Duty 32

Her arms had wrapped around solid male flesh, Alexandria frightened and trembling from head to toe. The beast, a Nerianes, had taken off in a panicked gallop. Thunder continued to boom, and every time without fail, she heard the Nerianes scream in response. But the screams were growing fainter, the creature running away from her. In her own fright, she was glad for it to be gone, Alexandria’s heart beating wildly. She didn’t have much experience with Nerianes, and never had she expected the animal to turn so violent.

Her shaking seemed to increase as she remembered how the Nerianes had reacted. How it had reared and bucked it’s body, Alexandria almost on it’s back when she had been snatched away. Her basket had ended up on the ground, rolling underneath the Nerianes. The beast had trampled over the basket, flattening it and the herbs it had held. Alexandria was aware of the ways she could have been hurt, thrown from it’s back, or crushed under the Nerianes’ hooves. If not for the quick thinking of the man with her, she surely would have been hurt or worse.

Alexandria couldn’t bring herself to let go of Ryder. She needed to feel him against him, to hold onto him for dear life as she tried to calm down. In this moment, she forgot how he exasperated her, how the Drule seemed to succeed in irritating her every time he opened his mouth to speak. For just one moment she forgot Ryder didn’t like her, Alexandria clinging to him. Her head was lowered, face pressed against his neck. She could feel the rain pelting her, her clothing already soaked, her skin ice cold. Ryder was no better off, the Drule agitated. Cursing under his breath as he ran towards the only covering available to them.

She heard the rotted wood splinter apart with a groan. It had not stood up to the Drule’s strength, the door actually falling part way off it’s rusted hinges. Later, she would note that the door was so ruined, there would be no way to close it, short of bringing in a brand new piece. Such was the strength of this Drule, that with just a kick, he had succeeded in breaking the door.

Alexandria was still in her frightened state, her mind almost in a daze when Ryder set her down on dry tile. He had to actually pry her off him, Alexandria not yet ready to give up the comfort of his arms. She’d continue to shiver, to blink repeatedly as she tried to calm her racing heart and frightened thoughts. That scared haze of hers, would last long enough for Ryder to reach for her, the man suddenly giving a mighty jerk with his hands. Her dress was hauled off of her shoulders, pulled down past her breasts before she recovered enough to react.

“What are you doing?!” Alexandria gasped, one hand reaching for her dress to keep it from falling the rest of the way down. Her other hand was now being used in an attempt to push Ryder away, the Drule staring at her with heat in his eyes. His fingers were still gripping her dress, though he made no attempt to fight her in it’s removal.

“You’re going to catch cold or worse if you don’t take this off.” He growled at her. That growl wasn’t a soothing sound, something inside Alexandria twisting nervously. He was staring at her, but it was obvious he was upset. It was all right, she was upset too, and growing embarrassed by the fact her breasts were bared to him.

“I…” She hesitated. Alexandria was no fool. She was soaked, and the storm had brought with it a chill wind. She and Ryder could both very well end up with some form of pneumonia. And yet she still balked at being stripped in front of him. By him. He took the choice from her, suddenly hauling the dress upwards. It was pulled up over her head, leaving Alexandria clad only in her panties.

“Give that back!” Alexandria cried out, one arm going across her chest in an attempt to hide her breasts. There was too much to cover, Alexandria starting to blush as she reached for her dress with her other hand. Ryder held it out of reach, frustrating her with the knowledge that even if she jumped for it, she wouldn’t get her dress back.

“Your hair is long enough to cover the important bits.” He told her, and abruptly turned away. Alexandria was left blinking uncertainly before his words registered. She quickly hauled some of her hair forward, letting the wet strands mold themselves to her breasts. She wanted her dress, wanted to hold it up like a shield against him.

Ryder set down her dress on the surface of some kind of work table. It was covered in dust, and there was an assortment of rusted and dirty tools laying scattered on it. Ryder gave them a quick look, and then began unbuttoning his vest. He didn’t have many buttons to do, for it had been half open already. He wore no shirt underneath it, the vest showing off his chest and muscled arms. And now she was seeing even more of his chest, Alexandria swallowing nervously. Her mouth had gone dry, and her eyes were widening. She had never seen a shirtless man before, and Ryder was impressive on that front.

She was still staring, when he suddenly reached for the buttons of his pant’s fly. Foolishly she spoke, her mind knowing what he was going to do but unable to stop herself from asking the obvious question. “You’re not going to take those off!?”

