I know. It's been too (much too) long. However, this chapter is finally finished! Rejoice!
Disclaimer: I do not own this series. I am merely playing.
ON WITH THE STORY
Activities - Swimming
Applying sunscreen to a child younger than ten years old is an exercise in overcoming impossible odds. It becomes a battle of epic proportions where the victor inevitably ends up sweaty from exertion and ultimately with half the bottle of lotion on her own face.
Raven had three children to shield from too much sun.
The only help she received from her fellow heroines were encouraging advice, another bottle of spf 50, and malicious laughter.
'Traitors. Every one of them.'
Reigning in her impulse to drown the laughing ones, Raven squirted out one last handful of sunscreen and slathered it liberally over Teether's back. The youngest hero giggled at the cold sensation gaining a smile from his caretaker and, unbeknownst to certain members of the pool party, saving lives.
Nodding, Raven watched Teether toddle to the shallow end of the pool, where the concrete mimics the natural setting of a proper beach, and wade in a few steps before plopping down and splashing to his heart's content. She moved to join him but Donna waved her off as the Amazon kept a close eye on all three siblings from her spot next to Timmy a little further in the pool. Assured that there was a responsible adult watching the children, Raven used the last of the sunscreen to protect her own pale skin from the clear afternoon sun that came in through the high arching roof of windows that acted like an awning over the pool which was otherwise outdoors.
The cool lotion soothed the heat that had already touched her skin as Raven finished rubbing the protectant onto her arms, torso, and legs. Bent over her feet as she sat on a lounge chair, Raven did not notice the presence behind her until the sensation of flesh hotter than her own slid along her spine, slicked with sunscreen. To her eternal embarrassment, Raven let out a shriek that echoed in the air around the pool even after she clapped a hand over her mouth to stopper the uncharacteristic sound that had escaped her mouth. All activity ceased as eyes turned to a blushing empath.
Jinx smirked as soon as she realized what had happened. "Don't freak out, Raven. It's just Star coping a feel."
Raven heard a chuckle near her ear before Koriand'r responded to the statement. "My hands were just a little cold due to the sunscreen, Jinx."
Amused laughs met the white lie and the women returned to their former activities. Raven had yet to acknowledge Koriand'r even as the hot hands continued their circular motions around her back. And thus, their interaction continued silently until Koriand'r removed her hands.
"There, the sun will not harm your skin."
Keeping her eyes resolutely forwards and fixated on the actions of her kids, Raven only whispered a thank you to the alien as she leaned back to survey her handiwork.
Koriand'r sat for a moment longer gazing at the back of the silent woman hoping for a conversation. She wanted to continue the wonderful banter from the contest earlier and hear Raven say things that made her heart flutter with delight. But time spread out with no further response from her friend and so Kori left for the deeper waters of the pool with a slightly frustrated twist to her emotions. Hopefully getting into mischief with her younger teammates would loosen the tightness in her chest.
Raven felt the darkening of Koriand'r's spirit as the woman left her side but did nothing to brighten it. Even though she desperately wished to. She just could not trust herself to be around the princess while here without her cloak and Koriand'r in a bikini. So Raven made sure her gaze would not follow the svelte female walking away from her by preoccupying herself with unfolding her beach towel and spreading it across the chaise lounge so she could lie out and enjoy the warm day.
Her ploy almost worked. Almost.
"Star! Wait! Your top isn't knotted tight enough. Let me help before you dive in and make us more jealous than we already are of your body."
It was torturous to keep her neck muscles locked in place and not snap her head towards the commotion. 'I will not look. I will not.'
Raven's resolution started strong but quickly began to waver as further conversation reached her exposed ears.
"Thank you Tara. I am not used to wearing anything when frolicking in water."
A splash punctuated Koriand'r's statement, indicating the disaster was averted and she had entered the pool. Karen's voice, however, rose above the noise as she called out to the earthshaker from her spot on the lip of the concrete edge, legs dangling in the water.
"I certainly wouldn't mind seeing that 'frolicking.' Heck, I'd even join in. No tan lines that way."
Laughter met the dark skinned woman's comment with many heroines concurring and wondering out-loud what it felt like to skinny dip. Chatter escalated once again and became a din of white noise that Raven could ignore easily enough.
