Disclaimer: If I owned the rights to the concept, the series would be a lot different, although given my track record it might not sell as well.
Notes: "Analyze" directly follows "Patchouli;" it is not so much a following chapter as a sequel, but it does follow the same continuity. While I suggest that you read "Patchouli" first, this story can stand on its own.
The version of "Analyze" you're about to read is the first big edit it's had since it was originally written five or six years ago; it was done to be brought up to continuity with the remainder of my fanon.
The snow fell into crystals on Sabrina's hair, an ornamentation she never would have permitted otherwise. But now there was a warmth in her hand that travelled up her arm, and spread over her body with a tingling, novel uncertainty, and she felt that if she moved she would break the spell.
"Please," he said to her offer to teleport them both from the midwinter celebration at Indigo back to Celadon. He agreed and took her hand, and for a moment she felt shock, but she disciplined that away, mentally chastising herself for the lapse. Stability, she reminded herself coldly, and checked that her hand was still closed lightly and not too tightly- no, not too tightly, because that might telegraph the wrong intentions- around Giovanni's. She focused: Celadon, base, home, full of its underground silence and somewhere in the depths her bed, where she would retreat to meditate as the morning began to claw its way through the night.
Celadon. The whirling snow blanketed the green tiles cobbling these streets as assiduously as it had coated their northern cousins in Indigo. She sensed with mild displeasure, but did not disturb, the flakes shining half-melted in her hair, though they formed a halo, or a winter goddess's snood.
They stood for a moment in front of the unassuming Game Corner, with its homely wooden sign badly in need of paint. She did not know whether to drop Giovanni's hand or continue to enclose it gently where it rested in her own. For a moment Sabrina felt… what? It was an emotion she would have to diagnose and control, lest it force her to instability.
Giovanni cleared his throat subtly and she almost blushed, but she had control. Control! You are stronger than this, she ordered herself, and to her list of later ponderings she added her decision to permit herself wine.
"Thank you," he said, and the expression on his face could almost have been called a smile if he hadn't been Giovanni, the Commander Rocket. "Thank you. That certainly made for a shorter and… immeasurably warmer trip."
Sabrina nodded; clear going, at last. "It is cold tonight."
Another twitch of his lips, softer than a smirk. "And the snow is still falling. Here- come inside."
With his free hand he opened the door and beckoned her in. She did not know what to do with her hand. The wine must have affected her more than she thought.
He slipped in behind her and carefully scuffed loose snow off of his boots- ever fastidious, this man, making even precise Sabrina feel grubby like a child.
"You have snow in your hair," Giovanni said, gesturing up towards it with an open hand.
There it was again, that feeling, warm and wound inside her. She swallowed. "I suppose." Pause. "It will melt."
Silence. Then: "Have your herbs frozen yet?"
It was such a non-sequitur that Sabrina had to check herself for a moment before realizing what he meant. She slipped her free hand into her pocket and clasped the sachet.
"No, more's the pity," she said dryly. "I have not the slightest idea what I will do with them. Is Erika mad?"
"Likely," he agreed with a snort that in any other man might have been laughter. "But perhaps some people require love potions."
Sabrina's long nose flared in contempt. "Certainly there must be more productive uses for these herbs than in an effort to corrupt idle minds into unproductive mooning about."
Giovanni couldn't contain himself; he snickered. "Rigid disciplinarian, you are."
"I cannot imagine you ever using, or wanting to use, those herbs for the purpose intended."
"No," Sabrina said, attributing the slight wist to the wine. "I wouldn't."
He surprised her. "Why not?"
She thought for a moment; in truth, she didn't know. "I cannot afford the indulgence." And because if she thought about it, the whole notion seemed wrong. In her thirty-plus years she had spent more time honing her skills than contemplating emotion, but even she felt a faint sense of wrongness about forcing emotion into someone who deliberately denied herself the desire.
Or perhaps that was just herself being defensive. But no; desire and permission were no more the same thing than "can't" and "won't."
