Afternoon Snack

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Aramis Dupuis

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Afternoon Snack
« on: June 19, 2019, 10:15:10 PM »
Fresh air was a welcome relief after being cooped up in his windowless, tightly sealed shack all day. Even with heavy scent cleansing, nothing could replace the feel and smell of freely moving air. The sunlight on his skin, the sounds of the coast, the little movements of the trees -- it all added to the centered feeling that had built up in him, a quietude he felt in his bones.

Breathing deep, feeling the steady expansion of his chest, his lungs, the taste of the air, Aramis passed a hand once more over the locks on the door, securing them a second time, before he began his walk back to the main house. He swept casually around himself for whatever might be lurking in the bushes, attention snagging and then falling away from things without urgency or intent. He was relaxed, and it felt amazing. Several of the cats that haunted their cove perked up at his passage, cautious in their partial domestication but used to the passive acceptance of his attention.

In the kitchen he washed his hands perfunctorily, looking over his arms and shirt again. He wore an apron and gloves in the shack, typically, but sometimes there was something he missed. A smudge, a speckling. Or he'd take his gloves off and get messy - those days he spent as much time cleaning himself as prepping the meat.

Satisfied there was nothing he could see, Aramis dried his hands and scratched the chin of the one beast that dared to hop up on the counter. It was one of the cats that stuck around the tree shadows of his shed, and he took it into his arms with ease, aware of the eyes at his back.

"Good afternoon," it was still relatively early, but lunch had surely passed. He leaned back against the lip of the sink, deciding against affecting a smile, and tilted his head instead, the cat purring beneath his hand. "Busy day?"

Pella Labeau

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2019, 08:44:47 AM »

"Aramis." Dark lashes sweeping past her husband to the beast in his arms, Pella lifted an eyebrow in surprise. It arched near the outer corner rather than the inner, a broad, black wing. Picking up a towel, she wiped the counter clean of invisible paw prints, the act bringing her close to him and his pet.

"No more than usual, really." Towel left beside the sink, Pella ran a finger along the cat's skull. In her stomach was a stone. In her heart a tremble. With Aramis she felt a measure of caution that did not exist when she dealt with his younger brother. Emile was fierce temper, but it passed quickly. He was predictable. Aramis was not.

The cat purred beneath his touch, but its eyes were doubtful as Pella stroked it. Fingertip gentle in its caress. She knew the look. And the feeling behind it. Experienced much the same herself. And like the cat, Pella came close to the people who made her feel that way. "They're more bold with you. I've never seen one in the house before." The smell of meat attracting them.

Did it all smell the same? Pella wasn't sure. She tried not to know, much less to smell, what went on in Aramis' private place. But she knew Nora had taken to feeding the beasts scraps. Had helped the girl clean the scratches on her arms and hands. In silence, of course. Pella did not speak to Nora anymore. Should have stuck to her original plan in the beginning.

Nora did not exist unless Pella was forced to recognize her presence. And currently Emile lived in that same space. On the fringes of Pella's perception. Places where they could not get close to hurt her. "Did you have plans for the afternoon?" She asked him, chin near his shoulder as she looked up at him.

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2019, 10:25:19 PM »
Eyes on Pella's eyes, eyebrows, mouth. Jaw, shoulders, wrists, hands, feet -- expressive parts of people. The parts people forgot about in the heat of the moment, when they spoke with emotion, the parts that broadcast nerves and anger.

Aramis tended to give the people who he lived with the benefit of not actively trying to peel them apart tick by tick, both because it helped delineate them from marks and because it got boring. Pella had the advantage of living with them long enough that she was familiar, that whatever he'd picked up from her had been based on duration of proximity rather than the animal need to successfully capture someone. You had to be good and quick to skin a person like that, after all.

He watched her draw closer, faint amusement at her caution warming his chest. It would never cease to fascinate him how the people who knew him - really knew him - acted around him versus those that did not. He wasn't going to change, after all, and Aramis didn't consider himself that different in how he acted in public and how he was at home. It could amount to a different vest and glasses, and he did like to use those for reading the ledgers. Maybe a sort of purposeful politeness that got a little blunter in the halls of their home, but really, it wasn't like he was wearing a necklace of human fingers. Maybe he should, just to stir the pot a bit.

