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"The whole of humanity is in your debt. It includes all my subjects, of course." Kushana says. Her voice is solemn, still proud despite the words. It is less so when she continues. "It includes me, and I cannot say the respect and affection I have for you, I..." She sighs. "Every time I'm with you, I want..."

Nausicaa is blushing. The princess Kushana is wearing long robes, instead of her usual armor. Nausicaa was offered a rare, delightful infusion, that might have been stronger than she expected. These kinds of words should fill her with shame, embarrassment not to deserve them. Here, it's not that she thinks Kushana is right, it's that... she feels she's close to understanding Kushana's heart, and this feeling buries any shame.

"What do you want?" she asks. Because Kushana stopped in the middle of her sentence.

"Don't you know?" Kushana answers, the tiniest shake in her voice. She stands up from her chair, but only briefly, and soon she's kneeling in front of Nausicaa, looking her in the eyes.

It's weird and unexpected; it's not the first time someone kneels before Nausicaa, because she was mistaken for a godly figure, because some people have been mistreated and taught how to humiliate themselves as survival. But it's different, Kushana knows who she is - and Kushana never, ever, knelt to anyone.

Nausicaa's body feels very hot. "Please," she says.

Kushana, still kneeling, now lowers her head. She kisses the instep in Nausicaa's right boot, then opens her mouth. Nausicaa is surprised to feel something despite the hard leather.

"Please stop," she says, blushing hard.

Kushana stops, but she doesn't stand up. "Why?"

"My feet are dirty," Nausicaa answers. It's the first thing that comes to mind. It's not exactly false - of course her clothes have been disinfected, but she still walks in the dirt of the road. She would never call it dirty, this healthy earth, except now she does, so embarrassed about seeing Kushana like this.

"They are not," Kushana answers, but she sits back. Nausicaa is hypnotized by seeing her lick her lips. She still feels the caress on her ankle. She tries to find a new subject of conversation very fast. It's about food resources, but luckily Kushana makes no comments about the taste she probably keeps on her tongue.


Nausicaa works and debates and flies a good part of the day. But when the night falls, despite the tiredness and the comfort of her bed, she can't sleep. She thinks about Kushana again and again. She has offended her, probably, by refusing her submission. She should have apologized instead of brushing the subject away.

The scene replays in her head without any choice from her. She feels guilt for her rudeness, she regrets her shyness. She is ashamed of her small lie, and, most of all, she regrets having concentrated on what she was meant to feel, instead of what she was really feeling. Or did she? Was it so pleasant at the time, or is it only the fantasy version in her head?

She still manages to find sleep, and welcomes the next day, with its load of decisions that are not about her heart. But of course, Kushana is still here.

Kushana is a tall woman. Nausicaa always noticed, she thinks. But it's different since she has seen her on her knees. She feels even smaller, she wants - she would like to do it again.

She tries to look into Kushana's eyes, to guess what she thinks. It's impossible, not like this. Kushana doesn't avoid her gaze. It could mean anything, but Nausicaa still appreciates it. That this didn't change at least. They care for each other so much, despite everything, because of everything.

Kushana is as beautiful and dangerous as the wild beasts of the forest. She has her very own way to be kind, which is extreme and sublime and too often self-sacrificing, because she was taught this, that being kind to others was hurting yourself.

Nausicaa knows their destinies crossed and intermingled. It's probably pride, but she feels like becoming close changed Kushana for the best. And, if Nausicaa has to be truthful, knowing Kushana changed her, too. Maybe it's for the best, maybe not. She opened her mind, that's sure. To other ideas, other ways. To complex thoughts too, darkness too deep for light to burn enough in it.

Her whole mind shifted in a few days. She was so unsure of what she felt, of what she wanted. Now she can imagine it very well. Too well, at night, when she's lying in the fetal position, one hand between her legs. At first it's nothing, just the wild beat of her heart in her fingers and between her thighs. She thinks about Kushana. It's such a soft, ethereal touch first, that makes her shiver in pleasure to the tips of her hair, and then, as she can no longer pretend her fingers are moving by themselves, the warm electricity running in her body turns into flooding water, and she bites her lips, wondering how Kushana's mouth would taste like, how her fingers would feel like, how her words of adoration reshaping her body and heart...

She wonders why she feels like it's so wrong. Wrong for Kushana to want this, wrong for her. She loves life and she knows it's all about survival, and sometimes it gets messy, but it's always beautiful. She thinks about affection, and about love, and about power, and about imagination and quest for new things, and it's always this, different shapes of something too huge for every detail to do justice to the whole.