He nodded as if he understood, before suddenly dropping her hand to shrug off his overcoat. Courteously, he held out his hand for hers, and hung them both in the main locker before leading her into the- no, she thought with slight puzzlement, they were going past the main meeting room. Not- his library? She'd only been in there once, the day she'd been promoted to Elite. Her memory- not eidetic, but disciplined to retention- painted it as small, cozy, overstuffed wing chairs striking the balance between privacy and formality before a fireplace crackling in the center of one wall. Reality proved her recollection accurate.
Giovanni knelt by the empty fireplace and struck a match, laying it gently to the waiting kindling, but the drips from his hair wet the paper and twigs and they refused to catch. "Here," Sabrina said, and concentrated a purple-tinged flame into the logs. The fire snapped and growled happily.
"Thank you," Giovanni said, straightening up with what Sabrina couldn't help but notice was a hint of difficulty. Cold joints? Early arthritis? If she knew, she thought, she could help to cushion them and ease his movement, but to ask would be improper and irrelevant.
Feeling that she owed a comment, she did. "You have quite a library."
He shrugged. "My mother's, primarily, but I have been able to do some expanding on my own. You are welcome to avail yourself of it at any time if you'd like."
Her eyes widened fractionally. "I wouldn't want to disturb you at your work."
Another snicker that could have been a quiet laugh. "Quite often when I'm in here, I'm reading. History, tactics, classics, anything to take my mind off of what utter dunderheads I have in my Fleet!"
She smirked. "I see your reasoning."
"I thought you would. I mean it. You are my most faithful Elite, Sabrina, and such loyalty and devotion should be… rewarded." He raised an eyebrow. She, unsure, remained passive. "Feel free to enter at any time if you'd like to borrow a book. You're welcome to stay to read, if you'd like, or to take the book with you. I trust you."
For a moment she forgot to crush the emotion down into manageable crumbs, and the surprise showed faintly on her face. "Thank you, sir." But an admission required an admission. "I… do not quite know what to say. Thank you."
Giovanni shrugged. "Quite welcome. Consider it part payment for services rendered.." He gestured to the desk behind him, laid out with a compact tea set. "I was actually going to read a bit before turning in, and you're welcome to stay to join me. There's tea."
Seeing her discomfort- a testament in itself to how well he knew his Elite- he laid the bait. "My mother had a small collection of books on psychic theory that you might be interested in. She concentrated in what she called the old ways of disciplining the mind. It started to become relevant to her during the Mew project, but later became quite the hobby. You are welcome to them."
There: he saw a flicker of uncertainty. "I would not want to be an imposition," she half-demurred.
"You certainly don't have to stay," he said. "I just thought you might be interested."
"I- I am, sir. Very much… But I do not want to disturb your work."
Giovanni smirked and pulled open a desk drawer, withdrawing a slim hardback volume. "Wallace Stevens is hardly work."
She had to smile infinitesimally at that. "As long as my presence would not be a disruption."
"Hardly. Here- this is where Mother's collection is…"
Neither, engrossed in reading in their stately armchairs, noticed the faint streaks of pink and yellow tingeing the sky until the beeper on Giovanni's belt rang at three. Sabrina didn't jump so much as twinge upward at the surprise of it as Giovanni glanced at it.
"Koga," he said for her benefit. "Party at Indigo ended. No relevant information."
Sabrina nodded and stretched slightly, deliberately moving each muscle fiber up and out. "I apologize," she said. "I should not have overstayed my welcome so."
"Not at all," Giovanni said, though he too was rising from his chair. "But I think we both ought to sleep."
Memorizing her page, Sabrina placed the worn leather-bound book reverently back on its shelf. "Thank you," she said, and then, feeling that something more was necessary: "I should have expected that you would read Stevens."
Giovanni smirked. "A guilty pleasure, I suppose, but his analyses are excellent."
"Yes," she nodded. "So deliberate. He must have great presence of mind, and discipline."
"Mm," he agreed.
"Thank you again," she said, and faltered. "Good night, I suppose."
"Good night," he said, graciously offering her his arm to walk her to the door, where they paused together.
He cupped her hand in his. "Do analyze this."