saw no reason not to take the offered hand.
At the worst, she’d prickle herself and that’d be it.
“Only what a deuce-all trustworthy partner you make,” she replied. She gathered the locks from her forehead. “I had never imagined I would have to speak with you about my butt of all things, Garion. Why is this even happening?”
“I do not know.”
“You’ve nothing to say in your defence?”
“Not a thing? No excuses? Apologies? Nothing?”
She threatened him with a stubborn look. The boy caught it and held it.
They could hold a look, Garion and Satori.
A minute passed, and another after it – then another and another. All were silent; all were still. And with each one left behind did Satori find her anger more and more elusive. Colour rose to her cheeks. One pull and she could end this; one spurt of effort and she would be free of those cold hands of his, done with all this ridiculousness...
... But she didn’t pull. She didn’t make an effort.
All that anger – and what for? Satori brooded. I could as well be made of glass.
She recalled the night he and she had spent hugging in that tent, cowering from the storm. Then, too, she had been too transparent for her own integrity; and the excuse—the “moment”—had been no more than that – an excuse. And just as transparent. To tell it true, she’d had it planned from the start, from the instance the option of taking shelter under the trees had been laid upon the table. The first thing to enter her mind had been to use this opportunity to get close to the boy. The very first. Oh yes, bother storms, bother the chill, the wild animals! What better mood to tend to your silly wants than one where your health is at stake? Now Satori felt foolish. Was what she was doing now any wiser? No, she decided. She was making a fool of herself. A little fool, and lovely, but a fool all the same. Her spectacle had played out; it had never been much promising from the outset. Had the boy been willing to go through with it he would have anyway, without her having to make a scene. Small sense in keeping at it at all costs, she concluded powerlessly. There really was small sense in it, and she knew that. She had known it from the beginning. To surrender herself was easy. This was already the second time this morning she’d had to yield before his obdurate aversion after all.
The second, yet it hurt just as much as the first.
Still... Satori reflected, it is a relief, someway... And it really was.
Sighing, she gave up trying to keep her hands unobtrusive and laid them resignedly on his chest. The boy made as if he had not noticed, but a quick flight of thoughts gave the lie to his indifference.
Satori let out another sigh. She could feel the heat of his body through her palms. And between my legs too. Though I’d sew my mouth shut sooner than admit anything of the sort. She slid her hands farther up pensively, the fabric of his shirt wrinkling around her palms. Something bumped against her fingertips, and presently they picked up a faint, but decisive, throb. Startled, she froze up; and it was a full moment before she realised what she was feeling was his heartbeat.
What an amazing thing, she mused. This wasn’t the first ever instance she’d felt it, but for her fingers it was. The sensation was... novel, in a fashion. It can’t be bigger than his fist, can it? She wondered quietly, probing around to see how far it would spread. It seemed almost improbable for something so minute to power such a towering mass of pride, doggedness, and messy blond hair. And yet it is.
Satori raised her eyes to the face of the mass. The mass was sternly looking away, for all the outward appearances naught but a very realistically carven effigy of a boy, oblivious to everything going on around.
Satori couldn’t help a smile.
“... Yes?” he rasped.
“You’re still holding me, did you know that?”
“... Yes,” he replied, but in his mind added, Small sense in stopping now.
That, now, gave Satori something of a shock. “Small sense?...”
Garion made no answer, screwing up his lips.
Confounded, Satori blinked down at him in a daze. What is it now? She was puzzled. Small sense in stopping why? Had she not surrendered already? Well, he can’t read my heart to know for a certainty, but... Shouldn’t he be doing his slimiest best now to use this chance to slip away? So why hadn’t he pushed her off? Why was he still gripping her hips, not so much as playing at innocence, even pulling at her ever-so-slightly, as if to urge her to... To what?
What have I missed now? wondered Satori.
And then it hit her.
“Garion—” she began.
“Speak not,” he broke in. “I understand. Speak not. I shall...” And then he trailed off.
