December 16th, 1899
Rhys stopped his hands as Julia placed hers over his. She gave him a quick, cheeky smile, then began to undress him herself.
She pulled away his belt, then loosened his pants, much to the relief of his already-hard manhood as it was freed from its tight prison. She saw this and went to her knees, lavishing all of her attention and skill on him. He buried his hands in her hair, pulling her even closer, her hot breath against his skin adding the unique, pleasurable madness that only ever came during sex.
Women were beautiful. It was an immutable fact of nature.
Women with cunts, women with cocks, angry women, fat women, confident women. All beautiful, all in their own special ways.
He pulled away from her mouth, not ready to climax. Unwilling to be brought by a mouth on this night.
‘Undress,’ Rhys commanded, as he settled naked on the bed, needing to see every second, needing to have plenty to remember, for the inevitable time when they began to tear his memories apart.
Julia toyed with the shoulders of her dress for a moment, then slipped her hands down her body, carefully tracing curves, lingering on places he wanted to touch.
She began to lift the dress, her fingers curling around the hem, before lifting it up, inch by inch, revealing skin, hair, and scars.
One hand held the shimmering dress, then dropped it to the floor.
Rhys stood, unable to keep himself back from being close to her. He traced fingers up her arms, committing the shape and curve to memory. He dipped his head and ran his tongue across her shoulder, enjoying the taste of sweat and salt on her skin, and the scent of perfume tickling his nose.
If one moment was to last forever, he would have been happy for it to be that one.
Some people made deals with Time for just such wishes.
Rhys curled a thin lock of hair around his finger, seating the moment into his deepest memory.
He kissed her, his tongue exploring her mouth. He captured her lips with his, then began to kiss his way down her neck.
He found one the scars on her neck and kissed it, feeling the texture, remembering the night they’d met.
From her neck to her breasts, he pressed his mouth to her breastbone, then turned his head a little and listened to her heart. A beating heart always seemed to be such a liability – it gave anyone with ears to hear it a place to aim.
He kept his head in place and drove his hand lower, slipping it into the folds between her legs. One hand wrapped around her arse and held her still as he slowly aroused her, causing short exhalations of hot breath against the top of his head.
She started to moan, and after another moment, he stood, lifting her easily towards the bed. He laid her down gently and placed his mouth where his fingers had been, his tongue sliding easily along the lubricated folds.
Julia moaned, the practiced sounds of a whore, but somewhere beyond the facade, he was causing her true pleasure, whether or not she would ever admit it.
She came, her cunt spasming against his mouth, her chest heaving, her arms splayed. He rose up from her, and looked down – used to seeing her open like this, naked and vulnerable, but unable to stop himself each time from cataloguing the ways he could kill her.
Rhys wrapped his hand around his cock and began to stroke himself, allowing the tip to touch against her cunt. He took a moment to revel in the light playing off her glistening slit.
He pushed into her, almost groaning in pleasure as he felt her soft body beneath his.
Though the kind of sex he was used to – hurried sex in dark alleys up against brick walls – had its merits, there was also a great pleasure to be had in doing it in a bed.
She was good for a whore. She knew her trade well, knew how to move to him make feel all the right kinds of pleasure, pressure, and pain. Knew how deeply to dig in her nails to make him want her more.
Knew when to buck the rhythm, just to keep things interesting.
He lowered, kissed her deeply, and thought of his legacy.
Rhys felt himself being roused into consciousness.
Not that he ever truly slept, but there were deeper parts of rest that mimicked it in all of the salient ways. The agents slept. Most were even capable of dreaming – another advantage their kind had.
Julia’s hand was touching his face, fingers tracing his jaw, the smoothness of her fingers catching –
ever so lightly – on the overnight growth of his chin and cheeks.
It was a gentle motion, the easy touch of a lover. Not something he had paid for; not something he had demanded.
‘If you’re awake, Rhys, you can do me the courtesy of opening your eyes.’
He did so, the world immediately in focus, morning light streaming into the carriage. ‘How did you know?’
‘It pays to know when a man is asleep, and when he’s capable of being dangerous.’ Her hand didn’t leave his face. ‘You have stubble,’ she said, fascination obvious in her voice, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’
‘My kind is built to impersonate yours,’ he said. ‘It would be suspicious if I could not grow a beard.’
