07.29.3013: Steamy Talk
Summary: Devon and Victor are both early risers, but even the relaxing atmosphere of the Blacksypre's Bathhouse cannot make for simple conversation.
Date: 28 July, 2013
Related: 18%
Devon Victor 

Bathhouse, Blackspyre, Volkan
Built down low in the Blackspyre where it can easily access the geothermal heat that powers the entire city of Volkan, this bathhouse is set aside for the use of those sworn to House Khournas and their guests. The room is sheathed in large black tiles, warmed by the magma behind them. A large pool centers the room, surrounded by narrow lines of red and silver tile, while a handful of smaller tubs built for one to four people fill up the remaining space. Each of the tubs is heated blood-warm, leaving wisps of steam in the air. Towels sit alongside tubs of bath-salts on small tables near the separate men's and women's changing rooms.
28 July, 3013

Warning, some barely-described nakedness.

It has been a rather trying day for the Lady Devon Grantham. After she had left Victor in the greatroom and retired to her own guest chambers, she had fallen into a restless sleep that then was invaded by Dreams. She had woke in a sweat, and immediately felt a terrible ache for home. There was no one to go to in this terrible, strange place to confide in. She sent a message to Flint, knowing that he was on the front lines and therefore would not immediately reply, and then she went and did what soothed her — she went for a run. She ran all the way through the Black Wastes until she found a crest of ashen dunes to watch the sunrise. She stayed out there in the Wastes for an hour or more, returning to Volkan in the early morning hours.

This is what brought her to the bathhouse. It is early enough that the population is almost nonexistent, allowing her to feel safe to step out of the changing room in her barest skin. She climbs into one of the smaller tubs that would support only a handful of people, and she sinks all the way to her throat, her undyed white-gold hair fanning out around her like tendrils. She sits there for a moment before she sinks all the way down, disappearing into the hot water to let it wrap around her, consume her. She will emerge no more than a minute later, brushing her hands back across her hair to draw it out of her face.

Victor is not one of those knights who wakes up late. In fact, he's already been exercising himself, although his own burn of choice is weight work, a fact which is obvious when he comes out of the changing and shower room with a gray towel wrapped about his waist, knotted and tucked at one hip and falling down short of his knees. The scarring that mars his upper body is also evident on his lower, including what looks to have at one point been an utterly mangled knee. He's three steps into the steamy room, still wiping water from the shower off his face, when Devon rises from beneath the surface of her tub. He blinks, stops where he is, then offers her a helpless shrug of apology. "Morning."

Devon whips her head around almost immediately at the greeting, and for the barest of moments, Victor is provided a glance of naked skin from the line of her hips, up. And then she is down again, the water violently lapping against her frame and the edge of the pool as she sinks all the way to her chin once more. She looks up at him through dark lashes, her pale eyes easily conveying a hint of embarrassment. She hesitatesjust a moment, drawing her arms across her front before she returns with a very gentle, "Morning."

For all that Victor's eyes wander when she's wearing something backless, translucent, or tight, they don't here in the bathhouse, remaining settled on her pale features. "Sorry, didn't mean to surprise you, Devon." Evidently, the gravel-voiced Khourni has gone back to something a little more formal after the frosty end to their last meeting. He reaches down to the knot in his towel, half starting to loosen it, "Want something to cover up with? Either way, I'll soak in another pool."

Devon draws her knees up to her chest, arms folded across the bends as she looks aside when he reaches for that knot. She isn't going to stare as he removes the towel, though she does at least shake her head a bit when he suggests soaking in a different pool. "No, no… that's alright," she says softly. "Please… join me." She shuffles a bit in the water, sliding across the bench a bit so that he may sit directly across from her. There will be water between them, that should be enough.

Victor watches the reaction, then nods, loosening the towel and setting it down on the tile alongside the tub as he steps down and in. The wash of heated water draws a contented sigh from the man, and he settles down onto the submarine bench, stretching out his legs at an angle to put them on the bench a foot or so to her side. This draws the water up to his neck, and he leans his head back against the rounded edge of tile, "Always feels nice to soak after a workout." There's a moment's pause, and then he gravels on, "Surprised you came out naked. Not many have the balls to do it." His eyes, pointed safely up toward the ceiling now, shutter nearly closed as he chuckles, "Hell, even Ana doesn't."

Devon glances down at the feet that are not that far from her, but it is just the barest look before she looks to the other side once more. They both have initialized the tactic if keeping their eyes anywhere but on each other, so Devon just stare at the water and pool edge carefully. She shrugs her shoulders a bit at his observation. "My attempt to fit in, I suppose," she offers weakly. "Though I didn't expect anyone to be here at this hour." She carefully casts a glance in his direction before she immediately looks away. "Ana is Ibrahm though… perhaps she doesn't feel the need to adhere to that custom."