Satori watched as he sorted out the right words from the confines of his mind.
When he did, her heart almost leapt out the window.
“I shall accept the punishment,” he said.
Oh dear, thought Satori.
So this was it. The boy’s erratic actions all of a sudden clicked together into perfect sense. The punishment, Satori repeated in her head. Yes. Of course it would seem that way. Why hadn’t I realised it sooner?
What Garion believed, this was still an effect of her anger. That she intended to chastise him for the venture of handling her in her sleep. And by having him carry it through to the end no less. The same manner you’d teach a puppy not to make a mess again by rubbing its nose in it, Satori recognised. With the added benefit of exerting my will of him by way of revenge. This was what he thought this was: a payback for his foul misdeeds.
No, that’s what he wants to think. The truth was far less innocent. This is why he didn’t shake me off, isn’t it? This is why all the mental charades, isn’t it? Or was she misinterpreting things to her own advantage again? Satori bit her lip.
“What would you have me do?” asked the unwavering Garion.
The question was something she had both expected and wanted to hear, but she felt a blush mount in her cheeks all the same. An answer formed on her lips, but she held it back. ... This is really what I wanted, isn’t it? This is what I hoped would happen. The plan she had been thoroughly convinced had failed had returned with a vengeance. And here she was, her prize within an arm’s reach, waiting for but the proper word. She had won. All the blunders notwithstanding the game was now in her hands. All that separated her from the end goal was that final word.
Very deftly done, Satori, she congratulated herself, but for one small flaw. Garion was the one who had done the bulk of the brainwork, not she.
Satori’s mood soured at the realisation, but she re-mastered herself before it might show. At any rate it was to the good: the pretext was sound and well thought-out; it threatened neither her plans nor his, and left a door opened in case they should find it unsavoury once the “punishing” was done. The boy could keep his plotting and posturing, while Satori remained safe from exposing her true feelings on the matter to the ghost. They both wanted to experiment, but neither may hazard to say so out loud. This way insured they didn’t have to.
What a terrifying mind this Garion has, she marvelled quietly. Maybe from here on she should allow him to think for her in her stead. That way seemed to do them both good.
“What would you have me do?” renewed his question the unwitting blond genius.
Satori permitted herself to brush the hairs from her forehead before making a cunning smile. “You already have an idea of your own, Garion. Why do we not go with that for a change?”
The boy opened his mouth to object, but used his head in time.
“... How far do you wish to go?” he asked instead.
Satori considered the answers. “All the way” seemed just a whit too flippant; “However far you see proper” might have turned him right around.
She settled for the least hazardous path. “What do you say we do it like this,” she offered. “You’ll do whatever you think good. I’ll defer to you. Then, if I don’t like it, I’ll say. As a matter of fact, that way should give us the best results, no?”
Garion made a frown. “If you do not like it?”
Oh yes. This was supposed to be punishment. “I meant if I feel it’s going overboard, Garion. That’s what I had in mind saying ‘not like.’ A mental shortcut, that’s all.”
The boy regarded her for a moment. At length, he routed out his qualms with the same iron will as before.
“... Very well,” he agreed. With never another word he climbed to a half-sit and marked the arrangement of the pillows on the bed. Then, still quiet, he turned to his hostess, perched astraddle him and staring. “... Satori—” he started.
“What is it, Garion?”
“... I shall need you below.”
Satori tilted her head. “Say what?”
“On the bottom. I shall need you on the bottom. On the bed. You are too small,” he explained. “I shan’t be able to... access you freely, if we sit.”
“Ah.” Satori understood. “Yes, that’s... that’s true, I guess.”
“Should you lie, I would...”
“You’d be able to move more comfortably, yes?”
“You should have just said so, then.”
“I have now.”
“Yes... As a matter of fact, yes. You have.”
“... Will you lie down, Satori?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I think I will.”
