Title: Yearning For the Moon
Chapter 4: Agatha's Night
Ye Obligatory Disclaimer: Girl Genius is property of amazing Phil and Kaja Foglio, I'm just a huge fangirl who likes to play with their stuff.
Setting note: A murky time period in volume 11 after Zola's escape from Castle Heterodyne, while our favourite sparky trio is still busy with the repairs - and all of them seriously needing some rest. See the warnings given in Part 1 for details on the liberties I've taken.
And yes, you read that right. After over one year, the fourth and final chapter is here!
A couple of warnings:
- I am not a native English speaker, so there might be glitches and mistakes that you're welcome to point out.
- Rated T for minor, non-explicit sexual themes and OT3 overtones. Please let me know if you think this warrants a higher rating.
Agatha woke up in the deep of the night with the odd feeling that she'd forgotten something important. She rubbed her stinging eyes. Judging from the scarce, silvery light coming from behind her, the warmth snuggled up against her back was likely Gil's, but her hands felt cold, and it took her a moment to realize that Tarvek was missing. Maybe he'd simply got up to go to the bathroom and this had woken her up. As her sleepy eyes got used to the twilight, though, she noticed something she didn't expect. She lifted slightly.
Someone else was there. She couldn't make out much without her glasses, but someone was sitting still at the edge of the bed. Watching. And she knew who that was.
The figure did not move at first, and Agatha felt her throat ache. What did that mean, what was happening? Was he going to pretend he hadn't heard her? And why hadn't he come back to bed already, why was he just sitting there, watching?
Maybe he just wanted to leave? It was not like she could make him stay, after all, if he didn't want to. She'd give anything to just be able to see his face.
After what looked like an eternity, but actually just took the time of a few breaths, he got up and slid back beside her, under the covers.
"I'm here," he said. "I was thirsty."
Agatha gladly snuggled up to him as soon as she could, and threw an arm around his neck to sink her fingers in his hair. She breathed hard in his scent, her heart pounding loud. She couldn't look at him, she couldn't try to read him, to understand what he was really going through a few moments before. But he'd come back to her, and this had to suffice for the moment. Her worry sweetened as she melted against that warm, nimble, beautiful body. Her fingertips tingled, but she had no strength left to move them out of his hair. Long, flowing locks like silk, tangled through her fingers. She couldn't see, but she could imagine their colour – red, vibrant, shining like cherries. She wondered what it would be like to forget about anything else and just touch him. Run her hands from his hair down his back, then up to his chest and on the arms now holding her. Learn the wiry pattern of his muscles, make him dream for a while. Tarvek had such beautiful skin, smooth and delicate, unusual for a man. She wondered what he would feel, if he would like that. What he would think of her. She wondered if he thought about touching her just as she did. What would those long, elegant hands feel like under her clothes. She wondered if he was really going to leave her just a moment before.
"I thought you were leaving," she mumbled, slowly drifting. She couldn't feel her own fingers anymore, but she knew they were still lost in Tarvek's hair. His hands tentatively caressed her head. Oddly cold hands. She shivered, but not from the cold.
"Not if you don't want me to," he whispered. "Sleep now."
Warmth pooled in her chest at his words. Of course she didn't want him to leave, why should she? She couldn't trust him, but this did not make her any less want him. She wanted to say something, but she only managed a whimper. She wanted to do something, but she couldn't move anymore. She wanted him to understand.
The last thing she thought before finally surrendering to exhaustion was that she wanted something, but she had no name for it.
She woke up in what felt to her like but a heartbeat, startled by a sudden noise, her heart pounding in her throat. Opening her eyes, she saw Gil beside her in the silvery twilight coming from the windows, shaking and hissing as if in pain. Worried, she lifted slightly to touch his shoulder, and he jolted at that.
"Hey… are you alright?" she asked, and saw him rubbing the back of his head.
"I'm fine, just… banged my head on that thing," he said, gesturing to the headboard. "Sorry I woke you up."
