Running Strong

Against the heavy mud wall of the cool cellar room, Kain's lips brushed her throat, Kain's leg shoved tight and tingling between hers, and he hesitated and whispered that her parents were looking down from heaven, they must know, and she answered, "If they're looking, they see that I love you. Kiss me. Please."

They weren't supposed to do it, but they did.

Hidden behind curtains in the starry chill of the night, she touched his belly, she touched his—"What do I call it, anyway? Prick just sounds like I'm insulting you, manhood makes it sound like something that bursts into rooms to rescue people...well, it does!" and as he laughed and laughed naked beneath her, she kissed the swollen head of it, loved the weight of it, and when he breached her virgin before her wedding night, she cried only a little in pain and so much in joy, and didn't have to lean back and think of angels at all.

She wasn't supposed to enjoy it, but she did.

When she prayed the next day, she only whispered the bits about sin, because how could anything that felt that good be wrong?

But then he was gone.

Out of the afternoon sun from the west, out of the sheeting golden light, came a boy just as golden, pale in the brightness, not the brown of Lior, strong little body swaying and bounding over the sand, and she wanted to touch his hair and soften his fighting eyes and lick the salt off his skin and hold all that compact strength against her breast, and even the thought of Kain's grave couldn't stay her wandering eyes.

She wasn't supposed to want him, but she did.

His arm was metal, his arm was steel, and at first glimpse she screamed, because flesh wasn't where flesh should be by all rights of god, but later, after they'd shackled him to the wall, she wondered what it would feel like, whether it was cold to the touch, whether her body would answer if steel fingers brushed her breasts, her stomach, whether he would scream if she leaned over right now and took helpless metal digits in her mouth, spit polish, but she ran away anyway.

She wasn't supposed to think it, but she did.

He was a foreigner and he was not the man she loved, for she was wed to death now, grass widow by mourner's custom, and he frightened her, but too made her want to stagger to her feet and walk, run, and could it really be so wrong to look, to dream?

But then he was gone.

When the general's hand closed heavy over her chin, she flinched, teeth bared, and when the leer spread over his face, her gut rolled and she felt fear like she hadn't known since the great broken bird staggered towards her, but because it wasn't fear of the unknown, because there were lives at stake, she bit her lip, dove into a game she wasn't sure she could win, and shifted where she crouched and whispered, "I'll give you what you want. Just spare the children."

She wasn't supposed to invite him, but she did.

"Do you have a wife?" she asked him soft in the darkness, willing her hands across his heavy pale body, kneeling naked over him as he quavered in helpless lust and whispered that, yes, he did, and she smiled and said, "I had a husband, once," and lowered herself onto him and bought her freedom with the clutches of her cunt.

She wasn't supposed to whore herself, but she did.

Because the rest of the soldiers were staring at her too, and she had to keep moving, she couldn't be afraid, hurt, helpless, and it was better than the alternative, wasn't it?

But then he was gone.

After Hakuro, Scar's big hands frightened her when they landed on her shoulders, but only a little, and he was a man of Ishbal, aloof, respectful, bound by taboos as ancient as Leto's, though outcast too, a murderer too, arm as unnatural as Ed's all shifting muscles and dark ink in the war-clouded sunset.

She wasn't supposed to accept him, but she did.

He wept for his brother, for his country, for a woman without a name; he wept beneath eyelids distorted by the pale and jagged cross, and she slid thin arms around broad shoulders and did not weep because she was stronger, because she was a woman, and cradled his head between her breasts, and licked away his tears with his scar rough beneath her tongue, and kissed him.

They weren't supposed to do it, but they did.

And really, after all their crimes, after all the gods they'd betrayed, what was one more sin upon their souls, a little blot of lust, when all it brought them was some small, sweet comfort in their endless, hellish trials?

But then he was gone.

And when Lyla with the ancient eyes offered her steaming poppy tea, she narrowed her eyes, hesitated, whole and unharmed and animal suspicious and running now, running towards the future, towards, perhaps, Edward in the distance, steel flashing in the sun.

Hesitated, tossed her head, and refused.