Sacrifice Ch. 05bypandarus©
That might be something to see...now that she was sure the glare wasn't meant for her. In fact...it was down right intriguing. In the back of her mind Calliope was already trying to remember the events of the day...this time without her own fears and insecurities coloring them and blinding her to whatever else had been happening. They began moving towards the other set of suits, and she was pulled once more from her thoughts.
"I doubt I would be of much assistance. He seems adamant...and honestly, I have never known him to be unreasonable, so I have to trust he has a logical reason for not wanting to be there."
"Well I'm not really arguing with that, I'm just looking for an ally."
"I..." What could she say? "I suppose I could try, if he seems receptive to the idea."
"I guess I can't ask much more than that...considering."
The Lady Nagi eyed her sideways with a wry smile. "When I put you on the spot earlier...I was expecting quite a different reaction. I had assumed you were the usual sort of courtesan, and it surprised me as it's something which was unexpected coming from my brother...so really I shouldn't have expected it. Clearly I was mistaken...unless I'm not? Are you a courtesan after all?"
"I'm not a courtesan, no. Just a s-servant." She stopped herself from saying slave at the last second, though she didn't quite know why. One thing was a good as the other.
"Oh? He hired you did he?"
"No, he...he receives tributes every several years. This last time, instead of gold or livestock—"
"Oh, yes...the sheep. I really don't understand the appeal of that...go on, I'm sorry for interrupting."
"Ah, well, instead of the usual tribute, he received people."
"What on earth for? Don't tell me he's decided to give up the glamorous lifestyle of a troglodyte and is opting for something more civilized..."
"We were meant as servants...but only I remained in the end...as he had no use for so many, and there is Demitri of course, but the addition of one person is hardly noteworthy."
"You'd be surprised. Especially in this case. The addition of one to many is nothing. The addition of one where there had been nothing...now that Is something. This is another reason I wanted to speak with you. I don't know what you are to him," she paused and came to a stop, and Calliope realized they were now standing in a mirror image of the living area they had just left, "and I won't pry too much, at least not yet, but his reaction in the hall when that man was pestering you was telling enough. Enough for me to know there is no 'just' involved in whatever it is you actually are. You can tell people what you want, toward whatever end you want, but I wasn't born yesterday. I'll play along with the 'just a servant' thing if you like, but don't insult my intelligence by trying to sell it to me as well."
Calliope really had not response for that. She stared, a little shocked, finally managing to stutter something out to answer the scrutinizing gaze that the Lady was aiming at her. "I...I didn't mean to infer you were. Born yesterday...that is. I meant no insult..."
She surprised her even further by laughing at that, almost gleefully. "No, of course you didn't." The Nagi's eyes narrowed and she lowered herself enough to look Calliope in the eye as if examining them for something, "You probably half believe it yourself, don't you. Regardless," she straightened out and smiled, "my purpose in bringing it up was because I wanted to warn you. Your presence caught my attention, as you well know, and it will most certainly have caught the attention of others, particularly after the scene in the hall."
"Yes." She agreed absently, her mind trying to re-figure the moment from the perspective of the other observers. It was difficult considering the heart stopping terror she'd felt at the sight of him bearing down on her kept getting in the way. No, not at Her, she reminded herself once again, he was angry with the man...mostly.
"It's unavoidable, and there are a few who are not overly fond of your master, and who would take special interest in you as a way to needle him, or as an opportunity to take something from him. But, having said that, you seem to have a sort of...oh, I don't know how to describe it. I want to say an 'iciness' about you, but that's not quite the word. I think you should continue to use that, whatever it is. Perhaps aloof is a better word...whatever you want to call it, I think it will work well for you here."
"A cold fish," She murmured softly, frowning in thought at the floor.
She looked back up. "A cold fish. That's what I've been called, among other things. If that's what you mean to say."