Gil got up and headed for the bathroom, and Agatha dropped down again on the bed, her heart still pounding loud from the abrupt awakening. She had no idea how much time had passed since she'd fallen asleep, but it was apparently enough for her to change position. She could feel the warmth of Tarvek's chest snuggled up against her back, his breath on her neck, one arm around her waist, but as much as she welcomed that embrace, for some reason she couldn't relax: her heart still beat loud and jolted to any little noise – the owls outside, the creaking of furniture settling, the running water from the bathroom. She threw an arm over her head, breathing deeply: even the scarce lighting coming from the city outside tore at her senses, keeping her awake. The barely perceptible creaking of the bathroom door startled her once more, and her tension turned to worry when Gil didn't come back to bed. She swallowed as she heard him fumble with clothing, not daring to open her eyes yet. Maybe he was just looking for his watch. Maybe he was just cold and wanted to put his shirt on for sleeping. Maybe he wanted to write something down, or just to look out the window for a while. Maybe she didn't really have to worry again. Or maybe…
She let out a frustrated huff and finally opened her eyes, turning to face him. Gil had lain down on one of the couches under the windows. She could see him surprisingly well in the silvery twilight coming from the windows. She didn't like what she saw in his eyes, deep and sullen, that soon escaped hers.
"Gil… what's wrong?"
He didn't answer at first, just looking at her. Looking at her with those same eyes. Why couldn't he talk, what was he hiding from her? She had learnt a thing or two on how to read Tarvek, but reading Gil was surprisingly harder.
"Nothing, just… changing position for a bit."
Agatha frowned. It wasn't all of it, and they both knew it. Gil couldn't really trust her, just like her. She swallowed as a mix of worry and frustration rose in her throat. She couldn't really blame him if he didn't want to come back to bed, after all she knew she was asking both men a lot that night. But she had to try.
"You'll be cold there," she said, brushing a hand over the empty side of the bed. The sheets still held his warmth, his smell. "Come here."
Relief washed over her as he got up and came back to bed. Agatha couldn't move much without risking to wake up Tarvek, so she threw her arms at Gil, pulling at his shoulders to draw him close. She didn't want to look so needy, but she couldn't really help it this time. She laced her fingers on the back of his neck, running them through his hair, finally relaxing as he held her and returned her caress. Snuggling her face between his neck and his shoulder, in that space that looked like it had been made just for her, she breathed the smell of his body, that rough, bittersweet smell of sweat and burnt oil. She swallowed, her skin softly tingling as her forces melted away. She wondered what it would be like to just forget about anything else and kiss him, just like she wanted to do earlier that night, before going to bed. It would be easy. She'd only have to slide her fingers from the back of Gil's neck to his chin, tip his face slightly towards her and she could kiss him. Tenderly at first, then asking for more, tasting him, sliding her hands down to caress that strong, gorgeous body pressing up against her. She wondered if he would kiss her back, if he still tasted the same as that faraway, wild day on Castle Wulfenbach. She wondered how those rough, strong, calloused hands would feel like under her clothes. She wondered if Tarvek would wake up. She wondered what both would think of her.
She didn't like that thought.
Agatha shivered at the warmth pooling in her chest, melting down in her belly. Warmth coming from Gil's chest pressed against her breasts, and from Tarvek's against her back, and from their arms around her, their legs brushing hers. Their breath on her skin, their heartbeat and their smell blending together. She wanted them both to understand. She wanted to explain something for which she had no words, and no force left to try. She wanted to forget about anything else and just surrender. She wanted to trust, and be trusted. She wanted the moon, she wanted something she couldn't have and wasn't sure she even understood. She wanted something. And for one moment, just when she was finally surrendering and losing touch with reality, she accepted what that was.
She wanted them.
Through the oblivion that had swallowed her, the warmth of bodies and arms and breathings surrounded her again, but this time it felt closer, like something had changed, although she couldn't exactly point out what. The light touch of fingers on her face, familiar, rough, calloused fingers, from her cheekbone and gently sliding down to her chin, surprised her, drawing a shiver under her skin. She opened her eyes to find the room still flooded with darkness, but she made out the profile of Gil beside her, that had lifted on an elbow. She couldn't see him as well as she wanted to, since the scarce lighting in the room came from behind him, but she knew he was looking at her, smiling, his fingers still tracing the shape of her jaw. Puzzled, she smiled back.
"What…" she whispered, but he brushed her lips with a finger to interrupt her words. Then he leaned down on her, his hair caressing her face, and her skin ran with goose bumps at his warm breath on her ear.
