"You just…have to be patient with me. I want to be someone you'd be proud to be with."
Isabela stared intently at one of the drab walls surrounding her, amber eyes trailing the agonizing creep of dawn, a nearby window just allowing those infringing, pale rays to paint its surface.
Long, naked fingers continued to drum impatiently against burgundy sheets as she abandoned the languid crawl of the phenomena, only to begin anew her study of the room's beige walls. There were three scuff marks, one irregular indentation, and a countless (she had actually tried, dammit) number of tiny cracks across the blasted things. All of these positively stirring observations making one thing painfully clear:
She was nervous.
Yet. Still, it was…more.
The pirate felt too giddy, too blissful—and all those other spectacularly horrid things that made her mind spin and body twitch. This new outpour of 'feelings' as unwelcome as she felt now, in a certain bed, while Kirkwall's 'Champion' slumbered beside her.
What they had done last night (over and over; Hawke was deliciously insatiable given the right…motivation) had, in parts, been foreign; a newfound intimacy that went beyond pure physical. She…found herself wanting to please the other woman, express all these damnable emotions Hawke roused the only way she truly knew how. And that in itself — it was just wrong. It had always been her pleasure first, a body for the night nothing more than a convenient tool for her satisfaction. The scratch would have been itched and she would have promptly taken her leave.
No strings. No attachments.
But now the damned strings were everywhere, as inexplicably tangled as their aching bodies had been, panting their release… Until the pirate was wrapped so tight — pulled so deep — she could no longer tell where she ended and the other began. A hunger took her. Hands; lips; teeth in a near crazed desperation; desperation on her part to elude words, to prove to Hawke…something; even as both their forms convulsed to a well known pleasure. Sweat slicked limbs wrapped impossibly tight….
It all… touched something it shouldn't have. Scared the living shit out of her. Because all those things didn't come from 'just sex'. That was flesh, and tension, and heat — not need and…
Hawke suddenly shifted on the large bed and Isabela's breath hitched, pulse erratic as her entire body went unnaturally cold…Until the rogue let out a deep sigh as she settled onto her stomach, smacked her lips, and grinned, before snuggling deeper into her pillow.
Isabela had to keep herself from throttling her. Even when sleeping, the other woman was insufferable.
And she, herself, was, apparently, a masochist.
Never in their relationship had the pirate ever chosen to linger in the other's bed until daybreak. It was a gesture…too intimate. Too…everything she did not stand for, bringing expectations she would not keep. Even now, her body buzzed with a near frantic energy, every instinct she possessed demanding she withdraw this very instant.
Why allow such unsolicited torment? Over another? This was not her.
But then her gaze would inevitably settle on the sleeping beauty, linger at those luscious lips parted with the soft exhale of repose. Trail the long, chestnut locks splayed wildly about pillow and face — and that scrumptious skin: a smooth, caramelized brown, yet as sturdy as the wood of the finest ship. The dark sheets teased her mercilessly, fabric inched down from Hawke's earlier movements. A shoulder, mid-back, now exposed… unapologetically revealing the start of an old scar.
Isabela hesitated for the briefest of seconds—before defiantly reaching a finger out; she softly placed the pad of it on the puckered mark and winced, as if mere touch could sear her. This discolored, gnarled strip of flesh that remained as such an ugly reminder of her choices and the other's foolishness. A lasting proclamation of the lengths the other would go to save her.
Just with the thought, she felt it: welling up in waves…tightening her throat with pride. She did not ask to be saved. Nor had she needed it. All of it, arrogance — the highest form. To simply decide to fix another's mess—a mess they had not created—the basis of ownership. A fate decided for her…She would not be left in such a situation again. Handed over for a few gold pieces and a goat. Treated as nothing more than a mere possession, to be hung and displayed as a symbol of another's influence—
"Mmph…" the pirate's hand immediately retracted when realizing her touch had become too severe, Shit. "Isabela?"
The woken woman tried to keep the surprise from touching her tone, but failed. How could she not? Hawke had to be shocked. She was shocked. It was clear she wasn't expecting to wake up to see the woman still lying next to her.
And why should she?
This was obviously a mistake.
Isabela glanced at the large window, sun now bursting through the murky horizon. "Thought I'd stick around and see what the morning ritual at the Hawke estate was like." Nonchalance coated her tongue well, even as her mind swam frantically for the paltry excuse. A leg spilled from the bed's covers, dangling in open air as its toes flexed apprehensively.
