While the Prince had watched and waited and fretted it bided its time, seeking what little openings it could find. It crept into his thoughts, giving him the courage to act without revealing itself and what it was capable of. There would only be one chance It knew that once it tried the Prince would forever be on guard against it, so it had to be certain that by the time he realized what was happening it would be too late. If it was successful it would put an end to the Prince's indecision for good, bring back that self-righteous rage which it loved so much and fill him with rage. That the anger would be directed at it mattered little, for it was confident that over time it could redirect those emotions outward, or if necessary, further inward until it consumed him entirely.
It watched through the Prince's eyes, admiring Farah and allowing its own thoughts to subtly intrude, not enough that he would notice, but enough to plant the seed of an idea and in that seed the beginning of its plan took hold.
By the time the Prince had gathered the courage to climb in through the window it was certain of its influence. The Prince thought he was the one in control, its actions lining up so well with his intent that when the balance tipped for the first, and likely last time, he never suspected a thing.
As he had been longing to do, the Prince knelt down besides Farah and brushed those stray strands of hair away from her face, smiling as she stirred at the touch. The Prince may have fooled himself into thinking that he was content to watch, but it knew better. It was a facet of the Prince after all, and if the thought had never been there to begin with it never would have known the desire to act upon it.
"Farah, do you remember me?" he whispered softly, and only then did the Prince realize that the situation was no longer in his hands, had never been from the moment he chose to continue his pursuit of Farah. The words had been his, but the voice had belonged to it.
"What have you done?" the Prince raged silently, reduced to nothing more than a disembodied voice, a thing of no consequence, while it became an entity unto itself, their places reversed. It, no he, smiled for the first time, savoring the sensations that came with being as the power of the Sands consumed them.
That had not been part of the plan, not when a human body was so much better suited for his original intent. No sense in wasting time with regrets though, what he could not win through guile he could take by force.
He had to admire the pure, reflexive action with which Farah shoved away from him, grabbing her bow and arrows and taking aim. Whatever scared, lost royal she had been during the time in Azad was meaningless, the girl from memories that had never been was replaced by the fierce and determined little warrior before him. She was far too rare a prize for the Prince to appreciate, lost as he had become in all his might-have-beens. Farah would kill them without a moment's hesitation and, from the look in her eyes, she would feel no remorse after having done the deed. In that instant he wanted her more than he had ever wanted anything, truly proof that he was very much a part of the Prince.
He let his hand brush against the handle of the Dagger and time slowed to a crawl. Farah loosed her arrow and it drifted though the air towards him. A lazy flick of his wrist and the bladed chain he wielded as though it was an extension of his arm flicked through the air and knocked the arrow away. The splintered pieces tumbled through the air as he dashed to the side and came up behind Farah, her hair drifted around her head like a cloud as she tried to turn her head and see where he had gone to.
He snatched the bow from her hands and threw it across the room, then wrapped his arm around her neck, careful to use his right as he had no desire to slit Farah's throat.
"Don't you dare hurt her!" the Prince screamed in his mind and he had to struggle to keep from laughing. It should have been obvious from his actions that he was making an effort to do no more harm than was necessary.
Oh, to have a physical form. Everything was new and wonderful for it, the feeling of Farah's pointless struggles, the sound of her voice, the smell of her hair. Best of all it was something unique to him, not part of a faded memory or vicarious sensation experienced through the Prince's actions. The Prince had never done this, never would have dared, so it stood to reason that he might as well admit to something that the Prince never would have done on his own.
"You were never far from my thoughts you know," he whispered to her, savoring the Prince's gasp of shock as much as the way Farah tensed when he spoke, "The dream of your touch sustained me when I had nothing. Even with the Empress it was your face I saw when I closed my eyes."
"How did you? That was…you were never," the Prince stammered, clearly shocked to hear his own secret thoughts expressed. After this night was over they were certain to have some interesting conversations as the Prince went through all manner of contortions of logic to continue denying that they were one and the same.
He tightened his hold on Farah's neck and lifted her off the floor, enjoying his own strength and the power he had over her while the Prince ranted meaningless threats. The fool refused to understand the nature of their relationship, that he was everything that had been repressed, anger as well as truth, longing as well as desire. The Prince believed that he hated Farah when in reality it was nothing more than his own resentment at her for not remembering him thrown back at him. Well, after tonight it would change, she would remember this no matter how hard she tried to forget.
