Author: Subtlynice PM
Spoilers for The Golden Lily. Sydney has to deal with the repercussions of choosing her duty to the Alchemists over her feelings for a certain Moroi. A series of Sydrian oneshot ficlets written post-TGL.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Sydney S. & Adrian I. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 19,080 - Reviews: 129 - Favs: 78 - Follows: 88 - Updated: 12-23-12 - Published: 06-15-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8221394
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The prompt for this one contains a pretty big spoiler for the actual story, so I'll reveal it at the end. ;)
Sage? Sage, no, please, Sage, Sage –
Pain. So much pain. She'd never imagined anything could hurt this much.
No, no, no, don't close your eyes; you're not going to die on me, Sydney –
That voice. Someone was yelling; their voice grew louder as she felt herself lifted from the cool, sticky concrete floor. The pain grew in intensity. She whimpered.
Yes, that's it, stay with me –
That voice. Oh, how she loved that voice…
Sydney woke with a start.
The small, sparsely-furnished bedroom she found herself in was a study in shadows, but a faint sliver of light shone through the slightly-open door to her right. She didn't recognise her surroundings, but even so, there was a sense of familiarity about the place that kept her from panicking.
The room itself was cluttered, but not overly so. The bed she was lying in was warm and comfortable. On the bedside table someone had placed a glass of orange juice. At the far end of the bed were a button-down shirt and a pair of khaki shorts, sloppily folded. She glanced down at herself; she was wearing a wrinkled blouse and a knee-length brown skirt. Why had she fallen asleep in these clothes? What had happened?
She fingered a rip in the sleeve of her blouse, frowning. Her skin beneath the tear was unblemished, but her frayed sleeve was stiff and stained with something dark. She brought it to her nose and felt instantly sick when she caught the undeniable metallic scent of blood. All at once, the events of the evening came flooding back to her.
A flash of silver. Chanting. A knife aimed at her throat. More chanting. Searing pain. Adrian, eyes wide with panic and fury, launching himself forwards. A falling sensation.
Sydney sat back on the bed and pulled her knees up to her chest. Details were starting to re-form in her mind. The witch – Miss Terwilliger's sister – had captured them. She remembered that. She remembered Adrian kneeling beside her. She remembered the cool, sharp knife cutting into the skin of her throat, preventing both of them from moving as their hands were bound. Then they'd been dragged into a dark, underground room lit by candles – clearly some of Hollywood's stereotypes were true. The witch had questioned her as she set up some kind of ritual. Yet another ritual that seemed to require her blood. Sydney had been halfway through a muttered spell of her own – a particularly nasty offensive spell that she'd learnt only a few weeks before but never thought she'd use – when the witch had returned with the knife and sliced a deep wound across her shoulder. The pain had been so intense that she'd half expected to die then and there. But whatever was in her blood that repelled vampires had reacted violently with the other components of the witch's spell. Miss Terwilliger's sister had been knocked backwards by the blast, the knife flying from her hand. Sydney's memory of the events that followed were hazy, but she recalled Adrian throwing himself towards them, pinning the woman to the floor even with his hands still tied behind his back. She must have lost consciousness then, because the next thing she remembered was the sensation of being carried. Adrian's voice was frantic in her ear: Sage? Sage!
Then… there was nothing.
She reached up, tracing her fingers across the smooth skin where she'd been cut. The cut had been deep; she remembered how the knife had felt as it sliced through flesh and muscle, tearing a line across her shoulder dangerously close to her throat.
The memory made her feel faint. She reached for the orange juice beside her and drained the glass in less than ten seconds, not even pausing to consider the calories she was ingesting. She felt better afterwards, though her fingers still lingered shakily over her unmarked shoulder. She knew what must have happened. She just didn't know quite how to feel about it yet.