"I didn't mean it in insulting way. It's just an aura you have, that you are here for your own reasons and business, and not for our entertainment. That in itself is atypical and will catch some attention, but as I said you can use it to keep them at arms length. It will keep them out of your hair and more importantly, out of his line of sight. We're going to be trapped here together for a bit and the last thing we need is Him taking someone's head off because they misinterpreted your attempt to be friendly as an invitation. Better to wound a few egos and have them dismiss you as a frigid bitch than have to deal with That fall out.
She nodded. She wasn't insulted. After all, it wasn't the first time someone called her that. Everyone thought there was something off about her...something unapproachable and distant. Well, no...that wasn't entirely true was it. Demitri had never made comments like that. He'd teased her about other things...but not that.
And then there was Thelios. He'd never even hinted that there was anything wrong with her. He'd certainly never said she was cold...and had gone so far as to deny it outright...though it probably didn't hurt that he'd been between her legs at the time, busy making her feel very warm indeed. But then maybe he had odd standards.
Even when she'd become strangely emotional those few times, something he said he had little patience for...he'd merely accepted it and shrugged once he was sure she was neither hurt nor truly upset. It was a bit confusing.
Was she so different with everyone else than she was with him? Perhaps so. She certainly felt comfortable with both of them, at home when it was just...family? Friends? No...it was that and something else, something more than that as well...
"Are you quite alright? I haven't upset you have I?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I just have quite a bit to think about. I'm sorry."
"I wouldn't fret too much. Just keep near him and he'll hold you out of trouble, I'm sure." Calliope blinked as the woman laid a hand on her shoulder. "Now, go back to him with one last request that he join us. Yes?"
Calliope gave a half bow and bid the Lady a pleasant evening. She wasn't sure she was quite ready to be thrust back out there with all those overwhelming people, and much preferred the idea of spending the evening quietly with Thelios, but she had to admit some curiosity as to what these dinners entailed.
Then again, it didn't follow that just because he went, she would be going as well. In which case, she might stay in the rooms and have her quiet evening regardless. She was forced to admit that she'd definitely prefer to have him with her though. Especially after a day like today. As pathetic as it was, she felt she required some consolation.
She'd seen a glimpse of his usual humor before Lady Nagi had left, and she was now almost positive that none of his frustration was with her...but it would put her mind at ease to see some definite confirmation of it.
He had been so cool toward her when he first arrived...but then perhaps that wasn't for her benefit at all. He'd been very direct in ordering the men, and very no nonsense. Which was a good thing really...appropriate for his rank here, and if he was truly trying to cultivate his dominance over these brothers of his so that he could keep them from pestering him overmuch, then it was what he needed to do. She nodded mentally, her mind rearranging the situation in her head in a much more logical and cohesive fashion until she almost felt her usual self.
Her mind finally managed to conjure him in her memories without the taint of her own insecurity...and the image wasn't unappealing. What he lacked in his usually easy, confident manner, he made up for with sheer commanding presence. While not comforting, she had to admit...it was a little bit exciting. It was pleasing to see others defer to him, to see her master respected...feared even. But she needn't fear him, did she? It wasn't as if he was unreasonable, and so long as she was reasonable, what offense could a reasonable person take? It seemed logical enough to her.
On that last thought she found herself back at the door to his private rooms. She hesitated at the door for a moment, noticing a shifting movement out of the corner of her eye. She glanced toward it, half expecting to see Demitri, but instead she caught a glimpse of blonde hair disappearing into one of the rooms at the end of the greeting hall. She watched to see if the figure would emerge, but there was nothing, no sound or movement to disturb the simple, clean, whiteness of the space. Even the flowers in the strange courtyard were as still in the dimming twilight.
Another glance told her many more lamps had been lit, and she decided that must have been what the girl was busy doing. Satisfied she turned her attention back to her master and his current mood.
When the door was fully closed behind her, Calliope turned and leaned against it as she watched Thelios. He was watching her back, and brooding again from the look of it.
"Why Are you glowering, really?"
"I don't want to be here." If she hadn't been sure he was incapable of it, she might have suggested she saw a pout somewhere in his expression.
