Bishop settled his shoulders against the wall, shifting a bit, trying to find a more comfortable position. He'd been waiting for some time, hidden well in the shadows.
Shouldn't be long now.
He closed his eyes, near useless in the dark anyway, and let his mind wander. How well he remembered the first time he'd seen her, strolling into the Sunken Flagon like she had always belonged there. She and her ragtag band of demons, dwarves, elves and whatever scum she managed to pick up on the roads. The memory nearly made him smile. It wasn't a happy smile. She picked him right up with all the other scum, much against his will. He'd been travelling with her for quite a while now. Ah well, sometimes roads took quite unexpected bends, he'd come to accept that a long time ago. It even had been fun sometimes, much to his own surprise. Who'd have thought?
Still, he remembered that first time, her eyes scanning the room and everyone in it, finally resting on him for a moment. He remembered meeting those pale, pale blue eyes, the colour of the sky on a frosty winter morning. That was when he dubbed her the ice queen. The title went well with her strange, short and tousled blue-white hair, those ice-blue eyes and the bronze skin that contrasted so much with the hair and the eyes, testament to her unusual heritage. The title also went well with her character, but that he only found out some time later.
Now the smile on his face was nearly genuine. She surely was something, even he had to admit that. She was not pretty, nothing cute about her. She was a warrior woman, no mistake about that, tall, strong, and very beautiful in her own, strange way. And her tongue often was as cutting as her sword. That was one of the things he liked about her.
He remembered her talking to that retard, Duncan, and then making her way through the room, getting acquainted with everyone. He shot her his best scowl, trying to discourage her upfront, but still she came to him, unfazed, and tried chatting him up. Looking for companions for that harebrained campaign of hers. He'd sent her packing, of course, with a few well-placed scathing words. What did he look like, a Samaritan? Or like he was into small talk? She had given him one of her icy stares – okay, maybe he had been a tad rude, but what had she to go and bore him with her chatter for? – showed him a haughty shoulder and sauntered away.
He'd never have admitted it, not if his life depended on it, but somehow that stare had him hooked. There was something unusual about her, and not only her obscure parentage or that idiotic mission she was on. No, he had seen a strength in her he found impressive. That one knew how to fight, and would not go down easy. And he was not thinking about sword fights, either. No matter what you threw at her, she would fight and survive. He had to admire that.
And later, after that idiot Duncan had pressed him into her service, he remembered throwing innuendo at her at every opportunity. He just could not resist, he had to see if the ice would get cracks after a while. All it had gotten him were more icy stares and some equally icy replies. And of course a few drop-dead looks from the paladin. He had to choke back laughter, thinking about that.
No making noises now, giving away my hiding place.
That had been real fun, goading the righteous fool into equally righteous fury, rushing to the defence of the ice maiden's virtue. The stupid git had been real eager to swallow every bait Bishop had thrown him. There had been a couple of occasions Bishop had nearly worn him down, had him ready to try and kill Bishop where he stood. The ice maiden hat stopped the fool every time, with a light touch on his arm and a few soothing words murmured into his ear. Pity, really. Bishop would have loved crossing swords with him, would have loved shutting that oh-so-righteous mouth for good. And that had nothing to do with the twinge he felt, remembering the ice queen and the paladin exchange knowing glances and smiles...
Stop that. No twinge.
He was past that now. Anyway, those two deserved each other. Blanket over their bed probably was frozen every morning...
He remembered finding himself watching her more and more. Admiring the grace she moved with. Admiring the deadly accuracy she cut her enemies down with. Admiring her strength, her iron will, her determination. And asking himself again and again if there was fire under all the ice. Finding himself wanting to find out. Hating himself for wanting to find out. Observing the paladin, courting her. Politely, of course. With propriety. The fool. Polite courtship would never get him to that fire underneath. Still, it had gotten Casavir smiles, long glances, small touches and words murmured into his ears. Even the memory made Bishop's fists clench.
He remembered himself, watching the ice bitch and the paladin grow closer. Feeling the fury in himself build up. This murderous fury, screaming at him to pounce the guy, and punch that smug expression from his face. Pounce him, get him down, and drive his face into the ground, until he stopped moving.
A sharp pain brought him back to reality. He had driven his nails into his palms, drawing blood, fighting the fury that was already rising again. He forced himself to relax against the wall. That was all in the past, now.
How long? Where were they?
His mind wandered back to the last weeks spent in her company. Fighting the growing desire. Finally having to admit to himself that he wanted her. Badly. Hating himself for it. Not understanding. He liked his women small, slender, cute. Not frosty Valkyries from hell. But there was a time he could not lie to himself any longer. Could not deny the rage that rose like bile in his throat every time he saw her smiling at the paladin. Could not deny the way his breath caught when he met those blue eyes. Could not deny the way her deep, seductive voice made his spine tingle. Could not deny the heat that rushed up in him every time she was close. Could not deny the nearly uncontrollable urge to grab her, to draw her close, to...
Stop. Stop. Stop.