Her fingers lingered for a moment more, then withdrew. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, the words coming almost as a reflex.
‘I fuck, then I leave,’ he said. ‘You’ve never seen me in the morning to know that I–’
She looked afraid, and it wasn’t appreciated – or warranted. One hand had been touching his chin. The other rested on her belly.
‘I implore you not to abort the child,’ he said, trying to sound gentle.
She looked up, shock on her face. ‘It’s not that, I would never– Do you think I could kill a child?’ Julia took her hand away from her stomach. ‘I just believed I would never be with child again. Never a mother again.’
Rhys closed his eyes and focused on the sway of the carriage for a moment. As a concept, his legacy had been something he had needed, some way to be remembered, for some part of him to survive into a world with agents. Now that the seed had been planted, there were…other concerns.
He felt his mind fighting with itself to try to parse the concepts into words. They all seemed like such weaknesses, but with two weeks left to live, and alone with a whore, it seemed an opportune time to indulge in weakness. ‘Will you…love him?’
Julia sat up beside him, tugging the blanket away from him. ‘What?’
Rhys opened his eyes and sat up, admiring the scars on her back. ‘Will you love him?’
‘He will be my child,’ she said hotly. ‘Of course I will.’
‘Even if he does not love you back?’
Her brow furrowed. ‘What?’
Rhys stared at the golden ceiling, looking for the sun through the tinted glass. ‘My kind does not love.
It is something we were created without. We can dedicate ourselves to an idea, but not to a person, not in a way that you would understand as love. I…do not have that function, and I do not know any of my brethren who do. We are our duty, and that is the be all and end all of our existence.’
‘But your child will be–’
‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I’ve never met a dusker child. I’ve only heard of a few duskers that have taken wives or husbands, and those marriages are likely alliances or pacts of convenience.’
‘I’ll love him,’ Julia said, her voice firm. ‘I don’t think any force in the world could stop me.’
A weight freed itself from his chest. Love wasn’t something he needed, but a half-human child might not be the same. It was a relief to know that, if love was a need, it would be fulfilled.
Rhys rose from the bed and began to dress himself. They had the carriage for another two hours, but he doubted that there would be an after-breakfast fuck.
Julia’s arms wrapped around him from behind, one hand splayed on his stomach, the other on his chest.
‘You won’t be forgotten, Rhys. You may not have too many friends, but I’m not the only one who is grateful for you.’ He felt warm lips on his back, kissing a trail up his spine. ‘I will miss all the parts of you – man, magic, and monster.’
He bowed his head, drinking in the comfort from the whore’s arms, then pulled away and continued to dress himself.
There was the sound of small feet touching the floor as Julia began to look for her clothes. ‘Why don’t you run?’ she asked. ‘You said some of the others–’
‘No,’ he said, keeping his voice just back from a snap. ‘I cannot. I am…Duty. I am my duty – that is the ideal and purpose I hold highest, even beyond my own self-interest. I go willingly, because it is expected of me, even if I do not agree with it.’
He sat on the edge of the bed and began to lace his boots. He would spit and scream and not go quietly as he was recycled, but he would also not stand in the system’s way as they took the measures they saw as serving the greater good.
The rebellion was understandable, but it was not something he wanted any part of – he had, in fact, informed Reynolds of his trip to Faerie, lest the man think he was running. Reynolds had agreed without issue, though he had warned Rhys to limit his time there, lest it look bad to anyone who may be monitoring him.
Rhys moved to the table and began to open take the covers off the remaining trays, revealing the small breakfast spread. Combined with the leftover fruit, it would be more than sufficient.
Julia, clothed again in the required dress, her hair still a mess, sat across from him and poured herself a glass of berry-scented cordial. ‘Where do we go from here?’
He began to slice a piece of fairy fruit. ‘I’ll shift you home. I’ll look into the rabbit and begin to organise the property. I’ll send a courier by later to bring you to better accommodations whilst a house is located. I will…want to see you again before the end.’
‘Do you celebrate Christmas, Rhys? I’ve never had cause to ask.’
‘I’ve never seen the point.’
‘Celebrate, just once. Come see me on Christmas.’