Author's Note: This has been in the works for years, and now finally with great help from my beta Ruby, has been committed to paper. This is purely based on the Witchblade comic and the event that took place in issues #16, #17 and #18. If you have any questions about the setting or the events, please feel free to ask. Also there is adult content, so please if you are not of age, don't go any further.

Disclaimer: Sarah Pezzini, Ian Nottingham and the Witchblade are all property of Top Cow comics and I am making no money off this. This story line however is mine.

and Feedback is love!

Stolen Season

Purge me with hyssop,

and I shall be clean:

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness;

that the bones which thou hast broken

may rejoice.

- Psalm 51:7-8

Sarah pulls herself from the pond. The adrenaline is still coursing through her limbs, making her movements jerky. The moist leaves covering the undergrowth stick to her skin and to the scraps of fabric still left of her night dress. The blade had shrunk into itself, refusing to attack the one it did not consider to be a threat. Now the bracelet feels heavy and somehow awkward again, much like it did those fist days she had wielded it.

"Sara, Sara."

His voice is still the soft purr it had been in Central Park among the roses; now she is surrounded by the musky smells of the wet earth. She manages to stop herself from laughing into the leaves. Waving in his general direction, she forces her limbs to push off the ground. He is grouching nearby, grey eyes unreadable.

The jeep is veiled between the high vegetation of the forest. Ian opens the door for her, the gentleman that he is. Sara heaves herself into the car, falling onto the seat with her legs quavering. There is no road and the jeep keeps hitting every groove and root on the forest floor. Sara huddles against the door. He eyes can barely focus on the trees.

"Take the coat from the back seat. You need to keep warm."

Ian doesn't even look at her, his hands veering the jeep through the trees, and Sara chokes on a giggle. He gives her an expressionless stare and she nods jerkily. She pulls the huge black thing from the back and awkwardly wraps it around her quaking body, which refuses every order she gives it. The coat smells of him, candle wax and blood. She can see the stars, bright and near when she tilts her head back. She reaches out, fingers caressing the black roof.

"What's happening?"

"The drug they gave you. It restricts the brain's ability to filter stimulus."

He veers sharply to the right, her ribs bang against the door and a mad little giggle which is half a sob escapes her lips. His huge hand reaches out, palm spreading out on the back of her head. She leans back against it, laughing and crying at the same time and trying not to.

"Sara, Sara."

Again with the refined English purr, but now she thinks of leaves and the smell of the river. His hand stays on the back of her head, eyes returning to the path. They had moved onto a tiny gravel road now. She can see the valleys stretching far below them in the bright morning light. She pushes her feet against the dash, pushing her body more firmly into the seat. His fingers tense on her head and then relax again. She looks at his stark profile, which is slowing starting to come into focus.

What should one say in say situation like this one? Is there etiquette on what to say to a man who has both tried to kill you and save your life? Sara feels the need to say something, to express her relief, her confusion and maybe the anger simmering just beneath the surface. But what can she possibly say, which would mount up to this? Especially when you still wonder what is behind those grey eyes not to mention the black suits. She feels a giggle erupting, but manages to swallow it back down; there has been enough involuntary laughter for one day.

She can see houses and villas peeking from in between the thick vegetation, no, not villa's, compounds, her mind amends. The little village nestled in the side of the mountain is still quiet. All the window shutters are closed and the cobbled streets are bare. All of the houses are relics from the country's colonial past; somehow even in her muddled state she can recognise the etchings of a culture which is not of these people. Silently the jeep slides into an alley, which Sara had never imagined it fitting into, he turns left stopping in a gated yard. Sara can see a derelict fountain from her window. She fiddles the door open before Ian has time to reach out and stumbling onto the dusty ground, the warm pressure in the back of her head disappears. Her stomach rolls and without warning empties its contents. She falls onto her knees with the force of the spasms, trying to ride out the heaves. She hasn't eaten anything in days and the acid burns her mouth.

The hands are so unexpected she shivers at the touch. He brings a water bottle to her mouth. The acid still burns but the heaving lessened.

"Come on now Sara."

He speaks right next to her ear and she fights herself back to her feet, limping with him towards the house.

It is the sound of the fan that brings her awake. Her mind fumbles over the dusty yard and she considers that she might have fainted. The bed is quite nice, but she can see the sheets in a heap in the foot of the bed. She rolls onto her back and fabric snags around her. She is dressed in a huge blue t-shirt. Much like the coat it smells of him. For a moment she considers how bizarre it is to think that he owns a t-shirt. The tattered remnants of her own clothes are still wrapped around her, the seams pressing painfully. She pulls her arms inside the shirt and rips the nightie off. She turns to her side again, pulling her legs inside the shirt as well, curling into herself. She can hear the door opening and


He stands by the bed, still in black, but now less ripped. Her throat is sore.