One finger against the cat's head, and he watches it, curious. He was partial to cats because they could be independent little menaces, but they could be affectionate too, and Aramis appreciated that freedom. He could spend as much time as he desired interacting with them only for them to up and leave him, when normally it was him getting bored and making a strategic exit. But how did Pella regard them? Nora? Emile likely didn't care or didn't notice, benefiting from there presence mostly in that they had very few pests around their home.

"Just this one." Although if there were several that looked the same he might not know the difference, or care. Pella in his peripheral he ran his knuckles against its cheek, feeling the curve of its jaw as it turned against him, directing. "I think one is enough. They don't need to be getting ideas." Sometimes, if he was in a particular mood, it was annoying to have them wandering around the path to the house. Having more than one inside was a change he didn't feel keen to entertain.

Gaze back to Pella's face; eyebrows chin mouth nose eyes running together into an expression. Close, she was close. Not unusual. Like a cat, he thought. Close, despite her caution. What went on behind her eyes?

No way to know that, not in any way Aramis knew. Those weren't secrets he could peel away.

"No," he replied. He was calm and settled and wonderful, no itch beneath his skin to drive him on. Maybe he'd read, or see to some of the laundry. Something repetitive and monotonous. And cleaner. "Do you have something in mind?" Likely, and probably some form of retribution for some slight or another on Emile's part. There had been an argument recently, hadn't there?

Aramis didn't particularly mind moving to the beats of his family's drums. Often enough he orbited their little dramas, content to watch the byplay and stand stolidly next to whoever needed a comforting shoulder. For his own manner of comforting, of course. Maybe she needed furniture moved again.

Pella Labeau

    Summer-sky to Opal
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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2019, 08:27:34 PM »

"Yes," Pella agreed solemnly. Unsure if she could fully tolerate having the one in the house. They were good mousers, and handled the snakes tolerably well too. But they were also dirty creatures. Walking across counter tops and burying their shit in her flowerbeds. "One is more than enough." If not too many.

She found herself irrationally jealous at the easy way he pet the cursed creature. Mindlessly, even. And it was irrational because Pella was certain that all she had to do was press against him and ask, and she could get similar treatment. He always tolerated her moods well. Not that she often inflicted many of them on him, especially not those less pleasant.

"They already think they own the yard. No sense in letting them think the same about the house." That was Pella's domain. Grown and decorated at her discretion. She had been there first, the stamp of her time in its walls apparent across them. Sharing it with men and women was one thing. Pella would not share it with animals.

Testing her theory, Pella pillowed her head against his shoulder and let her body relax into his. Her own fingers joining his, she gave the cat a hesitant stroke down its back. "I've a free afternoon." No need for her in any of the villages. The other women gone swimming. Emile gone diving, Pella assumed without actually caring where he was. And Aramis asked so nicely.

"Maybe a walk. We haven't gone on one in a while." She liked listening to the sea and the birds. Long walks helping to clear her mind so she could think. And Aramis was always restful company when he wasn't the thrilling sort. Fanning the ember of quivering, terrified lust in her stomach.

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2019, 11:45:59 PM »
"Indeed," he agreed. If Nora found out he'd gotten one in the house Aramis was confident she'd lobby for it to stay. At least, he thought, Pella would be in his corner against that idea, should it ever come up. He wouldn't be letting them in his study or his shack, after all, because those places were his. The cats could have the grounds, the structures were for resident who would appreciate them.

Her weight settled against his side, head at his shoulder. Warm, soft. Stable, in a way Aramis appreciated, but wasn't sure if it was something people typically regarded in the people they let get physically close to them. He knew Emile liked her - and Nora - for other reasons, more intimate ones, but he had always been more needful of those simple parts of their presence: natural, human heat, the sound of their breathing, the solidity of their weight. Real.