So he'd decided he'd have her. Get it done, get over it, get on. Easy as pie. Well, relatively speaking, of course. Aside from the little problem she was with Casavir. And that she hated Bishop's guts. Might have been a bit his own fault, that last one. So he changed tactics. Behaved himself. Had been polite. Helpful. Constructive. He could be that way, if he really set his mind to it. All lies, sure, but he always had been a natural when it came down to lying.
Soon he got some interested glances as well. She'd noticed the difference. Had not commented on it, had been cautious, but gradually grew a bit less frosty towards him. Eventually getting nearly friendly. Had been a hard piece of work, that, getting her to open up a bit. Still, he could be charming, if he really tried. And he had tried. With nice results. The puppy dog eyes – he had already noticed that the ladies seemed to like his eyes quite a lot – and the sob stories he told her had not hurt either. And then...
The thought brought out a wolfish grin on his face, as his memories wandered back to that night he had "accidentally" met her in the small glade outside the city. No accidents involved, clearly, since she often went there after dark, to have some time on her own. He'd known exactly he would find her there.
Still, he had acted all surprised at meeting her, and she seemed to have bought it. He was a good liar. And then he'd just done it. No sense in wasting any more time. He simply walked up to her, pushed her into the next tree, grabbed her hands and pressed her into the rough bark with his body. Luckily for him she had been quite surprised, otherwise he would not have her hands so securely pinned over her head by the time her reactions kicked in.
She had fought him like a cat, hissing and spitting into his face. Tried to knee him, too, but he had been waiting for that and easily avoided it. Her eyes had shot daggers at him, her face was flushed and her chest heaving, her mouth spewing profanities.
He had never wanted anything more in his life.
Her beauty made his blood boil and his pulse pound in his ears. He bent his head and pressed his mouth on hers, swallowing the insults she was hurling at him.
And that was the moment he really had lost it. Completely.
The feel of her lips under his made him forget everything, his mind blanked out and only the need remained. He moaned deep in his throat and kissed her like a drowning man. He did not even realise he had released her hands and started ripping off her clothes, until he felt her hands doing the same with his. He remembered letting himself fall backwards into the grass, taking her down with him, his mouth still on hers and she kissing him back like there was no tomorrow.
Here was the fire he had been so sure to find, nothing cold about her then. He remembered only flashes of what had happened after that, remembered her fingernails digging sharp into the skin on his back, leaving angry red welts. He remembered her strong body, bowing to meet his thrusts. He remembered her teeth in his shoulder. He remembered their mouths desperately seeking each other. He remembered her moans and cries, mingling with his own. Remembered her hot breath in his ear. And he remembered her shouting his name, shortly before he collapsed on her, totally spent. Did he shout her name? He was not sure. But he remembered the pure bliss he felt.
Until she got up and started frantically digging for what was left of her clothes. Put a bit of a damper on his euphoria, that. That, and the look of pure horror she shot him before she bolted into the night.
As he sat up, the bliss gave way to a sudden pain in his guts, like someone twisted a knife in there. And there was a sting in his eyes he angrily rubbed away. What the…? He did not do tears. And he never, ever felt hurt. He was the one hurting others, made damn sure that was the way everything turned out. He never left himself open, never. Anyway, it was done now, wasn't it? He'd had her, had melted the ice and made her cry out his name. Mission accomplished. Time to move on. Pastures new and all that.
The following days she did not talk to him, did not look at him and flinched every time he came near her. Sticking to the plan, he made no move to change that. He was over her now, right? Had gotten her out of his system. No sense in trying to impress her any more. So he kept to himself, barely talking to anyone, which was fine by him. They were all a bunch of retards anyway. He did not need them, did not need her, did not need anybody. Soon he would be gone, getting them out of his life at last. He could not wait for that time to come…
But somehow, his reserve seemed to sit well with her, even if that was the last thing he intended. After some days, he sometimes found her staring at him, when she thought no one would notice. Especially that stupid paladin. Well, the idiot would not have noticed if his own head left him. Every time Bishop caught her staring, she looked away swiftly.
But then she started seeking his proximity, started finding excuses for touching him. Small, seemingly innocent touches, a short touch on his arm, or her hand just barely grazing his. And she would not look away anymore, when his gaze met hers. An in her eyes, he could see something that ignited a fire in his body… something he could only describe as hunger.
If he had not been so busy swallowing the heat welling up in him, he would have smirked at her. Something the good and righteous paladin was not giving her, was there? He knew that fool did not have what it took. Could have told her, had she asked him. Did she realize herself, at last?
He remembered getting up, slowly, hesitatingly walking over to her, his gaze never leaving hers. He had stopped, a couple of feet away from her, still staring into her eyes. And there had been something new to see, he'd been so sure. A glow, a warmth, an… invitation?
Then she smiled at him, sweet and genuine, and he could feel something rising in his chest, something strange. What was that feeling? Was that… hope? It was warm, and fuzzy, and he could feel a stupid, broad, happy grin appearing on his face, and for a moment there, he really felt like maybe, just maybe, some things could change in the end.
