Pairing: Cara/ Kahlan Legend of the Seeker
Disclaimer: I do not own them
Spoilers: Yes! For 2x16 Desecration Also mention of 2x09 Dark
Summary: This fic expands on and directly follows the events of that ep. Angst alert! I'm sorry, I would love to write smut, but the damage of these characters is just UNF. I love it.
A/N: Switches POV half way through. Fuck if I know why. I don't question the muse.
Behind her, the fire burns low and Zed and Richard snore. The disharmony is comforting and familiar, but tonight she pushes it aside and listens for something else. Tonight as Cara's eyes scan the darkness beyond their campsite her ears and most of her attention search for a more elusive noise.
There, under the heavy sounds of men sleeping, Cara's trained hearing finds Kahlan. The slow, soft breaths that slip gently from the Confessor's body are just barely strong enough to reach Cara, but reach her they do, and the silent woman clings to them. A far cry from the tearing gasps of their last moments in the barren tomb; the pain filled sound the blonde had feared might be the last thing she ever heard. It's foolish, but even now Cara counts each exhale, measuring its pace and ease, alert for the tiniest sign of distress.
She uses the soft rush of Kahlan's breath as an anchor, holding her here, in the clean, open forest night and not back there, trapped in the stone and darkness of the tomb.
The sound, and not the sight, because even though she refuses to acknowledge it, some part of Cara knows that if she turns now and sees Kahlan, pale skin glowing in the firelight and lips parted gently in sleep, she will be unable to stop the other images: Of Kahlan winded and gasping, chest rising and falling harshly, smudges on her cheek and anger dancing in her eyes as she looks up at Cara from the dirt; calm and implacable as she tells Cara she can simply give her the breath of life; tender and smiling just slightly as she admits she thinks of Cara as a friend.
Too late, the memories come anyway and Cara shakes herself angrily. The Mord'Sith stands and walks into the woods, hands grasping her Ageil as she struggles to regain her focus.
The action renders her deaf to the sudden change in Kahlan's breathing.
Kahlan's eyes snap open, body coming to alertness in an instant. Everything seems calm under the diamond studded blanket of the night sky and she questions for a moment her instinctive reaction. The snap of a twig and a flash of blonde hair disappearing into the woods, however, bring understanding.
"Cara," the word rushes softly into the night. It is barely a whisper, coming more from her heart than her lips, but it seals her direction.
Kahlan sits up, feeling the pull of her ribs as she does. Reaching up, the Confessor touches her lip, still tender from Cara's hand. Unbidden, memories of their ordeal flash in her mind. The one that lingers is wrapped in Cara's voice, ragged and breaking.
Stop pretending my life means as much as yours!
Afterward, in the bright light of day, when Zedd had been rescued and they had triumphed over yet another evil, Cara had brushed off the words. But Kahlan is a woman who knows a thing or two about admitting painful truths. Rolling from her blanket, the Confessor moves into the woods after her friend.
Despite the darkness, it isn't hard to find Cara, some unknown sense guiding Kahlan as surely as a compass.
The smaller woman is standing in a tiny clearing, face raised to the silvered moon, seemingly unaware. Her body is outlined by the fey light, giving her an ethereal quality. The sight is beautiful and Kahlan softens for a moment, un-examined emotion catching in her throat until she realizes Cara is gripping her Ageil, body taught with a tension that even at a distance the dark haired woman can see has little to do with physical pain.
Unthinking, the Confessor moves. With soft, quick steps she is at Cara's side, her hand resting on a rigid forearm. The blonde woman's eyes fly open but she doesn't step away and for a moment pale gazes lock in the moonlight.
Cara looks away first.
Kahlan's touch is tender. "Not like this," she says, lowering Cara's arm.
For a moment she thinks the Mord'Sith might refuse, and then with a swift motion Cara sheaths the Ageil.
"What are you doing out here?" Cara's voice is challenging. Kahlan merely smiles softly.
"It's what friends do."
The smaller woman seems to consider the words, her head cocking slightly before the tiniest of smiles edges full lips and some of the tension bleeds from her body.
"There," Kahlan smiles, "that's better."
Cara merely makes a wry face and looks sideways at her. Her focus shifts and Kahlan licks her lips, realizing by the sting that the split has re-opened. Unconsciously she reaches up to make sure its not bleeding, only to be stopped by a feather light brush of fingertips across the injured lip. Like a startled animal she freezes, but the delicate touch doesn't last and the Confessor has only a glimpse of Cara's hand, the angry, self inflicted wound still vivid on her palm before the smaller woman lowers it.
"I'm sorry," Cara murmurs. She looks away and Kahlan hears the thread of shame in her voice. It calls to something within her and the Confessor acts without thinking.
Once again her hand wrests on Cara's arm.
A sharp look from the Mord'Sith forces her to continue.
"I'm not. Do you think you were the only one who wanted to just sit there and wait for death?"
Something unreadable flickers in Cara's eyes and Kahlan pushes ahead, her hand instinctively tightening around a leather-clad arm.