In that moment with him, they made him feel real.

He tilted his cheek against the top of Pella's head, watching her hands, the way the fur depressed around her skin as she pet the cat. Moments spent just breathing, soft and silent. As calm as his bones.

"A walk then. It has been a while," he said eventually, shifting to hold out the arm not supporting the cat, that she might take it. Loud steps in an empty house as they left, Aramis unceremoniously dumping the cat at the back door and engaging the physical lock rather than a Craft one.

"How have you been?" Safer, to have Pella lead the conversation. He could speak of his own activities, but it invited more dram than he typically cared to deal with. It was always hit or miss whether his conversational partner would be inspired to terror or repulsion, or both, and none of those were things that he appreciated. Better to let her dictate the tempo rather than to rehash the actions of the morning and have to curb their outing early, unwilling to entertain her emotions over his own serenity.

Pella Labeau

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 07:55:38 AM »

Pella relaxed against him. Cheek to her hair all the encouragement she needed. All the acceptance she wanted. Fingers curling around his arm before her hand spread to his back. Soothing circles drawn on the muscle there. Mimicking, almost, the way she pet the cat with her other hand. A quiet moment spent listening to the purring of the filthy beast.

She could almost see why he and Nora liked them.

"We've both been busy." Pella excused them both, taking the arm he offered her. House forgotten before they ever made it outside. She laughed when he dumped the cat outside, and leaned into him as they left the porch for the path down along the trees. Door locked behind them with a key so that Nora could get in while they were gone. If she hadn't lost hers, or forgotten how to use it.

"I've been just fine, Aramis." Adjusting to a new body in the house. Everything in need of refitting to accommodate Nora'd presence. From recipes to space. Little things people didn't think of when they brought a whole new person home without any warning. She made no mention of the recent fight. Emile was not someone she wanted to speak of just then. He annoyed her greatly.

"And what about you? You've been hiding a lot lately." Fingers looped around his wrist, Pella ran her hand over his shoulder, palm cupping his collarbone. Kneaded the muscles at the base of his neck while she pressed her cheek to his arm. Elusive, reclusive husband. Pella loved him for his quiet. Was tormented by his strangeness. A horrible mixture of fear and wanting.

"Oh. Look." Knuckles brushing his jaw to turn his head. A peacock appearing through the trees. He spread his tail wide and cried out warning at their approach. "They make the worst noise." It always sent chills down her spine.

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2019, 04:28:26 AM »
Pella intrigued Aramis, in a different way than the other women, or even his marks. It wasn't something he felt necessary to tell anyone; he acknowledged it and moved on. But there was always an edge to her that the other women lacked, either because they chose to ignore the parts of him they found unfavorable, or those parts were their soul focus.

He wondered at the duality of himself in her eyes, and why she came so close to someone she could have just as easily avoided.

"It's good you're well," he replied. At least she reported herself as well. There had to be some modicum of truth to it, at least, because Pella knew about as well as Emile how much Aramis disliked lies. If there were something she felt she couldn't deal with on her own and didn't want to take to Emile, Aramis expected it to be brought to him. If she had it in hand, pr preferred to not have him involved, that was her choice. He expected her to be honest, as much as it mattered.

In return, Aramis would be honest too. It was that kind of game, after all.

"Most recently in the shed with a mark." He said, toneless. Affecting any kind of emotion about it was both unnecessary on his part, because it was a fact, and often times a poor choice with conversation partners, because it often came off wrong. "Before that, I can't say I was good company. Better to be apart, then." Aramis had always had a dishearteningly quick slide into cold anger when it felt like he'd been kept wound up too long, and his fuse grew shorter and shorter the longer he kept from working toward soothing it. It was why he preferred to go hunting for wayward fishermen rather than pick a slave at market, but sometimes needs must. The end result was often the same, after all -- Aramis' bones settled in his skin and his private stores gained their pound of flesh. Or two.