Gods, he must have been braindead.
Then, just as his hand lifted itself out of its own accord, wanting to touch her face, the paladin appeared behind her, shooting Bishop a withering glance, took her by the shoulders and whispered something into her ear. And she had glanced up at Casavir, smiled at him, too, gave Bishop a last look over her shoulder, and went away with the paladin.
Bishop just stood there, staring after her, that warm, fuzzy feeling gradually giving way to searing, hot rage. What had he been thinking? How could he have been so damn stupid? Letting his guard down like this? He'd sworn to himself never to let that happen again, never to feel that unbearable pain again. And here he was, feeling like his world just had caved in.
He turned on the spot, running into the woods, hurtling himself through the undergrowth, not feeling or caring the way the branches snapped his clothes and whipped into his face. At least the sting on his cheeks explained the water welling up in his eyes.
At last, panting and out of breath, he had to stop. He stood there, hands pressed to his stomach, feeling it clench with pain, threw back his head and screamed with incoherent rage. Screamed and screamed until his voice gave out. After, he let himself sink to the ground, lying down on his back and staring up into the leafy canopy of the trees and the glimpses of blue sky shimmering through.
It was then he knew he had to end this. Once and for all.
Stupid bitch had it coming, hadn't she? Should have known he was not one to play games with. Revenge would be sweet. He'd burned down his whole village for revenge, watched the people he grew up with die in the flames. After that, most things were easy.
As would be paying her back in kind for doing this to him. For getting under his defences so effortlessly. For making him vulnerable and then sticking a knife into his gut.
We'll see about that, won't we, he'd thought grimly. I'll show you what it feels like.
And he'd done it, betrayed her, left her keep open for invasion while he slipped away into the night. She'd survived, obviously – and here he was, waiting for her…
Footfalls. At last.
He waited a bit longer, until he could hear their voices and see the light of their torches behind the bend.
Took you a good while, getting here.
And then she appeared at the corner, her blue-white hair glinting in the torchlight. She really was beautiful. He felt his breath catch in his throat. Maybe…
No. Stop. Never again.
He waited for her to take a few steps more, then she suddenly stopped and stared intently into the darkness ahead of her, obviously alarmed. He had to smile. She always did have keen senses. He pushed himself away from the wall, stepping into the torchlight.
Oh, her face when she realized it was him.
"Bishop?" Unbelieving. Taking a step further to him, staring into his face. What was it he saw there? Relief? And… hope? "You came back?" A smile now, genuine smile.
She really was glad to see him, the stupid cow. He forced an answering smile on his face, taking the last few steps that separated him from her, stopping mere inches away. Looked into her eyes, still smiling, while he drove the dagger he'd been hiding so well into her gut, taking care that her body shielded the motion from the others coming round the bend.
See what it feels like, bitch?
She made a little choking noise, staggering and clutching the only thing there was to hold on to. Which were his shoulders. Her face now directly before his eyes, a rapid succession of emotions showed in those frosty eyes of hers. Surprise, disbelieve, shock – and eventually hurt, pain, betrayal… and something else. Was that hope?
Staring into his eyes, panting slightly from the pain, but not moving, not screaming, just staring at him, waiting. Waiting for what? For him to say something, to do something, to make it all right again?
Just showed how stupid she was, really.
Because nothing would ever make right again what he had just done. Which was exactly why he had done it, of course. No going back from this point.
Whatever it takes to set me free.
He stared into her face, so close to his, her lips parted in surprise, and could not help himself. He bent his head, pressing his lips on hers, kissing her desperately, as if it was the last thing he'd ever do. Which it was, actually, at least with her. Because soon, she would be dead.
Amazingly, he felt her responding, returning his kiss just as desperately, her eyes closed and a single tear rolling down her cheek. The dagger still in her belly, Bishop's hand still on the handle, she kissed him back.
He tore his mouth from hers, his gaze falling on her companions, not one realizing what was happening in front of their eyes, seeing the paladin stare unbelieving at the ice queen, lying in Bishop's arms. Bishop gave him a short smirk.
How do you like it, Buddy?
Then he let his eyes fall on her face again, hope still very visible there. She whispered his name, so low even he could barely hear it.
Enough. He'd had his fun, time to move on.
He tightened his grip on the dagger, twisting it viciously in her gut and sliced her open with one fluid motion. Watched her eyes grow even larger, still no sound escaping her, while she sagged to the ground, bleeding freely now, still looking up at him. Shouts from her friends, who were starting to realize something was very, very wrong.
Time to take his leave.
He gave her one last glance, her face pallid now under the bronze hue of her skin. Oh yeah, he'd done her well. Then, he turned and ran into the tunnels ahead. He had taken his time exploring them, knowing every bend by now. They'd never catch up with him. Plus, they would take some time checking out the ice queen first.
He felt something stir in his chest, thinking of the look on her face, but clamped down hard on the feeling. No remorse, no looking back. Story of his life.
Whatever it takes.