She felt inexpertly awkward, crawling off of him on her own strength, and the chill that enveloped her legs once she was off was less than delightful; but when she sank in the piled-up pillows, and when the boy’s face loomed above her, his golden hair sticking tousled every which way, a wave of warmth erupted from her ears, spilling down her cheeks, neck, and all the way down to her chest. Oh dear, she thought ineffectually.
She hoped she wasn’t blushing too hard. This is what you wanted, Satori, she reminded herself. You were fully aware of what it entailed. Yes, he’s spreading your legs, so what? You knew he would! Quit blushing!
The boy failed to notice her disquiet, or to show if he had. A serious face and a likewise mind he slid between her parted knees. One of his hands pressed down on the pillow beside Satori’s head; the other was once again making itself at home on her naked thigh. Or had it never left? Satori could no more say for a surety. Something else was bothering her.
“Garion?” she called him.
“Must I lift my legs like this? You seem to have done this before; is it really necessary?”
The boy gave her a bewildered look. An instance passed that Satori thought she saw a face flash to and through his mind, a youthful face ruby-eyed, and her heart sank; but just as soon the image was gone, and the blond Garion turned his attention toward her legs. They were fixed to his sides about the waist, and, however Satori looked, seemed just a touch too naked for her taste. There was probably something she could have done about it, but for now, she was willing to live it down. The legs were the one part of her body she didn’t mind him seeing in the nude.
Move them, Satori heard the boy suggest with a thought.
She did, if reluctantly. To her embitterment, she found she could actually move them. More, she could lay them flat on the mattress easily if she wished – it had been simply more natural to let them rest against his hips. Well, this is embarrassing, she thought. Comfortable, maybe, but still embarrassing. She deliberated briefly whether she should do anything about it. Then, she could try for crossing them on his back, alleviating even more weight that way, but... in the end she weighted against it.
There was plenty enough skin contact as it was, and they hadn’t even touched on the main course. She returned her eyes to Garion.
“Are you comfortable?” the boy asked her.
“Yes... Yes, Garion. As much as I’m going to be, I suspect.”
“Good.” Then let us begin.
Yes, Satori thought back, let’s already. “Go ahead, Garion.”
“As you wish.”
The boy nodded and leaned down, but Satori put a small finger across his mouth.
“Ah, Garion? No kissing, please... Not my lips at any rate.”
For a while he stared at her with a blank face, a dark cloud looming at the fringes of his heart.
Satori swallowed. The position made for a difficult one for defence if anything fancied going awry, but Satori did not worry at that. A part of her even excited at the possibility. The stupid part, no doubt. What she feared was she might have daunted him too much with the last restriction. That was her foremost concern.
She resolved to give him a push. “Well, Garion?”
At first he didn’t respond. Stared on instead. Silent. Silent as the grave.
Satori began to worry for real. What do I do? she fretted. I can’t let him kiss me! I wasn’t made to resist kisses. I could never vouch for myself if we kissed. Garion was liable to upset (and sometimes resign altogether) when things did not progress his way, but this was a risk Satori dreaded just too much to take. She was the weaker of the two. She knew that. Who’d hurt more when things went out of control if not she? That was why she worried.
At last, though, the boy inclined his head, slowly.
“... As you wish,” he surrendered.
I don’t, Satori thought, but what she said was, “I do. That’s one of the... things... I feel are going, well, too far, you know? Kissing is forbidden, Garion. Well, on the lips it is. Are we clear on this?”
“Thankfully I don’t have lips everywhere on my body, no?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, that’s what I thought as well. I don’t. That’d be silly.” She adjusted her position a little. “Well, at any rate... Where are you going to begin?”
The boy thought about it. “Elsewhere,” he said.
“Elsewhere sounds good. Go on, then.”
“As you wish.”
That, on the other hand, I really do.
As he had promised, he did.
