"Show me your soul, Riskbreaker" - in the aftermath of Lea Monde, Ashley gets a glimpse into Sydney's words.
Ashely brushed the clinging raindrops from his hair. The folds of his cloak sprayed them damply in tiny patters across the floor as he shook it out, tossing it across the back of a chair. "Yes."
Just that and no more; the softest of exhales, like a tiny sigh. There was the sharp click of metal against metal, quickly stilled.
Seated at the window, he was nothing more than a black silloughette framed against the rain spattered glass. The wavering gleam of lamp light in the street outside traced the brush of silvery hair as he half turned, looking back. "Thank you." Quietly formal and nothing more.
"It was what you wanted, wasn't it?" Seven steps across the room, to lean a shoulder against the varnished wood of the window frame. Closer, the shadows resolved themselves, giving way to shape and substance in stark shades of silvery grey.
Pale eyes, hooded in the dimness, turned outwards towards the rain. "It was needed."
Close enough to see the careful mask in the fine boned features. Close enough to reach out and touch, if he dared, where silver hair brushed slender shoulders, painted like stark bleached bone against the darkness.
Deliberately turned towards the window, where the light traced the high bones of his cheeks but would not fall across the too smooth shine of scar tissue curving from one shoulder to the other and down the long bare sweep of his back.
"Sydney..." Ashely didn't know what he meant to say, or if words could even be placed around it. The razor rasp of movement halted the attempt, one hand lifting, the light beyond the window glinting off the curve of dark metal.
Only for a moment, only long enough to silence him. Then it dropped back down to rest across black clad knees, the graceful length of razor tipped fingers curled spider-like over the palm. "It needed doing," he repeated softly, his voice low, eyes fixed upon the falling rain. "That's all, Riskbreaker. Some things... are necessary."
There was nothing he could say to that. He started to turn away but Sydney's voice reached out once more to halt him, quiet and devoid of any hint to the feelings behind the words. "Did it go well?"
Ashley hesitated, glancing back to that still face that would not turn to meet his gaze. "It was quick," he said. "His heart failed."
Razor tips clinked briefly, metal against metal, and then were still. Darkly glittering eyes never blinked. "Thank you," Sydney repeated, the words a mere breath. It might have been simple gratitude for anything - a favor done, a request fulfilled. A mercy killing.
He reached out. Pale flesh was cool to the touch and Sydney didn't resist as Ashley turned his head. No expression graced his features and the quiet stillness of his eyes reflected only Ashley's own image back at him. "Now you're the one with your soul hidden," he said quietly.
For a moment something like amusement flickered, crinkling at the corners of those eyes and tugging Sydney's lips upward in a small, distant smile. His hand lifted again and Ashley let him go, thinking it was what the other man wanted, but dark metal reached out and, with the utmost care, the smooth coolness of one knuckle was tapped lightly against his chest. The sharp tipped blades of razors curled away from skin. "Have we traded places, then?"
Ashley echoed the smile wryly. "Maybe. But I already know what your soul looks like."
The smile faded. One silver brow arched upwards, knowing and haughty even still. "Do you? The Dark may show you things, Riskbreaker, but it rarely explains them."
Challenge, feint and parry. As sharp and cool as the eldritch metal he wore in place of flesh. Ashley said nothing and for a moment the silence reigned, broken only with the drip of water beyond the window glass.
Sydney moved, shifting. His hands came up and Ashley stook his ground as gleaming steel closed gently around his face, smooth metal palms pressed to his cheeks as bladed claws rasped in the air just above his skin. He had wondered, at times, how much the other man could feel through them. Wondered if the phantom, long past memory of a little boy's flesh and blood arms and the tingle of nerves in warm hands sometimes haunted him.
Pale eyes studied him, searching, as though Sydney might yet touch the Dark, reach out and strip bare Ashley's own soul before his piercing gaze. An arm's length between them, decreasing, and then Sydney leaned up and closed the last of the distance, his lips and breath ghosting like shadows across Ashley's own in the lightest of caresses.
His eyes glittered, crystalline, at so close a range, their secrets hidden deep and well. "Did the Dark show you that, Ashley Riot?" Sydney whispered, and while his flesh was cool his breath held a tantalizing warmth that hinted at life still held within the shell of his body.
And then, just as suddenly, he was gone. The rasp of metal and the soft rustle of worn fabric lingered after him as he slid from his seat and Ashley could trace those sounds through the darkness of the room behind him. Outside, the rain fell, water rushing from the blackened night sky to run, streaming, over every surface.
If he pressed his palm to the window, flesh held to glass, it had the same sort of smooth coolness as Sydney's hands.