The zombies groaned and lumbered gradually forwards, waving their arms threateningly. Then the one in front lost both of its arms to a single sweep of a huge blade.
Fanatic snarled. “Go back to Hell, foul monsters!”
There was a laugh from behind her, and a burst of heat. “You take these beasts far too seriously. Relax! Enjoy the fight!”
Her glowing glare turned a little to Ra, the man who claimed to be a god. “If it had not been for your arrogance, we would not be surrounded like this. You allowed us to be cut off from the others and put us all in danger!”
“Danger?” He raised an eyebrow, raised a fist, and bursts of flame enveloped several of the zombies. “I hardly see any danger to us from some pathetic walking corpses. And while we distract these, our allies take on the cultists. This is a perfect time to cut loose!”
Another swipe of Absolution burned its way through several more zombies, and they fell in flaming pieces. “I take our work seriously! And I don’t see why you don’t feel the same!”
He smiled. “Perhaps it is just that I do not need to work as hard as you, in order to obtain the same result.”
That made her grind her teeth, and she turned back to their undead opponents with renewed enthusiasm, slicing and smashing through their ranks. Ra was alongside, matching her strike for strike. Every time she took the lead, slicing through two in one movement of the blade or rushing through a knot of them, he stole it back with a few easy bursts of fire or one single, sweeping beam.
Finally there was only one left, and she got there first. A quick flick sent her sword through its neck, and the body tumbled to the ground, its necrotic energies lost. She stood a little straighter, flicked the fluids from the blade, and turned.
“You may need to rethink your–“
She was cut off as his staff flew by her head, smacking into the head of one final zombie. It let out a pathetic little groan, and collapsed to the cobblestone floor.
“You were saying?”
His smirk was infuriating, and she stalked up to him, sword still in hand.
“I was saying that if you were as good as you think you are, then you would have taken down as many of the enemy as I did!”
“With that last one, I believe I did. We’re tied. Which means that I am exactly as good as I think I am, and that you still need to learn to enjoy yourself.”
Two pairs of glowing eyes glared into each other.
“Your antics put everyone in danger!”
“My antics achieved our goals. And I hardly see you as the ideal counsel on when not to rush in!”
Their noses were almost touching.
“You are an appalling teammate!”
“The same to you!”
“Um, guys? Good news!”
Their heads snapped around at Setback, and he recoiled a little from the intensity of their eyes.
“We, uh…we got the book!” He waved a hand at Nightmist, who was carrying a large leather tome. “See? We stopped the cult!”
“Excellent,” said Fanatic, not sounding remotely happy about it, “then we are done here. I’m sure I shall see you all again. Until that day, farewell.” And, not looking even slightly at Ra, she took to the air and flew away.
He too looked to their allies, nodded abruptly, and strode off.
Setback watched them go, and turned to Nightmist. “Um, not that it’s any of my business, but…did you feel like there was something odd going on there? Between them?”
“Don’t ask, Pete,” she said. “Just…don’t even ask.”
The apartment was lavish, modern, and crowded with art objects from down the ages – just small items, nothing that a museum would give any real prominence, but interesting enough that a scholar would find it engaging. And Blake Washington, the scholar who lived there, certainly did.
When he came through the door in the form of Ra, he already had a guest waiting on the balcony. She frowned at him as he took his time locking the door and striding over to let her in.
“I see you found the place easily enough.”
“More easily than you,” she snapped. “Did you walk the whole way here? Dressed as yourself?”
In fact he’d changed into his civilian identity during the trip, trading the look of a god for that of a well-dressed academic, but why spoil a good argument? “And what if I did?”
“You are not without enemies, a fact you constantly seem to conveniently forget. You could have led them back here.”
“My walking here is hardly likely to attract the attention that you flying here would. Or did you find some way to make that subtle?”
Her feathers fluffed in birdlike anger. “I am not here as often as you, I am in far less danger. At worst, one of my enemies might try to attack you, and I’m sure you would relish that prospect.”
He grinned widely. “I think I might. Can I get you a drink?”
“I’m not thirsty. And you know I don’t drink alcohol.”
“In that case…” He stepped in, gently touched a hand to her face, and kissed her. Her eyes closed for a second, savouring the moment, and her lips pressed softly and sweetly into his. Her hands held his waist, but were still wrapped in their gauntlets, and his brow creased a little. We can’t have that. His hand found its way to the buckles of her armour at her side, and started working to undo them.
She broke the kiss and glared at him again. “You can’t take off the breastplate first! There’s an order to these things!”
“Well, forgive my enthusiasm,” he said, and started tugging off her right gauntlet. She worked her way out of the left gauntlet, then started work on the buckles of her boots. She stepped out of them and removed the cuisses above, and the beauty of her legs distracted him from trying to undress her further. He knelt, kissing down the outside of her thigh, then starting up the inside. He had almost reached the top when he felt her hand on the top of his head.
“Stop,” she said, “patience.”