Her struggles weakened as loss of air took its toll and he oh so carefully lowered her to the floor. She was so beautiful, so delicate that he had to remind himself that one wrong move and she would break free and rush to regain her weapons, forcing him to catch her all over again. Fun as that would have been, he was in no mood for such playing, especially not with the Prince's outraged voice shouting in his mind.
"What are you doing?" the Prince demanded, in such willful denial that he missed the obvious, "What good will this do you?"
"You don't know how long I've been waiting for this. You could never know," he spoke as much to the Prince as to Farah as he guided the half conscious woman down so that she lay face down on the floor. To keep her in place he pinned her down by placing his knee at the small of her back and pressed his hand down on the side of her head to hopefully keep her from struggling too much. As much as he knew of fighting and killing, holding someone down without doing harm was all guess work, especially when he wanted to be able to admire them in the process.
He could feel her tense beneath him, see the way her muscles strained as she tested his strength and found him immovable.
"What do you want?" her words came out in an angry hiss, the outrage in her tone speaking volumes. She knew the answer to that question, even as the Prince tried to pretend that such thoughts were beyond him.
Seeing no sense in answering a question that they already knew the answer to he simply smiled and ran a hand along the soft, smooth flesh of her leg. Her skin was cool to the touch, clammy even, but he was certain that a little further on he would find warmth. His fingers played along her thigh, up farther and farther, sliding deftly beneath her skirt and between her legs where he paused. There was something wrong, terribly wrong. In his Sand wrought form he felt no delicious heat emanating from her, just a cool dampness which made him ache for a proper, human body. Inhuman strength and speed were fine when fighting, but to be robbed of the simple delights that came with what he intended to do was unpleasant to say the least and for a moment he contemplated letting her go. He would have too, if not for the realization of what else was wrong.
The Prince's outraged shock at the discovery perfectly mirrored his own, though really, why was it such a shock? It had been seven years since that night and she was a princess and a gorgeous woman. Time had not stood still during those years apart, even if she had remained unchanging in his memory, nor had he denied himself during that time. It was expected, but it still filled him with outrage. At least the discovery had shocked the Prince into silence.
"Who was he?" he growled, grinding the heel of his hand down against the side of her head, "Did you love him?"
"No!" the disgust and conviction in her cry gave him pause. Of course, an arranged, loveless marriage, that was the way of the world after all. Odds were that she had been through similar at the hands of whoever she had been given to. She would have experience, know what to expect, so maybe the situation could still be salvaged. He relaxed his grip on her slightly, working his fingers through her hair to maintain his hold without pressing down on her so hard.
"Who was it?" Morbid curiosity combined with the Prince's desperate hope to find some way to cling to the memory of their night together drove him to ask. Though thinking it over the Prince very well may have been right to hope, for she certainly hadn't acted like she expected someone to come to her rescue. If this other was dead there was still a chance…
"The vizier," she spoke as though the title was the vilest of oaths.
It made sense. She had been the vizier's captive for an unknown length of time and if he had been in the vizier's position he would have done the same, was going to do the same in fact. He rolled her over to get a better look at her before speaking, poorly repressed rage making him treat her more roughly than he intended.
"Then I have one more reason to kill him," the statement was as much his as the Prince's for the vizier truly had stolen everything from them. This was simply a reason to make him suffer first.
Farah shifted slightly beneath him and he looked down at her. He could see her eyes, wide and full of anger. Fear was absent, but there was something there, something that he could not read. She was searching for something, but what?
In the back of his mind the Prince was silent, treating the revelation as though it were a betrayal. Even though he knew not to blame Farah, that his outrage was directed purely at the vizier, the damage had been done and could not be undone. Poor Prince, so quick to idealize Farah, never thinking that the world would move on.
A certain freedom came with that thought and he smiled bitterly. What had been was ruined, the memory forever sullied and there was no further damage he could do to it. He adjusted his grip on her, freeing one hand to that he might begin in earnest.
Focused as he was on her face he never noticed her hands moving until he felt the Dagger of Time being jerked free of its sheath as his hip. Reflexively he smacked her hand away, the bladed chain in his left arm cutting her in the process.
She screamed and thrashed, blood flowing freely, "If you don't kill me first I'll kill you! You'll have to sleep sometime and I'll find you!"
Her blood spattered across his face and chest, thick and cold.
Drawing back slightly he used the power of the Dagger to rewind time to the instant before she grabbed it, carefully pulling her hand away before he accidentally injured her.
Such determination, such threats, not at all what one would expect of a princess! The hatred in her eyes as she glared at him made him laugh despite himself.
"Hah! You nearly had me there," he looked at her, truly seeing her for the first time, "Would you have killed me then?"