"Don't you think I wanted the chance to face my end on my terms? To go out fighting?" She can't help the wry smile. "Even if it was fighting someone I cared about? I knew from the moment you used your hand and not your Ageil what your true intentions were."
Cara has turned to face her and they stand close, separated by the merest breath of air and night. Kahlan holds Cara's arms tightly and the Mord'Sith searches Kahlan's face.
"I thought you couldn't read me," she says carefully.
One side of Kahlan's mouth lifts in a rueful expression. "The Mother Confessor in me can't, but the friend in me can." The words echo another conversation, another time of revelations and pain, and growth.
"And I wasn't lying either Cara. You're life means just as much as mine." Kahlan slides her hands up arms gone wire-tight, feeling a shiver ripple through Cara's body beneath the leather.
"Not to me," the words are tense, almost brittle, and it takes a long second for the dark haired woman to understand. When she does it feels like a fist in her gut.
Before she can say anything though, Cara moves, and suddenly Kahlan is being pressed against a tree. The bark is rough and hard against her back, but she has only an instant to process the sting of impact before Cara's body is pressed against her and full lips descend on her own. Fingers thread through hers and her hands are pressed against the tree, forcing her to arch into Cara as she is kissed, fiercely.
Shock, confusion, a frisson of fear - all these things crash through her: sensation like a storm in her blood, her heart, her mind.
But the storm is brief, and while her mind still clambers, her body gives itself over to the impossible, unexpected tenderness, and it drags her awareness with it, until all Kahlan knows is Cara. Her mouth opens and Cara plunders the offering, skilled and hungry and so damnably sure. Desire like a firestorm sweeps through Kahlan, molding her body to Cara's as her hands grip those pinning her to the tree, nails digging into skin. A growl of approval is her reward and suddenly the hands are gone, only to find her body, which sings in want in answer to Cara's heated touch.
The moan that seeks to escape Kahlan's mouth is swallowed by Cara's ferocity as hands no longer covered in leather gloves sweep up her body, leaving trails of fire as they caress and explore…as they possess.
Her knees are weak and she clings to Cara as if she might drown, as if – without her grip on Cara's shoulders, her waist, fisted in her hair – she might be swept away to lose herself forever in the kiss. Already she isn't sure where she ends and Cara begins.
And then, with a small cry, Cara yanks herself away, stepping back.
Blinking, nearly staggering and disoriented, Kahlan stares at the Mord'Sith. The desire tainting her blood makes it difficult to process what she is seeing – Cara standing rigidly, fists clenched, breathing harshly and…crying?
"Never to me." Is the broken response. And suddenly it makes sense; suddenly the longing and desire beneath Cara's words and actions are bitterly, achingly clear.
Pain, deep and tearing and unexpected rips through Kahlan's chest and she nearly doubles over as the implications of what has happened bloom in her mind.
She has long accepted that she and Richard can never be together, and though that knowledge aches, there is a distant familiarity to the pain – like an injury long healed that only twinges when the weather changes. Even at its most intense, that pain is nothing like what she feels now.
And deep down, Kahlan knows that the reason for that is lingering on her lips; it is swirling in her blood and making the pulse pound low in her belly: It is standing, trembling and vulnerable in the moonlight, staring at her with a hunger so great she wonders how she ever confused it with anything else.
"Cara," she starts, at a loss as to how to proceed; what to say, how to even begin to approach the reasons why this can never be.
"I know! I know," the blonde says again, softer this time. She looks up, holding Kahlan's eyes, and the Confessor can see the knowledge there, in all its terrible weight.
Cara pauses, considering for a moment. "Because it's a hard life."
Kahlan closes her eyes, drawing a ragged breath and straightening. "We can never…I cannot lose you."
Gathering her tattered composure, the Confessor steps closer to Cara. Tenderly cupping the smaller woman's face in her hands, and knowing as she does that the shine in green eyes is now reflected in her own.
"I won't lose you. And I won't be the cause of…" She can't even finish.
"And I will always put your life before my own."
The admission nearly makes Kahlan gasp, because she can see the simple, unadorned truth in the words, just as she can feel the resolute set of the jaw still cupped in her hands. And then, as if she understands neither of them can keep going down this path, Cara's lips twitch.
"Just don't expect me to admit it in broad daylight."
As unexpected as it is, the remark startles a laugh from Kahlan. Shaking her head, she lowers her lips one more time to Cara's and kisses her tenderly. The spark is there – will always be there now - she understands: In every look, every touch, every word it will remain, simmering beneath the surface – but they can move on.
They have to.
"Come back to camp, you should get some sleep," Kahlan coaxes softly, stepping away and trying to ignore the cry of her body at the loss of contact.
"You go. I'm going to keep watch a while longer."
Kahlan opens her mouth to argue, but something in the other woman's expression has her nod, and with one last touch of her fingers to Cara's cheek, the Confessor turns to go.
Her last image of Cara before the night swallows her is of the Mord' Sith standing with head bowed wearily, all alone under the stars.