"Shh... close your eyes."
Her breath caught up in her throat at those barely audible words, her heart suddenly pounding loud in her chest as if it understood much better than her what they meant. Then Gil's lips softly brushed her cheekbone, and she couldn't help but obeying that command, letting out a little gasp that was part amazement, part shock and part pure, simple, wild joy. His kisses moved down to her jaw, then his fingers gently pushed at her chin, turning her face slightly, and his lips found hers. She hummed as they kissed, tenderly at first, then quickly going deeper and hungrier, exactly like she wanted, all of her body now tingling as if ready to burst into flames in his arms. She gathered enough force to loop her arms around his neck to draw him closer: she desperately wanted to move, to feel more of him, but she still had Tarvek's arm around her waist and she was terrified that he could wake up if she moved too much – yet at the same time she felt all of her body ringing with joy. Red fire, how she needed this, exactly this, just closing her eyes and forgetting about everything else, just feeling for once, just being a woman. Just being Agatha.
That glorious, burning feeling quickly froze to a sharp stab of guilt in her chest when Tarvek shifted behind her. She stiffened, pulling away from the kiss, eyes still shut tight because she didn't dare to look at either of them in that moment. But the gentle touch of Tarvek's hands, moving from her waist up her back, sinking through her hair to caress her, took her breath away. She expected anything but this. She still didn't dare open her eyes as his breath brushed her neck, his nimble fingers moving her hair away to expose her skin.
"Shh… it's alright," he whispered on her ear. "Don't stop."
Her heart jumped up in her throat at those words, and as Tarvek softly kissed her neck, just below her ear, she couldn't help but sigh in pleasure. Then Gil tilted her face towards him again, and for a moment she thought shivers were going to break her body in half.
"Oh god, yes," she sighed on Gil's lips just before they met hers again, and he kissed her even more passionately than before, while Tarvek planted kisses on her neck, nibbling and running his tongue over the spots he discovered she enjoyed the most. She whined in frustration when Gil's mouth left hers, kisses moving down on her chin and in the hollow of her throat and over her cleavage, fingers fumbling with the buttons of her shirt, but lighter, slender fingers closed on her jaw, gently turning her head, the body behind her shifted and new, different lips found hers. It took her a moment to realize that she was kissing Tarvek now, and her breath caught up painfully in her throat, as if she was about to burst out crying, or laughing, or screaming, as if this was simply too much, too devastatingly perfect for her to bear. Shaking and breathless between them, she managed to close a hand on the back of Gil's neck and the other on Tarvek's, keeping them both close. This was perfect, this was how it should be: no room for fear and worries, no room for games, just skins and hands and mouths, just those two bodies pressing tight against her and that growing need pulsing down between her legs. Just her and her men. She had never thought this was possible, she hadn't even dared hope for it or fantasize about it. She had always thought that accepting one of them would surely mean losing the other… not that this would just make both men want her more.
"What are we doing?" she whispered on Tarvek's lips, wiggling between them to help them take off her shirt. She felt Gil chuckle softly on her chest as his fingers tugged at the laces of her corset.
"I don't have a clue," Gil said. "Looks like it's working though."
Oh, it was working, for that matter. A lot. She was pretty sure she had never felt this much aroused in her entire life, not even during her awkward experiments on her own. Sure, she had learnt a thing or two on how her body worked, but fantasy was one thing. Being there, held between them, feeling so desired and so loved at the same time – this was a whole new world. She reached to help Gil with the laces, but Tarvek moved her hands away.
"No… let us worry about that. You just relax," he said, leaning to kiss her softly on the lips again, his hands now in turn helping Gil's. "It's so beautiful… seeing you like this, like you are right now. You look so happy."
Agatha smiled, her eyes fogging up.
"I am... I'm so happy I can't almost believe this. And you... are you happy here, with me? Is this really what you want?"
As the corset shifted around her body, she wrapped her fingers under Gil's chin to gently pull his face up: she needed to look at them both, to see in their eyes the same maddening joy that filled her. But their eyes eluded hers to exchange a quick glance instead, a glance she couldn't read. Why that hesitation?
The smile on Gil's lips reassured her, and she shivered as his fingers caressed her face, her neck, then slid down to brush her cleavage, as if asking for her permission.