She could leave — escape. If she really wanted to.
A nod. "Ah." And that was all, Hawke propping up on her side. "Not too different from yours, I'm sure; I just happen to be in bed this time." Isabela did not have to look to know the other was now grinning. "I usually climb out of whatever ditch I happen to be in, gargle with a bit of ale, spit away from the wind—that's important—and then begin to think on how much havoc I can wreak on everyone's plans for the day."
A sideways glance. "Even lady man-hands?"
Hawke had been grinning. "Especially lady man-hands."
"Well, then: you have my approval." The calf was replaced as the pirate turned to her with a raised brow. "You know…looking as you do now; I might do it more often—" mischief danced in her eyes, "the bed thing. I like this 'just woken up' look. Messy;" she tousled a few unbidden strands of the other's hair, appreciating her naturalness while in the buff, "like you've just had a good lay."
Gaile chuckled. "A pirate plundered me booty."
Isabela smirked: in one fluid motion, strong thighs were draped on either side of the woman's hips, mounting her. "Another go?"
"Only at the risk of sounding desperate…" the rogue's fingers made an electrifying trail down the side of her ribs. "Though, before we begin," digits pressed firmly against the sensitive area, eliciting a pleased response, "I'd like to know why you're really here."
The pirate froze…before burying her face in the crook of Hawke's neck. Really, she hated the other woman at times, how she could so easily cut to the heart of any matter — manage to see her for what she really was.
"We've gone over this, haven't we?" Isabela moved closer, dark lips at her ear as hot breaths paid homage to the delicate flesh. "I was curious to see Kirkwall's Champion before she put on her face…"
"I see." A breath's pause. "What now?"
"Apparently, not sex." Isabela sighed, rolling off the other woman only to settle on her back, brows furrowing. "This is silly. I want to leave, and I can't. Because of you." Rolled eyes. "Shocking, I know."
Gaile tsked, "What ever shall I do? I've a woman who never wishes to be tied down, but holds no objections, whatsoever, to being tied up."
The pirate chuckled, despite herself: that had been proven last night—she did say she would let the other use the rope for once. "The latter's more fun."
"I don't want you uncomfortable. If you left now; I wouldn't be upset."
"I can't." Isabela glared at the ceiling, as if it were the culprit that made her repeat the phrase. "Every time I manage the balls to go, all I see is that bloody hurt expression of yours."
"I overreacted. You didn't have sex with Zevran. That…" another flicker, "I know you're trying."
But 'trying' was no longer good enough. If only she could just say it.
"Hawke…I…would." She watched the other woman shift toward her, a slender brow raised inquiringly. "Change. For you." Amber orbs flicked away, fleeing those penetrating depths. "With time."
It was all made so effortless, the way she said it, and the pirate felt something in her chest flutter and her insides squirm. "You're damn annoying sometimes, do you know that?"
"And I was going for 'charming'…" the rogue was never overt, yet she could feel the transition, "I don't want you to change—that's not what this is about."
Gaile blew out a sigh, running a hand through her loose curls. "Would you change me?"
"Of course I would!" She scoffed. "I'd pluck that butter heart of yours, to start, and that damned compassion while I was at it. Not to mention the fact that you tend to get involved in everyone's problems when there's no need for it." The pirate crossed her arms. "Besides all that, you snore."
"Well, it's not as if I would know." The other gave a good pout. "And here I thought that would be one of the main things you adored about me. Well… I'm going to have to rethink this entire relationship, aren't I?"
Isabela laughed: the woman was fun. It was one of the reasons she…
Why? Why was it still so hard to admit?
Because you don't want to disappoint her.
Love? The falling bit? Boom — done. She was there. Simple. Loving another person, being the sole dependent to their happiness… was a different matter entirely. It took dedication and loyalty, and all those other things she made no time for. But…she found herself wanting this. Wanting… to be good enough for a person who was too damn good for her.
"Bela," Hawke was suddenly there, at her side, conjuring warmth in her easy way as the other placed a kiss on her shoulder, "talk to me…."
Isabela bit her lip: it shouldn't be so hard. "When I left…" the rogue stiffened, "How did you handle it?" She had departed many times, but she knew the other would know of which she spoke as she mentally prepared to navigate this verbal deathtrap.
