Title: Rules of Engagement

Author: Amethyst Hunter

Rating: PG (implied m/f relationship)

Warnings/Spoilers: None

Notes: This is actually a scene from a WIP called Death and the Maiden, which is a planned sequel to my fic Blood Oaths (yes, I tend to work on multiple projects simultaneously).

In Oaths, the transporters establish a kind of relationship and must work together to save themselves from Babylon City's malevolent manipulations; in Maiden, their relationship grows into uncharted territory for both, as Akabane and Himiko are contracted by Clayman (along with the Get Backers, Maria Noches, and Shido and Emishi) to transport an ancient Egyptian artifact to safety from the numerous rivals, thugs and guardians who want to steal it for themselves. I got a few requests to share this particular bit, so here it is. :)

As always, many thanks to you, wonderful readers, for your support!

Disclaimer: I don't own GB.

Summary: The breath of attraction carries a powerful scent, but the obligations of old commitments can be stronger...

He was sitting in front of the fire, idly stirring the outlying embers of charred wood with one of his knives. Himiko went to him and knelt behind him, resting her chin on his shoulder while she wrapped her arms around his waist. She could feel the subtle tension begin to coil itself within him as he drew the cloak over his emotions. His voice, when he deigned to speak, was quiet, with only a trace of apprehension underscoring it.

"Himiko-san...I am asking you...for the sake of our partnership. Do not tempt me upon this path."

"Why not?" She pressed her face against the mane of his dark hair. So soft. She loved that he wore it like this, free and untamed. It suited him.

His voice was cool. "It is forbidden."

"By whom?"

"Old rules. Laws that go beyond our time and place. A knight may only admire his lady from afar. That is the way of these things."

Himiko held tighter to Akabane. She could feel the anxious thrum of his pulse, if she moved her fingers higher to his throat. The sleek body in her arms was rigid, the blade unyielding in its resistance. But this was no inanimate steel. He was flesh and blood; a human. He could feel. She wanted him to feel. She wanted both of them to feel – alive. Together.

"Didn't you say that I am a queen?" Himiko ran her fingers through his hair, breathing in his scent. She bent her head and nuzzled the side of his face, his neck. She wanted to kiss his skin, lick it, drink of his essence. Wanted him to do the same with her. "A queen may indulge as she chooses."

"But not a knight. And you are a miko, a sorceress. Your fate was cast long before either of us ever set foot upon this material plane." Akabane moved away from her, turning his head from her insistent caresses. "So long as you do not cross swords in my dominion, it is not for me to interfere."

Himiko approached him again, catching hold of his arm. "I thought you were the one who always did as he pleased, without care for rules."

He allowed her a drooping half-smile, tired eyes silently admitting the trap, though he still refused to concede. "There are some contracts even I must respect," he murmured, a resigned note tinting his voice.

Himiko tried again to challenge him, but she was caught short when he took hold of her hand and removed it from his wrist. She started to say something when he turned her hand over, made a little bow over it, and kissed the backs of her fingers before releasing her hand entirely.

"Good night, Lady Poison."