Following the touch of her knuckles, Aramis' gaze went from where he'd had it pointed ahead to better avoid obviously not looking at her, to the peacock in the underbrush. "I agree. A shame that they're appealing to look at. Otherwise I think they'd be better welcome around the house." Maybe as a replacement to the cats, although he wasn't quite sure which vermin they'd be best against. Perhaps the cats were a better choice.

Pella Labeau

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2019, 07:44:45 PM »

It made her skin crawl. As if it would shed itself for Aramis' perusal, which made Pella feel all the more uncomfortable. Beneath that sick twisting in her stomach was a hard, hot knot. Snakes coiling around it, making her fingers flex on his arm. "I'm glad you're feeling better, and back with us." Though Pella cared very little about the others at that moment.

She was glad he was back with her.

Pella did her best not to think about what happened in Aramis' shed. Or before it. Murder happened often among the Blood, that was not the driving force of her discomfort. It was what came after. How? Why? She was curious but terrified sick of knowing. Pella was glad for the distraction the bird made. Tail feathers glossy in the light. Aramis warm beneath her touch.

"They're supposed to be a good omen. Favored by the Darkness." She turned, letting her breast brush against his arm in invitation. "There is a priestess quite famous on Corlay for the number of them that congregate around her temple." Feathers rattling, the peacock wailed again, gaze a sharp glare he turned in their direction as a few hens came out from under the fronds he had strutted out of. Pella laughed.

"I think we're interrupting." She told Aramis, smile turned to his shoulder as she nudged him away with her body. "The cats probably keep them away." Fingers spreading against his palm, Pella tipped her face toward him and smiled. "Where to, since we've been so rudely cut off from our meander." Somewhere quiet, the brush her chin on his shoulder suggested.

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2019, 12:38:28 AM »
Slanted gaze down again, interest brushed by her mixed emotions and her actions. Emile would prod, he knew, if he inspired that same nuance, those layers.. Perhaps he could play into it, add into Pella's little turmoils over him. Her edges were as familiar to him as Emile's in that way one can know a person and maybe never know all of them.

Aramis had places within himself he preferred to keep in the shade, even if he knew what lurked there. He allowed a quiet hum of acknowledgement, unwilling to press, or ask after that flavor of truth. He imagined Pella liked to keep him in much the same way he kept is knives. Sharp, and within reach.

"I wonder what she feeds them," and if that had anything to do with their number. Aramis wasn't a particularly devout member of the blood, unless one considered his shack a temple and the table within an altar. He'd never bothered much with the Darkness and, beyond the Jewels he wore, he couldn't say the Darkness bothered much with him.

But Aramis was no Priest, and preferred not to speculate about that which he didn't know. Better to leave such things to Pella and the other Priestesses, since she had the inclination. 

Pella against him was curious. Two days ago he might have snapped, or not entertained her presence at all. So much more volatile. Now, he let himself be guided, followed the press of her direction as easily as a palm leaf on the surf. Easier now, to give when he had taken. And taken.

Warmed by the memory as much as by the ease of Pella's smile, his answering one wasn't forced for all it was smaller. Softer at the edges, easier to tuck back away. "Maybe the cats are our good omen, then." He didn't imagine he'd be able to tolerate their calls at all odd hours. Looking down at her, fingers curling to brush against the backs of hers, Aramis wondered what satisfaction she gained from him in moments like these. She wouldn't be listening to the bird if she weren't out on their walk, after all.

"Closer to the sea, I think," no matter his dislike of falling into his second skin, the water still called him, calmed him. And there were several grassy overlooks that he favored for their exact ability to ut him beside the ocean but not in it or the sands.

Gently, always gently with their women, Aramis lead them on, carefully around the birds and down one of the game trails. "Unless you'd prefer the water? Or the house," A bit late to ask, admittedly, but perhaps she'd rather not be alone in the trees with him, no matter how softened he was or how inviting her closeness. Gentle and cautious, gentle and cautious, and it would so ruin the mood if he somehow inspired a drama.