Neither had truly spoken on those three years. Not really.
"Well, it was mostly sunshine and rainbows. Oh—and this grand parade where all the mages and templars danced and frolicked about Kirkwall. Shame you missed that."
A wall—more than satire. The pirate found she couldn't press; if she did know the other woman as well as Hawke knew her, then it all had to be just as aggravating.
So, she waited. Until the other eventually abandoned her shoulder and rested her head on top her lap.
"Why did you leave?" It came after a short lifetime.
"Why did you fight the Arishok?" A reflex.
"I like being the hero." Isabela continued to stare and that grin faltered. "I couldn't let you go." The admission appeared almost crippling as auburn orbs diverted. "Why did you leave?"
She must have practiced to do that, say those words so calmly. "It was…too much. The book, the duel… you. I needed to get away from it all. Step back." Catch my breath. The pirate usually loved storms—sought them out: the thrill of them—the rush—but, Hawke…took her breath in a way she was unused to. The rush, the thrill; it was no longer her choice. And now she found herself craving it…
Isabela felt the other's thumb massaging her lower back, small, soothing circles as she waited patiently — always patiently. The pirate sighed.
"Do you remember what that Qunari said? That I was 'unworthy'?" Her forehead wrinkled, creases, there, now prominent. "It shouldn't have meant anything—I know me—but it did. It…I didn't deserve what you did for me all those years back." That damnable lump returned to the back of her throat. "I don't deserve you."
There. She had finally reached the heart of it.
Now, if she could just fall on her own dagger….
"What do you deserve?" Gaile shrugged—as if it were all insignificant. "What do any of us?"
Her eyes narrowed. "You're a bloody champion, Hawke. You deserve whatever good the world gives you."
"And if I want only you?"
Brown depths connected — possessiveness finally voiced. Gaze and word combined… Her face flushed with its heat.
The pirate couldn't stand how…She'd be damned if she'd say 'perfect' like some swooning, lovesick…Ah, hell. But she was. Hawke…stayed. She just stayed.
There were times, times Isabela was not proud of, where she wanted to hurt the other woman — wanted to cause enough pain so the foolish woman would just go. In her own, twisted way, she did what she did in hopes that the Hawke would find someone—anyone—who was not her.
"Why?" It was soft. Too soft. Isabela couldn't bring herself to look up after that betrayal of her own voice.
Gaile rose, bringing a hand to cup her cheek, gently bringing conflicted honey orbs her way. "'Why'?" Repeated; her tone questioning.
"Why don't you… You're always just there." The pirate wanted to scream it, smack the words 'what's wrong with you?', across the other's cheek until all that was left was an angry, red mark that could no longer be ignored.
Anything to get a reaction. Anything to get something that was not the wooden grin Hawke gave everyone else.
There were several painful seconds where the other merely sat there, studying the dark, engraved wood of the bed frame… Before regarding her. "I'd like…something constant in my life. It doesn't…Well. It doesn't seem to want to happen, does it?" The rogue smiled—an impostor; Isabela felt something inside… break, at the sight of it. "So, I thought to myself: maybe, if I can be a constant in someone else's life—in a life that has no constants, either—that could be enough. Even if she didn't want it…" she nudged her head indifferently, that hollow smile lingering. "I lose everything, you keep nothing… Seems like it would work."
Isabela hated it — every part. Looking in the other's eyes…It was now painful: a mirror forced upon its viewer, reflecting every hurt; every ache….
The other continued, "You're…uncomplicated—because you don't allow anything else. I get what I see." Everything about her was neutral. "No expectations."
The pirate found herself frustrated—then immediately frustrated at being frustrated in the first damn place. "And I should like that. The unpredictability of it, not knowing where this is going — it should give a thrill. But it doesn't. It just… doesn't." It had always been her game — her rules. But now… "It's not enough." She shook her head, trying to find…whatever it was she wanted to say, "It's…no longer enough…"
Isabela saw the hesitance, could see the wheels turning in the other's head; they both treaded lightly.
"What are you saying?"
"I shouldn't be here." It all came back to that; she shouldn't have stayed—in her bed; in the city: she never stayed. "I have a ship."
"You have me."
"You…" a sigh; exasperated, "It isn't that simple."
