Several years later...
The night had come on early, brought on by a rush of heavy clouds that quickly turned to rain, and Elanie sighed and listened to the storm. Despite the chill outside, the house where she sat, curled up in a thick woolen cloak, was warm and almost cozy, and she felt herself growing dangerously drowsy. Like any good assassin, that feeling made her uneasy, and she shifted in her chair and tried to bring her tired mind to attention.
She was a small eleven-year-old girl, rather short and lean, built as thin as a fox and possessing the same deceptive strength, with curly, dark blond hair that was frizzy from the rain. If one didn't know otherwise she could almost be mistaken for an average little girl, albeit a strange one who wore all black and carried five visible weapons. However, her name and title were known throughout the city and beyond - Elanie the Dreamstalker, the most dependable and expensive of assassins, the more dangerous half of the Dark Pair. She took a sip of milk, yawned, and settled deeper into her warm, comfortable cloak.
Her partner, Calsey, sat across from her, drinking hot chocolate and grinning slightly. Her skin was deathly pale but her face slightly flushed, in sharp contrast to the liquid-black hair that flowed down her back like a midnight waterfall, almost touching the floor. A few stray strands fell across her face, like raven feathers on snow, shading her eyes. She brushed them aside with a delicate hand. Her build was like Elanie's, her body concealed under a thin dark cloak.
Calsey's twelve-year-old voice was like heavy black silk, whispery soft and dark, quiet and subdued, almost tactile.
"This chocolate, baby-girl, is delicious." she whispered over the top of her tiny voice.
Elanie looked at her with mild annoyance that was mostly pretend. However, she didn't like Calsey's deliberate teasing that made her aware of being the younger one.
"Casey, you know that you're not supposed to drink that. Sugar makes your body weak."
She laughed. "Then why are you the one who looks like they're about to fall asleep, not me?" She tilted her head back, finishing the rest of the chocolate, then wiped a drop of sweet liquid from her sensual lips. "Are you sure you don't want any? I'll give you some..."
Elanie sighed, resigned. "All right, all right... one sip, no more."
Calsey grinned, triumphant. "You'll thank me, baby-girl." she assured her with a wink, a huge grin on her pretty face.
Elanie snorted. "Yeah, right. When we're bleeding out our life-blood in a ditch somewhere because you were too fat and slow to defend yourself, I'll thank you."
"Ah, so serious, so morbid! Has a life of killing hardened you that much?" she shouted, as if horrified.
"No, I'm just the only one of the two of us who still has her self-preservation instinct." Angelic smile was creeping onto her little face. "You might want to die young, but me..."
"You what, baby-girl? Die young with me. I couldn't bear the thought of you old and faded." Her grin turned into an almost gentle smile. "Besides," little girl added, the smile becoming a smirk, "what would you be without me?"
"Without you slowing me down, you mean?" she replied, her brown eyes twinkling in the fire light.
Calsey looked hurt. "Your claws strike deep, baby-girl..." She pouted, an expression that looked tempting on her, to say the least. "I'm wounded, really."
Elanie just stuck out her little pink tongue. Picking up her cup from the table, she drank deep and smacked her lips like.
"Ok, then, Casey, I'll tell you what I'd be without you." she promised, trying to look serious. Calsey leaned forward, waiting for the answer. "Without you..." she paused, "I'd be considerably faster."
"Hey, if you don't want the chocolate, give it to me." she told her with a shrug.
"What, so you can be even more of a burden than you are? I don't feel like cleaning up Casy-puke..." She frowned slightly.
"Don't call me Casy."
"Why not?" Elanie asked with a smirk.
"Because it's not my name." She leaned back in her chair with a frown, shut her eyes, and silently sipped her chocolate.
"Yeah, and my name is not baby-girl."
"That's supposed to be a compliment," Calsey greened. "But Casy is just annoying."
"Oh, don't get so huffy about it." Elanie scowled. "That's why I don't like you eating all that sugar. You get so damn moody..."
Calsey looked up, immediately sorry, but Elanie shut her eyes and ignored her, pretending not to notice. Stupid moron... How did I get stuck with such an idiotic-
Something touched her leg, and she froze. A foot, a light gentle touch... Calsey? She pretended not to notice, opened her eyes and gave her a dark glance, but she caught her gaze and held it. Her eyes were the color of a full mid-winter moon, looking out at her with a strange expression... She pulled her gaze away and looked into her cup.
She didn't look up, afraid of those longing, dangerous full-moon eyes.