'Safe,' she thought.
She was wrong.
Raven found no respite from her desire to visually devour the Tamaranean because that beautiful creature kept calling out to her. Phrases such as "Come join us, Raven", "The water feels wonderfully cool on the skin, Raven", and "Want to play water-tag, Raven" became harder and harder to ignore until Raven finally had to respond mentally in order to stay put and not give in to the temptation that was Koriand'r in a bikini.
'I'd rather join you Koriand'r. With you, that is.'
'I know something else that will feel cool on your skin, Koriand'r. My sheets on your naked flesh.'
'I want to play tag alright. Just not in view of the others.'
In desperation Raven resorted to keeping her dark sunglasses off so that she would be reminded every time she went to open her eyes and respond to not look!
So focused on her internal retorts to Koriand'r's invitations was the half-demon that she did not hear Jinx approach.
"Hello! Kitty Kat to Raven! Come in Pretty Birdy! Teether is devouring his towel and I'm not gonna be the one to clean up the mess."
Reluctantly Raven snatched her glasses off the nearby table, put them on, and opened her eyes. There stood an amused Jinx holding up a white beach towel with Teether dangling from the end by his teeth. With a heavy sigh, Raven reached out and began to tickle the young boy's sides causing him to wiggle as giggles escaped. All too soon Teether couldn't hold it in under Raven's ruthless onslaught and let go of the towel with a loud laugh and fell into the waiting arms of his tormentor.
"You just ate Teether. At least wait until after you get tired of swimming to eat again."
The toddler's smile was cute, disarming, and not completely lost on Raven's stoic demeanor. Pulling him in for a light hug, Raven reclined back into her chair and wholly ignored the cat-eyed female still standing next to her.
Jinx pouted. "What, no thanks for saving you both from a monster stomachache later tonight?" The bad-luck charm mockingly crossed her arms over her glaringly pink bikini top and huffed. "I see. No love for the hex-witch. Well, next time I'm gonna hand him sugar! See how you like that Miss Unthankful-and-Silent Rude Person."
Flicking her eyes over the top of the dark lenses perched on her narrow nose, Raven lifted an eyebrow. "Oh, you're still here."
Smiling widely at finally being acknowledged, Jinx threw her arms wide and loudly proclaimed, "She spoke!" Then here smile grew positively wicked as she tilted her head and asked, "Isn't that great, Kori?"
The curses never passed her lips but that does not mean they didn't fly like mental daggers from her mind at the chortling witch as Raven stiffened her back when the voice of the one she had been avoiding once more came from behind her vision.
"It is reassuring that my friend has not lost her voice. I was worried since she has not spoken to me in over an hour, even though I have called to her many times."
There was venom lacing the bite to the Tamaranean's last statement and Raven flinched. Unused to this particular tone being aimed at her by this particular person, Raven found herself floundering for a witty retort or excuse. But even she had to admit that there frankly was not excuse. She had hurt Koriand'r with her silence and short brush-offs. Knowing there was no other choice, the dark haired woman slid off her sunglasses, handing them to Teether, and rose to her feet to face the woman standing at her back.
Whether she was imploring her absent deity or the glorious one that stood before her, Raven will never truly know. There was so much vibrant skin exposed to the warmth of the sun that for a brief, heart-stopping, moment Raven believed Koriand'r to have given in to Karen's earlier teasing and now 'frolicked' naked in the cool waters. It was a curious mixture of weak-kneed relief and libido-crushing disappointment that swept through and relaxed Raven's tense posture when she realized that Koriand'r was not actually nude.
The Tamaranean had chosen a suit closer to her hair in color which complemented her skin tone rather than emphasize it by contrasting as white, purple, and green usually do. The suit itself, however, was tastefully full of fabric which was partially unexpected from the woman who fought in a very revealing outfit. The bottom half fully hid her from view and contoured to the curve of her backside leaving the imagination to do its job as smooth legs drew the eye in a downward fashion. Similarly the muscular stomach that rose above the bikini bottom allowed gazers to marvel at the warrior's core power before marveling further at the perkiness cradled tightly by two large squares of nylon and polyester. Then the deceptively thin strings that held the top in place against the pull of gravity aligned one's vision up with delicate collarbones framing a strong neck atop which a head was held high.
