Title: Recasting the Body
Summary: Desire is the watermark.
Notes: Post-series, with no reference at all to the comics.
i. so the tree is an exit
Eve had known many bodies over the decades, but she'd grown attached to this one. She liked the skin of this body, the plush lushness of her lips and her breasts. She could sink into this body as if it had always been hers. She could press her eyelids together and open them to see the world as if she'd never existed before the apocalypse cycles.
When Los Angeles went so very, very wrong, she felt cinders biting under her skin, her limbs splintering in fire and sudden collapse. She found herself wondering if she'd reworded her contract appropriately; she wanted to keep this body, but she wanted it repaired, too. Not like that poor wretch Lilah, trapped for eternity with her head held on by a scarf.
Eve pressed her eyelids closed and let the pain roar through her.
When she opened her eyes again, she was hanging from the tree. Her limbs were bound to its trunk, and she coughed, her throat dry from regeneration. Below her, the Wolf laughed.
ii. the stasis of an open page
The partners transferred her from hell to hell for a while, and for a brief time, to Chattanooga. Finally, she wrangled her way to a private office in the Chicago branch. It wasn't a corner office, but there was a view of the river. They didn't trust her with priority projects anymore, but her record was too respectable, Los Angeles aside.
(The remnants of the Los Angeles project took a turn for the worse. When a Slayer showed up in Chattanooga, it took three vampires and a Asphyx demon to put her down. Eve made a note to commend the security chief before she fled the building.)
So Eve settled for Chicago, doing respectable and utterly boring work. It was a fallow time, all paperwork and demigods and the occasional broken curse. She was unseen and, thankfully, unpersecuted.
iii. what's lost in the margins
The buzz of the intercom startled Eve as she read. She swore as the manila folder slipped in her hands, then jabbed the button to open the channel. "What?" she asked, dabbing her tongue against a paper cut.
"There's an Old One here to see you," her assistant announced.
Eve paused. "It's taken human form?" There was a moment of silence, and Eve thought of three ways her assistant could respond sarcastically; three ways to get fired, in a bad way.
"Yes," he managed, after a second. "She won't allow us the honor of announcing her."
An Old One with a shy streak? Eve frowned. "How did she get in the door?"
"Reference," her assistant said. "Lohesh cried a favor."
"Well." Eve rolled her eyes. A favor for Lohesh, again. "She regales us with her splendor. Send her in."
She took a deep breath as her assistant chanted the shields down, a preternatural shiver coursing over Eve's now-unprotected skin.
The door slammed open, and Illyria crashed through, Eve's assistant slumping unconscious behind her. Eve watched Illyria's stride, more mortal than she remembered, as if she wasn't a god compressed into a physicist's frail body.
Illyria's eyes were just as eerie, though, and she tilted her head, staring Eve down. "In what manner would you wish to experience your death?"
"There are so many to choose from." Eve braced her hands against her desk as she rose. "I have to admit, I'm not fond of any particular one."
"I have grown fond of blood," Illyria pronounced, "and viscera. They inspire appropriate terror in the aftermath." She started to crouch, her insect-limbs bending.
"Would you prefer worship to terror?" Eve wondered, pressing her palms straight, willing the trembling of her young body to subside. "I've seen Vahla ha'nesh."
Illyria froze, pre-pounce, and prowled forward instead. "It is a husk."
"Yes," Eve leaned forward and offered the ever-trusty hook. "But it doesn't have to be."
iv. the absence of song or the absence of sin
The trip to Vahla ha'nesh required the service of four warlocks and the sacrifice of a bull. Eve knew it would come out of her paycheck, but it was better than annihilation at the hands of a displaced god-king.
The temple was all a waiting hush, and the only sound was the soft exhalations of Eve's body. Then Illyria snarled into the silence. "The past is a mockery," she said. She had shed her armor, and her human-like hands clenched into fists, rumbling the sleeves of her robe. "I am diminished by this body. Entrapped."
Eve heard the faintest bit of horror in Illyria's voice, and she hid her smile. The temple was too vast to allow for stale air, so she breathed deep and kneeled on the stone floor. Her own robes cushioned her knees, and she bowed her head, because this, Illyria would notice.
"Through the centuries," Eve ventured, "humans have shown veneration in other ways."
Illyria's robes rustled as she glided around Eve. "I prefer my subjects aghast."
"Yes." Eve grasped the hem of Illyria's robe and parted its halves, baring pale flesh. "But you inspire other things, too."
Illyria gazed down at Eve, her expression blank as she gathered fistfuls of Eve's hair in her hands. The tug was painful, but Eve fell forward willingly.
"Let me show you," Eve murmured, and her tongue skimmed over Illyria's thigh, dabbed lightly against her cleft. "Let me," she said again, and when her tongue delved into Illyria's sex, the god tipped her head back and sang.
A/N: Title, summary, and headings adapted from Noah Eli Gordon's a falling in autumn. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.