"Elanie, you know..." Her voice was like thickly woven velvet, soft and deep and black, but strangely clumsy and still very childlike. "I might complain, but..." Her little foot, still touching her, brushed up a little higher, pressed a little harder, around the little girl's calf and underneath her knee, and she looked up at Calsey in something between confusion and anger. "I like it, when you call me that. Casy... I like it a lot." She looked away. "I call myself that sometimes, on jobs, you know. When I get scared. "Don't worry, Casy, you'll make it,' I tell myself..." She laughed, the soft sound of velvet crumpling. "Stupid, I guess, but..." Her shoulders rippled in a shrug, and she let her hair fall in front of her pale face, as she looked down to the floor. She pulled her foot away from her, and Elanie was almost able to convince herself that it had been an accidental touch.
"Come on, Calsey , it's time for bed."
But Calsey wanted to run, to fight back, and to let her say and do whatever it was that she wanted, all at once...
"I'm not beautiful." Her voice was low and quiet, the whisper of an assassin on a job. It wasn't what she had expected her to say, and she swallowed and looked at the floor. Calsey pulled her chair close to hers around the table, panicking her at first when she moved, and leaned towards her, so close that she could feel her gentle breath tickling the hairs of her face. Her moon grey eyes and the tip of her little nose took up her frame of vision, putting her into a sort of trance before she pulled away, sitting back.
"Don't say that, Calsey." she whispered. "Don't do this."
"But you are beautiful." she assured her, looking into her eyes. "Sometimes..." She looked away. "Sometimes I just watch you, like tonight... You're like a dream, but you don't disappear in the morning... just as far away, though, as impossible to touch. You're just like the moon... Always there, always predictable, but never understood and so distant..."
"Calsey, I'm right here." She put a hand on her shoulder. "Now come on, it's time for us to go to sleep."
She didn't move. "No, Elanie..." She shook her head violently, spraying silken hair around her like drops of ink. "No, you don't understand, Elanie. We're not little girls anymore..."
"You're just twelve, Calsey, and I'm a year younger. I think we're still little girls."
She continued talking as if she hadn't heard her, her soft voice on top of hers.
"I'm a bad assassin, because I'm supposed to concentrate on only that, but..." She seemed carried along by her words, faster and more desperate with each second. "...but I'm not. You're so focused, but I'm so distracted by everything I was never supposed to care about. I'm a bad assassin, because I'm in love-"
She broke off, biting down on her words, glanced up at the little girl for a terrified instant, then looked back at the floor. Her voice dropped down to a whisper.
"Because I'm in love with you..."
"You're... what!?" The little girl giggled.
"I think I love you, Elanie."
"Well, don't love me, Calsey." Her voice was like the blade of a dagger, purposefully kept low and quiet so she couldn't hear it wavering. "You can't love another girl, Calsey."
Calsey looked at Elanie for a second, disbelieving, and then her beautiful face fell, head slumping forward like a dead flower, her fragile hands desperately clenching nothing. Calsey's breath came in uneven gasps, like a child poisoned, and her tiny shoulders shuddered, barely noticeable. Black hair fell in front of her face like a veil of night, concealing her expression.
"Calsey, I..." Elanie stroked her soft shoulder lightly, hesitantly at first, and eventually she looked up, tears on the edge of her big eyes. "Calsey, don't cry. I'm here..." the girl whispered, almost about to cry herself. Why was she doing this to her, why tonight, why now? Weren't things fine the way they were? Why did she have to use that terrifying word?
Elanie stroked Calsey's raven hair to calm her, whispered low and quiet, something she'd told her once that her mother had done, and shivered as her silken hair tickled her palms and made her fingertips tingle. Calsey watched her in a way that should have made her feel uncomfortable, her eyes catching on little girl's every movement. Finally Calsey spoke, in a voice that started out soft.
"So... so you don't hate me for falling in love? I can still be your partner?" she managed to say.
"Of course I don't hate you, Casy." She tried to laugh. "Besides, who would watch my back if you were gone?" She gave a soft smile, and kissed the child's lips.