Now that she'd remembered the night before, she couldn't forget it. She kicked herself free of the layered bed-sheets that someone (and she had a good idea as to who that someone might be) had taken great care to tuck around her – lest I die of frostbite in the ninety degree heat, she thought with fondness. Moving quickly, she shrugged out of her ruined clothes and into the shirt and shorts that had been laid aside for her. The shirt was so huge on her that she found she was able to slide it on without undoing any buttons. It fell to her mid-thighs. She pulled on the shorts, rolling them up slightly to compensate for the baggy waistline. Then she rolled the shirtsleeves up too and stole a glance at the mirror beside the door. Although it was too dark to fully make out the room around her, her own reflection was startlingly clear. She looked startlingly wraithlike in the baggy borrowed clothes that she attempted to smooth down, to no avail. Her pale hair gleamed in the darkness. Staring at her reflection, she could have mistaken herself for a ghost or a spirit if it weren't for her eyes. They gleamed with an odd light she'd never noticed before.
Alive, she thought. They make me look so startlingly alive. Like a living, breathing ghost-girl.
And then a dreadful thought occurred to her.
Shuddering, she drew back from the mirror. Cracking the door open wider, she slipped through, squinting slightly as she adjusted to the light. She was in a narrow corridor that she recognised. Following the corridor, she found herself in a softly-lit living room painted a glaringly bright shade of yellow. And there, fast asleep with his head bent back at an awkward angle against the sofa that clashed so terribly with his garish paint job, was Adrian.
Tender feelings welled up within her as her eyes drank in the sight of him. He'd fallen asleep upright, with his arms still clenched by his sides, as if he'd intended to stay up all night. Perhaps he feared their new witch friend would decide to pay them another visit – Sydney doubted it. She knew from experience how weak and drained a witch could feel after performing a particularly intricate spell. They at least had a few more days before they'd need to worry about another visit from her.
And speaking of magic draining the practitioner…
Her hand went to her shoulder again, her eyes never leaving his face. His eyelids fluttered and she knew he was dreaming. A Spirit dream? she wondered. Perhaps he was filling Eddie in on the attack. But then, if Jill already knew, Eddie most likely knew too. And she didn't doubt for a second that Jill had witnessed the whole thing. Every time she closed her eyes, she could visualise Adrian's horror-stricken expression as the knife cut through her skin…
Sydney thought it strange that Jill, Eddie and Angeline weren't there with them, though a secret, selfish part of her was glad. If any of the others were here, she would have woken to a hundred questions, which would have inevitably woken Adrian too. She wouldn't have been able to lean against the doorway, gazing at him like this. In any other circumstances, she wouldn't have dared to look his way for more than a passing moment.
Now, she stared as though worried that she might never see him again. Moving so slowly and dazedly that she might as well have been sleepwalking, she found herself by his side. She perched herself on the arm of the two-seater sofa and reached out a trembling hand to brush his hair back from his pale, fluttering eyelids. He looked strangely guarded in his sleep. She'd always found those brilliant green eyes so revealing of his every thought and feeling. She almost wished he would wake, so that she could look into his eyes again and let the love and warmth she saw there cast aside her visions of him staring down at her in horror and fright. But even as she thought of it, she drew her hand back. It felt good to watch over him as he'd watched over her.
God. If anything had happened to him – she thought, and then she pressed her clenched fist against her chest because the idea of something, anything, hurting him was just so unbearable that her heart physically hurt and she realised that losing Adrian Ivashkov would break her irreparably.
He must have heard or sensed her, because a moment later he stirred, eyes opening.
"Sage," he said sleepily. Then his eyes opened wider and her presence by his side seemed to startle him fully awake.
"Hi," Sydney said. She knew that she should look away from him now. She should move away. But her heart was about to explode out of her chest and she felt like a wild thing, spiralling out of control. She could scarcely remember why this tingling, growing warmth she felt was so wrong. She just wanted to move closer to him.