Victor leans his head forward again, bringing up a scoop of water in both hands to splash it over his face, then pulls himself up just a little so that he can spread his arms out across the rim of the tub, pulling his feet a bit further away from her as she does, but still within arm's reach. From his newly-upright position, he actually isn't just staring at the ceiling anymore, although once more, his eyes remain easily on her face, "Shouldn't get too busy for a bit longer. Not many people work up a sweat this early." Her comment about Ana draws a low chuckle, "Maybe it's no surprise she's marrying a Valen. They seem the type to get freaked out by their own bodies." He pauses a moment, then chuckles again, "So… still glad you're making the attempt to fit in?"

Devon gets the sense that he is looking at her, so she very carefully glances his way to meet his dark eyes across the length of pool. She still feels the need to keep her knees drawn to her chest, her arms wrapped around the bends, though she doesn't look as if she is trying to tighten her grip on them. She actually seems to be loosening a bit. "I'm certain that a link between the Vale and Crescent was needed," she says simply before she shrugs her shoulders a bit. "I don't know," she confesses honestly before she looks away again. "I had a rough night… wanted to relax."

Victor nods his head at the first point, "I'm surprised that the boss-man didn't make a match there first, but I guess he's been a bit busy." A faint chuckle lifts to his lips, "I thought my brother might try to make the match for a while, but he's been even busier with the war than I have." The mention of her rough night, however, causes him to frown, "Something the matter with your room? I wouldn't've thought there'd be a problem with the heat or the lava-glow for a Grantham." Even if she's only a Grantham in so much that she was raised there and married into the House.

Devon doesn't know much about Victor, so when he mentions he has a brother, she stores that little nugget of information away for later consideration. She does look up a bit at his frowning question, and she shakes her head. "No, the room is fine." Even if it isn't The Pit. There is a silent, calculating moment from the Witch before she reaches up to rub at the back of her neck. She releases a sigh and finally drops her knees from that desperate censorship. Her feet sink into the water, and she clasps her hands on the edge of the bench on either side of her legs. "I had a dream last night," she says after a moment. "The… Awakened kind."

Water swirls around Victor's neck as she looses her legs, but his eyes don't even flicker downward. Instead, he sits up a bit more himself, his feet coming down from their perch to settle on the floor of the tub as he leans forward a touch so that he can brace his hands on his knees. His frown deepens, "Those were murder on Ash growing up." There's a moment's hesitation, and then he inquires carefully, "Would you be willing to share it, Devon?"

"Are you asking me because you genuinely want to know, or because you feel it is your duty as my betrothed and future-husband to do so?" Devon asks abruptly, and a touch coldly. There is an immediate regret that follows that question, but it only knots up her otherwise empty stomach. Her expression remains cool and a touch distant. Perhaps she is still a bit wounded by the rebuff last night…

Victor straightens up in response to the cold question, leaning back against the back wall of the tub and sinking down until his jaw is just above the waterline, where the reflected light on the water's surface means he can see even less of her form. "Because I wanted to damn well know." His hands brace on the edge of the bench alongside him now, his grip tight on the underwater surface. Whatever intentions he may have had of relaxing in the hot water seem to have gone out the window now, given how tight his arms and shoulders have gotten.

An angry frown touches her features as she immediately looks away from him. There is a hint of stubbornness in her jaw, but she at least has some good sense. She gestures idly. "I was in my childhood bedroom back on Mare Maris," she begins to explain. "I had been sleeping, but noises woke me. I went to the window to see what was going on, and when I looked outside… all I saw was Hostiles… a swarm of them, crawling all over New Atlantis. They moved like they couldn't care about the water around them, just consuming the city in a dark blanket. Just before I woke, a Hostile climbed into my window." She pauses to add with a rather incredulous tone. "Which isn't possible… you can't open windows on New Atlantis, but…" She shakes her head. "It grabbed me by my throat, lifted me up off the ground, and commanded that I release it."

Victor sighs inaudibly at the flash of anger and stubbornness, but when she speaks up, his dark eyes focus in, listening intently to the story. His fingers tighten harder on the edge of the underwater bench, and then he consciously loosens them. By the end of it, a frown creases his features, but it has nothing to do with the stubbornness of the woman across from him. "It grabbed you, and ordered you to release it? That doesn't make much sense, but then again, there isn't much about that dream that does." Carefully, he straightens back in the water so that he can spread his arms across the edge of the tub, "Ash never talked about his dreams growing up. At least not to me. They all that crazy?"