Pella Labeau

    Summer-sky to Opal
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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2019, 07:46:56 AM »

Pella looked up, feeling his eyes shift toward her. She imagined it was the same sort of prickling sense that made little animals freeze in their tracks when predators came near. The corner of her mouth rose coyly, dimpling the crease of her cheek. "Naughty apprentices, maybe." The joke more nuanced in Aramis' presence. The humor dulled and the threat of such a possibility honed.

There could have been more than one. Pella had never asked if he'd learned such habits from somewhere. Some questions were not meant to be asked, their answers not wanted to be known.

Her fingers tightened their hold on him in answer to his smile. They were rare treasures, these smiles. Different from the little masks he slipped on to keep others from worrying. He mirrored back their expressions while hiding whatever went on inside. Rarely turning the brunt of his temper on them. Not that Pella minded its bite. It made these moments all the sweeter, and kept her terror sharp in her belly.

"Maybe they are. Its a pleasing thought." Just as the pads of his fingers over her hand. The simple gesture drew Pella in. Captured her to his side in full, soft submission. The bridge of her nose drawn down the path her chin had taken across his shoulder. "To the sea then." Wherever made him most happy and comfortable. Pella followed him with a smile, a little backwards glance at the peacock who rattled his tail at their passage but otherwise ignored them. Content to tend his hens, who he ushered out into the feeding ground.

"No, this is perfect." It could have been anywhere, and it would have been just right for Pella. Aramis so rarely gave like this, Pella clung tight and treasured the moments. Always careful not to spoil them, unless spoiling them would heighten the fun for both of them. But she always took her cues from her husband, and knew he read hers like a book. He was very good with people that way. The why making her spine tingle and her lips part.

Lips she brushed against his jaw when they reached the place he had chosen. Why here? Surf crashing in her ears. Spray leaving salt on the air, and his skin. Tasted by the very tip of her tongue. "Beautiful spot, love."

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2019, 12:39:00 AM »
One brow ticked up, smile hardening at the edges before smoothing out. Best not get into the nitty gritty comparisons there. The more vague Aramis allowed his activities to be the better off everyone was. "Indeed," he allowed instead. He didn't doubt that the lady Priestess had the power to mince a man, or, at least, someone in her employ who was capable.

Better the cats than some more dangerous neighbor, or something invasive and demanding. Like other Blood. Aramis cherished the ability to shed social niceties at the border of the property; having close living neighbors would drag against edges that he prefered to keep separate from his home.

As they walked, something fit unevenly in Aramis' mind. Gaze flickering down to the top of Pella's head before going back to the path as they navigated the reaching flora. Pella liked games, at least in as much as Aramis understood it. Her nearness to him was a game, her interactions with Emile and Nora were games, things to satisfy some gnawing thing in her. Perhaps what they fed was something not dissimilar to what lived in Aramis, for all the rules between the two were different. But it was rare that she approached without a desire of some kind, a task needing doing. Some little tally, a mark, to be stitched into a situation later for the best effect. What that was would depend on how she used it, when it was brought up.

He mulled it over. How best to divine her layers, to see what sort of path she walked. It rolled around in his mind like one of Emile's pearls. Perhaps it was even about Emile himself, after the incident that had brought him to transport the curio. He knew that Pella knew he was unlikely to make any kind of move against Emile, save for providing whatever advice he felt Emile might be receptive to. Curiouser and curiouser.

The hillock had been cleared, to a degree, because Aramis appreciated the ability to gaze down at the sea in the distance, and the grass around them long but undisturbed because animals didn't like him, generally, and tended to avoid the places he allowed himself to frequent. A blink, to conjure a blanket for their sitting, fronds bending beneath it. "It pleases me," he allowed. Any place free of people and without irritating noises tended to, but he had his preferences.

Waiting until she was seated before following, Aramis folded down beside her, legs crossed at the ankle, palms back to support himself. Not looking at her, but the trees, the distant figures of birds. He didn't feel that there was any particular emotion to convey, and would rather not put her on edge by simply staring. It was only serviceable if he wasn't caught at it, after all, and there would be little hiding something so blatant  at such short a distance. This would be a game of nuance. "What pleases you today, Pella? Surely there are more important matters for your attention than sitting in the jungle." The with me he left off. Some might say there was very little between Aramis and the beasts of the wild, after all.