"I wasn't meant for an easy life, Isabela. I thought that fairly obvious." Hawke's hand traced the skin of her cheek until she met hair, running her fingers through the uncovered, chocolate mane. "What if it is that simple?"
"It isn't. You should want more. I should…" be more. Her tongue felt heavy and useless.
"Here's the thing:" the rogue motioned to the window, "Kirkwall wants their Champion; their 'Serah Hawke'. Not the long days, not the sleepless nights—that would be in poor taste." There was a pause here, a flash of bitterness—before the moment was gone. "You do. Good; bad — you know me. I don't need to be anything else."
The other tried to convince her. She found she wanted to be convinced.
"I just…" it was this part that was so terrible—feeling completely powerless, "don't know when everything changed. Now, I look at you, and something's always there. And if I don't say these things, show them—" a hand flew to her chest, writhing into a claw, "that happens." Her eyebrows knitted together, willing her gaze to not waver when their eyes met. "Dammit, Hawke; you've gone and changed it all…"
"Isabela." The rogue's voice was steady. "It's enough. You don't have to—"
"No — I need to say this. If I don't… It'll never get said." The pirate inhaled, letting the air pass her lips in a slow, steady stream. Now or never. A personal mantra. "I'm…happy—with you. More than I should be." Sometimes, it was too much; she would realize how happy the other made her and despise it. Despise herself. "But you…I want you to be happy, Hawke…With me." She saw the other was about to speak—protest—and silenced her with two fingers. "Listen. Everyone else…it's just sex. It doesn't go any deeper." Another breath. "Sex with Zev would have been great, but not…you. That's why I'm here — now. I…want that other part."
It was a fraction, the other's eyes widening as she slipped her fingers from her lips, "Bela…"
The pirate scoffed, shakily. "It's fantastic, really. You spend your whole life, years of it, being 'fine': getting along and just going through the motions — and then — bam. Someone like you comes round and shows a person just how bloody miserable they really are."
"I… suppose misery loves company." The reply was given in jest, yet she could spot the sadness behind it. And Hawke's anxiety to stray from the topic. "Be better if that's what you feel you need to do—but, I won't have you changing for me. Not when it was never asked for."
Isabela smiled at that stubbornness. "You've always assumed I'm a stronger person than I really am. Even now, I don't know if I can be that person." There was no use denying it; she'd only be lying to herself: the other woman was far stronger than she ever would be. Never running from her problems, tackling everything—everyone—head-on…Even when it killed her…. "Hawke… I'm willing to try. Give it my all. I want this…us."
"So," Gaile smiled back, the feature pure, if not utterly impish, "that's a 'sorry', then?"
Isabela snatched up a pillow and whacked her.
A chuckle. "I mean, you must like me terribly. I'd hate to see you get clingy."
A second time.
Gaile grinned, capturing the pillow with both hands and bringing it, and the pirate, on top of her with a sharp tug; the pillow was tossed away. "As long as we're clear." A breathy response, the rogue's torso inclining as her auburn orbs darkened with desire.
Isabela felt heat travel to a very different part of her body as her lips crashed into Hawke's, rapidly closing the remaining distance and savoring a sweetness that could only be her. She pressed insistently into the other's curves—bruising—placing a firm hand behind her head so she could not escape, deepening the earth-shattering kiss. Nipping a lip when it still wasn't enough, only to gain immediate access with her tongue.
Every part of her body…Toes to fingertips, trembled and quaked. The other's touch, hands grasping, scratching against her skin, set each nerve ending ablaze, her mind quickly reduced to a single point focused only on pleasure.
All by a single pair of lips.
How Hawke did the things she did… It made her want to scream…. The pirate smirked into the kiss: she no doubt would later.
A need for oxygen made them break apart.
Once even breaths were now needy pants as Isabela instinctively licked her lips. "It's your own damn fault, you know." She scowled…Tried to, at any rate.
Gaile grinned, kissing her again. "Right."
"I hate this."
Another kiss. "I know."
"It's all…so damn…"
The rogue began to nibble a slow trail along her jawline. "Mm-hmm…"
"Pathetic." It came as a moan.
"Well…" Hawke's voice was, husky, at her ear, tongue tracing its natural curve, "I suppose I'll just have to make up for it with years and years of spectacular morning sex, now, won't I?"