I gaze at the white root of her hair, worrying about her current state of mind. I’m sure Leomi is sincere but that doesn’t mean she’s telling the truth. I still have to answer, we’re baring our hearts out after all.
“These are sequela from the Little one, it’s what the parasite is called.” I tell her.
Even with that answer, Leomi doesn’t pause and keeps pecking my scars, pressing her lips on the next one. I think of how to explain it and end up deciding to just give her the truth along with some of my conclusions.
“It was instructed to limit itself to symbiosis but my constant use of its capabilities against the Rykz’ advice and my injuries made it so that its instincts as a parasite pushed past the strict boundaries it was given.” I explain, shivering at the memories that emerge but I find myself unable to tell if it’s from yearning for it or relief that it’s gone. “It merged with my injured flesh to sustain me and grow in order to save my life.”
“It’s gone now.” Leomi oddly whispers, like she didn’t hear what I just said. “You’re safe.” Is she talking to herself?
“I think you’re lying to yourself.” I tell her because I have to but brace for the incoming storm, either her or Elizabeth will blow.
“Why?” She asks without a change in her tone but with narrowing eyes.
“You said it ruins me.” I reply calmly but Liz manages to slip some of her resentment in.
“You just told me yourself that it did, it consumed you.” Leomi contests, giving up on her comforting kisses to look up to me.
“You may not think of me as a monster, but your reaction to it in the past clearly indicates you think of it as one and as the two of us as worse.” I utter, struggling to restrain Liz who’s the one most attached to the Little One and also oddly the most forgiving towards it trying to consume us.
Leomi keeps her silence but her difficult expression speaks loudly of her internal conflict. She starts shaking. What I said clearly made her aware of her feelings and unable to suppress them.
“What do you want me to do?” Leomi asks, her voice cracking. “It made you other than human, it took us apart, it hurt your mind and body.” The anguished words pour out of her like a cascade. “It’s wrong.” She repeats. “I… I just can’t.” She falls over my chest, looking distraught.
Liz reaches out and gently brush her hair back into place, obtaining a grateful look from my exhausted Leomi. Even E.Vil can’t get mad at her kitten when she tries so hard, even when her joined existence with the Little one is qualified as ‘wrong’.
We must face reality as well. What now? It is foolishness to think we could achieve progress enough in a mere three years to reconcile our lovers. No, it can be done. Only at the risk of losing both by making them unhappy, success would come at a price paid by them rather than us.
I feel an icy cold spread inside my chest. Liz is right. No, she can’t be. Jessica, Elizabeth, Vil, Freepath. Listen. If survival is to be found in the end, pursuing both, would be unjustifiable but, also what we owe us and them. Until then, we must use ourselves, to bring happiness to oak and kitten, while achieving our goal.
A mad giggle escapes me as I realize that the shadow of death is strangling my life. Leomi immediately tenses up so I snap my mouth shut. Her eyes are full of worry and her expression is guilty. She tries to move, like to comfort me, but I place my hand on her back to stop her.
“You aren’t at fault.” I reassure her gently. “Let us be together until the time comes.” For me to return to Celyz before my time runs out; or use the symbiont and likely perish.
“The time?” Leomi asks.
“To die.” I utter flatly. “I’m going to die, Leomi.”
She rises slowly, expressionless like she didn’t hear me. Yet, the fact she’s moving proves quite clearly that she did. I seize her throat just as she raises her right hand to caress my cheek. Leomi doesn’t change course, much less react, neither do I remove my hand.
“You give it all to me, then tell me to lose it.” Leomi says in a disturbingly quiet voice. “I won’t allow you to die, it will never be necessary for you to go back to these… Rykz.” Her hatred seeps out.
“Go back?” I blink. How did she know I… Oh, fuck.
She stops stroking my cheek, her thumb’s nail ends up a few millimeters away from my left eye. I tighten my grip on her throat as a threat and to hurt her but she doesn’t even seem to realize it.
“Yes, to seek out that parasite and bring destruction.” She marks a pause, likely realizing the holes in her eerily accurate read. “No.” Leomi’s hand twitches. My eyelid closes itself by reflex, intercepting the nail a moment before it digs into my eyeball. “You did not keep it.” Leomi says with a panicked voice. “Tell me you didn’t…” She trails off.
I squeeze harder but my current strength seems only barely able to restrict her airway. Her face grows a bit redder but that’s it. Leomi’s eyes suddenly fall on her thumb and she slides it down to my nose, pushing it to the right so hard the bones hurt.
“Of course you did, otherwise, there would be no need for the broadsword.” Leomi utters with a sharp tone. “And wouldn’t be so insane as to speak of it.”
“Well, actually…” I chuckle and push the tip of my thumb into her neck. “I am.”
“This, this isn’t about my issues. It’s not about whether I am too controlling or not tolerant enough.” Leomi whispers like she’s trying to convince herself. “We’re talking about your life…” She takes a deep breath.
“Listen to me Leomi.” I stop her before she does or says something stupid we can’t go back from.