He locked eyes with her, his gaze dark with unpleasant things. She recognized his anger, along with his arousal. Even worse, there was some kind of cruel amusement, Ryder enjoying her reactions. “Of course I am.” He said to her, fingers quick and nimble as they began unfastening the buttons. “I’m not fool enough to risk getting sick just to spare your eyes OR your modesty.”

She sputtered, but the words wouldn’t form. He was infuriating! And to her morbid fascination, he was hooking his fingers into his pant’s waistband, ready to haul them down. She shook again, but it had nothing to do with the fright the Nerianes had given her. At the last possible second, Alexandria turned, so fast and wild her hair swayed from her motion. She actually had to readjust the front strands to cover her breasts again, Alexandria’s cheeks burning when she heard Ryder’s satisfied chuckle.

“I knew it would be too much for you.”

She didn’t dignify that with a response, her hands clenching into fists at her sides as she stared at the wall across from her. There were shelves there, with a few broken clay pots and jars that held the dried remains of plants. There was even a cobweb in the corner, though no sign of the spider that had made it. Thunder continued to boom, the dark sky and the shadow covered shed lighted up every time lightening crackled in the sky. Alexandria tried to ignore Ryder, but found her every sense was now attuned to him. Listening to the sounds of his movement, hearing him set his clothing down on the table. He wasn’t idle after that. She could hear him rummaging through
things, muttering stuff under his breath. And then thumping sounded, Ryder throwing something onto the floor. Several some things by the sound of it.

Alexandria couldn’t take it anymore, nerving herself to turn around to see what Ryder was doing. Fortunately the work table was between them, keeping his lower half hidden from sight. Ryder held in his hands a shelf, having ripped it from the wall. He added it to the pile of ancient wood on the floor, Alexandria watching wordlessly as he began pulling open drawers in the work table.

“Damn it…” He muttered in Drule. It was one of the tamer curses he had voiced, but it was spoken no less angrily than any of the others. He continued pulling open drawers, emptying out the contents on top of the table. She didn’t know what he was looking for, but it served to further agitate him when he couldn’t find it.

“What are you looking for?” She finally asked. His eyes briefly met hers, Alexandria folding her arms over her chest in an attempt to keep more of herself covered.

“A lighter of some kind.” He told her. “Or matches. But there’s nothing useful here.”

“You’re going to build a fire?”

“Gonna try.” He grimaced. “Unfortunately building a fire was one of the things they didn’t teach at the Drule Military Academy. Didn’t seem to think it was a necessity, bunch of idiots. Too focused on teaching us how to kill and be good little soldiers in the employ of Zarkon to deal with anything else.” Ryder eyed her once more, a considering look in them. “Say…don’t suppose you know how to start a fire….?”

She felt absolutely useless as she answered. “Sorry. No.”

“Figures.” Ryder seemed disgusted now. “Would have made life just a little less complicated.” He began moving, walking out from behind the table. She quickly turned again, trying to avoid seeing him completely. It was almost worse not to look, Alexandria forced to listen to his movements, her mind trying to match up the actions to his sounds.

“What I wouldn’t give for a survival kit right about now.” Muttered Ryder. He was doing something behind her, Alexandria judging he was by the wood pile. She could hear the wood being moved, and then a whisper of sound she couldn’t identify at all. But she wouldn’t turn, too leery of seeing more than she was prepared to, of Ryder’s body.

“Ever go camping…?” Ryder suddenly asked.

“No….”

“Yeah, didn’t think so. You don’t seem the type. You’re too…delicate to rough it.” Ryder told her, that sound still continuing.

“Delicate?” She raised an eyebrow though he couldn’t see. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Please…” He snorted then. “I know your type. Never known a day of hard work. Your soft hands don’t even have callouses on them.”

She took offense to that, and nearly turned around to glare at him. “You’re wrong about that!”

“Am I?” Ryder challenged.

“Yes, you are.” Alexandria said firmly. “I’ve worked hard nearly every day of my life. Even before I received the calling to do the Gods’ work. I had my brothers and sisters to take care of.”

“So you’re not an only child?” He asked, and she nodded. “Neither was I…”

“Was?”

“Family’s dead now.” It was all he would say, Ryder offering no further explanations.

“I am sorry for your loss.” It was genuine, a heartfelt sadness expressed for someone who had been orphaned. It was clear by Ryder’s reaction that her sincerity surprised him, his tone guarded, nearly suspicious as he asked a question.

