Drai Refuses a Prostitute (NSFW)
Rated Not-Safe-For-Work for obvious reasons.Author’s Note
The woman drew her fingers along Drai’s cheek, and he shivered in anticipation. The incense she had lit was cloyingly thick, but Drai found he liked it.
It masked the scent of her, the animal smell of sweat and tired fear. He could lose himself in it, as he lost himself in her, believe they were both in a better world at the edge of dawn…
“You are so light,” she breathed into his ear.
He hesitated. “Is that a bad thing?”
“No, just…unusual. Go harder. You wanted to learn, and girls like it hard.” She clung to him, wiggling a little further in. He gasped, and met her, but it felt wrong. Her breath was quickening, but he could tell it wasn’t in anticipation, but fear, masked by the resignation that this was her job, this was what she was paid for…
And he didn’t want that…not for a first time, not ever.
It was her turn to gasp as he withdrew, staring at him with disbelief, and even a little anger shaded into her red eyes. But she caught herself, bringing her fingers to stroke at his cheek, mock meekness. “D-do I displease you?”
“No,” said Drai. He stared at her, leaning into her as she coaxed him back. Their lips met, and she tried to stir him, fluttering her tongue across his teeth with practiced movements.
But the moment was gone, and he just felt numb. He returned the kiss and then turned his head away.
She took a deep breath, perhaps calming herself, or perhaps another careful act to entice him. “You are so tight, firm…”
“Stop it.” Their eyes met briefly, then he got up and went over to the shaded window. The daylight just barely peeked around the edges of the heavy curtains, their grime hidden in the blackness of their silhouette. Drai considered flinging it open, letting the light cleanse and burn this dirty place away, reveal its squallor and desperation for all the world to see.
But he didn’t.
With measured movements, he turned back around and counted a few coins from his purse onto her bedside table. It was the usual rate plus a hefty tip, more than he could afford. He would regret it later, he knew.
“Thank you for the meal earlier,” he said simply.
She stared at him, all attempts at the seduction act having fallen away. She looked older and more battered than ever now, like the well-loved doll of some well-off child, cast aside once she was no longer needed, lost and water-stained in a gutter.
He managed a smile for her, meant just for her and nothing else, then turned to get his clothes on. He felt her eyes on his back the entire time, and when he shut the door, it was with firm snick, as if he was afraid she’d come after him.
No, not her. Just the memories she brought with her. Memories…he was supposed to be remembering something. He WAS remembering something. What was…
Drai came back to himself with the spirit version of a shudder. All around him had taken on a dim glow, like the sky just before the colors of dawn. Pushing his thoughts away, he stared out into the indigo darkness, as if expecting the orange lip of the sun to appear if he just waited long enough.
Of course nothing changed, and dully, he came back to the memory of the prostitute in Dagon Fel. It had been a rising urge that he had wrestled with throughout the exiled years of his late adolescence, something he had hated himself for, yet like the visions of his Sight, something he could never entirely get rid of. Though later, a much more experienced woman had taught him some tricks he could use to keep the lust satisfied, the want for the real thing, the intimacy and love of a true relationship, still gnawed at him.
Especially at times like this, when he was alone.
Like blood welling out of a cut, he found he could grasp onto the memories of Enul-Adabni now, just as clear and fresh and painful as he regained memories of his childhood. His friendship with her had been just that, never anything sexual or even hinting at romanticism, though he would be lying to himself if the consideration hadn’t been there once or twice. Overall, her presence was more like a modest object in a room, that though easily overlooked while there, once removed, one kept on missing it.
“It doesn’t matter,” he told the darkness. “She made her choice. I didn’t do anything wrong.” It didn’t feel adequate. Like the memory of his mother’s death, and Rakhulbi’s young stare, he couldn’t lose the thought. As he struggled to find the right combination of words and pieces of logic that would numb the guilt and the loss, he realized that the wound was much too deep to have come from Enul-Adabni’s abandonment alone. Her face was merely the freshest, not the first or the worst.
Drai glanced tiredly at the memory shard of Rakhulbi, who was looking pensive now. Drai smiled ironically to himself, wondering if talking to a fragment of himself like this counted as madness. “This is what you had in mind, didn’t you? You couldn’t just save me from Mephala’s beast by letting it rip off pieces of my soul; you had to let it have my best memories and leave all the awful ones behind with me.”
Rakhulbi just sat there with a vapid smile on his face. Drai groaned, turning inward. “All the trouble I’ve been in… If I could understand, I would. I looked back on it so many times, in so many different perspectives it made my head hurt. I wanted to understand. I wanted to change. If it had been my arm or leg that was wrong, I would have cut it off.”
He shivered, a flicker of his spirit matter. “Whatever it was, whatever haunts me, it felt stuck to me, like guar dung on the shoe that everyone else smells but you. No matter how many times I scrubbed the shoe, it kept leaving tracks…”
He turned to the Rakhulbi fragment, shuddering more violently now. “Well, I’ll face it again if it will just give me the answer I need…to fix this…whatever is wrong with me. Show it to me. I’ll look at it with eyes wide-agape, I swear it! Just tell me…”
It felt like teetering on the edge of a tall cliff, with the fright and finality of when one finally lost their balance. Drai braced himself for the fall, but the cliff kept going and going, rushing by, wind in the ears. Had there ever been a bottom…?