Of all her beautiful features, Koriand'r's face arrested all who beheld it and Raven was no exception. Strength set her jaw and temples while kindness and sensuality traced the edges of her eyes and generous lips. Raven secretly wished to kiss every stunning inch of Koriand'r's body but she would start with her eyes. Vibrant was the only word that could be used to describe the force of her spirit residing in those lime peel green eyes. But at the moment their vibrancy was dulled.
'And it is my fault.'
No longer dazzled by the loveliness of her teammate, Raven kept her eyes on Koriand'r's as she apologized. "I'm sorry Koriand'r," Raven said meekly.
The Tamaranean stepped closer to the empath and lowered her voice so she would not be overheard by Jinx who rocked back and forth on her heels at the other end of the chair playing a version of peek-a-boo with Teether that closely resembled whack-a-mole by the way the young boy was trying to catch the thief when she popped up in his face.
"I will accept your apology only if you provide your reason for ignoring me in the first place," Kori firmly whispered.
Raven balked at the thought of revealing anything that pointed towards her growing feelings for the princess and mentally scrambled for a plausible truth that would spare her any scrutiny a little while longer.
"I, I feel embarrassed, I suppose."
The Tamaranean was not going to let this go. Desperately wishing her and Koriand'r were away from prying ears and eyes, Raven was, nonetheless, just as desperately happy they were not alone. Anything she said from now on would transform into a gigantic neon sign pointing to her painfully obvious affections and the taller woman was going to piece together all of the signals. This scared Raven shitless; still she had no choice.
Distracting herself for a moment, Raven turned her head and spoke to Jinx, requesting that she take Teether back to the shallow end to play. If she was forced to have this conversation she was not going to do it within hearing range of the ex-villainess. She would only be taunted mercilessly for her crush.
Jinx pouted but agreed and hefted a laughing toddler under her arm. "You owe me juicy details, Pretty Birdy." The twinkle in that fuchsia eye that didn't wink at her indicated the teasing had already begun.
Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Raven watched the mischievous thief bounce off to the water with her captive. Her precious moment of reprieve was short-lived however.
"Raven, I cannot understand your feelings unless you speak of them. We are not all empaths. Help me understand."
Raven's desire to omit certain truths died in the face of such earnest sincerity. Coupled with a small joking smile that told the half-demon she was on her way to being forgiven for her behavior, Raven tried to explain.
"I can't look at you, here, like this, Koriand'r, and speak to you without forgetting what I wish to say."
Raven struggled to not fall back on her usual habit of saying everything yet reveal nothing but could see by the way Koriand'r's face fell that she failed. Miserably.
Abruptly, Kori tore Raven's towel off of the seat and wrapped it around her body, hiding the entirety of her body, shoulders to ankles, from view.
"Is this better? Will you speak to me now that you can no longer see me?" Koriand'r's voice shook with anger over what she perceived as an insult, but the emotions that reached the empath tasked like sadness - salty and blue.
Biting her lip, Raven reacted to the disguised accusation with a pair of hands gently tugging the edge of the towel gripped tightly in Koriand'r's fists. The Tamaranean was not ready to relinquish her anger even as she reluctantly allowed the empath to peel open the towel and take in her appearance. There was no leering, no wolf-whistle, and no smirk crossing her mouth as Raven's eyes drifted over her skin. The mystic's cobalt eyes darkened for sure, but her regard was not intrusive or possessive; it was merely appreciative, as if she were taking in a work of art that intrigued and delighted her.
It was not unnoticed by Koriand'r that Raven's gaze lingered in certain places, or that she swallowed thickly a few times, or that her ear tips were flushed a light pink. But the princess did not mind at all. A curl of flame settled in her chest and cheeks when she felt Raven's thumb begin to circle the palms of her hands through the cotton towel that barred them from contact. Kori did not believe it was her imagination either, when Raven finally spoke and her voice seemed to have grown huskier than usual.
"You could be covered from head to toe in the most drab, shapeless fabric and I would still feel tongue-tied in your company every once in a while, Koriand'r."