"Sage," he said again, all vestiges of sleep gone. "How do you feel?" He reached up to brush his fingers across her shoulder as if checking that the wound hadn't reappeared while he slept. Then he pulled his fingers away. His fingertips left a brilliant spark of static against her skin.
"Are you okay?" she asked him. He was alert now, but he hadn't moved from the awkward slumped position he'd fallen asleep in.
"I asked you first," he said.
"I'm not the one who tackled an armed and dangerous witch with my hands tied behind my back," she pointed out.
"Okay, so that wasn't the best idea I've ever had," Adrian admitted.
"It was stupid," she told him bluntly. "You could have gotten killed. She could have killed you right in front of me–"
"You were dying right in front of me," Adrian said. His voice was low and intense, but when he reached up to brush a stray hair from her cheek, his hand trembled against her skin. "I did the only thing I could think of, and I don't regret it for a second. I don't regret healing you either."
Sydney tensed. She hadn't meant to. She wasn't sure how she felt about being healed by Adrian, but his magic didn't scare her as much as it used to. She'd seen the evil that magic could be used for. Adrian's healing was different. It wasn't natural, but it wasn't evil, either.
Just like him.
Still, some small part of her cowered in fear at the thought of Spirit running through her veins. "I didn't… I'm not… shadow-kissed now, am I?" she asked, dreading the answer.
He shook his head. "You'd feel it if you were." His voice was strangely hollow now.
She exhaled slowly. "Good," she said finally.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "It's not." His eyes burned with their usual intensity, but his expression was grim. He reached up and brushed his fingers across her collarbone. "I'm sorry," he murmured. He took a shaky breath. "I know how you feel about Spirit and believe me, Sage, I would never have used it on you without your consent in any other circumstances, but there wasn't time and I didn't know where we were or how long it would take to get help and there was so much blood and you wouldn't wake up…"
Sydney reached out, pressing her fingers to his lips. He immediately stopped rambling, but his eyes were still fearful. He was worried that she'd be angry with him, she realised. Even now, he was so cautious around her. Like a zoologist observing a deer, never daring to do or say anything that might cause her to flee.
Her fingers moved, tracing the shape of his lips and then trailing down to his chin and jaw, and she watched their progress curiously, as though they had a mind of their own. She felt dazed and giddy and curiously calm all at once. Was this Spirit's doing? Had he given her too much? Or was she still in shock? She didn't know and much to her own blithe surprise she found that in this moment, she simply didn't care.
Adrian's eyes fluttered closed under heavy lids and then opened again, staring up at her with confusion. And desire. But his body was tense and she knew in that moment that he wouldn't try to initiate anything. He'd kissed her once and she'd fled. He wouldn't risk that again.
She stared at his lips, remembering that evening. All she could think of now was the rush she'd felt when he'd pulled her against him.
"Sage," he began now, but before he could say another word, she had leaned down and pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was clumsy and awkward; Adrian was still slumped in the position he'd fallen asleep in and Sydney, perched on the armrest, had to bend sideways at an uncomfortable angle to face him. He had frozen, eyes wide, hands rigid by his sides, and for one horrible moment, she worried that he would push her away. And then her hands drifted up, raking through his hair, and he relaxed into her with a guttural noise that caused a new, unidentifiable stirring in her stomach. Her free hand tugged at his shirt and she parted her lips against his, all worry and awkwardness forgotten.
Adrian returned the kiss with equal fervour. For all his experience, Adrian didn't kiss carefully as though it were a sport or an art form. There was no technique to these kisses – he kissed enthusiastically, with a breathless passion, as though he felt just as lost to the whims of his body as she did. His arms circled her waist as he took her lower lip between his and she felt herself lifted into his lap, her legs straddling either side of him. He clutched her borrowed shirt, fingers tickling her sides. Her body approved of this new position, shamelessly pressing closer to him. Her fingers still dug into his hair and in what she could later only think of as a moment of Adrian-induced madness, she tilted his head back and ran her tongue along his teeth, her mind cataloguing the sharpness of his canines with impassive scientific interest even as her heart pounded and he groaned into her mouth – a sound that, coupled with her proximity to his teeth, would once have caused her to leap back in fear, but now sent a shiver of pleasure through her entire body.
It was Adrian who eventually broke the kiss; she drew back as he did, worry clouding her mind once more. All of the reasons for pushing him away – Zoe's safety, the threat of re-education, Alchemist and Moroi disapproval of vampire-human relationships, her own lingering unease – came flooding back to her in that moment. What was she doing? Her head still swam with desire, but the daze was fast disappearing and she was uncomfortably aware of how closely aligned their bodies were.
"Sage," Adrian said. He sounded as breathless as she felt. Kissing Brayden had never taken her breath away, but when Adrian kissed her the room seemed to suddenly become airless and stiflingly hot. It brought out a side of her that, until that first kiss, she hadn't known existed. Now that she'd experienced it twice, she wasn't sure she could lose it again. "Sage, I'm not complaining in the slightest, but… why are you doing this?"
Why? For the first time in her life, Sydney couldn't answer that question. Wherever that burst of passion had come from, there had been no reason or logic behind it.
"I know what I'm doing," she said instead. It wasn't quite what he'd asked, but it was the truth. She'd never felt more sure of anything in her life. Kissing Adrian felt right.
His fingers traced the lily on her cheek. "What changed?"
"Me," she said honestly. I've changed. I'm not the person I was when I took my vow and I won't ever be that person again. The thought should have terrified her, but it didn't.
His smile was soft and it warmed her all over. "Not really," he said. "You're still the bossiest, bravest, most beautiful woman I've ever known."
"The bravest?" she looked down. She didn't feel brave. Mad, yes. She wouldn't still be here, sitting on top of a vampire and confessing her feelings for him at some ungodly hour of the morning if she still had a shred of sanity intact. But brave? She remembered the terror she'd felt as the witch cut through her skin. How powerless she'd been, how all of Wolfe's lessons had fled her mind as soon as she felt the knife's sharp edge.
Adrian tilted her chin up and looked into her eyes. "The bravest," he repeated. "And the strongest. Rose and Eddie and Dimitri – they're strong because they've been fighting since they learned to walk. You don't have that, but you've never once given up or given into fear." He pressed a kiss to her temple. "You're strong up here."
She shook her head. "I was so scared," she confessed, her voice breaking.
"Not half as scared as I was." She saw that fear in his eyes again now. "God, Sage. For a moment I thought you'd really gone. I thought I'd lost you."
His voice broke slightly as he said those last words, and Sydney heard again his voice calling to her, begging her to stay conscious. He'd saved her life tonight and she couldn't begrudge him that. If she knew of a spell that could ease his pain or pull him back from the brink of death, she wouldn't hesitate to use it.
"I won't let her hurt you," he vowed. "If we ever see her again, I'll use one of those fancy kicks Wolfe showed us on her." She smiled at that and the fear faded slightly from his eyes. He couldn't fight off everyone who tried to take him from her. They both knew that sooner or later, her duties would separate them. This one extraordinarily powerful woman seemed an almost manageable threat in comparison.
"And if she kicks you back?"
"Then I'll use my charm."
Sydney scoffed. "Your charm?"
"Don't take it lightly, Sage. My charm is the most powerful weapon I have at my disposal. Even beautiful alchemist women are susceptible to it." He tapped her on the nose; she laughed at his antics, wrapping her arms around his neck. He'd done it again – managed to make her smile even as the world seemed to be falling apart around them.
He shifted, settling into a slightly less awkward position on the couch and she curled up in his arms. Tomorrow they'd deal with the fallout of their actions. Tonight she was happy to sink into this uncomfortable beige couch and drink in the smell and sight of the one person in the world she knew and trusted entirely.
A/N: Written for the anonymous request: Sydney and Adrian's second kiss. Two prompts to go!