“Why would you even care?”

“Why WOULDN’T I?” She countered. “You lost people important to you. It’s sad…and unfortunate….”

“It’s a part of life, especially on Doom.” Ryder retorted then cursed. “Shit…this isn’t going to work.” Something clattered on the floor, Ryder moving once more. Her ears strained to track his movement, his footsteps drawing near to her. She wouldn’t turn to look at him, hoping, praying he would veer off at the last possible moment. He did not, and then he was there, pressing up behind her. She gasped before she could stop herself, Alexandria going as still as a statue as Ryder’s hands touched her bare arms. It wasn’t a touch she found unpleasant, the Drule beginning to rub his hands up and down the length of her arms.

“You’re going to freeze.” He noted, his own hands cold. They were trying to rub warmth into her, trying to generate heat from the friction of his hand’s rubbing motions. Her skin seemed to raise in goose flesh, Alexandria shivering all the more for his nearness. Ryder had pressed against her back, and only the long curtain of her hair kept her from feeling his skin against hers.

“I…I’ll be fine…” She stammered, though Alexandria knew that wasn’t true. She was freezing, from the inside and the out. The rain had been cold, so cold Alexandria wouldn’t be surprised if she turned a shade of blue that was similar to Ryder’s skin color.

“You won’t be if we just leave you like this.” Ryder pointed out. His hands let go of her arms, Alexandria finding she missed the feel of them rubbing over her. She instantly regretted that, for in the next moment his arms had wrapped around her, one directly across her breasts! If possible, she stiffened even further into that odd hug, Ryder pulling her more firmly against his front. She closed her eyes, an entreaty being whispered to any God that would listen. And all because she could feel his arousal, pressing into her from behind.

It was different from when they had ridden the Nerianes. Back then, they had both been clothed, the fabric a suitable barrier to Ryder’s erection. Now she had nothing to guard against it except a flimsy pair of wet panties. She couldn’t even speak properly, Alexandria making some kind of strangled noise in protest.

“Easy…” Ryder actually crooned, lips against her ear. “We’re just gonna share some good old fashion body heat until the search party can get here.”

Alexandria couldn’t think properly, feeling absolutely stupid as she questioned him. “Search party?”

“They’re bound to come looking for us.” Ryder explained. “Maybe not while the storm is raging, but after. When we don’t come back to the mansion…” He was still pinning her against him, and she still could not relax. She felt him shrug, his lips still by her ear. His breath was warm, a teasing caress that almost made her twitch as she realized her ear was very sensitive to his lips. “I doubt we’ll have to spend the night out here.”

Even an hour, a minute more seemed too long to endure so long as he was holding her trapped in his embrace. She continued to shiver, and it wasn’t all from the cold Alexandria was feeling.

“Still would have been good if I could have built a fire…” mused Ryder. “Ah well…no use bitching about that.” Holding her, he began to lower them down to the tiled floor. She’d find herself positioned between his spread legs, that all too noticeable erection seeming to throb against her bottom. Alexandria didn’t dare move, save to bend her knees and huddle them close to her body. Ryder didn’t let go of her, once they were sitting, and she thought to herself he was enjoying this too much.

The storm continued, the rain so loud it sounded as though it was roaring. She was starting to hate the rain, and all because it was the storm’s fault she was in this position. Practically naked, and in the arms of a normally hostile man. A Drule who hadn’t had one nice word to say to her since they had met. Her cheeks felt hot, Alexandria sure her face was turning pink from embarrassment and her discomfort.

“So you had brothers and sisters to take care of….” She slowly nodded a yes in response. “Where were your parents?”

“Father had to work to support the family.” Alexandria was pleased when she didn’t stammer out her reply. “He was almost never home, save for dinner and sleeping.”

“And your mother?” Asked Ryder.

“Dead.” A pain that never quite went away filled her voice, Alexandria closing her eyes. “She died of an illness. I suppose you could say that was what got me interested in healing….”

“I’m…sorry…” It was hesitant, almost uncertain sounding.

“I wanted to save others, since I couldn’t save her.” Shared Alexandria.

“Makes sense to me.” Ryder said. “So, I take it you’re the oldest?”

“How did you know?”

“Well, earlier you said something about having to take care of your siblings. I figure with Mom dead and dad working, the responsibility of keeping the family running fell onto the oldest, you.” Ryder’s guess was accurate, Alexandria nodding.