"Then why?" Koriand'r sighed.
Raven dearly wished to kiss her and catch that sigh on her lips when she felt the breath given land upon her face. This led her to open up a bit more to compensate for the fact that she could not allow herself to take action in such a way. "Because you cause restlessness in my soul."
Brow furrowing in confusion and leftover frustration, Kori shook her head. "I do not understand. Have I done something to offend you that makes it difficult to be around me?"
Eyes returning to those sad eyes from their slight detour to the woman's lips, Raven shook her head trying to drive home her true point without concentrating on what she was saying. "You have never offended me Koriand'r. You just…you, you excite my emotions because you are dear to me. That is the reason for my avoidance today."
Lime peel green eyes once clouded with confusion now cleared with sudden understanding and widened with a hint of shock over what, exactly, Raven was unconsciously implying with her words. Kori watched a darker hue of pinkness infuse Raven's skin from throat to ear tips as the empath's own words were reexamined by her own ears. Blue eyes started to flicker back and forth as if looking for an escape from the implications of those words.
"That, that might not be the right word…" Raven's voice trailed off into a whimper as Koriand'r stepped fully into Raven's space and engulfed the startled empath in a hug. One arm wrapped around her shoulders while the other pulled her hips even closer in contact; and in Koriand'r's hands the towel was still held so it almost seemed as if the Tamaranean was mimicking how Raven used her cape to shield others when transporting them. Raven may not have been among the tallest of the heroines but she was never so thankful for being almost six feet in length. If she was any shorter her face would not have made it past the very tall alien's breasts. As it was, she could feel them resting just above her own, rising when she and Kori simultaneously inhaled and falling on the exhale. Koriand'r's soft voice in her ear hitched her inhale causing a minor collision with devastating consequences on her heart-rate.
"No Raven, it is an acceptable word. Thank you for explaining." Koriand'r hummed in happiness as she cradled the smaller woman against her, blissful from both the revelation and the shared warmth created by their bodies being so close and enclosed in a beach towel. That curl of flame from earlier greedily fed off of her current situation and steadily became stronger, branching out to her extremities on a wave of tingles.
The scent of sunscreen, hot concrete and lingering chlorine from the water was enhanced by the towel-seal that blocked the ocean bay breeze and Raven felt like she was drowning in everything that represented summer. It wasn't until a new fragrance joined the others that Raven began to panic again. She didn't know what the new addition meant but it was causing an odd reaction in her mouth. Swallowing down the saliva that had accumulated so quickly, Raven repeatedly cleared her throat before she tried to talk.
"I *ahem* I really should check on the children, Koriand'r." Her movement to back away from the embrace and escape the confusing smell was sabotaged by the pair of arms that tightened around her back and held her in place. "Donna has everything under control. I wish you to stay here with me for just a bit longer, Raven."
Admitting momentary defeat, Raven tried to relax and overlook her physical reactions. She rested her own hands back upon the taller female's hips and tilted her head forward to lean her temple upon the golden-orange neck in front of her, just breathing. It took the empath exactly three deep breaths to pinpoint the origin of the highly distracting aroma. She almost reared back in utmost astonishment but her discovery numbed her proper brain functions and only heightened her instinctual desires.
'Koriand'r is aroused.'
Somewhere in the very depths of her mind, Raven felt something stir at the realization that this beautiful and valiant female desired her as a mate. But the empath brushed aside the strange feeling for a more immediate reaction, becoming uncomfortably hot and breaking out in a sweat in various places, many of them unmentionable. Without even realizing it, Raven angled her head down a fraction more and continued taking in the air saturated with the scent of summer and Koriand'r's desire.
Raven's efforts to remain discrete in her actions were not successful at all. Kori, one of the most spiritually innocent of the heroines who approached life with the joy of a child but with the heart of a sexually confidant grown woman, knew exactly what was transpiring and welcomed it. In fact, a niggling in her subconscious alerted her to the reality that this was the position she had been maneuvering Raven into all along this afternoon. She wanted to let Raven know of her budding lust for the empath but suspected that the only way to safely deliver this information was to allow Raven to stumble upon it.