Wasting not another moment the boy dipped to her level; “elsewhere” turned out to be her hair when, holding his breath, he began nudging through her locks, to get at her flushing ear. The breath was hot when he released it on her skin. Satori felt a frisson running down across her nape. Oh gods, she managed a thought. This wasn’t what she had expected. All he had done was breathe in her ear, and she was shivering already. They were good shivers, but... Satori’s heart beat faster. She bit down on her lower lip, chasing the bad thoughts away.
When his nose began brushing gently on her ear, she had to clench her throat not to let out a sound. All of a sudden Satori’s fingers started to itch. Time and once more Satori splayed her fingers and closed them again, but the itch refused to go. She knew why that was. She knew what she wanted. No... not now, Satori, she begged herself. This is good enough for now. Maybe later... Maybe he’ll think to hold your hands himself... Will he? Oh, it’d be so much better if he just... The boy blew again. Satori shuddered.
Maybe I was wrong? she wondered, returning to the present. Maybe she had been barking up the wrong tree since the very start? All along she had been trying to treat this boy as someone unique, unlike anyone else; but was he really? For all his dispassionate façade, he was still a man with all the manly kinks. Perhaps rather than Garion she should have appealed to someone a few rungs lower on the evolutionary ladder? It seemed disrespectful, but... When ever had respect earned her these sorts of favours? Never is when. Ah...
She closed her eyes as the blond man poked his nose through her hair, inhaling her fragrance. Though we smell the same, since we wash with the same soaps... don’t we? Maybe Satori had some scent of her own of which she wasn’t aware? She had overheard him making remarks on her smell once or twice or some, but it couldn’t be... Could it? Was that why he had gone for her hair as the first thing?
She recalled another instance she’d had him messing around in her mop. The tent situation. Then, too, it had been him come up with the idea of sniffing at her hair, not Satori. Nor was it any show of respect that effected it. Just the two of us being selfish. Only that. And yet, had the results truly been that awful? Could it be? Am I caring too much for him and too little for myself after all? Satori was conflicted. Was she finally arriving at the fundamental error in her advances? Or was she making a mountain out of a molehill? What a fix it is to be me...
Contented with the hair, the troublesome boy slid down to her neck, pausing once to brush his lips on her earlobe. Satori canted her head. She had no wish to make it any harder on him that it already were. Whatever he had eaten before moving into her kitchen, Garion had used it to grow to imposing sizes, while Satori was only as big as the gods had had the whim to create her. That wasn’t very big at all. With his knees clasping her hips, reaching Satori’s neck had Garion engaging in painful-looking gymnastics. Well, he doesn’t absolutely have to sit between my legs, Satori reasoned, trying to rinse herself of the guilt. This is his fault, not mine that I’m so small... Still, tipping her head was the least she could do. The merits far outmatched the costs either way.
Far, far outmatched them.
Satori fought to stay focused whilst her neck was being smothered with kisses. To keep her voice inside took all the effort in the world; about her back, though, she could do close to naught. The boy wasn’t pottering about; and each time he worked his way from her collarbone to her throbbing ear, sliding along her skin and marking every inch with his cool lips, it was everything Satori could do to clinch her fists and feel her spine arc against her will. A sensitive neck had Satori Komeiji. And now the boy knew as well. Nor did he let that knowledge go to waste.
Almost with release did she meet the moment when he moved on from her neck and kissed down her shoulder, elbow and forearm. A short nudge on the wrist and he was prying her fingers open. The fingers gave way, and suddenly he was kissing the inside of her palm.
Satori watched, bemused, as the boy followed after it even when she picked up and pulled it away. What does he think he is now? She opened out her fingers and pushed them against his face, but all it did was make him nuzzle harder. Satori knitted her brows. Awhile, she toyed with the idea of having him chase her hand around a bit, but quickly decided she was being silly again. There were ends to teasing, and that sat well outside them.
There were many things that didn’t.
Something warm and moist pecked the inside of her hand. Satori stiffened. W—What? She started snatching her arm away, but Garion seized it, cat-quick, and locked it down. And then, he began to lick.