“I was only twelve when she passed….”

“Too young for such a burden.” Ryder murmured softly into her ear.

“How old were you, when you lost your family?” She asked. Tension stiffened his body. Ryder hadn’t liked her inquiry.

“So tell me…how did you go from mothering a bunch of kids, to receiving the calling of the Gods?” The message was clear. He wasn’t going to share about his family. “Wouldn’t think you would have the time to become a priestess….”

“I shouldn’t have…but nothing can go against the will of the Gods.”

“Nothing eh?” He sounded challenging then.

“Nothing.” Alexandria said firmly. “I was almost seventeen, when I was chosen. The oracles themselves saw the mark of the chosen on me.”

“Mark? There’s not even a blemish on you.”

She frowned then. “I didn’t realize you had look so thoroughly at me!” In fact she was sure he had been too distracted by her breasts, to look elsewhere.

“There’s little I don’t see.” Was his frustrating answer. Alexandria frowned harder.

“The mark isn’t a physical manifestation….” She told him. “It’s not something you can find on the body. The oracles read our auras…and they saw I was marked for higher purpose in life…”

“Seems awfully fishy to me.” Ryder complained, his tone annoyed. “So what…these oracles supposedly look at people’s auras, which lets them know who is fit to serve in the temples?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“What a load of bull shit.” She flinched at the curse, Ryder’s arms seeming to tighten around her as though he was preparing to keep her from trying to get up.

“It’s not…” Alexandria protested, and he snorted.

“It so is. Did you even have a choice in becoming a priestess once the oracles said you were a chosen one?” He demanded.

“No one ever turns down the honor to become part of the temple!” She exclaimed. “It’s unheard of!”

“Sounds like no choice to me.” Ryder grumbled. “In fact, it seems like a gimmick to keep the temple stocked with people willing to work for them.” He made a scoffing sound then. “Reading auras…Ha!”

“You don’t believe?”

“I believe in a lot of things. But what I don’t believe possible is the Gods picking and choosing their servants.” She felt the movement, Ryder shaking his head no. “The Gods, if they even exist, don’t give a damn about us mere mortals.”

She gasped then. “Blasphemer!”

He chuckled, but it sounded unhappy. “Yeah. Maybe I am. But I learned long ago, that prayers go unanswered.”

She was upset, but the unhappiness in his voice struck a chord with her. She shifted as best she could against him, Alexandria trying to ignore the feel of his erection against her. She ended up looking over her shoulder at him, her eyes serious and searching. “What happened to you?” She asked softly. “What was so bad, that it made you lose faith in your Gods?”

The gold eyes turned darker, Ryder staring at her with a narrowed gaze. “Don’t try to heal my broken faith priestess. You won’t like what happens if you try…”

“Broken but not gone?” She asked, pretending to ignore the threat. But it had made her stomach twist, Alexandria nervous but wanting to help. To heal him if possible. When it came to religion, he was a lost soul, and Alexandria had never been able to turn her backs on those.

“It might as well be gone.” Ryder grumbled. “Waste of my time and yours, to try to find it this late in the game. And let me tell you something, priestess. It will damn well be a miracle if it does come back to me now!”

“Then let us find that miracle together!” She urged him. He growled at her. “Ryder…it’s only gone if you let it be. But the fact that you haven’t…that you, yourself acknowledge it wasn’t completely lost…that implies to me some part of you is clinging to what little faith you have left…that you might even be waiting for the chance to recover it….You just have to believe…”

“I only believe in things I can see. Things I can feel!” He interrupted harshly.

“You may not be able to see them, but if you let yourself, you’d be able to feel them. Feel the love they have for us, their children.”

“Bull shit!” He snapped. “We’re nothing to them!”

“You’re wrong!” Alexandria argued. “We are everything to them. They’ve given us so much….”

“Then they’ve taken just as much as they’ve given!” Ryder countered. “Look at the evil in the universe. Look at a monster like Zarkon, and tell me how the Gods could allow the likes of him to exist?!”

She had no real answer for that. “I don’t know why they allow such evil to test us so…But that we survive it, we come out the better. Stronger…” Alexandria trailed off, her own eyes widening in alarm. Ryder looked absolutely furious now, his fangs flashing in a feral snarl.

“No one is better for enduring Zarkon’s torture! The lives he has ruined, the families he’s destroyed! If you think that way, then you’re as big a fool as any other church figure I’ve met!”