It was simultaneously refreshing and exciting to be flirting and feeling genuine desire for another once more. She had been happy in her relationship with Robin but security had replaced the excitement and there were times when Kori just could not speak with Robin about her worldly worries or frustrations because he was so busy and had his own struggles to overcome. He was equally as unwilling to share with her as she was with him and that, she decided, led to their inevitable separation. When they broke up her feelings had become entangled and murky, as if someone had thrust a stick into the waters of her heart and stirred the mud at the bottom, and the Tamaranean fought to regain her usual emotional clarity. Her struggle consumed her and preoccupied her attention for the majority of the T-Connection which worried her friends and, in turn, stressed the situation even more.
Yet, throughout her ordeal there was a pair of gentle hands and patient ears that belonged to a blue-eyed half-demon waiting in the shadows for a signal to hold her together when she broke down or listen openly to her inner conflicts and offer sage advice. Raven's companionship acted like a caress to her fractured heart, healing and clearing away the mud so that Kori could connect with her emotions honestly once more and move on in her life. And she has decided she wants to move on with the woman currently in her arms. Raven did not quite know it yet but while Kori may let her leave the embrace, she will never let her truly leave that place in Kori's heart that was ever growing. Being with Raven excited her senses in ways both familiar and unique; she was not going to let that go.
"Koriand'r," Raven finally had enough breath to say, "You must let me go now."
Releasing a sigh that ruffled the top layer of Raven's hair, Koriand'r let her arms drift from contact with the empath's skin and retreated a step. "If you insist."
Still trying to overcome the arousal that infused the air around her even as the taller woman stepped away, Raven was not thinking clearly when she let slip the directions of her thoughts on the separation. "Were I to 'insist' on anything it would be in the privacy of a bedroom."
Lime peel green eyes widened a fraction before narrowing with a pleased smile, yet Kori did not say anything. She knew the words would catch up to Raven's brain momentarily. The sudden horrified gasp and darting eyes set in a face paler than normal was her cue to invite Raven to believe that her offer would be welcomed.
"Then I look forward to our next sleepover, Raven."
Deliberately placing the fingers of her left hand on Raven's shoulder as she passed the flabbergasted woman on her way back to the water, Koriand'r let gravity naturally draw her touch down Raven's arm. The minute shiver and goosebumps that followed in the wake of her path reignited Kori's libido, further proving to the Tamaranean that her heart was well on the mend and ready to unite with another - specifically this wonderful teammate of hers.
The alien's joy was a helium balloon that bobbed and floated in a bright pink color tinged with giddiness, and Raven allowed the emotion to center her own on less lascivious thoughts about her exchange with Koriand'r. Her heart was still dancing a little wildly moments later when she realized she had not moved, just standing behind her chair and eyes ever on Koriand'r. Shaking her head twice to snap herself out of the trance she had fallen into when those fingers had lingered on her skin, Raven bent to pick up her fallen towel and flared it out to drape over the lounge chair again. She was determined to enjoy the clear afternoon and settle her riotous emotions. Sitting back down, Raven stubbornly kept her eyes averted from the darker waters of the deep end. A few more deep breathes of the ocean air cleared her nostrils of…of…of certain things.
'Breath. Center. Focus.'
Control was returning and Raven relaxed enough to take off her sunglasses, close her eyes, and doze in the sunlight. She allowed her mind to review the exchange she had with Koriand'r and came to the conclusion that nothing overtly intimate took place.
'There is no need to panic. Koriand'r was just being affectionate as she has always been. Stay calm. She was just teasing.'
Not able to resist, Raven peeked through one opened eye over towards the crowd of heroines playing diving games, being as subtle as she could turning her head so that no one would notice her actions. Seconds later, her eye widened fractionally before slamming shut as if to give the illusion that she never opened it and saw Koriand'r grin then wink at her from where she hovered in the air judging the technique of the divers. Raven felt her ears catch fire and remain hot even after that lime peel green gaze finally left her skin.
'Only teasing, only teasing!…right?'
By the time the kids had had enough of swimming and were ready to eat again, Raven's face still had not cooled down. When asked by a curious Melvin why she was so red Raven blamed the sunscreen for not protecting her enough.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I apologize for it taking so long but I started three times and none of the drafts were good enough.
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