Devon nods gently at his clarifying question, and she rolls her shoulders at his assessment. "It will make sense someday," is all she says at first. But then when he engages her further on her dreams, she shakes her head a bit. "No," she sinks back against the wall of the pool. "Some are quite soft and gentle, like good dreams. But, since the Hostiles returned, they have become increasingly intense." She brushes her hand across the water, inciting a series of ripples. Despite her words, there is still a chill that keeps him at a distance.

Victor nods his head, "One more reason to kick their metal motherfucking faces in. Threatening the lives of fifteen million people," his deadpan delivery suffers a little at the end, one corner of his lips twitching upward before he smoothes it out again, "and making it hard for a couple hundred thousand to sleep." Given that chill, he's quick to add, "I'm not trying to make fun of you, by the way." Resettling his feet on the floor of the tub, his knees drifting apart, he frowns in thought again, "So it was a Dream, so it means something. Have any ideas?"

Devon snorts a bit at his deadpan delivery, casting him a dubious look across the breadth of steaming water. "I know you're not," she says after a moment. She sinks a bit further into the water, that golden white hair lazily snaking out across the surface of the water like soft tendrils. She lifts her eyes to his after a moment, and her lips twist into a thoughtful frown. "I imagine that there are many perspectives… the Hostiles enveloping an entire city could mean that, that fate awaits New Atlantis, but there was a disconnect between how the Hostiles were moving through the water and the lack of glass on my window… so it could mean that they are going to destroy a city… as for the Hostile itself… do we know of any Hostiles that are being held captive at the moment?" Her voice is cool, crisp, analytical.

Victor smiles just a bit at her first words, a touch of satisfaction in his nod. It fades away as she continues, however, "I haven't heard of any. I know I've been just killing the Hosties after what happened on The Ring early on. Some Arborenin might be soft-hearted enough to do it, an Orelle brainy-stupid enough to do it, or a Valen just fucked-up enough in the head to do it. But I don't think you'll see any Hostie captives anywhere on the Crescent any time soon." A low chuckle rises from his chest, then lifts to his lips, "Well, ain't this just relaxing. Kind of counter-productive to what we were both looking for, yeah?"

Devon nods a bit to his assessment. "It is perhaps something all the Houses will be on alert about." Then she releases a soft sigh at his chuckling words, and she looks aside a bit. "You started it," she says after a heartbeat, definitely resorting to immature tactics. "I thought everything was going well last night, and then…" She shakes her head a bit before she adjusts in the water, sending another rippling wave out toward him, though it dissipates in the middle.

Victor chuckles again at the immature counter, admitting "I did." And then her further words dissipate his amusement, and he nods slowly, "I've gotta say, I'm not even sure where it went wrong. Should I have just left Zayne alone? Or did I just say something else that pissed you off?" One hand shifts up to rub at the side of his head above his ear, "I seem to be pretty damn good at that."

Devon huffs out an almost impatient breath. "I asked for a dance," she says after a moment. "We could have gone anywhere, you could have taken me to the Warehouse, my rooms, your rooms, you could have asked the guards to leave…" She shakes her head a bit. "I told you that I enjoyed dancing with you, and asked for a dance, and you went into this huge tirade about how that isn't you…" She looks aside a bit, shifting in the warm waters again.

Victor blinks at that, apparently genuinely surprised. He sits up then, "Hell… that's it? I just thought you meant right there, right then." He sits up, half-turning to gesture toward the doors back to the changing room and grimaces just a little at the pull of synthskin at his side, "Fuck, Dee, there are two dozen clubs around here to go to. We can go to a different damned one every night."

"But you said that dancing isn't you," Devon reinterates as a frown pulls at the corners of her lips. "The first thing I've found that I genuinely… like… about you, and you tell me that it isn't really you. It isn't really Victor." She sweeps off the bench then, feeling restless in the wake of this conversation, though she does keep her back a bit to him as she rests her feet on the floor of the tub.

Victor shakes his head, leaning forward to rest one forearm on his thigh and reach out with the other in an attempt to touch Devon's shoulder. His voice sinks lower even than usual, "Dee… it's not the public face I put on, the Cueball that all of them out there know. Hell, I don't even dance with the other Drakes." His hand withdraws to pat his chest, splashing a bit of water as it does, "It's one of my escapes, away from what Carron made me. I was trying to let you in when I danced with you."

The Ash Witch looks over at him at the touch to her shoulder, and her eyes search his for a long moment as he offers an explanation. She is quiet for a long moment before she looks aside as if a bit ashamed. No, this whole situation just isn't easy. She lifts her eyes to him once more before she offers a faint nod of understanding. Then she pushes a touch forward in the water, brushing past him to gently sit beside him on the submarine bench. She is quiet as she gently touches her naked shoulder to his arm. She lifts her gaze to him briefly before she finally asks, again, "Will you dance with me?"

