She shouldn't have shouted at him, he didn't deserve that and it wasn't his fault.
Casavir was too... nice, too frustrating. He was a good man, but she couldn't love him when he only saw the world in black and white while she firmly coloured hers with grey. Still, it wasn't his fault she was so on edge because of the war and the way she'd snapped at him was unfair. Even if she could never reconcile the differences between their beliefs he hadn't earned her scorn. She'd have to apologise later, try and explain herself to him – that she didn't hate him, far less held anything against him and did hope, one day perhaps, he'd find someone that made him happy.
It just couldn't be her.
She couldn't be with a paladin when she'd spent her whole life in balance as a druid. Perhaps he forgot, only saw the knighthood, the shining symbol of justice that Neverwinter so fervently tried to make her but at heart she was none of that, and if not for the affront to nature that the horde of undead posed, she'd have lost her wits completely months ago.
Hell, she was almost there regardless, she hated being Nasher's poster girl for righteousness, all she wanted sometimes was to disappear back into the Mere the way she'd done most of her childhood. Running through grass and shambles, more at home with the forests and swamp than any city could offer her. Perhaps Bishop wasn't too far off when he called her feral, she probably was. In his own twisted way, sometimes he was the only one that understood. Even Elanee was too at odds with Calli most of the time. Sure, Bishop was ruthless, heartless and seriously lacking in any sense of morals, but he understood her pent up frustration and desire to be rid of it all.
“Well,” a deep, familiar voice drawled behind her, “Aren't you quite the little heartbreaker tonight, Feral?”
Calli's fingers tightened ever so slightly against the stone wall she'd been leaning over. Determined not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her irritation, she continued to stare out over the farms beneath her where she stood on the battlements, barely illuminated in the moonlight.
When she didn't grace him with a response, he leant his back on the ledge beside her, casting her a sidelong glance with arms crossed over his chest and yellow eyes narrowed. He wasn't wearing his armour, she noted with the briefest of looks, perhaps he'd tried to get with one of the tavern girls judging by the way his shirt was unlaced just low enough. Honestly she wouldn't put it past him, for all the time he spent throwing backhanded flirts at her she never once suspected he didn't look at other women as well.
“What do you want, Bishop?” she replied eventually, her voice strained and tired.
“I thought I wanted to see our dear paladin have his heart ripped out of his chest.” He shrugged. “It wasn't actually as satisfying as I thought it would be, self righteous oaf didn't even cry.”
Calli rolled her deep green eyes, her voice laced with sarcasm. “Poor you.”
He almost looked amused for a split second, but it faded so quickly she wondered if she'd imagined it when the familiar sneer tugged at his features. “Shouldn't you be inside getting bored to death by Kana, Feral? I think your allocated ten minutes of break is up for today.”
“She'll manage by herself.” Calli grimaced a little thinking of the other woman. “If I have to listen to her going over our defence plans for the fourth time this evening I will kill her.”
He chuckled a little but it was a dangerous, threatening noise when it came from his lips. “Tsk, what would Nasher say if he heard his Knight Captain saying that?”
“Fuck Nasher and Neverwinter,” she growled, “I need to get out of here, just for tonight, the keep will hold until the morning.”
“If you really want a way out I might be persuaded to show you one.” It came casually, the same way he phrased one of his exceedingly rare compliments – just offhanded enough to make anyone doubt whether he really genuinely meant it or not.
She glanced at him, searching his face for the usual look of contempt that painted his features but in that moment, under the stars, he was unreadable but for the gentle furrowing of his brows as if he was appraising her, judging her intent.
“Was that really an offer, or are you just making more snide remarks?”
“It can be whatever you want it to be, Feral,” he offered almost evasively, as if he was dodging the question, or dodging committing to anything that vaguely resembled human emotions.
For a moment she hesitated, chewed on her lip and then threw caution to the wind as she blurted, “Get me out of here, Bishop.” A pause as he arched an eyebrow at her, expectant, so she sighed and added pointedly, “Please?”
