All right, all right, I admit it. Yes, I adore Kambei. Yes, I love the thought that he and Nasami will share a "happily ever after." But sometimes, you just have to go with an instinct, and well... I never thought I'd write a Kyuzo-Nasami story, but it just seemed like a good idea. This came out of a very short video clip I saw on Vol 3 of MADLAX (the "next episode" clip at the end of Episode 11). Limelda the military sniper is talking about Madlax, but it works in another way...

"Thoughts of you weigh heavily on my mind.
They consume me.
You're like another version of myself.
These emotions are intense.
Almost like... love

How appropriate that the music for this story is the track "The Story Begins" from the anime MADLAX. Alternately, the "song" that goes with this story is "Silence" by Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan. Both worked so well thatI put them on alternate repeat on my computer while I wrote.

The title comes from a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

For mature readers only. If you are reading this, I refuse to catch flak for it.

In Passion's Silence

I can see her there, standing there beneath the stars, practicing her kata by firelight as she twists and dances like the smoke itself. Her katana seems to shimmer and glow, like the moonlight on her hair. Her skill is evident in every move, every turn, and the look in her eyes seems to shift back and forth between focus and rapture.

Everyone else is asleep for once, so she dances for herself alone.

And although she doesn't know it, for me.

She does not see me, standing among the shadows of the trees. I know that I should be patrolling, but the movement near the fire drew my attention, and I arrived to find a woman, dancing like the flames, her katana in her hand and her face full of life.

I wonder how many years it took for her to gain such mastery of the blade, to wield a sword with such skill that it seems an extension of her very soul.

Since the night we performed the Dragon's Flight Kata, this woman haunts me like never before. Before that night, she was simply another samurai... a very good one, but beyond that, merely a curiosity.

Then everything changed.

The heat of her body against mine, the absolute trust in her skill and her trust in mine, that shared devotion to the sword, it all came crashing over me like a great wave. And all I could do was run.

Now lust roils and burns in my veins, and I ache for her as I never have for any woman.

Let Katsushiro moon after Kirara, forever pining for the water priestess from a distance, even as she dreams hopelessly of Kambei. None of them know what true desire is, the need that invades your very soul until you feel you're going to die if you don't satisfy it.

On silent feet, I move toward her, staying in the shadows. She does not see me, nor does she sense me, as caught up in her kata as she is. Her mind is always aware of a threat, but for now, I am only an observer.

For now.

As softly as possible, I draw my swords, and as she turns her back, I strike.

But in an instant, both of my katanas are deflected aside by her blade, and her eyes are narrowed.

I see the confusion, the unspoken question in her eyes.

I do not answer, but instead bring the swords in close and then attack again. We circle the fire like cats, attacking and counter-attacking. And yet, by unspoken consent, we are trying to keep things as quiet as possible.

We don't want an audience.

She is good, one of the best opponents I've ever faced. I'd dueled her once outside of the Village of Respite, but this was different. This time, I had a new purpose.

Slowly I force her backward, step by hardwon step, away from the fire. With every strike, we move toward the trees, away from prying eyes. She does not yet realize that I am guiding her, but she is making me fight for every single inch. A part of me is glorying in this battle, relishing the blades' song, while the rest of me focuses on her. Her eyes are wide with something approaching delight as we fight. She seems to be revelling in this swordplay of ours, this test of her skills like few she has faced before.

Somewhere in my mind, I become aware of something more.

Her scent. She smells like some exotic flower, but underneath it is... arousal. Desire.

A wild joy sings through my blood to learn she feels it too.

Does she even realize how her eyes glow, incandescent as we spar and dance? Does she know how incredibly sensual she appears as she whirls close to me, then ducks away as I attack?

At last, we are amid the trees, moving through the shadows and the darkness like wind over water. The firelight does not touch us here... only starlight.

Enough playing around.

Abruptly I sweep one katana around, connecting with her blade and sending her sword flying. I can tell she is startled as the pommel slips through her fingers, and she backs away to gain the room to spring.

Until her back encounters a tree, and I can see the dawning realization that she has nowhere to go.

Then I drop both my swords and lunge, forcing her back against the tree and bring my mouth down on hers even as I close my eyes.

She opens her mouth to gasp, and I invade. She writhes to try and move, but I press closer. She reaches out to push me away, even as I tangle my fingers in her hair.

For what feels like forever, I feel... afraid. Afraid that I am the only one who feels this heat between us. Afraid that she will reject me. Afraid that she will hate us both for what I am doing.

Finally, I feel a subtle change come over. She stops fighting, but she does not yet respond. I do not relent though, but not even I realize that I am holding my breath as I wait.

Then, at last, her hands stop pushing, and curl themselves around the fabric of my trench coat to pull me closer, and I resist the urge to groan into her mouth as she starts to kiss me back.

It feels like forever, as we stand there in the shadows, falling into each other's souls. Her skin is cool against the heat of mine, her hair like silk. Her body is soft against mine, but I can feel the strength in her slender figure. She is no shrinking violet - this is a woman who must be won.

And I will not stop until she is mine.

At last I draw away and open my eyes to look at her. Her eyes are still closed, her lips parted, her whole body still as though waiting. Then her eyes open and she stares at me.

