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Deus Ex Aizen

Ante Omnia

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@The Hound

There was something comforting about the sensation of rocking. Swaying, to and fro—a lulling rhythm that slowed the mind, the body, and the soul…

 Raveena blinked slowly—ever so slowly in that lazy way one did when they first woke. Even as she inhaled, she felt the yawn bubbling up and let it stretch out, deathly as it sounded. She murmured thoughtfully, she scooted half-heartedly, the lids of her eyes slowly fluttering shut as she tilted her head.

She barely made out his form, and slowly—ever so slowly in that way one wanted to look without disturbing, Raveena allowed herself to wake up to the sight of him. It was something that would have jarred her awake, if she hadn’t felt so exhausted. Rowan Knight, unguarded in his sleep—even with his glock in hand. He slept in a way that was confident—in a way that told her he had done this before, likely countless times in a thousand more uncomfortable places and ways. He was a soldier before anything else.

And yet, she thought. He was just a man in that moment. She saw so little of him before until now, it seemed. She admired his sun-kissed skin, olive-skinned and warm, his hair pulled back. He was all contours and strength.

Of course he wore black.

Her lips twitched into a weak smile that didn’t have the strength to reach her eyes. She liked the V-shape of his tee shirt, because it was such a contrast from the collar and tie she became acquainted and—on the occasions he let her—adjusted. These were the parts of him she did not mind, she came to realize. He wore the casual look so well that Raveena was momentarily unsure if she was truly looking at the same man.

This unusual man, from another world…

…the surrealism never ceased to sweep her away.

She wondered what England was like. She wondered how many hearts this handsome man had broken before his life was irrevocably changed. She fancied he did not sleep in dim, rowdy taverns. He likely shared drinks and stories, tossed witty banter and winked at pretty ladies. Just how normal had his life been before…?

Before what? Even that was a mystery to Rowan. He lived in the now.


Raveena felt a pang of guilt, a stab of hurt when she stared sleepily at him. Even with the scar that decorated his left eye and cheek, he was a picture of unmarred perfection. He was the stable force in her life—the man that seemed to know what to do, when to say, how to say, when to act. He was, in his own way, a leader. And yet he was not a leader of people nor a leader of nations.

That was not his burden to bear.

Raveena felt her chest tightening, a moment of discomfort washing over her. Her gaze traveled down his arm, to the catheter IV that was tactfully inserted into his arm. The gauze that was taped in place, the tubing taped to his arm to keep the needle from jostling. It was a sight she couldn’t look away. She saw the red that was surely his blood, and where it traveled. Ever-so-slightly she tilted her chin, her own arm receiving its own IV line, taped and secured.

She had been so distracted—so taken by Rowan’s rare presence that she did not realize the medical equipment that filled the room around them. There—she could feel it, now that she was more awake. The gentle sway of the room, subtle that it was. She remembered now, fading in and out. She thought she had died—and the luring call of the river of Death and the stinging cold of its currents had gripped her. Still the stubborn Queen, she huddled close to the Inbetween. She remembered she wanted to wait for Rowan. It was a strange thought—that he might know where she was, and lead them back. As she looked at the transfusion that connected them, she realized in his own way he knew.

She would not leave him so easily.

Still, it had been so close. She recalled, his name on the cusp of her lips. The strange, biting pain that would not let. The quickness with which it all transpired. Raveena involuntarily shuddered. What happened? Where was Gabriela? Where was here? Rowan slept so peacefully—and yet he never went anywhere unarmed. She had no doubt if they were in a dangerous place (and she knew to Rowan everywhere was a dangerous place for her) he would be better equipped to handle it. No, if he was relaxed enough to sleep even as he endearingly held onto his firearm, it was safe.

Only as Raveena relaxed against her pillow did her hand rest over her heart, feeling the subtle weight of his dog tags resting while the lids of her eyes closed. There were things sacred to her heritage—and to her. She did not need to see him to feel the rise and fall of his chest—for hers rose and fell in sync to his. It was an unconscious thing, ethereal and supernatural in the way that bonds worked.

She shook her head slowly. That was not the life she wanted to thrust on Rowan. Her lips were trembling, her worn features contorting in a pain she both recognized and did not. It felt old and familiar, yet forlorn. His life should not be tied to hers—not like that. He did it with choice, yet without understanding the consequences. She may not have been a job to him, but she was not his life. What Rowan had done by giving her his blood was irrevocable. So effortlessly and innocently he altered his life. He was just a man. Just a man! Her heart was thundering in her chest. There was a sadness there she couldn’t touch—as if she were on the cusp of understanding something she couldn’t have grasped before.

It was not the thing to think about just then. She knew how lightly he slept—and pondered how often he truly got any measure of rest. She thought of the night of the Imperial Wedding—how he acquiesced to her simplest desires to just rest, curled up in his arms. It was the simplest, most fulfilling experience she had ever had in her young life. Her mind wandered—as muddled minds did—if he had slept as well as she had that night. She thought not, he had been long gone when she awoke. How frustrated she had been! It was a peaceful thing, to be lost in her thoughts, lazily drifting through her memories...

How close she had been to dying. In those cold, grey waters that wanted to pull her beyond Rowan’s grasp. But no—she knew better. She would not have drifted into Death. Not when the warmth of Rowan and his incredible capacity for life drew her near. His words would never fail to permeate her inner core. She would not give up on him. After all his scolding, after all their arguments. After every insult, every lesson he forced upon her. He was a damnable man, Rowan Knight. He was cocksure, haughty with his retorts. Insufferable in that he refuted her on nearly everything and never wanted to listen to her. They were night and day, the pair of them. She was reckless, fierce and unyielding. He was efficient, calculating and confident. How had it come to this moment?

The sway of the room was lulling. Raven stared hard at Rowan’s sleeping figure. He seemed so far away from her just then. His blood—as hard as it was for her to swallow just then—was flowing through her veins, keeping her alive. He had shut her out and shut her down so many times. Gradually—only gradually, did she learn. Chimera that he was—something beastly and otherworldly—he was still a man. He spoke to her in ways that only Rowan could. Through his temper. Through his gifts. Through his actions. He cared—and though he did not always let his guard down around her. She hoped, she hoped deep down in her core that he’d know she heard him. She understood—perhaps better than anyone.

Rowan was life. He was all things alive, immortal and flawed. He wanted her to understand that she was not death. That while she fragile, mortal and flawed, she too could have life. He would always be her anchor to living. Raveena sighed a tired sigh, her eyes half closed again. Her hands brushed against the familiar silk she was swathed in that could have only been crafted from Rowan’s skilled fingers.

She wanted to say something, and even as her lips parted the words were hard to say. Her throat was dry, her lips cracked and the soft, raspy sigh of his name came instead. It was all that needed to be said.





It was reminiscent of the night they had first met, she realized. In a strange bed, in a strange place, with a strange man…




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