Her eyes turn to mine and the haziness in her expression disperses. Her upper lip is hitched up, showing her right canine. It sends an excited shiver down my spine, a good one, that of averted doom. There is danger hanging in the air but she is listening.
“I have the parasite but you won’t do a thing to it because I’m not going to use it. It isn’t even part of my plans.” I tell her.
“You wouldn’t have it if that was the case.” She denies.
She releases the pressure on my nose to move her thumb down to my mouth, pushing it inside past my lips. I clench my teeth over it but don’t go any further, I even loosen my grip on her throat as she seems to be listening.
“You won’t use it?” She questions intently.
“I will not use it unless I have no other choice.” I tell her the truth, aware that it might not suffice.
My voice sounds odd because of her finger. I watch the conflict occur in her through the expression of her body. Her chest rises and lowers above mine, her slightly trembling narrowed eyelids.
“That is not good enough.” Leomi refuses.
Her thumb plunges down, pushing under my tongue while her other fingers wrap around to enclose my jaw. The grip makes me feel trapped, like my kitten has me inside her claws.
I throw my legs around her waist and cross my ankles to secure my hold, threatening to slam her down on the mat if she were to push it. Leomi rises up a fraction on her knees.
I’m eminently aware that she’s just freed the left hand she was using as support but there isn’t much I can do without a left arm. I could have headbutted her but she already countered it. She doesn’t waste time to seize my wrist in order to stop me from freely strangling her again.
“Do we have to do this?” I ask, barely managing to hold Liz back.
“You moved first and it grounds me.” She replies shortly.
“Speak.” I tell her, acknowledging that I did.
“You do not touch that thing before giving me a chance.” She orders.
“A chance?” I ask.
“To gather enough power to save you.” Leomi explains between grit teeth. “To make it right.” She adds, throwing a look to my left half of a shoulder.
“We’re equal and even.” Liz barks, taking offense.
“We are. This isn’t about you but me. I took it, I’ll return it.” She says. “Saving your life is mostly for my benefit as well.” She adds absentmindedly. “I choose to do this, I am not asking for your opinion.”
I don’t gain any hope from her words. I trust her and I know she could do what she says… if she had the time. But neither of us do. Even if she could gather enough flow within three years, the issue is how to apply it without killing me.
“I swear I’ll keep it in mind.” I tell her, preparing to throw her with my legs even though it won’t gain me much with her set to retaliate.
“…” Leomi’s grip on my jaw and wrist tighten.
I feel her thumb slide, the nail scraping the inside of my mouth. I soon find a metallic taste in my saliva. The worse of the pain comes from how the underside of my jaw is being squeezed, my wrist hurts but it isn’t much. We decide to give her time before fighting back, after all, we did overreact with the strangling.
“You’ll keep it in mind… Is that all I’m worth?” She finally asks. The defeat I hear in her voice and see on her face wrenches at my guts.
“No, but I refuse to slowly wither.” I reply, unable to hold her gaze even though it’s akin to leaving myself open to a humiliating loss if she were to decide to try a physical approach to the issue.
“I understand.” Leomi murmurs.
“I fear how much you love me, when the time comes…” I stop in the middle of my argument. “Wait, what did you say?”
“I understand.” She tells me, letting me go. “I don’t like or agree to it, but I understand.”
I slowly unwrap my legs from her waist and release her throat, shaken by her reaction. There is no doubt she’s against it but she isn’t going to challenge me? It makes me feel lost instead of relieved.
“Are we not more forthright like this?” Leomi questions, lowering her light gray eyes to direct them at my exposed body.
“I guess.” I reply hesitantly while closing my thighs.
She makes a corner smile at my reaction but soon discards the spectacle I made of myself by being shy and locks gazes with me. This time, I refuse to let their abyss take me. I keep myself straight and open, enjoying the fact that her breath catches.
“Then, I’ll speak my mind.” Leomi says, standing upright on her knees. “After everything that thing cost you, why rely on the Rykz?”
“Not the Rykz, Celyz.” I correct her. I expect an explosion but she merely swallows whatever emotion she’s feeling and remains attentive. “She did everything she could to stop me from doing further harm to myself before she even found out about what the Little one was doing to me.” I tell Leomi, deciding that it’s come too far to hold back.
“Everything? No.” Leomi denies firmly, snarling exquisitely. It’s not fair that she looks magnificent while baring her teeth, it’s just not fair. “Whose idea exactly was it for you to become Elizabeth Vil?”
“Mine.” I frown, aware that this kitten is pushing me into a trap but resolved not to fall for it. “You both hold the opinion that I shouldn’t have chosen that path but I did by myself, for myself, for us.”
“It all played in the Rykz’ favor.” Leomi utters flatly. “Is that another ‘innocent’ outcome? Like the attempt to seduce you?”
What ‘trying’? I don’t let Leomi’s pride, or arrogance, get in the way because Leomi is using her intelligence and that makes her far more dangerous than if she just let her emotions loose.
“If she was so devious, you wouldn’t be here and neither would I be.” I deny. “Haven’t you set your differences aside? You even admitted she cares for me.” I ask, putting the pressure on Leomi.