Such behavior from her went against what the Prince had imagined and it thrilled him. Try as the Prince may to deny it, everyone had such potential in them, even his idealized little Farah. Such a wonderful illusion to shatter, he had to press on so that the Prince might learn and accept such things in himself.
"She only says that because of what you're doing," the Prince said hurriedly, desperate to justify as he brought the tip of the Dagger to her throat.
Ignoring the nagging voice he pressed on, "I asked you a question. If I gave you this Dagger would you kill me?"
"Yes! Yes damn you!"
Then she spat in his face.
Oh this was too good. As the cold spittle dripped down his face he heard the Prince gasp as though burned. It must have hurt him so to finally see Farah as human, full of emotions and thoughts as deep and complex as anyone. Then again, the Prince was still unable to accept such things in himself, so it was hardly a surprise. This was turning out to be even more fun than he had anticipated.
"Really," his teased, wanting to see just how far he could take this before the Prince broke, "Even if –
He never got to finish the question. Lost in his enjoyment of their little game he had forgotten that she still had one free hand and before he could stop her she slammed her hand into the pommel. The blade sank effortlessly into her neck, just beneath her chin and blood blossomed forth, drenching his hand in, what was to him, a shockingly cold deluge.
The Prince's cry of anguish, somewhere between a gasp and a sob echoed through his head as he experienced Farah's answer to how much she hated him at the moment. The blood, the look as the rage and light faded from her eyes, the proof of her desperation should have ruined the moment rather than excite him the way it did. Just as her hand started to slide away from his he rewound time yet again, watching as the blood returned and the hatred flared back into her eyes more intensely than ever. She was beautiful and perfect in all the ways the Prince would never dare admit and in this moment he understood her utterly.
As time returned to normal he pulled his hand away, but she never even twitched. This time she must have experienced what had happened and not bothered trying. He sheathed the Dagger and took her free hand, adjusting his grip so that he could hold both her hands in his left to better prevent further accidents.
Though she had not tried anything, she had not yet given up either. The hatred in her eyes, the resentment of having every means of escape stolen from her lit up her whole face.
"Your bravery is admirable, as is your determination," he ran his free hand along the side of her face watching the way her muscles twitched under the touch as though her very nerves rebelled at the contact, "Though your stubbornness is somewhat less endearing."
The key being that it was by the slightest of margins. He had no desire to break her after all, for then she would be utterly ruined, something he had no desire to do to her.
There was no pretending that it was passion that made her breath hitch as he traced a finger down her neck, across her collar bone and over the smooth swell of her breasts, but what fun would there be in trying to fool himself?
"I'm not going to kill you, you know," he said warmly, not so much to reassure her as to make his intentions clear. Perhaps she would learn, as he had and the Prince had forgotten, that hatred and love were twins, monstrously connected so that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. The two of them had learned that in Azad and he had gotten to experience it all over again in all its glorious depth with Kaileena.
She kept her eyes closed in an attempt to hide her thoughts from him, but there was no concealing her disgust. Then again, with the way she was squirming and gasping beneath him, if he were to close his eyes it would be easy to pretend that she was eager for him to begin. Of course he would never close his eyes at a time like this, not when he wanted to savor every moment and Farah had proven to be infinitely resourceful.
He unfastened his belt and set it, along with the Dagger, off to the side, careful to place it so that it was out of her reach. That little movement was enough for her to squirm free and he leaned back to ride out her struggles, wondering if she knew how sensual the way she bucked her hips in her attempts to throw him off was. Just to see he thrust back against her, laughing at the way she pounded and clawed at his chest, just like Kaileena had done during the times that she demanded he take her. Even the Prince had to recognize that.
Her skirt, already damaged from her struggles, tore away as he grabbed for her, leaving him with a handful of cloth as she struggled away. Tossing the tatters away, he grabbed for her and pulled her back, his heart pounding as she screamed.
Once she was secure beneath him, he pinned her arms to the floor and leaned in close, willing her to look at him so that he might see the hatred in them and search for what lay beneath. Instead she bared her teeth in a grimace that could have just as easily been pleasure as it was hatred.
"I'm going to enjoy this," he whispered in her ear, an invitation for her to do the same if she so wished.
She let out a ragged cry that rose and fell with his every move as though he had already begun. He kissed her tenderly on the neck, savoring the way her cries turned to gasps each time his lips brushed against her.
"This is what I've longed for. I fought my way through the city for this moment," he panted between kisses, hoping that she might understand, "When I kill the vizier it will be for you as much as for myself. I'd slay armies for you, go to war for you, raze nations to have you as mine."
