They set sail from Starling City, by all appearances nothing more than a commercial fishing vessel. Hundreds of miles into international waters, they would be picked up by a cargo ship out of China. That would continue along its trade route until rendezvousing with a rich Greek man’s yacht. And on and on they would go. There were many in the world who wished to help Ra’s al Ghul, and more still who feared him.
Nyssa took the ship’s largest cabin, a room meant for four men in separate bunks. The Daughter of the Demon did not travel as such. Her assassins slept standing up to give her the privacy she was due. Alone at last, she observed Sara Lance, her canary. Flown from her and now come back, as the American proverb went. How like Sara to test her.
“Your clothes are quite flattering,” Nyssa said, reclining luxuriously onto a bed worthy of her station. “But at the moment, they do not please me.”
Sara understood. She undressed and Nyssa almost gasped as her scars came into view. There were a few new ones, and Nyssa would relish learning their feel, their stories, their taste.
“When you left, I thought you would go to a surgeon. Have yourself sanded clean like you were to be brand new.”
“There’s not that much left to clean off,” Sara confessed, eying Nyssa, daring her to look closer.
Nyssa pressed on, disregarding the self-loathing she would soon purge from her lover. “But when I saw you again, in your blackness, your mask, I knew you still had them. Your armor. My warrior. Come to me.”
Sara laid down beside her in the bed. She shied from the touch at first, but only at first. It would take time for her to relearn that she was in Nyssa’s company, and no harm would come to her. No one would ever hurt her again.
When Nyssa had first met Sara, it had been like seeing a beautiful painting defaced. She could almost make out the joyous, care-free girl that had once comprised the wreckage, but you had to look hard through a crack in the armor, and then still you would only see fragments. As much as Nyssa doubted that she could love the person who had not yet been in purgatory, not yet left Starling City, she would have very much liked to meet her. This strange, whole person who did not need Nyssa to complete her. She had a core of steel, the Sara that Nyssa knew now, but it made her hard to the touch.
And yet, it was the only way they could be together. Sara scared, Nyssa bargaining, building an unsteady bridge between two worlds that couldn’t be more different.
“You should negotiate on my father’s behalf,” Nyssa suggested, rubbing warmth into muscles hard as metal. “You’re a skilled bargainer.”
“Oh?” Sara sensed when she was being teased. Nyssa’s dry sarcasm could fool a dozen assassins that she was being serious, but Sara always saw right through it.
“Of course. How else could you make me pay so dearly for something I already possessed?”
Sara squirmed in Nyssa’s grasp, wrestling with her for a moment before Nyssa allowed herself to be overpowered, Sara crawling atop her and lazing over her willing victim. Nyssa wondered when last she had seen that lovely face so close. Never again. Never again would she be so far away that she could start to forget a single mole, a single eyelash, a single scratch.
“What’s that?” Sara asked, her tone try as well. “Beauty? Grace? Very… very… soft lips…”
She proved her point, Nyssa having to tear herself away from the kiss before she let herself be consumed by what she felt. Sara Lance. She couldn’t fight the American’s hold on her—she couldn’t even want to fight it.
“Your heart. I’ve had it all along. And yet you make me offer up the League of Assassins to some Western fool to stake claim on it.”
“Don’t think of it as earning my heart, then. Think of it as giving me an excuse.”
Nyssa smiled widely. “Would you have left Starling with me if I hadn’t helped?”
“Would you have let Starling die if I hadn’t asked?”
“You would’ve died,” Nyssa said simply. She nuzzled her cheek over Sara’s face. “A few million people are inconsequential. You are not.”
“I feel inconsequential. The things I’ve done—I wish they were meaningless, almost. That none of it matters…”
“Give me time,” Nyssa begged. “You haven’t been whole without me. I’ve been incomplete without you. You have my strength, Ta-er al-Asfer. I have your heart. Absent you, I’m merciless. Absent me, you are fragile.”
“I thought you would like being merciless.”
“And I thought you would like being fragile, as you once were. And yet, we are contradictory. We, both of us, like being this creature we form together.”
Sara pulled away from her. “I can’t kill anymore.”
“Then we will not kill. My father’s fiefdom is vast. He has need of more than just those who hold blades. We can farm opium in the fields of Afghanistan, train his disciplines in the heights of the Himalayas—“
“We?” Sara asked, head raised, looking down on Nyssa like a treacherous bridge. Like she didn’t know if Nyssa would take her weight.
“I have been incomplete for nearly a year now. I would not be so any longer.”
“And there’s honor in that? Working on a farm with me?”
“There is honor in saving life. I intend to save yours every day you will allow me.”
Sara simply nodded. She fell back into Nyssa’s embrace and allowed herself to be held. As much as Nyssa burned for her, she did no more than that. Content now simply to hear the song of her canary—she could wait to pet its silken feathers, watch it fly like the east wind.
Never again, Nyssa silently promised Sara, that simple girl of golden hair and pale skin that held inside her everything beautiful and strong Nyssa had to give. Never again will you have cause to leave me. She would give Sara whatever was needed to make her stay. Friendship, love, anything. They were one being, even if fate had decreed that Nyssa would be the half that knew they could not live apart. If Sara needed an arm, Nyssa would cut off her own and give it to her.
It would be a small sacrifice, after she’d given Sara her heart.