She lifted him to his feet, and started pulling his clothes away – the headpiece came off, and then his loincloth, leaving him naked in front of her. She brushed a hand across his muscular chest, and down a little towards his waist…then stepped away, and started to walk towards the bedroom. She undressed as she went, placing padded pauldrons gently on a side-table. He followed her there.
She reached the bed, turned to face him, and at last her breastplate fell away. Her body was beautiful – dark, smooth, curving but very muscular. She was enjoying his too, taking the time to run her hands again down his chest. She kissed him, and moved her hands down further. They tingled everywhere they touched, and when at last they reached his hips he thought he’d explode from tension.
She grabbed him suddenly around the waist, using her weight to pull him onto the bed, twisting at the last moment so that she was on top. He growled a little at her show of dominance, quieted when she bent down and kissed his neck, feeling her body press against his own. His hands ran up and down her back, pressing her into him. Her hips were held above him, tempting, and his own thrusted involuntarily upwards. She stopped kissing for a moment, murmured “Not yet.”
He took his cue and the initiative, started moving kisses and little bites down her neck, onto her collarbone, down her chest. He paused at her breasts, kissed around the curves of them, kissed and licked at the nipples until they hardened with arousal, then continued inexorably downwards. As he started down her stomach she moved up the bed, and he took advantage by taking her thigh in a firm grip. He felt her hand, gripping his hair and urging him further down, and again he took the hint. His kisses reached her hips, detoured slightly to her inner thigh. She groaned with need, her hips jerked, and he grinned at the effect he was having. He laid a tiny, gentle kiss above her clit, then a tiny flick of his tongue that brought out a louder moan. He pressed his mouth against her, moving his tongue up and down, left and right, setting a steady pace. Her moans grew regular, started to increase their volume as her wings stretched wide and brushed against the walls. He slipped a single finger inside her, and she gasped at the sensation. His mouth and finger moved together, quicker and quicker, keeping time with her noises until she gave out one final, loud cry, and he felt her shudder around his finger as she orgasmed.
Knowing it was the perfect moment, he grabbed her by the hips, twisted around and pulled her down the bed until he was poised above her, fully erect and ready. He lowered his body just slightly, touching the tip of him against her, again enjoying how ready she felt. She growled at him a little, fingers digging hard into his back, and he relented, sliding in ever-so-slowly. She was tight and wet around his cock, and he savoured the feeling as he moved back and forth, long strokes going deep into her body. Her eyes were intense, focused, her hands slid down his back to his buttocks, urging him on, and he pushed himself harder, thrusted deeper. He was grunting with the effort now, sweat dripping down his arms, and she pulled herself up, ran her tongue over his collarbone and bit his neck, enjoyed the taste of his skin. He hissed, a little pain and a little delight in the noise.
His hand snaked under her right thigh and pushed it up, letting him thrust even deeper, and she cried out, her own hand still tightly gripping his waist and pulling him into her. Her moans started to rise to another crescendo, and this time his joined in, a bass to her alto.
His noises reached their peak and he gave several final thrusts as he orgasmed inside her, and that feeling spurred her on so that she came again, her hands digging into his skin almost hard enough to leave bruises.
The two of them came to rest, and there was a quiet moment, as he stared down at her and she stared up at him. They both slowly caught their breath, both let the sweat roll off them onto the sheets. Both almost said something, and both of them thought better of it.
Then he pulled back and rolled away from her, the moment was broken, and they both stared up at the ceiling, lost in thought.
He woke, and she was standing at the window, fully clothed in her armour. It was still dark outside, and she was outlined with the light shining from other towers nearby. She wasn’t moving, wasn’t doing anything except staring out into the brightness of the city at night. He rose naked from the bed and, quietly, walked over to her.
“What are you doing?”
Her voice was unusually quiet. “I am thinking.”
She shrugged, and he watched the set of her shoulders as she did so. Even covered completely in armour, he thought, she looked incredibly beautiful. Nothing could hide that. “About what we are doing. Ra, what are we doing together?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes, you do. Answer.”
He frowned a little, considering. “We are…friends–“
“We are not really friends.”
Well, honestly he couldn’t argue with that. “Colleagues, then. Colleagues enjoying each other’s company and relieving stress after work.”
“Is that it?” She sounded thoughtful.
“Do you think it is something else?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t know quite what I think. But I’m not sure if it can last like this, and if it ends…”
“If it ends, then it ends. We’re both full-grown adults, capable of handling ourselves. I don’t believe that we will be any worse off.”
She nodded, but he could see that she wasn’t convinced. “Maybe. I will think about this.” She turned around, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, then pulled away. “I am sure I will see you out there.”
She opened the glass door onto the balcony, stepped out, and swooped down and away into the night. He stared after her until he could no longer pick out her silhouette in the darkness and the lights.
His hand was still resting on his cheek where she’d kissed it, until he noticed and dropped it back to his side. Then he sighed, turned, and went back to bed alone.