Calsey moved faster than Elanie would have thought possible, her hands holding onto her in a surprisingly powerful grip and her small body pressed up close to hers, and she was too surprised to pull away, her mind seized with confusion. At first it was barely a touch, like brushing her lips over silk, a question like the gentle touch of Calsey's foot under the table. She didn't pull away but didn't respond, not sure how, not sure that she wanted to or should. Calsey began to pull back and Elanie was torn between relief and disappointment until she felt her wet lips on hers again, pressing against hers in a gentle sort of rhythm, a polite but bold request. She still couldn't make herself pull away or respond. Calsey pulled back again, slightly, but Elanie sensed the rhythm now and was ready when the little girl kissed her a third time, hard enough to push her head to the back of the chair. She pushed her warm, slippery tongue between the child's lips and she let her, not entirely out of surprise. Calsey tasted of hot chocolate. Her tongue explored the inside of Elanie, something that should have been frightening but somehow wasn't. Hesitantly, Elanie kissed her back, all the while trying to make herself pull away, caught up in the rhythm and the pleasure that washed over her like a river, threatening to knock her down or carry her away.
She broke the rhythm and pulled away before the kiss was finished, shut her eyes and turned her face away, brought one shaking little hand up to brush away the bit of saliva that Calsey's kiss had left around her beautiful mouth. The little girl couldn't bring her mind to attention, could think of nothing except the fact that, had she been standing, she probably would have fallen into Calsey's twelve-year-old arms. Her hands still touched her, one around her small naked shoulder and the other at her slim waist, her leg still wrapped around Elanie's, but the embrace suddenly felt like a trap, and Elanie pushed her arms away and pulled her leg free. Helpless and near tears, the little eleven-year-old sat with her eyes on the floor and waited for Calsey to take advantage of her weakness.
"I'm sorry..." Her voice held a mixture of pleasure and pain, satisfaction and regret. "I guess you really do hate me now, but-"
"Shut up." Elanie started to cry. "Shut up." Calsey tried to hold her, console her, but she pushed her away. "Don't touch me. Leave me alone."
"All right..." She heard Calsey stand, heard the pain in her tiny voice. "I won't bother you any more, baby-girl. I'm going to sleep." She felt a sudden heavy weight in her lap, a pouch of coins. "If you want to stay in another room, I understand. If you want to leave and never come back, I understand that too." Calsey put a hand on her shoulder and she flinched. Her voice whispered into her little ear, her breath blowing her hair. "You're beautiful, Elanie. I want to show you just how beautiful you are..."
Elanie wanted to push her away, wanted to fall into her arms and cry like a baby, wanted Calsey to kiss her again and again.
"Leave me alone, just leave me alone!" her strained voice whispered. "Why did you do that?"
Elanie voice was low and soft in her ear. "Because, I think I love you." She opened her mouth to protest but fell silent when Calsey lightly kissed her ear, barely a touch.
"Why didn't you stop me?"
Elanie turned and looked at her, astonished. Why hadn't she stopped her?
"I... don't know, Calsey... Because..." She turned away. Because I couldn't? Because I liked it? Because I was too scared, too surprised, too confused? Because... you're beautiful, not me..."
Elanie turned around again to answer her but Calsey was gone. Up the hall, the door to their room creaked shut. She looked out the window at the rain that smashed itself against the glass trying to get inside, and thought, sipping at what was left of her milk. A few tears trickled down her little face into the cup but she ignored them, barely noticing. Finally, as the storm slowly settled into a dim pattering of rain, its emotions all but spent, she stood and walked up the stairs, opened the door to the room where her little friend waited, and stepped inside.
Calsey was curled up in a ball on the bed, clenching the blankets, her face unusually calm but sad as she slept. Elanie could see the patch of wet on the pillow where little girl buried her face and cried, her eyes still wet with tears. She approached her but Calsey didn't awake. Her shoes and coat lay in a small pile at the bottom of the bed where she'd ripped them off, but she still wore the rest of her clothing. "So you cried yourself to sleep..."
Calsey didn't stir at the sound of her voice. "You silly child, why did you do that? You know, you know I'm not supposed to love you..." Elanie sat on the side of the bed and pulled off her boots, and Calsey shifted a bit in her sleep, inched closer to her. "I'm not supposed to love... Neither are you, you idiot... Why do you love me?" The sleeping little girl didn't answer. "Can't you just stop? Put everything back the way it was? I'm scared, Calsey..." She bent over her, pushed the hair out of her small face. "Were you scared too, when I said that? Did you really think I'd leave you?"
She reached out for Elanie's warm little hand in her sleep and held it against her tear-stained cheek. Without thinking, Elanie bent down and kissed her lightly on her parted lips, then slipped into bed next to the little girl like she always did. She let her keep her hand in hers, though - just this once. Go to sleep now, Calsey. I'll let you love me, if you have to..."
Review this story: