Title: Peace and Quiet
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: Kahlan leaves camp at night to take a bath, hoping for a little peace and quiet, but Cara has other plans.
Kahlan sighed softly as the cool water lapped gently at her feet. It was a warm night and the moon hung large and comforting in the night sky. She had walked far enough away from camp that it was blissfully quiet around her, and she was looking forward to a little time alone.
Blue eyes scanned the enticing water laid out before her. An anticipatory smile touched Kahlan's lips and she reached for her clothes and began to unlace them quickly. The water was calling to her and she didn't want to keep it waiting.
Fine, pale hands ran over Kahlan's head, smoothing down her hair and brushing it out of her face as she surfaced from the cool depths of the pond. Her chest heaved as she surfaced and her pink lips parted fetchingly as she took in a large breath of air.
Kahlan lifted her hand to her face and swiped her thumb and index finger over her eyes then scrubbed her hand over the rest of her face before opening her eyes to look at the bank.
A weary sigh emerged from Kahlan as she realized that she was no longer alone.
"What are you doing here?" Kahlan called in an exasperated tone to the figure that had materialized on the bank during the three seconds she had been underwater.
"Laundry," Cara replied in a perfect monotone, her eyes cutting away from Kahlan's a moment after she finished speaking to begin unfastening her clothes.
"The pond is occupied," Kahlan called out as it became clear to her that Mord'Sith planned on joining her.
Cara stopped unbuckling her complicated outfit for a moment and looked up, allowing her eyes to scan the expanse of water before her.
"I think it's big enough for two," she finally replied before going back to undoing her clothes.
"Of course it's big enough. That's not the point," Kahlan responded staring forward, her eyebrows creasing together as Cara's pale shoulders came into view.
"Then what is?" Cara asked blankly, cocking her head slightly to the side as she gazed at the Confessor vacantly.
"I came out here to bathe alone," Kahlan began, holding the blonde intruder's eyes. "Your presence makes me not alone."
"I see," Cara murmured. She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down on it lightly then cut her eyes away from Kahlan's to stare thoughtfully at the tree-line.
Cara remained still as a statue for a few moments, staring off into the darkness, and then her head slowly craned around to face to Kahlan once more. The moonlight illuminated her face, and Kahlan could see the blonde's lips curve up ever so slightly.
Without speaking, Cara began to tug at her clothes once more and soon the top half of her was exposed to Kahlan.
Cara's body seemed to glow in the pale light of the moon and Kahlan found herself staring at the blonde for a moment, captivated by the beauty of her. As much as it pained Kahlan to admit it, Cara was a sight to behold and, at least for a moment, she was beholden.
Kahlan's jaw clenched in frustration as Cara continued to undress, but she said nothing more to the blonde. She knew that it was useless to talk to the woman further. Cara had made up her mind to bother her by coming into the water, and any attempts Kahlan made to dissuade Cara from it would only amuse the blonde, and Kahlan had no interest in being Cara's entertainment for the night … yet again.
Kahlan turned her back to Cara and swam further into the pond.
A short while later, there was a faint splash as Cara entered the pond, and then the woods were quiet once more but for the gentle sounds of the two women wading in the water.
Kahlan ignored the feel of Cara's eyes on her for as long as she could, but finally she couldn't pretend not to be aware of the blonde's presence and turned in the water until she was facing Cara – who was boldly staring directly at her, as Kahlan had suspected.
"What?" Kahlan asked peevishly.
"It's a nice night," Cara offered calmly, allowing her eyes to drift away from Kahlan's momentarily to glance up at the clear, starry sky above them.
"Yes," Kahlan agreed cautiously, eyeing the blonde, "it is."
"The water's cold," Cara observed, tilting her head to glare at it as if she hoped to scare it into warming up.
Despite herself, Kahlan cracked a small smile at that.
"Believe it or not, this is nice. It's only going to get colder," the brunette said, her smile widening when Cara looked up and frowned at her.
"At the temple our bathes were always warm," Cara began, swiping at the water sullenly with her hand as she stared morosely at the rippling surface.
"This isn't the temple," Kahlan replied, modulating her tone carefully to keep her response from sound too scornful.
"I know," Cara responded, meeting Kahlan's eyes briefly before she turned her hawk-like gaze away.
A few seconds later her body began to slice its way cleanly through the water moving her further and further away from Kahlan who simply watched her go in perplexed silence.
Kahlan knew Cara was near her, but she still started slightly when she felt the blonde's hand touch her shoulder.
"What are you-" Kahlan began, whipping around to face Cara with blazing eyes.
When she was facing Cara she found the blonde watching her with a mildly surprised and slightly amused look on her face, and she forced herself to take a deep calming breath before she continued speaking.
"What are you doing?" Kahlan asked, narrowing her eyes as she glared at the woman standing in front of her.
Cara responded by lifting her hand out of the water to display the drenched washcloth she had clutched in it.
"You're not serious," Kahlan declared, unable to help the way her lips curved up slightly as she gazed at the blonde incredulously.
"At the temple we assisted each other while bathing," Cara responded meeting Kahlan's gaze steadily. "There are some jobs that a person cannot do alone, no matter how formidable they are. As mighty are as you are Confessor, not even you can scrub your own back."
Kahlan stared at the cloth in Cara's hands for a long time, watching as glistening pearls of moisture dropped from it and fell to the surface of the water, creating tiny, rippling rings.
Her first instinct was to tell Cara where she could stick her washcloth before she swam away, but there was something in the other woman's eyes that made her hesitate.
"Why would you want to help me?" Kahlan asked finally.
"You said I should be more considerate," Cara replied squeezing the cloth, releasing a deluge of water. "This is considerate. Turn around."
Kahlan rolled her eyes at the order but slowly turned around nonetheless.
She didn't trust Cara as far as she could throw her, and she wasn't planning on sleeping without a knife under her pillow any time soon, but it seemed to her that Cara was making a genuine effort to fit in and didn't want to discourage her.
She would concede to Cara's wishes this time, but it didn't mean that she believed the blonde was turning over a new leaf. That way, if Cara's actions ended up being some sort of game Kahlan would lose nothing but have gotten her back scrubbed, and if it was an actual overture of friendship then something constructive would have resulted from Cara barraging in on her and, of course, she would have gotten her back scrubbed.
"Does it surprise you that I can be gentle?" Cara asked softly, her breath warming the back of Kahlan's neck as she continued to the move the cloth against the Confessor's skin.
Kahlan's back had been tense when Cara first put her hands against the brunette's skin, but as she had begun to wash Kahlan's back the brunette's posture had relaxed and become almost loose for a while, but soon the Confessor seemed to realize where she was, and who she was with, and she had tensed up again.
"Not really," Kahlan responded keeping her eyes focused forward. "It's a useful tool while training someone, isn't it? It's just another thing to be twisted and perverted to suit your purposes. Gentleness is just another weapon to a Mord'Sith, and is wielded with the same coldness as an Agiel."
The cloth stilled against Kahlan's back, and for a few moments the only sound the brunette was aware of was the soft sounds of Cara's breathing behind her. Kahlan considered turning around so that she could see the expression on the blonde's face, but she didn't want to give Cara the satisfaction of knowing that her silence was making Kahlan uneasy.
"That's right," Cara replied finally, her voice taking on the honeyed tone that Kahlan had come to associate with the blonde doing something completely unacceptable. "A touch can be just as lancing as a blow, when properly applied," the blonde continued as her hand slipped beneath the surface of the water.
Kahlan gasped a moment later, her eyes widening as she felt Cara's fingers brush against her nipple. A shock of sensation ran through her at the light touch and she trembled from the pleasure of it even as she tried to jerk away from the blonde. Before she could put any distance between them however, Cara's other arm wrapped around her waist and Kahlan found her back pressed firmly against the front of Cara's body.
"It pits a persons mind against their body," Cara continued, her voice dropping into a husky purr as she stroked Kahlan's nipple with her thumb again before carefully taking it between her fingers and squeezing.
The fingers of the hand she hand around Kahlan's waist began to lightly trail over the brunette's quivering abdomen, teasing the flesh with just a hint of the pleasure she was capable of giving it.
Kahlan's breath hitched, and Cara's questing fingers stopped just short of the dark patch of hair between Kahlan's legs.
"Your head tells you not to believe in the softness of the touch. It tells you that the tenderness is a trick, but your body craves it," she purred as her fingers began to dip between the Confessor's legs.
Kahlan gripped Cara's wrist tightly and yanked it away from her body.
"Step away from me right now," Kahlan breathed out lowly, tightening her hold on Cara's wrist. "Or swear that I will take all that you are."
"You say that," Cara whispered, neither trying to touch Kahlan again nor pulling away from her, "but do you feel it?"
Cara pressed the hand she still had covering Kahlan's breast against the brunette, caressing the generous mound in a way that made them both very aware of the fact that Kahlan's nipple was hard and swollen beneath Cara's palm.
Kahlan's jaw clenched and her nostrils flared in anger and shame.
Cara was closer to her than anyone had been in a very, very long time, and she was touching places that no one but Kahlan herself had touched since she had left her sisters to take the book of Counted Shadows to the Seeker.
Cara was right, her body was responding to the feel of blonde's hands on her. She was having a physical reaction to the feel of Cara's warm body pressed so intimately against her own, and it shamed her.
"Back away," Kahlan ground out angrily.
Cara didn't move immediately and Kahlan's toes dug into the damp earth at the bottom of the pond as she tensed and prepared to turn and drive her elbow into Cara's face. However, before she could turn and take the blonde's neck in her hand, Cara released her and floated back out of Kahlan's reach.
Kahlan crossed her arms over her chest protectively and then turned to face the blonde who was watching her curiously.
"I'm sorry," Cara said a minute later, still studying Kahlan as the brunette continued to glare at her balefully. "I shouldn't have done that," she continued carefully.
