Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
A/N: AU fic, one-shot. No explanation really except that it needed to be purged from my head.


For Now
By Victoria G.

I. The Captain: Natsuki

When she removes her palm from the reader… when the door opens, she walks directly from the doorway to the center of the room without even a hint of hesitation in her step. On her way she strips off her jacket, tossing it over a chair. She never turns on the main light when she enters. The Captain waits until she reaches bar-shaped lights that are riveted to the side tables. She illuminates those instead… glowing halogen blue that better suits the inside of a metal cage, in her opinion. The Captain prefers lighting that is obviously manufactured… prefers it to the soft yellow of bulbs that would fail miserably at replicating sunlight. She doesn't want artificiality that pretends authenticity. She feels boxed in after a mission, confined and she would rather her environment reflect that. The faces of those she kills do not stay with her… they aren't what compress her from every conceivable angle. It is that something else… something basic and ingrained in the deepest part of her… has been taken from her. The reason she was outside some hours prior, is unimportant to her… because her feet… they were on the ground, honest air filled her lungs, her instincts were sharp and alive. It reminds her of what she misses each moment she spends floating in the black nothingness of space. She closes her eyes as she sits, considers the feel of the leather bench on her fingers. It's comfortable, yet she would trade it for scorching sand, or damp grass atop hard earth in a heartbeat. Life is splitting her down the middle because she, as the Captain, needs this imprisoning vessel. It enables her obsession… feeds her ever-cycling fixation with reprisal for what was done to her. Natsuki though… she's not a person made for small spaces and lifeless walls and slow drifting.

"There you are." It is a voice she knows, a voice that finds her each time the burning scratch of that which is animal makes itself known. She still does not know how it is that this woman sneaks into her quarters.

"Why are you always here when I get back?" But she is already standing, already moving toward an unspoken invitation. Right now she needs something to fasten herself to the ground again, an itchy craving for something human, something primal… like the heat of the sun, like flowing water, like the wind on her face.

"I wonder." It is a response given in the exact way she expects … a response that's somehow unequivocally clear yet says nothing at all. It is nearly a trademark of this woman, indirect directness, and that caressing voice. They make Natsuki churn, make her want, inflame her needs… because it's a silent offer to take these things from her. She knows now that she can transfer the confinement as it tries to close in on her, shift it as she pushes this woman against the wall, pour it out while she holds her down. That tone solidifies her confidence, the willingness to absorb that which would drown her.

A ready hand is at her hip immediately when she approaches, heat of lips hovering close to hers, body between her and the wall becoming liquid, breath caressing her cheek and ear. Shizuru can become her ground and her warmth while she exorcises the hiss of banished memories, tiny voices that have become intolerably loud. The slowly leaking control… everything that sets itself running in her mind, all that Natsuki feels escaping with every respiration stretched by creeping anxiety… it can be robbed… reclaimed from this woman who seems to collect composure like charms on a bracelet. Those sparkling, pretty bits of self-assuredness … they catch the light and Natsuki's attention. Shizuru… the woman weakens Natsuki's grip on all the things she's practiced at forgetting.

Clothes are thrown aside carelessly because they are only in the way. She traps the thought of all else she throws away… of so many things that are only in the way along with this woman. This woman who was such an infuriating mystery when they first met… she can now be pulled apart. In the pieces she uncovers, she finds bits of herself she didn't quite toss far enough away… casts them aside over again as they reemerge. She tries to ignore that all of this feels unavoidable, unstoppable… she assures herself it is still a choice, her choice. There is still a point of decision and she must consciously, purposefully step over that line with Shizuru. It's a choice…repeated and precious mantra… even if what's between them is a force …even if they have their own momentum, their own gravity... always a choice. Propelled as she by need, she retaliates by propelling Shizuru in turn and with all the intensity her confinement breeds. She steers the other woman, driving her in a very particular direction… she writes what is between them. The narrative is specific when it rolls across her mind…that fate cannot touch her in this, only Shizuru can touch her… and only because she is allowing it, only because she wants it, only because she touches her first.

Shizuru… it shouldn't be overlooked that outside of this, the woman exposes her… teases her, boldly pulls bits of history from beneath her skin. The aggressiveness with which she takes the other woman … some small part of it is an avenging of her pride. Breaking that smile, it resonates as much as anything else. Natsuki's touch is always commanding… heated ego and a splash of dominance. Her touch never ceases until muscles ache from overuse… till there is nothing but panting bursts of breath and dripping beads of sweat. Her hands running over yielding flesh and her face looking down into pleading eyes… they hold her still in spinning space.

Shizuru's touch though… it's made of something wholly different, something reverent and warm and terrifying. Earth and sky swirling over skin, painting lies on her body that would only take the fall of her eyelids to believe. She pries them open instead and fixes them on the metallic ceiling… fixes them against pricking fingerprints. Shadowed recollections of the type of transient experiences that destroy a person when ripped away… they resurface under that exposing sunbeam touch. It makes her tighten… and it makes her take control again… even this way. Another decision… it's become too much, and she has to fend off the tickling reach of what Shizuru does to her. She has to fight these coaxed ribbons of feeling … whispering remembrances that claw their way up her limbs and torso.

Once freed, they begin gathering and peeking through loosened defenses. The loosening… it happens to her only in the time that is captured between them… their flushed bodies or their comfortable silences or their snapping tension. Those quick dissolving seconds, minutes, hours… beautiful as they are, strange as they are… alive inside them as she is, Natsuki still cannot fully let go … not again. Never again. She beats her feelings back once they start to solidify. She knows that this indescribable feeling… like they've always known one another…it's another lie Shizuru creates for her just through presence. It's too easy to imagine what might've been if the other woman was always th… thoughts stopped… no one was there. How the other woman does that to her… makes her think in illusion… like her mother does when she remembers her, same eyes gazing down… happy fictions… unapologetic enjoyment, the blanketing warmth of contentment, unquestioned… love? Wolf's teeth pain beneath sheep's skin emotion… the worst of lies. She has to hold herself in… she knows what happens when she doesn't, but lying next to Shizuru after… it's not totally possible. She knows that Shizuru and she are something unnamable, something more than animal, something more than she's comfortable with. Despite that, she's going to, wants to let this much happen again at least…maybe at most.

For now, that is all she can do.

II. The Major: Shizuru

The Major closes her eyes when the Captain unleashes herself. She closes them to hold back what threatens to spill over when she is immersed in pleasure. These caresses that border on attacks, hot breath on her neck, heated fingers falling wherever they please… the surprising strength of such a slender woman, the chance to experience any of it… she loves it all. She loves that the woman is just shy of savage with her in these moments after their missions have been executed, where the further subversion of their humanity required by such things turns the Captain raw. To Shizuru, violence and sex are two sides of the same coin, like love and hatred. One always carries the seed of the other inside it… even if unrealized.

She has one regret in their affair, one consistent, quietly painful compunction. They've tasted so much of one another, she nearly every inch of Natsuki… but their lips never join. They will not kiss each other tonight either… she is sure of it because they never have. Her eyes predictably fall to lips … a perfect forbidden mouth that calls to her till touch pulls her attention away. The regret is born of the reality that behind their feverish interludes, however pleasurable… she is very much in love with the other woman… hopelessly so.

That withheld kiss… it is a symbol of that unrequited love, of longing… a reminder that tugs unceasingly at her heart. She knows… she knows it will not be given to her, yet she desires it so strongly. She knows that this person who takes her with such assertiveness, the Captain… does not love her in return, but that has never been who she's in love with. What she does not know and what frightens her to muteness, is whether Natsuki loves her in return… if Natsuki would ever allow herself. Shizuru cannot be sure if the feelings that dodge and weave away from recognition... if those feelings ever reach beyond companionship. Emotional realness…it is something they both evade in opposite and troubling ways. It is in this and only the most intimate, private moments that occur between them, that she ever sees the innocence that once lived in the woman on top of her. On occasion, a warm blush melts the rime … a bit of discomfort breaks that ice-set frown, a flash of something burns through algid emerald and Shizuru… she finds that she falls a little deeper. On occasion, a blush of her own sneaks out… when carnality seizes her... when poise abandons her because Natsuki has toppled her, pushed over the edge of composure. They've always had something of a knack for it… unseating one another. Natsuki never seemed to realize until they became intimate... until her effect on Shizuru became undeniably obvious… but once that knowledge reached her, she began using it to the point of exploitation. Shizuru will not fault her for that, cannot for all the times she has deliberately embarrassed the other woman just to see that adorable redness take her cheeks. In spite of all that widens the divide between them … the feeling beneath never fades for her. Behind jests and teases and her submission to this…Shizuru is undeterred in her pursuit the buried things that live in steeled eyes, behind sure hands and detached words. She seeks them without reassurance that they can be unearthed or dislodged from the places they've been locked away, without reassurance that the search will yield anything but hurt.

Shizuru does not even know that Natsuki realizes the love she harbors, does not even know that Natsuki would attempt to discover the truth if she saw some glimmer of it. Most of her is certain that the woman would not want to know, would work to keep it from herself as she does so many things. Vice-like self-denial, an expulsion of feeling executed with the same unflinching, methodical focus the Captain displays in action… in this war.

The aspirations of their General…Shizuru knows that they are mostly irrelevant to Natsuki. The mostly… it comes from some clear, yet unspoken tie between Midori and Natsuki… some thread of the past that joined them before they were the General and the Captain. Unlike their General though, neither she nor her love performs the gruesome work of this war for their cause's purported reasons. It is not out of true conviction or altruistic compulsion. The Captain wants her vengeance… eye-for-an-eye type retribution for the things that hollowed her… for her lost youth, her stolen home, her murdered family and Shizuru… her reasons are just as individual. She stays not out of anger for the myriad injustices thrust upon her own person, but to protect what hides inside the woman who is more precious to her than her own life. She engages in this war only to defend the woman's interests… and at any cost. She cannot seem to feel the wrong in it, no matter what it requires and outside of logic. Love takes her beyond sense or collectivist morality, at the same time that it imbues her with purpose. All that she sees are the pieces of herself that Natsuki will not nurture, will not protect or love or let free. Those are the very pieces that war and vengeance and the Captain erode… the very pieces that Shizuru is so utterly devoted to, that evoke thoughts both maternal and not at all so.

In their passion, her devotion manifests as the gentleness in her touch, the softness of her lips on shoulders, hips, thighs… love and sweetness until Natsuki no longer allows it. Those abandoned pieces held tight like a secret, the things that Shizuru seeks… Natsuki only lets them be seen by accident and when she realizes, she cloaks them again. Quilted coat of arrogance and coolness and condescending indifference, it shrouds her… yet still exudes delicious, magnetic attractiveness. Shizuru finds herself endlessly distracted by it… endlessly intrigued… endlessly, and perhaps ironically frustrated.

There is nothing that can be done about any of it... waiting that is all she can do. Lovely diversions are the only recourse against her own swelling emotion… fresh soldiers who blindly adore her, the silly swooning of younger women… even when she indulges, her thoughts only wander away from Natsuki for a heartbeat or two.

In lucid moments, she wonders why she continues to do this with the woman she loves one-sidedly. Being a kiss away from what and whom she wants pushes her to the brink of madness. Though her tone earlier would have suggested otherwise, her musing was partly honest. I wonder… the answer that comes initially carries implications she finds distasteful… that maybe it is only because this is all Natsuki will give her right now. A more comfortable and equally truthful explanation is that it offers both of them some measure of relief in a life that stresses them beyond coping in any constructive way. There is also the fact that she enjoys these romps immensely… however, it is what follows that brings her true solace. As they fall beside one another, only parts of them linked, spent and thoughtless for a few blessed moments… something beyond afterglow fills her. She waits in breathless silence as the woman beside her surrenders to exhaustion. She waits in a haze of melancholic adoration for a sleeping Natsuki to shift, to unconsciously… finally… seek her too. Perhaps it is only for body heat and perhaps… perhaps there is a chance that it is for a reason Shizuru dares not hope is true. Nonetheless, she will run her fingers through impossibly soft hair as she has too many times already and marvel at a face that looks years younger in repose… marvel at the beauty there, an untainted childlike beauty that pries apart the crack in her heart.

Silken tresses and porcelain skin and petal soft lips, her usual disciplined hold on herself is no match for such things. She's never been able to stop herself from stealing a stroking glide of a kiss, from taking what she cannot have while they are both awake. She will allow herself to soak in the echoing emptiness that she feels after having done so for only a single moment. After that moment passes, she will distract herself with hoping for another evening alone with this woman, with hoping for nothing beyond the press of their naked bodies, for this embrace that carries traces of desperation, for another chance at keeping this woman safe from her own self-destructive drives. She will hope only for the things she knows are possible. She will not hope for a kiss that does not have to be stolen… it would be too much. Instead, she will imagine another night of gazing upon this face…this face that seeps through the skin of her chest and builds itself a home there. She will push down all that she feels until she is given this chance again.

For now, that is all she can do.

FIN.