She doesn't even know how Kushana's desires fit here, but she recognizes hers. Wanting control over what you love is natural, but can so easily be ugly. But playing with ugly things, stealing beauty out of them - this is kind of fascinating.

Kushana wanted this, so there's no reason why it would be wrong. Or did she? Did she only offer out of felt obligation? Nausicaa can't imagine any good way to ask.

She missed her chance and she has no idea how to express that she might have changed her mind, without making it worse.

And then she realizes with a laughter full of nervousness and freedom that she no longer wonders. She's more afraid of Kushana's reaction than to the harm it might seed in her soul, and it's the kind of thing she won't let get in her way, ever.

She won't presume that Kushana's offer still stands, but she won't grovel in apology either. She just needs to be honest and see what happens, if something breaks, something floods, something lets light through.


Nausicaa asked Kushana to come to her room.

Of course, Kushana is the host and almost the queen. She doesn't have to accept. And maybe she's proud enough not to want to be reminded of the last time. But she's also brave, clever and loving. Nausicaa really thinks she will come. And in the end, she's right.

There's this small moment, where they're courteous and formal, Nausicaa offers Kushana some food from her reserves, and of course she accepts it. She came alone. No one to taste for poison. This is proof that she trusts Nausicaa, not only her feelings, of course, but also her judgement and skill.

It also means that she wanted them to be alone.

Nausicaa looks for the right words. She won't start with asking if Kushana remembers. Of course she does, it was only a few days ago. She can't small talk her way into it.

"I was wrong to reject you the other day," she says. "I was too afraid you offered out of obligation, because I didn't listen to your words or trust them enough. And because I was trying to deceive myself about my own wants. Not only I was wrong, but I deeply regret it."

Kushana laughs. Nausicaa could feel humiliated by it, if she didn't look at her with tender eyes.

"You could have just kissed me," she says. And then, her eyes become more provocative as she walks to Nausicaa. "You could have just claimed me."

It's a good thing Nausicaa is still sitting, because she can feel her legs becoming weak. She raises her hand.

"You're beautiful," she says. And she grabs her neck and kisses her.

She has never done this. But everyone her age knows at least how it looks like, heard about it, even if they weren't the ones asking questions. She loves Kushana so dearly, and for a moment of need she forgets that the situation is complex, in her heart and in the whole world, and that she loves other people too, and things that are greater than people.

Kushana's mouth is soft as it opens for her, and Nausicaa feels like falling. She just pulls Kushana's wrist a bit, and this beautiful, proud woman is kneeling for her again, not even breaking the kiss. It's now Nausicaa who has to lean down, as she slowly strokes the smallest hair back on her neck, the small curls that escaped her elaborate bun.

The kiss is long, and far too short.

Nausicaa knew she wanted this. She didn't know how much. Her whole body turns liquid as Kushana puts her hands on her thighs.

"Have you already done this?" Kushana asks.

"No. And you?"

Kushana smiles as she's looking at her with obvious fondness and lust. "Never like this. Not with anyone else, and I won't ever want it with someone else. I swear to you." She nuzzles at Nausicaa's thighs, her fingers start to open her belt. "I swear to myself. I'm yours. What do you want from me?"

It's too much, asking this way. Waiting for an answer that matters, after these words that were hooking into Nausicaa's heart, enticing it out of her chest and into Kushana's fingers.

Nausicaa wants everything, but another part of her is afraid of her own feelings, of the loss of control that comes with it. Not being the master of what she wants, not even making sense of it, with the double pit of guilt or an acceptance that could be a mistake.

"Kiss my feet again," she says. She has had too many regrets about this. She won't lose the opportunity now.

Kushana's lips on her instep, her nimble fingers massaging her calf through her clothing, are less intense than her hands on her thighs were. But as Nausicaa looks at Kushana's bowed head, she realizes it almost makes things worse, because under the pleasure clouding her mind
was this delicious and guilty wonder at seeing Kushana obey her orders, humiliate herself for her. And maybe it's even stronger, even more intoxicating, this weird situation where she tastes an image of absolute control, while she never had less of it, making her brain fire up. She feels very small and very strong and very alive.

Kushana's lips move up again on Nausicaa's thighs. Nausicaa tries to put reprobation in her moans.

"If you don't want this, tell me to stop," Kushana says, her smile playing provocatively against Nausicaa's too-thin clothes. "You're so good at this."