"If you know you shouldn't have done it, then why did you?" Kahlan asked flatly.
There was something in Cara's eyes that resembled regret, but she didn't know whether or not she could trust what she was seeing.
"You upset me," Cara replied.
"I upset you?" Kahlan asked, her face transforming into a mask of incredulity.
Cara's eyes were focused forward, in Kahlan's direction, but she was looking at something behind brunette, not directly at her.
"We do use gentleness as tool while training, but pain and suffering is not all that we are. It's not all that I am," Cara stated in a dull monotone as she continued to stare past Kahlan. "I feel things. I may not go around hugging small children and giving peasants hearty pats on the back, but I feel things."
Cara sighed and then angled her body to the side to look longingly at the bank of the pond.
"Not everything I do is evil."
"You violated me," Kahlan accused.
"I taunted you," Cara disagreed.
"You touched me," Kahlan returned, moving threateningly towards Cara.
"I let go when you sounded like you meant it," Cara said, meeting Kahlan's eyes though she moved back as Kahlan advanced on her.
"When I sounded like …" Kahlan began to repeat, her voice rising higher and higher with ire before she made herself cut the reply off. "Go back to camp," Kahlan gritted out as Cara gazed at her.
"I was trying to be considerate."
"Just leave. I can't deal with you right now."
"I could have immobilized you by assaulting a bundle of nerves in your lower back. Upon disabling you I could have done with you as I wished," Cara said holding her position in the water. "But I didn't."
Kahlan stared at her in amazement.
"And what, you want a honey-cake for that? Should I build a statue in your honor?" Kahlan asked incredulously. "Choosing not to rape someone even though you could have is not going to win you any praise."
"Why not?" Cara asked morosely. "It was the right thing to do, wasn't it? I could have hurt you, but I chose not to. That's being compassionate. That's an admirable quality."
"It would have been more admirable if the idea had never come into your head at all," Kahlan shot back, though she had stopped advancing on Cara with murder in her eyes.
Cara wasn't any good at being admirable or doing the right thing, but Kahlan knew she had been trying to understand the ideas in her own way.
Though Cara often made sarcastic remarks when Kahlan offered advice on how she could better herself, Cara had tried to implement the suggestions Kahlan had made on almost every occasion. She reacted negatively when her attempts were not as successful as she wanted, but she continued to make attempts despite her failures.
It was not within Kahlan to congratulate Cara for managing not to behave like a soulless monster, but she did understand that for the blonde 'doing the right thing' often meant doing the exact opposite of what she wanted –and what she had spent her life being trained to do. Cara's restraint was significant but the blonde still had a very long way to go before she would resemble a well-adjusted human being.
"I'm still learning," Cara said, drawing Kahlan's eyes back to her.
"Slowly," Kahlan muttered darkly.
"You could help me learn faster," Cara said, a spark of emotion coming through in her voice as she shifted in the water. "The Agiel is the most effective way, but fists will work too."
"You're not serious," Kahlan said, unconsciously echoing her earlier words.
"You keep saying that, but never when I'm actually joking," Cara replied. "Inside I am what was even though I can never go back. I'm Mord'Sith and we are trained not taught. Make me better."
"I'm not going to torture you," Kahlan said softly, her eyebrows creasing together as she watched Cara. "If you want to be controlled, I can confess you. It'll save you the pain and spare me the blood stains and bruises."
"I don't want to be controlled. I want … guidance," Cara replied slowly, thoughtfully, as if she was trying to figure out what she was feeling as she spoke. "Everything is different with you people. Everything is strange."
Kahlan's eyes widened as a pang of understanding reverberated within her. For perhaps the first time since they had met, she felt as if she understood Cara – just the tiniest bit.
"I don't need to hurt you to do that," Kahlan said softly as she slowly moved closer to Cara. "Change is difficult. It's hard, I know. But if you truly want to grow and become a better person it's going to take time," the brunette continued stopping just in front of the blonde. "You are one of the most focused, single-minded and tenacious people I've ever met, Cara. If you want this, you can do it. You can," Kahlan said encouragingly, reaching out to place her hand on Cara's shoulder.
"You say that," Cara murmured wading back towards the bank, breaking the Confessors hold. "But there'll be a dagger under your pillow tonight."
"Yes," Kahlan admitted, knowing that Cara wouldn't believe her if she tried to deny it. "But if you keep trying one night there won't be."
Cara held Kahlan's eyes for a few seconds, and then her lips curved up ever so slightly and she inclined her, nodding at the brunette.
"I've had enough bathing," the blonde declared, turning her back to Kahlan as she started back towards the shore in earnest. "I'll see you back at camp," she called over her shoulder a minute later as she reached the sandy bank and slowly began to strut towards her discarded clothes.
Kahlan rolled her eyes and then ducked under the water, luxuriating in the cool damp press of the liquid against her skin.
She was determined to enjoy the peace and quiet for as long as she could, even if she emerged from the pond looking like a prune.
With Cara around, it was likely going to be the last peace she'd for a while, and she wasn't going to squander it.