Pella Labeau

    Summer-sky to Opal
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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2019, 08:55:19 AM »

A clever trick. Too often it seemed people forgot what they could carry. Or what they should. Cabinets filled with bits and bobbles but nothing useful or needing. Not in Aramis' case. Blank spread deftly over green fronds that bowed beneath its weight. Made into cushions as she eased her body down onto a corner. Feet tucked neatly behind her, so that her thighs and calves made a pleasing shape.

Pella had no doubt that in Aramis' cabinet were all the little tools needed for a days work, whatever that work might prove to be. Blades for prying open shells. Blades for prying open people. Blankets just like this one for rare moments just like this one.

Chin to her shoulder, Pella looked out at the blue-green swirl of the sea. White froth blending into the darker colors of the depths. Nearly invisible shadows moving beneath the waves. She let her hair fall across her face even though he was not looking. Let her back arch and her lids grow heavy. Refusing to be spiteful against what appeared disinterest, Aramis' eyes drawn elsewhere. Watching the bird adorned tree tops as she watched the see.

A studied sort of ignoring.

She moved when he spoke however, a hand fitting into the cradle between his shoulder blades. Fingers following the curve of his spine downward. "Pleasing you pleases me today." Weight rolled onto her knees so she could kneel half behind him. Thumbs tracing muscles upward, she kneaded gently, carefully. Letting her hair brush the back of his arm. The ends curling around his elbow.

"Have we not earned some leisure and rest?" The question put into the air near his ear. An eyebrow he couldn't see sweeping upward in question. Each of them working for the best of the group. The front that hid their rookery. Bold, Pella kissed his shoulder, palm spreading low across his back. "The others find time to dive off for playful swims. Let us have this." Let them have each other. Alone in a place no one would hear or find them.

No help should things go terribly wrong. No interruptions if they went terribly right. Just the sea at her back, the jungle at her front. And Aramis, a strange combination of both.

Aramis Dupuis

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Re: Afternoon Snack
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 11:19:09 PM »
Her proximity, the shift of her weight on the blanket, the change in the air -- his gaze knifed to the corner of his eye, eyelids relaxing. Lowered, almost demure. A half step closer to an edge he rarely showed the house. Jaw flexing he refused to still, to react as the hungry-thing in his chest liked to. Easier, like a sigh, to smother it away now.

It pleases me not to wade too deeply into this, he thought. Too easy, perhaps. If his desires were hers, then Aramis knew better the angle she moved from.

"Is that so," he stated, turning his head toward her while his eyes lagged behind. He could almost feel her lips against his skin, and then they pressed against his shoulder. Brave. When he did at last look up at her their closeness did nothing to shake his focus. He turned more fully, sliding onto his hip, knees curling toward her, propped up by one hand, feeling the glide over fingers down his shirt. The opposite came to rest on one slender forearm, closing the circle between them. Her skin was soft, and he ran his thumb in a lazy sweep over the hair there. Below was the firmness of her muscle, of bone, of blood and vein and sinew.

He was closer to a living person than he'd been in days.

Aramis let himself have plenty. Maybe too much, sometimes. But what was the reward when there was no risk? His allowances may some day come for him, but likely not from Pella. "And you would let me take my pleasure, then? Indulge in rest and... leisure?" It rolled over his tongue like a sweet, looking up through his eyelashes at her. There was no pressure in this at least. No tightness in his skin that made Pella look like anything other than Pella. No way to communicate that, though. No way to say that he wasn't... hungry, without acknowledging the shadow that hung around his throat.

Pella was typically sound. Aramis trusted his ability to stop, adjust, adapt around his own limitations. He didn't quite know about her, though. Bravery could only shield so much.

"How generous of you," he murmured, fingers tracing up her arm to her elbow. Warm. Solid. Present. That, more than anything, was a comfort. Too frequently it felt like the only real thing in the world was him.
 

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