“That thing…” She starts.
“Beware.” I utter with a growl.
“That Rykz caring for you, it does not mean what you think it does.” Leomi tells me with an intensity that scares me because she radiates certainty. “Whatever her illegitimate feelings for you, that vixen will never hold you higher than her sisters or her Hive. Heal you? It would cost the Rykz more than they’ll ever agree to, even more so in the middle of the war the Empire provoked.”
I let slide Leomi’s opinion about the legitimacy of Celyz’ right to me because, even if I get the two to be friends, the one thing my kitten will never allow is to split her ownership of me. At most, she can be made to agree to a loan if she has control. I almost laugh at Elizabeth’s interjection but can’t manage to.
“That may be the case.” I say carefully. It hurts inside that there could be truth to Leomi’s words but I can’t condemn Celyz on a hypothetical.
“That bystander said something you should hear.” Leomi says, looking slightly more confident.
“What?” I can’t help but ask.
“Those aren’t my words. She said, ‘What use is my kind Elizabeth’s tolerance of your abuse if it can’t even save her from herself?’” Leomi relates. “It doesn’t understand you, or our love, yet it told me to be worse to you!” She presses.
The fact Leomi keeps using demeaning qualifiers to address Celyz could make me angry but it comes from fear so all it does it make my heart pang with guilt. Celyz was in no way suggesting what Leomi thinks she was but more likely venting her frustration.
“What do you want from me by telling me this?” I question, unable to handle lingering on the pain I’m causing them both.
Leomi startles and her irises widen. Her expression fills with regret and she reaches for me with trembling fingers. I rise and place my cheek in her palm, closing my eyes for a brief moment to give myself time to settle down.
“To doubt them and wait for me to find a way as long as possible. The University could have the inkling of a solution, or someone with enough talent to pioneer one.” Leomi breaks the silence. “It’s possible to even ask the Emperor if the Hospitaliers become important enough.”
“Leomi, I can’t commit to a decision. It would only hurt you more if something unexpected happens and I broke my word.” I explain, grateful that she changed the subject. Yet, I find woe in her expression when I open my eyes.
“Then hurt me.” She pleads like a last resort, clearly not thinking straight.
“You can’t ask that of me.” I deny.
It hurts to refuse but I have the strength because it would be so much worse later if I gave her false relief now. Leomi suddenly lets herself drop, falling atop of me without warning.
I feel her teeth grab my ear just as my back impacts the mat but then her knee rams into my lower-stomach, so hard that I almost fail to notice the breasts she puts in my face because it feels quite like my bowels have reversed, that my guts are being squashed like a mop.
A sickening sensation fills my stomach but I don’t counter-attack because it wasn’t an attack. Her movement was too sudden, awkward, and unexpected considering her previous expression.
There is also the fact she’s gnawing at my ear right now, which I would enjoy if it didn’t like my ovaries are trying to escape my belly for mistreatment. Leomi soon realizes that something’s wrong and pushes herself up.
“Did I…? Oh, I’m so so…” Leomi stops herself just in time. I would have struck her if she apologized I think, not because of any reasoning, just out of pure spite. “That was not an attack.” She tells me, looking pale.
“It’s, actually pretty, endearing.” I tell her, pushing a groan of pain down. “That you can, be clumsy as well.”
“Should I do it again?” She asks with a half-teasing, half-eager to do it again.
“Try me.” I grunt in a weak voice.
I’m not sure myself whether I say this to protect myself out of defiance or to give her permission out of guilt. Either way, my agonizing body didn’t calculate the right response because she’s sadistic and both give her an opening to exploit so there’s no telling what she’ll choose to do.
Leomi doesn’t speak but she shifts off me to settles at my side and start rubbing my stomach in a gentle way. I give her a grateful kiss on her left breast, which is a win for me as well.
“You’re not mad at me?” I ask when I recover my breath.
“Oh, I am.” Leomi shakes her head, her traits somehow turn sharper.
“But?” I press.
“We have limited time.” She says with a quiver in her voice. “I would much rather make you happy right now. When the time comes…”
She clearly doesn’t finish because the implications are obvious in how she presses just lightly on my belly to cause me a spike of utter agony. I nod in acknowledgment. She’s dissatisfied, and the word is light. It occurs to me that, if Leomi weren’t so twisted, we might not deserve her.
A good fifteen minutes pass before the pain fully recedes. Once it does, I push Leomi so that she lies on her back and sit down between her legs. She instantly wraps me in her arms.
She places her right hand on my left side and her left on my right side, spreading her fingers but not completely. The gestures are slight but full of meaning. It’s a claim, a way to say she possesses me.
I’m willing to give this to her for free but I won’t because my greed doesn’t lose to hers. Also, I do not want her to think that I’m rewarding her for keeping her jealousy in check because that would be the best way to get her to lose her temper.
So, I reach over my shoulder and grab the back of her neck. I pull her head next to mine without being nice about it and hold it there for me to use as a pillow. She rests her chin there without a complaint but she does pick me up, seemingly without an effort, and sits me down on her thighs. She’s a freaking giant.
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