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Catch Me

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Will you catch me?

The words aren't the first thing that comes to mind when Faran wakes from unconsciousness heavier than sleep, born of both her and Ssithra's pain, and of the exhaustion that comes of being the focal point of complex magic meant to simulate the work of a god. The first thing that comes to mind is was it a dream , and she almost dreads to open her eyes in case it had been. When she does, even Aral's worried face can't quite dispel the fear, and it's not until she hears him name her a full Blade, hears Siri call her Master Faran , that she can allow herself to truly believe that she's achieved the impossible.

She is a Blade.

She's what she'd trained to be, what she'd dreamed of being, what she'd been certain had been stolen from her at the temple's fall, along with her teachers and her friends and her family, and what might pass for innocence in a child committed to an order of assassins.

As that sinks in, it makes room for other thoughts, chief among them that she isn't wearing any fucking clothes , and that she's apparently spent however long it's taken her to recover lying in Aral's arms.

Will you catch me?

It isn't the first time he's done so, even if she pares the words down to encompass only fact, not metaphor. And it's never mattered, because even if he's entirely too sentimental and she's the colder killer and the better mage, he's been her mentor. The Master Blade to her apprentice, and that's made it his job to catch her and counsel her and give her back pieces of her stolen childhood, just as it's been her job to prod him and test him and give him something to live up to, and it's been both of their jobs to watch each others' backs, even if it had taken him entirely too long to realize that part.

But she was a Blade the moment the swords bonded to her, the moment whatever remains of Justice in the absence of the Goddess accepted her as a servant and healed her wounds, and that means this time, he hadn't been her mentor, he'd been her equal. First among equals, maybe, but she's never been one to stand on ceremony, and damned if she's about to start now.

She'd asked as an equal, and he'd answered as one, and watched over her while she slept, and somehow, that feels as though it's changed something. As though it should change everything, perhaps, and there's a small part of her that almost regrets not hearing his answer to Siri, not knowing whether he would have stayed with her or gone in search of the swords, and it's that more than anything that has her face heating and her hands scrabbling to hold the poncho in place until Kumi can fetch her the cowl and she can preserve the modesty she's never much cared about.

She can feel the weight of Aral's puzzled gaze on her back, like an itch between her shoulder blades, and it's almost a relief. If he's puzzled, it means this can just be her acclimating herself to finally becoming what she'd thought she could never be. It means things don't have to change far enough that she might lose him, though they will inevitably change as they both grow into their new roles.

Almost a relief, because there is a small part of her, that same small part that wishes she'd heard his answer, that feels almost disappointed. She stuffs it down tight in a corner of her mind, and vows to brick it over until she can forget it ever spoke at all.