He slid his hands down to her thighs, rubbing his thumbs on the inside of her legs, waiting for her to give him the moment he was waiting for. All the playing before hand would simply make the final moment that much better.
During this time she managed to get one leg out from under him and kick him several times. The position was bad for her to deliver any force, but it gave him a very good glimpse of what he wanted. It was quite the show that she was putting on for him, or it was until she landed a blow on his left arm just above where the highest link of the bladed chain was embedded.
He shifted out of the way, ducking under her kicks and slamming his fist against the floor hard enough to split his knuckles in the process.
"I'm trying not to hurt you," he gasped, shaking his hand as though to shake off the already fading pain. The one good thing about the way he was now was that he was as durable as any Sand monster. Injuries that were not immediately fatal quickly healed on their own.
Farah stared up at him, suddenly still as though ready for what was to come.
Taking advantage of the moment she was so kindly providing him, he plunged in and moaned as she screamed. If not for the way she writhed and bucked beneath him continuing might have been impossible. It was as though he had plunged himself into freezing water, numbing him so that he was barely able to feel anything of her. Gritting his teeth in frustration he thrust, wishing that he could have been human for this moment. Still, the sensation of her beneath him was as pleasing as he could have hoped, and there were some things that his present form was incapable of ruining.
Focused more on memory and the way things should have been he slid his hands up under her top to massage her breasts. This much was as he had longed for, as it had been between the two of them in the mysterious well beneath the palace in Azad. He spoke the same words to her now as he had then, or at least as best as he could recall. Memory had likely refined them into something much finer than anything he may have said back then. Reliving that memory, making it his, he had his way with her.
Each move she made, he matched, holding her close as she pushed against him and keeping rhythm as best as he was able to with her erratic thrashings.
She must have been listening to his words for she spoke, her words falling into the pattern of his efforts, "Stop, you don't have to – "
Her words cut off in a gasp and he cut in, "You're wrong. This may be my only chance. I've lost you twice before. One thing I've learned from all I've endured, you must take what you want when there's a chance. Yesterday is dead and tomorrow is a lie."
That was why this moment together was so important. If he had waited for the Prince to see things his way, so that they could have done this without taking matters into his own hands, they may have lost her again before getting the chance. It was that desperation that drove him onward without making any attempt to slow the inevitable moment. Dragging it on was pointless when some things were all the more beautiful for their ephemeral nature.
Already exhausted, Farah fell still beneath him and he tried to urge her on for just a little while longer.
"Come on," he panted knowing that it would not be much longer, "I know you've got more in you than that."
He could feel the moment drawing near and he let the tension build, riding out the spasms of pleasure that wracked his body until he was spent.
Wanting nothing more than to collapse to the floor next to her, he withdrew and rose unsteadily to his knees. The memory of what had happened last time he had fallen asleep next to her preventing him from doing anything so foolish. Odds were that she would not merely steal the Dagger while he slept, especially since she had stated her intent to kill him in his sleep.
Gathering his clothing he got dressed, smiling when he noticed the way she was staring at him, her eyes shining bright with anger despite how tired and disheveled she clearly was. Eventually she closed her eyes, though he could tell by the way she was breathing that she had not yet fallen asleep.
Not wanting to leave without saying anything, and maybe, just maybe to prove his point to the Prince, he went back to her and knelt down by her side. Exhaustion had left her weak and shaking and he smiled as he gently brushed her sweat damp hair back from her forehead so that he could plant a final kiss there.
"It's said that we always hurt the ones we love," he spoke tenderly, wanting to be certain that she knew how he felt, "And you should know, I do love you."
Then he left, overall pleased with what he had accomplished.
As he walked out into the night the Prince was just beginning to recover from the shock of what had happened.
"You had no right – "
"Maybe I didn't," he said with a tired laugh, "But who's to say that. Anyway, it's all yours now, the world, this body, the memory of what we did tonight, it's all yours to keep and cherish. I hope it was worth it."
Thoroughly exhausted, he relinquished control of their body and retreated back to the dark corners of the Prince's mind to rest.
"What am I supposed to do now?" The Prince demanded an answer and received none.
There would be a time for conversation between them again, but this was not it. Right now all it wanted to do was rest and enjoy the victory it had managed that night.
I come to you in a blue, blue room
By some abuse and some heart
You raise the blinds say
Let's have light on life
Let's watch it fall apart
Let's watch it fall apart
-Lyrics from 'Tenderloin' by Allen Lanier