Nausicaa doesn't think and grabs her hair. It seems to be a right move, as Kushana lets out a very soft sigh, stopping Nausicaa’s mind from feeling shameful about it. Nausicaa, for a short time, wonders what she wants. She can ask for anything she wants. She's in a dream where she can do everything.

Kushana fights a bit, not seriously, enough to undo her bun, to have Nausicaa grab tighter.

"Can I just remove your pants?" Kushana asks with malice in her voice. “It will be time saved when you decide what you really want."

Nausicaa smiles. "Go on," she says, as she twists her hair around her hand.

Once Kushana has finished, she actually pulls, a real effort to kiss Nausicaa's thigh again, but her hair is held firmly.

"Ask nicely," Nausicaa asks, and she was so right to play this way. Her crotch is pulsating in need, just from saying this, and she can't believe that being touched could be better in any way.

She lets Kushana raise her head, and changes the angle on her hair. Her eyes are no longer playful, or maybe they never were, maybe it was just her words. Her gaze is deep worshipful, her eyes too wide, like looking in the distance.

"I beg you, Nausicaa," she says softly, "let me pleasure you. I want you to know how good I can be for you."

Nausicaa can't deny here longer when it's asked this way. She lets Kushana's long hair free. It falls on her shoulders as she avidly dives between Nausicaa's legs. Her lips are soft, her tongue skilled, her teeth deliciously teasing as she sucks on her thighs, and Nausicaa gets herself lost in sensation, all bared and pliant under the assaults of pleasure, offerings she can no longer think about refusing.

And then with a last flick of the tongue, Kushana opens the gate, and the delight building between Nausicaa's legs explodes, until all her veins are beating with liquid ecstasy instead of blood. She lies, short of breath, the pleasure still caressing her with its soft wings before flying away.

"How satisfied are you, princess?" Kushana asks. When Nausicaa finds the willpower to look at her face, she can see her face glistening with sweat and fluids, her dishevelled hair, her victorious smile. She can also see hickeys on her own thighs, marks from bites she didn't even distinguish from the other sharp spikes of pleasure.

And she still wants more of her. She's ashamed of her greed, for one second. But it's so easy to justify it to herself, to say that she's doing it for Kushana. It's probably true, but it's in a twisted way, because Kushana offered herself to her and now she depends on her.

"Actually," she says. "I'm not finished with you. I'd like very much to see how wet you are. Please, Princess Kushana, go to the bed and spread your legs for me."

She couldn't stop herself from being polite, but there's still a raw crudeness in her words, that is making her will and Kushana's vibrate together. That is making Kushana's mind and body follow her words, as she lies down on the bed.

Nausicaa just wants to look, and then, when she sees Kushana's wet thighs and pulsing folds, she just wants to touch. And then she hears her moan, and she wants everything, her pleasure and her submission and she wants to be begged for it.

It's all Kushana's need that makes her want this. This could be a duel of willpower, but they both have stopped resisting a long time ago, just pretending, to make it last.

"Tell me you want me," she orders. Kushana is shaking. Her hands, her thighs, her tongue as she assures Nausicaa, that yes, she very much wants her, more than everything else in the world. She has everything else in the world, and she'll put them at her feet with her body and soul. And she wants, wants, wants.

Nausicaa also wants. To listen to this forever. But she wants even more to touch again, to see what pleasure does to Kushana after having seen her burning with lust. She caresses the hair between her legs softly, without even touching the skin, immaterial like a breath of wind, and Kushana shivers like the tall grass.

She starts begging again, and once Nausicaa is touching her, it's fast and feral. Kushana twists and arches and comes, still rubbing herself against Nausicaa's hand. She has an ecstatic smile and tears on her face, victorious in relinquishment. Without her pride and her power, she's still touching like a small, young bird. Nausicaa feels lust leave her, replaced with deep affection, and as she lies next to Kushana and kisses her forehead.

She hears a very soft sigh, and - it feels like tears falling, but it’s not something you can hear, so this must be her own heart overflowing. She kisses her cheek again.

"Promise me..." Kushana says. "Promise me that if you have other lovers - when you have other lovers - you'll never show them this side of yourself. That this is only for me."

Nausicaa feels guilty to realize that it's not obvious. This part of herself that Kushana has awoken wants to rise and rampage, she can know it without even thinking about anyone else. But it's only fair that Kushana is the one to tame it. She can be trusted with it, far more than Nausicaa can.

"I promise," she says, and they kiss again.