He didn't respond, only grabbed her hand in his own, his skin warm against hers and she could feel every scar and callous, acutely aware of how rough he was against her, not that hers was any better from her years of wandering the Mere alone – she didn't have the soft skin and feminine body of someone who'd spent years living in luxury like other girls did. She was stained with old scars and pockmarked, her short stature slender but muscular and her dark hair perpetually in messy tangles.
“Might want to pull your hood up, Feral, your soldiers might not question me slipping out the gates this late at night but they'll have a fit if they see their precious leader leaving.”
She obeyed wordlessly, covering her features under the thick cloth of her cloak as Bishop led her through corridors and eventually slipped silently out of the keep. No one stopped and questioned them, although some of the passages they went through were suspiciously lacking in any patrols, she supposed she'd have to mention that to Kana. Then, when they were far enough away from the keep and at the edge of the forest and wildlands nearby, Calli dropped her hood and Bishop's hand, letting out a deep sigh.
“God's,” she breathed, relishing the fresh air filling her lungs, so exquisitely different from the stuffy musty air in the keep. “I knew I kept you around for something, Bishop.” She glanced at him, giving him a genuine smile although he didn't seem to care. “Thank you.”
He didn't reply, simply studying her silently but she didn't have time for his brooding and caustic remarks, not when she so rarely had time to herself as it was. With a small flicker of magic she shifted to another familiar form, her body changing into that of a lithe sleek fox. She dashed through the undergrowth, gorging on the feel of the wind in her hair, her closeness to nature, the ability to finally properly stretch her legs after weeks cooped up in the war room. What Bishop was left doing didn't concern her in that moment, she only ran until she found a small lake deep in the woods.
Shifting back to her normal form she grinned, shrugging out of her clothes and diving into the water. For a long minute she simply floated in the lake, staring up into canopy of the forest and the moonlight streaking through the leaves. Finally she started rubbing at the dirt and dust on her skin and in her hair, easing out the tangles in her dark brown locks, the smudges against her tanned skin.
Still, she wasn't distracted enough to miss the cracking of twigs and leaves and she glanced over her shoulder, quickly finding the ranger at the edge of the bank, staring at her with an arched brow and soft smirk on his features. She sunk deep enough into the water until it came up to her neck, glaring at him for the way he'd clearly been staring at her body. It embarrassed her, she didn't want him seeing what she saw as her ugly and marred form.
“Do you have any manners?” she huffed.
“Am I getting a lecture on politeness from our little wild child? How precious, I didn't think you knew what manners were,” he mocked, his lips pulling into a crude grin before his fingers slipped to his boots and started pulling them off.
“What are you doing?” She hated the way her eyes widened ever so slightly when he shrugged out of his shirt.
“Undressing, Feral,” he replied. “Tell me, did you ever see a man naked in all your years spent running with the wolves?”
“If I hadn't then I don't see how that would change now, given I'm only staring at another a beast.”
“Oh, scathing,” he drawled with a roll of his eyes, “I don't know how I'll ever recover.”
With a quick gesture he threw aside the rest of his clothes, his pants hitting the floor and she glanced away quickly while he crossed the distance to the lake and dived in. Pressing herself up against the bank, she folded her arms over her chest and furrowed her brow as he surfaced and found her gaze. Those yellow eyes looked hungry as he waded towards her, his hands pressing into the bank on either side of her, face inches from hers and she knew what was coming long before his lips hit hers. It was a needy, rough kiss, just like the other two times he'd done it, and she wondered if it was always like this because she had nothing to compare it to.
But Bishop – she could feel the lust pouring off him, the way he ran his tongue over her lips, kissed her with so much heat and passion that she felt heady in the moment. Instinct took over, her arms curling around his neck, running over the thick corded muscle in his shoulders while he pulled her against him, his body warm against her naked skin despite the cold water around them.
What was she doing? She should be appalled with herself, he couldn't have good intentions and she didn't even know if she trusted him not to shank her with his dagger the first chance he got. But the way his fingers were running over her skin, his head tilting and tongue looking for hers, she couldn't help it. No one had ever shown interest in her before, not like this, even Casavir, who proclaimed to love her, didn't stare at her with the kind of hunger in his eyes that Bishop did. His strong hands reached for her waist, lifted her slight form with ease and pressed her against the river bank while his lips left hers, trailed kisses down her neck and chest.