The corner of her lip twitched. "So you're just being petulant?" She teased softly.
He glared at her, but her small smile didn't dim. There was something more familiar in that glare...she could see that now with her new perspective, and she couldn't be upset by it any longer.
"No. I am not petulant. Irritated...Annoyed...Frustrated. Never petulant." He cocked a brow at her waiting for a response, but she had nothing to say to that. So he sighed and closed his eyes, rubbing his brow with one hand.
"That I'll readily admit to." He muttered, still massaging his forehead. "I've been to Hades and back trying to get information I already knew just to shut these people up...so I've no desire to spend any more time in their company than I absolutely must." He must have read something in her expression because he smirked and added, "Figuratively speaking of course. I haven't actually been to Hades...it just felt that way."
She finally moved from the door and approached to slip in behind him, dragging her fingers across his broad shoulder, feeling the skin respond to her touch, until they found his neck. He grunted softly as they began to knead the tight muscle and tendons which ran from his skull back down to his shoulders.
It wasn't easy work, it never was, but he was clearly tenser than normal...not surprising, and with the added size, there was just that much more to deal with. She quickly became focused on one particular knot, just behind his right shoulder, and was frowning hard at the spot as she dug in with the heal of her palm to push it out. She could hear his breath hitching when she pushed especially hard, but other than that, he made no sound and didn't even shift as she pushed against him. He was like one of those statues out in the hall, just as silent and just as hard.
It was because of her focus that she was startled when her laboring hand was suddenly captured and pulled forward over his shoulder. Her own breath hitched and her lips parted in silent surprise as she watched him turn his head to press his lips to the now aching palm of her hand.
He turned away again, but didn't release her. She couldn't say how long she stood there, staring at her hand caught in his before she felt herself slowly melt into the back of him, wrapping her free arm around his shoulder, and pressing her own lips to the back of his neck.
He tasted of the sea. More than he usually did, anyway.
She told him so. He chuckled softly and told her she did as well and that they should both probably take a bath.
"Now?" she asked.
"Not quite yet."
After another long moment she moved around the side of the chair, letting her arms drop from around him. She noticed that the glass she'd poured him had remained untouched. "Do you want that wine yet?"
"No. Not the wine."
He reached out and caught her by the arm, pulling her back toward him until he could grab her by the waist. She chuckled as his hands literally encased and lifted her, depositing her in his lap like a sack of flour. She perched easily on one of his massive thighs, her own legs falling to either side, and let herself lean back against his chest.
For a time they merely sat like that, unmoving. His chest rose and fell slowly behind her, lulling her into relaxation until everything began to feel normal again...at least normal for them. She sighed and closed her eyes with a small, crooked smile.
One of his thumbs began making slow circles against her stomach. Her smile faded and she literally felt her heart begin to beat faster and harder in her chest, fluttering against her ribs like a caged bird. She'd allowed herself to be distracted by everything else, but now that they were alone, in the quite, still room, the issue she'd been avoiding for the last week or so had once again reared its unavoidable head.
The fact was she'd have to tell him sooner or later...better sooner...but she was inclined toward later. Completely out of cowardice of course...she had no better reason than that. She was afraid of what he'd say...or do. That he would be upset, or unhappy with the news. She liked to think that he would be his usual calm and reasonable self, but then she'd thought that about her fa...no...this wasn't the same...
Perhaps not today then...but soon. It couldn't be put off too long. Once she'd found out a little more about his views on the subject it might be easier. She could find a way to ask, subtly of course, and then she'd know better what she was getting into.
She looked down to see her hands on top of his. She couldn't decide if his added size made his look bigger or hers smaller. At the moment, it felt like the later, though she knew it was only her perspective playing tricks on her.
Why are you so much bigger than usual?"
"Not that much bigger...a foot or two at most."
"It seems like more than that."
He didn't answer, but she smiled as she felt his mouth against the back of her bare shoulder. "You have had a great deal to take in, everything probably seems like more than it is. I imagine this is all somewhat overwhelming."