"As long as this is what you want..." he said, and a new shiver bloomed under her skin as Tarvek's fingers brushed her lips.
"...does it really matter?" Tarvek added with a smile.
Agatha swallowed as the soothing warmth that had filled her died down, replaced by a sudden pang of cold. Some part of her brain tried to draw her attention on how odd it was that they'd finished each other's sentence, but that thought quickly sank under the meaning of what she'd heard. Something was amiss, and whatever that was, she was sure she didn't like it.
"But... what do you mean? Of course it matters. This is not about me, it's about us. The three of us. And I can't... I can't have this if it's not what you want too."
She furrowed her brow, moving her glance from one to the other and back again, desperately trying to read their expressions and painfully failing. But she saw their smiles falter and fade, and their eyes evade her again, much too clearly.
The cold turned into a piercing pain in her chest and her eyes fogged up at a completely different wave of emotion - from bliss to fear, from love to betrayal. Why couldn't they just talk, what were they hiding from her? She couldn't even trust them to tell her what they really wanted, not even then, in her bed, in their arms, in that moment when all doubts and lies should be put aside.
There it was. Trust. That was amiss.
Agatha wiggled out of their embrace and sprang to sit up. She only distantly noticed neither man had tried to hold her back. She gathered her knees to her chest, closing her partially unlaced corset.
"No... no, this isn't working. I can't do this... this is not what you want. You don't really want to..." she closed her eyes for a moment, thinking of Zola, still somewhere out there, thinking of how realizing her enemy cared about Gil, and he did care about her somehow, had made her blood boil, "to share me any more than I'd want to share you two with someone else. You don't nearly trust each other enough for this, and... we don't trust each other enough in the first place, for that matter. This is not going to work... not now, not like this, not while there is so much at stake."
She hid her face in her hands at the deep silence that followed, and a sudden, cold breeze surprised her, turning her skin into goose bumps. She raised her head, and saw that the wind was coming from a small, open window in the wall to her right that wasn't supposed to be there. An all too familiar window.
She held her breath as she looked around. In the twilight, she recognized the desk cluttered with half-finished projects, she recognized the numbers and creatures carved on the ceiling beams and her little flyer model. She recognized the small bed she was sitting on - and she noticed that she was alone. Alone once more.
In her bedroom in the attic in Beetleburg.
Slowly she shook her head, a smirk forming on her lips, a sour taste curdling in her throat. Now she could see it. Now she knew.
"I'm dreaming, ain't I?"
With a start she woke up, this time for real, to the grey light of the approaching dawn and the welcome warmth of arms around her. Reluctantly, she looked at the two slumbering men sharing her bed, and her breath caught up in her throat. Tarvek's red hair burned a dark shade of rust through that dull light, while Gil's golden chestnut turned to bitter chocolate. Tenderly she caressed them both, moving Gil's wild hair away from his eyes, tracing the line of Tarvek's jaw, and she shivered as they huddled tighter to her in response.
She smiled despite herself and wrapped her hands on the arms holding her, savoring their warmth, their closeness. So this was the real reason why she couldn't make a choice, wasn't it? There was no choice at all, that was the point, and she couldn't hide this truth from herself anymore. She wanted them both, as partners, as consorts, as lovers. She wanted them both, in her life, by her side, and she couldn't have either. This wasn't going to end with her having a big fancy party and dancing with all the boys. She had no idea if this could change, if some day, when things would calm down and there would be no need for masks, lies and games anymore, a new Agatha could explain her feelings to a new Gilgamesh and a new Tarvek and actually be understood. She had no idea if some day the three of them could cast their fears and jealousy aside and trust each other enough to make a shared relationship work. But she knew that right there and then, they had become so close that any movement, any attempt to alter that delicate balance would risk destroying everything.
She knew that right there and then, what existed between the three of them, whatever that was, could very well be everything they could ever have.
She sighed. Outside, the feeble light of the fading night shifted to golden as the sun took a first peek over the mountains. Soon she'd hear the muffled bell strikes from the cathedral and a new day would begin, with its burden of work, responsibilities, masks and fears. Soon she would have to wake them up.
But not yet. For now, she just wanted to lie there between them and watch them sleep, and imagine that some day that truce would really turn into peace.