She tried not to take offense at that, Alexandria telling herself he was like a wounded animal, lashing out at the only available target. It was just her misfortune to be that target, Ryder glaring so angrily at her.

“I don’t think I am a fool.” He let out a bitter sounding laugh at that. “And I know I can’t begin to imagine what kind of things Zarkon has done to you and your people. I only know the stories, the tales of Simestia’s past. But I can feel your pain…you may have gotten away from that monster, but you too are suffering. You all are, each in different ways. Ryder, you just hide it better than some of the others.” Alexandria couldn’t nerve herself to touch him, conscious of how he shook with his anger. “You need help….let me be it…”

“And what would you do?!” He demanded harshly. Alexandria gasped, Ryder suddenly rolling, maneuvering things so that she ended up flat on her back, with the Drule on top of her. His weight was pinning her down, his erection hot against her belly. “How do you think to help me, to heal me? By talking at me? By prying where you do not belong?” He shifted again, his knee pressing insistently between her legs. She couldn’t close her legs around it, Ryder quickly positioning himself so that he was between her spread legs.

Alexandria’s heart hammered, beating so fast, so hard she thought it might burst out of her chest. She stared up at Ryder, and yes she was frightened. But somehow she didn’t stutter, speaking to him. “Talking can help with a great many things….”

“But I don’t want to talk.” He informed her. “It’s a waste of both our breaths.”

“Then how else can I help you?” Alexandria asked, frightened but sincere in her desire to heal him. Her anxiety only mounted at the look that darkened Ryder’s eyes, the man looking absolutely wicked. Something like a smirk crossed his lips, but it was angry. She watched with wide eyes as he lowered his face towards her ear, his voice a harsh whisper.

“You want to help me that badly, hmm?” He questioned, and his tongue darted out to trace along one edge of her ear. She actually twitched in response, shocked at the sensation. “Then quit talking, and let me fuck you.”

The words were too crude, Alexandria flinching. She couldn’t even gasp, Ryder suddenly biting down on the delicate lobe of her ear. It was just this short of hurting, a pained pleasure coursing through her. Alexandria was aware of her arms laying flat on the tile. She hadn’t even tried to push him off her, laying almost docile beneath him.

“How about it?” He continued to tease her ear in between bouts of talking. “Up for a little sexual healing?”

“Ryder!” She gasped for he had shifted enough to place his hands on her breasts. He began fondling her, fingers massaging her flesh in a way that wasn’t at all unpleasant. She felt the now familiar heat of her blush in her cheeks, Alexandria staring up at the shed’s ceiling. She couldn’t believe this was happening, and almost didn’t hear his next words.

“Prove how devoted you are to helping me.” He was goading her, hands busy on her breasts. “It should be no problem, right…? If you’re sincere about helping me find my faith…”

“I am!” She immediately cried. His hands were feeling too good, the situation was rapidly deteriorating out of her control. She was shaking all over, and her trembling didn’t all have to do with the cold. Or her fear. “But this…..not like this!”

“Why not?” He growled. “Or are you not that devoted to your calling?!”

Alexandria didn’t like him calling into doubt her calling, the woman bringing up her hands. Putting them on his shoulders. She began pushing him, Ryder fighting her at first. “I’ve never balked at helping someone in need…But this…” She shook her head. “I don’t believe for a second this will help you find your faith!” Abruptly, he rolled off her, but not without growling first. Alexandria got a sense of his movement, Ryder a fast blur as he retreated to the wall farthest from her. She slowly sat up, fixing her hair to cover herself once more.

“Ryder…” She glanced at him, not really sure what to say in the moment. Her heart still beat in an erratic way, and she felt an unfamiliar ache in her breasts. He had touched her in a way no one had ever done before, and she was as embarrassed as uncomfortable.

“Don’t bother.” Ryder snapped at her, then stalked towards the ruined door of the shed. She didn’t turn to watch his progress, didn’t move until she heard him let out an angry scream. It drew her to her feet, Alexandria turning in time to see Ryder standing outside in the rain. She wasn’t sure what the scream meant, if he was sexually frustrated, or if it was pain associated with his lost faith. Nor did she call him back inside the shed, Alexandria deciding that one close call was more than enough for this day. And still she wanted to help Ryder, to heal him of this not often revealed pain that tormented him so. But she didn’t have a clue where to begin, Ryder refusal to talk about it an obstacle Alexandria might not be able to overcome.


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