She couldn't argue with that. "I have to admit," she considered aloud, "I'm relieved to hear you say that. I...I'm feeling a little lost at the moment, and it's comforting to know that you aren't blind to it."
"No, I'm not. I'm sorry for what happened in the hall, I shouldn't have left you alone." His mouth was now grazing her ear. She felt what she knew to be one of his fangs brushing against her neck, just below her earlobe and shuddered. It definitely wasn't fear that caused the tremor this time though. "And to answer your question, I like to make sure they remember that I can choose to be this size or that...and that I can become much larger if I need to. So I keep them on their toes by constantly changing. It's a thinly veiled threat."
She smiled at the admission. "Can't they do the same?"
"No. Well...one of my sisters can shift forms...but it's not all that common. It's not something we inherited from our father."
When he refrained from saying more, she offered another thought. "You seem...seemed different as well...not just your size...perhaps that effected my perceptions as well."
"Perhaps." He didn't deny it, but he didn't confirm it either.
"Can I assume that it wasn't for my benefit?"
"You may. But we're not so dissimilar in that regard I think, you and I. What we are with others isn't what we are when we're alone."
"Or when we're with each other, it would seem." She agreed, remembering his sister's observations...and Thelios's own private comments to the contrary.
"That's what I meant by alone, Calliope."
She shifted in his lap, turning sideways to see his face. It was still sterner than normal...his brow slightly troubled, but nothing she wasn't familiar with. It was the look he'd get when he was trying to decide which pasture to take the sheep, when what he wanted was to take them east to avoid the winds on a blustery day, but knew the exposed fields nearer the water needed to be rotated in to avoid over-grazing, and soon. It was the same mildly irritated look of chagrin she'd seen a dozen times before. It meant something was bothering him, but nothing she couldn't handle.
"What is it?" she asked, curiously. He lifted a brow, and then smirked.
"It's nothing." She watched his face a moment longer then decided she'd accept the answer and leaned into him. He responded by pulling her legs up over his other thigh and pulling her tighter in against him. She felt his hand slide under the hem of her dress near her ankle and winced.
"No, no, no." She pulled her calf out of his hand...or tried to, but his grip only tightened.
He looked amused. "No?"
"I...they...leave my legs alone." She tried to cover them and push his hand off at the same time. It didn't work. "I haven't had time to..." She winced as his hand climbed up her calf. She'd been on a ship in close quarters with almost a dozen men...there had been no place or time to make herself presentable. He grinned and chuckled, making her blush.
"Because of your prickly legs?"
She blushed harder and tried in vain to pull away. "If you'll let me go, I'll go clean myself up."
He didn't. He laughed, and his hand climbed up over her bent knee and back down her thigh. She instinctively held her breath as his hand approached and cupped her sex, despite her best efforts to squeeze off his access. It was no use, so she gave up and relaxed a little in his grip...though her face was no less pink and burned no less hotly. His thumb lightly brushed over her mons, making her grit her teeth. She tried to keep herself covered, but his arm was making it all but impossible. He only made it worse by sliding the other hand up to reach around her and threatened to tease one of her breasts as well.
"What if someone comes in" She breathed.
"Then I'll tell them to leave...unless you want them to watch..."
He laughed softly at her response. She let out her own nervous laugh, but still kept pushing at his hands. Pointlessly, as she was still also attempting to hold herself up and her own hand was so much smaller than his.
"Not an exhibitionist then?"
She flushed and tried to wriggle out of his grip...equally pointless. "Perhaps we should go to your rooms?" she offered feebly.
"These are my rooms." His fingers were now tugging at the fabric of her dress, and inching his fingers toward the pin fastened at the shoulder to hold the material together.
"Here as well?" He murmured.
"Where?" She asked in confusion, still making a valiant effort at remaining at least partially clothed.
The hand between her thighs squeezed, causing one or two fingers to dig into her sex. "Here."
She swallowed a gasp and was about to repeat her offer to remove the offending hair, but he cut her off before she could. "Why?"