Victor lets out a breath as she accepts the truth of his explanation, nodding his head. The move to sit beside him is a surprise, and he shifts in his seat a little in the wake of that brush of shoulders. For one of the first times since his teenage years, the Khourni is wishing that the waters of the baths weren't quite so clear. Still, the question gives him something to focus on, his dark eyes meeting her pale, "Yeah, Dee, I will." He cuts his eyes away then, and he clears his throat, "Although dancing here and now might get… complicated." A low laugh touches his lips at that, and he shakes his bald head.

Devon perhaps gives him some sense of modesty because she does not look down through those waters. Not yet at least. "Good," she says quietly in the wake of his answer. When he clears his throat and cuts his eyes away from her, her smile starts to stir again. She does roll her eyes just a little bit as she looks forward across the expanse of bathhouse. "It already is complicated," she says quietly before she reaches down to touch his hand beneath the water.

Harkening back to her earlier childish comment, Victor laughs, "No, you're complicated." There's a sense of honesty there as well as his teasing, but he looks down to where her hand is on his, and there's a moment's hesitation before he turns his hand upside-down beneath hers, offering to enfold her fingers in his — and maybe move both of their hands just a little closer to his knee, because the nearness, the pale length of her leg behind her hand, and the mental image of getting out of the tub and dancing like they did at the club has started to do interesting things under the water.

"I think we can agree to both being complicated," Devon says dryly, though the way his hand turns up to capture hers does seem to quiet the young widow. Holding hands… she hasn't done this in years. Not with Nitrim, not with Flint. She gracefully curls her fingers with his. At that point, she lapses into a moment of silence, letting her thoughts dance about her head. She shifts a bit beside him before she gently looks over at him across a far shorter distance.

Victor shares in that moment of silence, thinking far too much for his own good. When he turns toward her, it's not a sudden movement, but a slow, considered one. His right hand comes out of the water to touch her far cheek and turn her face toward him as he leans in. Provided she does not withdraw or otherwise halt him, he will settle a slow kiss on her generous lips, one sparked with a little of the heat generated by his previous thoughts, but held back, testing for a reaction.

The touch to her cheek does not surprise her — or at least not enough to startle her. Devon turns toward him, her brows lifting just slightly as she meets his eyes. Though the gaze is brief before her eyes flutter shut as his lips touch hers. She breathes in deeply through her nose, though there is almost no hesitation between when he presses his lips to hers and when she returns the kiss with the same little spark. There is a passing moment before her other hand — her arm still in that spindly cast — reaches up to touch the side of his jaw.

At the burgeoning spark from her lips, Victor turns more fully toward her, shifting in his seat so that his right hand can slip behind the back of her neck and pull her lips tighter against his, his lips searching out hers, playing over them with a growing heat. After a long moment, his grip at the back of her neck releases, and he straightens up, catching her lower lip between his and tugging lightly as he does. Dark eyes unfurl from beneath darker lashes, studying her features from a few inches away.

There is a soft gasp that catches in her throat as they engage in that low-burning kiss. Devon slides her hand along his jaw to touch the unfamiliar terrain of his shorn scalp, gracing along its smoothness. She almost dares to chase after him as he starts to straighten away from her lips, though she merely opens her own eyes to meet his. The glass-colored orbs flicker across his dark eyes and features. She doesn't dare break the moment with a word, and instead lifts her eyes briefly to watch her fingers slide across the surface of his skull and then down along a muscled shoulder.

Victor meets that glass-colored gaze for a long moment before he nods in satisfaction. The brush of her fingers along his scalp, neck, and shoulder cause him to turn his head a little into the gesture, and when her eyes shift away from his, he finally takes the opportunity to look down between his arms at the pale body revealed by the clarity of the water around them. He only looks for a moment, and then his eyes return to hers a moment, not shy about the fact that he just looked her over. Only then does he give their knotted fingers a little squeeze. It's some minutes after he first turned to her when he finally speaks, a smirk spreading across his lips, "Good. Glad I'm not the only one interested."

Devon rests her hand now on his shoulder, feeling the warmth that radiates both from within him and on the surface of his skin. She colors softly pink at his assessment, and she offers him a wordless nod of her head. There is a long moment from the woman before she bites softly at her lower lip. "Will you come with me?" She asks him quietly after a moment. Those too-pale blue eyes cast around the bathhouse, quite aware now of its public state despite its nature. She starts to stand from the bench, no longer afraid of him seeing the lengths of her pale skin. She puts one foot on the bench, her hand still (hopefully) twisted up with his.

Victor tilts his head slightly at the glance around the bathhouse, but there is no more than a moment's hesitation before he responds simply, "Yes." He shifts back to sit more in balance as she stands up, and then he too rises out of the water.

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