He spread her legs, pausing at her hips to glance up at her, his expression thick with desire but otherwise a mystery to her. Did he care for her? She doubted it, he didn't care for anyone. But it surprised her that he stared at her with such a needy look on his features, he'd made so many crude passes at her for months but she'd never taken it seriously, how could she when they were always laced with sarcasm and so often quickly followed by insults?
“You've never been with a man before, have you?” he asked quietly, and she couldn't miss the slight predatory tone to his voice, the way his greed fed off the idea that she was still a virgin.
“They're sorely lacking in the wilderness I find.”
“Only because you never ran into me.”
He leant down, ran his tongue over her slit, already wet from desire while his hands gently pressed against her legs to stop them bucking from inexperience. He parted her folds, slipped into her and drew heady moans from her throat, his fingers soon reaching where his mouth couldn't – one, two, easing into her slowly while she bit back the initial pain before the pleasure flooded through her. And he was... gentle. More gentle than she thought he might have been, coaxing her to climax with obvious skill yet taking it slow because he had to know this was almost overwhelming for her.
Was she seeing a different side to him? She wasn't certain, far more suspected that it was just another act on his behalf, a practised facade to get what he wanted from a woman, but she didn't really care in that moment when her fingers curled into his short auburn hair and desperate moans spilled from her lips. Writhing on the ground she cried out when waves of pleasure rolled over her, just barely noticing him slip his fingers into his mouth and lick away the wetness she'd left on him.
Then, before she'd even really recovered, his mouth was on hers again, a hand curling into hers while he braced himself on one arm. It was quick and it hurt when he entered her, her face twisting for a brief moment in pain but he stilled, waited for her discomfort to pass before he started thrusting into her. Fleeting kisses placed on her lips between gasps for air and moans, his movements quick and perhaps even erratic, as if he wanted to take his time but couldn't. Her fingers dug into his back, short nails leaving angry red marks to match the noises spilling from her lips.
When she came again she tensed, pressing her forehead into his shoulder and eyes squeezed shut as she cried out, softly. She barely noticed him jerk above her, the curse he spat and the feeling of his release inside her. After, he placed a few feather light kisses to her collarbone and chest, lips running over her sweaty skin and breathing in deep her scent before he pulled away from her.
For far too long he laid beside her on the bank, staring into her eyes with an unreadable expression on his features while she gazed back at him, her fingers running pointless circles over his chest. And then, abruptly, he stood up and was walking away. She sat up, concerned, her arms curling protectively around herself as if it might hide her nudity after what they'd just done. A soft whisper of his name made him stop for a moment while he shrugged into his clothes, but he refused to glance back at her.
“I'm not that kind of man, Calli,” he murmured, the tone in his voice neither snide nor kind, simply... indifferent. “If you want someone to hold you into the night, go find the paladin.” He paused for a moment, and she wondered if he was going to turn back to her but he didn't, only adding in barely more than a whisper, “Promise me one thing though. Stay up on the ramparts tomorrow.”
And with that, he was gone. She stared blankly into the ground for what felt like an hour, her thoughts mixed between longing, irritation and confusion, until her animal companion padded up beside her, presumably tracking her scent from where she was constantly forced to leave the bear in the farmlands beside the keep.
With her wet nose pressed to her shoulder, Calli closed her arms around her warm and furry body, refusing to let tears well in her eyes. It was a strange feeling that flooded through her then, not quite sorrow but rather a new-found determination that she never was meant for civilisation or human relationships and she'd been a fool to think she might ever fit in with other people.
She made her resolution then, that she'd never return to Crossroad Keep or Neverwinter after the war was done. Her home was in the forests and the swamp, and she'd disappear back into them as soon as her duty was done.
When Bishop betrayed them the next day she only stared at him, not quite surprised but still hurt. She wondered, how had she let herself get so tangled up with the ranger when she'd spent her whole life scorning the company of others and alone?