Neither of us speak.

I don't know which of us moves first. Maybe it's her, maybe it's me. But suddenly she is in my arms, but now my back is the one against the tree, and she is the one in control. She cups my face in her hands, and pulls my head down to hers as she kisses me fiercely, hungrily. She pushes the hair back from my face and traces my features with her hands.

Suddenly I am no longer certain who is seducing whom, but as her mouth captures mine again, I have absolutely no desire to complain.

She is not my first. I have had others before, experimented, learned, even been seduced in my life. But this is the first time that I feel like this - as though her soul is a fire that I want to be consumed within, to blaze as high and as hot as I can for this brief, brief time.

My hands are memorizing every inch of her, just as hers are learning all of my body. Before I realize what she's done, she slips my trench coat off me so that it falls to the earth. Slowly we sink to our knees, and without stopping the kiss, I pick up my trench coat and drape it over her shoulders. Then we both fall to the ground, with me stretched out over her. She attempts to move out from under me, but I hold her down with the weight of my body to remind her that I am the one in control.

Until she slides her hands straight down the length of my body, and I start to realize that control is becoming very, very tenuous.

Now I am only wearing my bodysuit, but she is still almost fully clothed, wearing one of the outfits belonging to Rikichi's wife. She shouldn't be wearing peasant clothing.

For that matter, she shouldn't be wearing anything, so I start removing her clothes. Thank God that peasant clothes are simple to remove, otherwise I think I would be tearing these off of her.

Her skin glows in the moonlight, and is almost cool to the touch. Or maybe it's just that my skin feels like it's on fire as I touch her.

A long length of silk binds her breasts, and I growl to myself. Blindly I reach for my swords, but she reaches out and picks up her tanto, then hands it to me. I carefully place the edge of the blade against the fabric and slice through it, then pull the fragments away.

I can see why she binds them. Petite she might be, but her breasts are slightly full, and I cannot help lowering my mouth to them. She gasps and arches her body, holding me closer even as she draws her legs up and wraps them around me.

But she catches me in a moment of distraction, and with astonishing strength, rolls us both over so that now she is on top of me, straddling my hips, and kissing me as though she were drinking a draught from my very soul.

I decide that breathing has just become unimportant.

I let my hands slide all the way down her back, over her backside, and pull her even closer. If I weren't dressed, I'd be filling her right now. Time to change that.

I release her and she falls backward, I sit up straight long enough to pull off my bodysuit, but I pause as I glance down at her. White hair, white skin, brilliant against the red of my coat and the darkness of the earth beneath her and the shadows around her. Only her eyes are dark, as deep blue as the night sky where the moon lights it.

Scars line her body almost from head to toe. Slash marks, thrust wounds, healed injuries, all on display to me. Her tattoos coil around her arms until I think that the colors are moving. I could lose myself for hours learning each scar beneath my hands or my mouth.

She is staring at me, her eyes wide in her face, and I look down at myself. Where she is slightly rounded, I am wiry and muscular. She is petite, I am taller than she by several inches. But like her, my body is covered with scars.

For a moment, I wonder if she is dismayed or disgusted by me, but she reaches out one small hand and traces a long scar that winds down my ribcage, and my breath suddenly hisses out of me.

I lie down again, hands everywhere, kissing her until neither one of us can breathe. My hands and feet are practically tingling, I feel almost dizzy, and the only thing I can consciously focus on is the ache in my loins. My body can't take much more of this - I can feel her heartbeat pounding as my body presses down into hers. I trail my lips down the length of her throat, and she clutches at my hair, her fingernails raking down along my back.

I can't hold back anymore.

My eyes meet hers and although neither one of us say a word, we reach an understanding.

The desire returns full force, until I think that it will consume me and turn me to ashes. But the fire within me meets the flames within her, and miraculously, it does not burn, but fills me with heat... and with absolution.

I force myself to keep my eyes open and watch her as I possess her body. Her eyes are closed, but her hands pull me even closer as though trying to fuse our bodies into one. The emotions race across her face

So I kiss her again. And again. And again, my body moving within hers, hers moving beneath me.

It has never been like this, this merging of flesh and skin and soul until I can't tell where my body ends and hers begins, where her every breath fills my lungs and my heartbeat fills her blood.

And when at last she reaches her fulfillment, I swallow her cry, even as my own body tenses, and my own release screams through my body and into hers.

I can no longer support myself, and I collapse on top of her, panting heavily, trying to still take some of my weight on my forearms. I feel like I've been running for miles, but as exhausted as I am, I feel more alive than I have in years.

Carefully I move down so that my head rests on her breast, and she reaches up to stroke my hair. Her legs are still wrapped around me, holding me close, and her breathing finally begins to slow. Her heart thumps steadily beneath my cheek, and she lifts her head just enough to kiss the crown of my head.

Already I ache to make love to this woman again. And as my eyes drift closed, for just a moment...

A single moment...

All is well.

As I feel myself relaxing, the passion in me subsiding at last, I reach for her again and my hand finds her bare shoulder. Carefully, I move my hand down the length of her arm until I find her free hand and hold it close.

Neither of us has said a single word.

But sometimes, words aren't needed.