"I puked on your coat."

It's the only thing that comes to her mind, she hates this, hates feeling blank, but he smiles.

"That's okay. It cleans well."

"Oh, yeah, assassin."

He just nods, and sits next to the bed, his face nearly next to hers. She thinks it is odd that she doesn't feel frightened or exposed. He is calm and it transmits. She pushes her limbs out from the shirt rolling onto her stomach.

"Where is this?"

"A hotel, very well hidden though."

She notes that he avoids discussing geography, but for the moment she doesn't mind. He stays silent studying her with those eyes, which had held her since the first time, since the helicopter. She feels the tremors running down her spine, maybe its fear. Or maybe she has been fucked up in the head so badly by Yee and by Irons and by the job that she needs the fear to feel anything at all. She can still feel his hand clenching around her throat restricting her airway, but she can also feel the palm in the back of her head, grounding her. She smiles at him in the silence of the room. Or maybe it is the look in his eyes, the same one he had in the penthouse, just before her tried to rip Irons apart for her.

After a while he gets up and disappears into the hallway, of which she can just barely glimpse through the slightly ajar door from her place on the bed. She can hear sounds, maybe a woman, plates and the radio. They are comfortable sounds, domestic sounds; she is not used to them but still manages to derive comfort from them. She lies on the bed thinking that maybe the comfort is genetical.

He comes back with a brown clay plate and a bottle of water. She watches as he places the plate on the floor, dissected mangoes and melons. Her hand sneaks from underneath her body and over the edge of the mattress. The fruits are juicy and fresh, not like back in New York where everything has to travel to. She presses the melon piece to the roof of her mouth and lets the taste run through her. Everything is so much sharper now, the taste, the sheets under her legs, Ian on the floor stealing a piece of fruit now and then. It probably is because of the drugs, or because of the nearly dying. The witchblade jitters on her writs, little strings racing across her hand and then back into the bracelet, but she doesn't think it's unhappy. She rolls onto her side taking the water from his offered hand. She drinks all of it, finally realising how thirsty she actually is.

The sun is warm on the back of her legs and she rubs them against the warmed up sheets. She has never been a people person, but she doesn't mind Ian's presence in the room. His eyes never leave her, but he doesn't speak, only watches her eat. She thinks that maybe it's wrong for her to be this happy here, in this strange place with this strange man who has tried to kill her. But he has showed her so much, about herself and about the blade. She feels the strings again, now twining around her elbow. She thinks that maybe it's showing off, it enjoys being under his gaze, as does she.

"How long was I out?"

"Around ten hours."

He nods towards the open window behind her.

"It's nearly five o'clock."

She skews he upper body round, eyes scanning the thin strip of horizon visible between the open widow panes and slowly fluttering curtains. The sun is still hot, but the light is muted. She turns back and catches a glimpse of his uncomfortable expression. His hand moves to his neck, rubbing the muscles there.

"You don't have to talk about it, you know."

He looks up, surprise concealed fast behind those grey eyes.

"About what you did, back in the jungle or in New York."

He shakes his head, long hair falling over one shoulder.

"Sara, you need to know. About so many things."

She nods, of course she does. But she shakes her head, no, not today. Somehow he seems to understand, and he smiles slightly. She has never seen him smile properly. He looks away for the first time, hand obscuring his mouth, he nods. He gets up again and she follows his movements around the room with her eyes. He is such economy and grace of motion. He is such a huge guy and she would have though him to be like a bull in a china shop, well, if she hadn't fought him. Sara curls into a ball again, fingers rubbing over her calves. Maybe it's not such a terrible thing to want this, this comfort and silence. To have someone else in the room. She flinches as her nails catch on a wound running down the front of her leg. She squeezes the cut, forcing new blood through the coagulated mess. She finds the healing wounds so strange these days. The blade always heals her, leaving her skin smooth for a new day of fight and terror.

She sits up now, vigorous in her search of all the cuts and bruises from the night before. None of it has healed, she scratches the scabs irritated, presses on the bruises, revelling in the throb of the day old wounds.

"Don't let them open up again."

He is facing her again, with tubes and bottles and cotton in hand. She flashes him a grimace and pulls on the scab more fiercely. Her catches a hold of her arm and pulls it to him.

"I always thought the witchblade would heal its wielder."

"So did I."

She snorts. His hand ghosts over her arm, assessing the damage. Sara lies back down. She thinks she should not enjoy passivity as much as she does. He pops the tube open rubbing the cream on the cuts, it stings and his fingers make the ache flare up again. She thinks that this is what he is; caring and pain. She can feel the witchblade stirring, winding itself around her fingers. Sara thinks that maybe it just wanted Ian's hands on her; the sneaky thing. His fingers move through her arm palm trailing over the red stone, she can feel the current go through her, as if the blade was transferring his touch into her every cell. Then he takes hold of her foot, pulling her leg towards him. His fingers press around the wound, much like hers did and he looks right at her, grey eyes finally unguarded and heated.

Sara pushes herself off the bed, and pulls the too big shirt over her head, her foot still in his hand she slides over him, thighs over the smooth fabric covering his legs.

"Sara, Sara."

And his fingers bury themselves into her hair. The first kiss is raw and open. She doesn't have time to be coy, she wants to drown in him, consume him this one time she has the chance. But he can read her like no other, his big hands are spreading on her ass pulling her body even closer to his and she nearly sobs with the pleasure of it. She pulls on his shirt and it gets caught on his shoulders put he rips it off. His fingers smooth under her, and they're pushing in, and she sobs, and bites his shoulder, riding them. And then they're gone again. She mouths his shoulder, gentling the bite mark. She can feel him smiling against her neck, and the gentle purring laughter reverberates through her. He pushes her down again, throwing his pants to the floor with a smooth movement.

His body is delicious and heavy on her, much like it was in Central Park, but now she is not angry or running for her life. His skin is rough and smooth on the same time, old scars and some new ones slide against her side and she wraps herself closer. Sara thinks he is like the tide moving over her, blood and candle wax, and does he lie in bed at night thinking about her. And then she is not thinking much about anything.

His thrusts are hard and fast and Sara holds on to the headboard, for the first time with him, she goes with it, letting him set the pace. She feels the blade, springing to life, twining round her arms. His hands gentle her thighs pulling them higher and she howls. He is still all control, and she sinks her nails into his back. His teeth sink into her shoulder and she howls some more. In the end she stops thinking, convulsing around him and riding it. He clenches and shudders, but is still so quiet.

She wipes the sweat off his brow, and the kisses are calmer now, still raw and open mouths and exactly what she needed.

The night air is cool and she watches as the darkness creeps in, leaning against his chest. Sara thinks that this is a perfect moment. For once the blade is silent, its constant humming dimmed by her own bodily release. He is still silent, but his hands never stop moving; stomach, thigh, and then back up her arm, huge palm covering her neck. She leans in, revelling in it.

"This is stolen season, Sara."

His voice is softer now, the refinement disappearing. She nods. She knows that this can never, will never, happen again. In the harsh light of New York she must be alone, for the sake of Destiny. Oh, how she has become to loath that words, with a single sweep it had taken everything from her that had any meaning. Ian's hands travel down her back and she arches forward giving them more room.

"I know, but I don't care. I can have this now."

The morning light is bright and reflects sharply off the black paint of the jeep. Ian pulls the roof down and she climbs on. The roads are still uneven and the car keeps bouncing every now and then. Sara lifts her booted foot on the dash and admires the view. He had bought her clothes; jeans and t-shirt and boots. She stole sunglasses from his bag, but he didn't say anything so she kept them. She can see the slight silhouette of the Christ statue coming into view between the rows of mountain tops. She leans back in the seat, silently absorbing all the little details of their trek. Sara knows this will never happen again, Nottingham will never give her advantage or gentle hands in New York, but here, in this place he is hers. She can feel the blade humming its agreement.

The streets of Rio are filled with people, tourists and early party goers. Sara rises up and sits on the top of the seat. She feels the real Rio now, not the isolated world of casinos and private beaches, but the humid, heated, surreal atmosphere. It affects everyone, weather they want it to or not, and maybe now she can understand him better, but now her only fear that back home, she can't kill him, if she ever needs to.

The airport is crowded with beggars and sweaty tourists. Clutching the fake passport and tickets she watches him in this hermeneutically sealed space. She can feel the last days slipping away; sucked away by the civilization and by the order of the airport. Neither of them doesn't really belong to these places anymore. He watches her across the hall and Sra knows his eyes are cold again. She goes to her gate, watching as his body disappears into the crowd. Part of her thinks she can still feel his eyes right until she steps into the plane and Sara forces herself to forget how warm they were, once upon a time.