Log:Prelude to a Kiss

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Prelude to a Kiss
Characters  •   Locke  •  Eden  •
Location  •  Prelude: Private Companion Lounge
Date  •  2019-11-11
Summary  •  Two years ago, Locke and Eden changed the way they spend their companion time: A single moment forges a rare, intimate connection that impacts both of them in the time that follows.

For the Keeper named Locke, life in Sanctuary has been a tumultuous one. His fall from grace so early in his career had made him bitter and insecure to go with the cold detachment that all Monitors have taught to them. They were different than everyone else, from any other caste. He was a man, however, who enjoyed the perks of this specialness that he and his kind deserved. Though they live a mostly modest life, there's a part of Locke who believes he deserves more. He spends much of his free time in the company of Fortunates, craving the attention that they give him with their ego stroking. After his punishment, that's something that he'll often seek, even though it infuriates him when anyone looks on his face directly. His mind tells them that they passing judgment on him, laughing at him through their smiling eyes. They know why he has those scars now. These weren't battle scars. No badge of honor. These scars were a reminder of his supposed failing.

For years, he'd rotated between Fortunate entertainment. If he's not looking over the fancy wares that they've made, he enjoys his time taking in a show or to listen as they try to make him feel better about himself, comfortable in his own skin, so to speak. Then there's the physical pleasures which is probably the most gratifying thing of all. It was something he could feel, this release from the stress and tension of the day, if not a release from his insecurities and paranoia.

It's been two months since Locke had his revenge on the man who scarred and humiliated him. Two months since the Copper, Rand, was tried and exiled from Sanctuary for gross corruption. Locke should have been pleased with himself and probably he was, but even with Rand gone, his scars will continue to remind him and everyone else of his shortcomings.

He was here now, at the Fortunate's bazaar, watching and observing every face, every transaction that he can perceive going on. But he wasn't here for work, that's just not a part of him that can be turned off. No, he was here for leisure. He never had a regular companion out of the Fortunates, and for the most part, many Monitors don't. He moved on from each, experiencing what they have to offer and then seeking out a new or different experience on his return. It's not that he is displeased with their services, but once everything is said and done, that Monitor detatchment and despite seeming to enjoy his life as a Monitor, it was difficult for him to experience true enjoyment anymore. Unlike when he was still young and when he felt alive.

Eden was someone who he'd visited on a few occasions. She was pretty enough and was a good listener. Today, he wasn't interested in fancy wares or anything of that nature. Today, Locke was after company, even if he's not much of a talker and ever the observant type. Thus, it is this Eden who he seeks out to share the evening with as a perk of his caste.

Eden is accustomed to monitors. Some of them are dry, some of them are quiet, some of them are angry, but she knows most of them have one thing in common when they come to companions-- they're looking for something they don't //get// and //need// as human beings. Sometimes these needs and desires are overt, sometimes they're hidden away for the woman to find. Sometimes, what people think they want and need isn't what they want or need at all. It's her very purpose in life to seek, know, and deliver accordingly. She pays keen attention to body/verbal cues and details, and she has a personality and patience that meshes well with difficult personalities.

She likes the challenging ones because she feels like they need her the most. Eden cares about that, very much, and it carries through the interactions. People don't feel like a duty with her, she believes their well-being and the time spent in company to be important not only personally, but communally. These are the men and women that protect what Sanctuary has made.

In fact, one of the best things about Eden is the way she makes and keeps comfortable silences. She doesn't feel obligated to fill the air with chatter or questions, nor does she over-entertain, like some companions. She'll let silence reign and call that company as much as conversation. Companionship means a lot of different things to Eden, none of the means of fulfillment are better than another, it's all validation. Sometimes, presence is enough, sometimes people just need people.

That easy, content silence is on Eden now as she sits on a lounge among company of grouped companions and warboys browsing the wares in varied ways, two dancers performing belly sashay nearby. But something has shifted in the way the other companions are treating her that Locke can notice. It might have reached his ears, though, as things tend to do with Monitors, that she's recently been elevated to Patron.

When she spots Locke in the bazaar, she watches him from afar for a moment before silently excusing herself from the lounge to approach him. When close, she keeps that silence to reach out for touch at his arm, blue eyes laced with backhanded fondness before her lashes fall to drop with small bow of her head. Then, indicative and invitational, she turns toward the private lounge partitions with gesture as her hand slides away, a step taken that way while waiting for him to accept.

She may not know he's her he's actually looking for, but she knows that he's wanting for something or someone, it was in the way he parsed the crowd with those dark eyes.

There's something about a Monitor that makes most people uneasy. Even here, in the bazaar, with the various Fortunates dressed in their flowing, fancy garb, selling their finely crafted wares and putting on such beautiful presentations. Even many a Companion, despite it being their job to cater to and tend to even these protectors of Sanctuary, feel uneasy in their presence, which they are skilled enough to hide. A few of them, Companions, smile Locke's way as he continues on like a man on a mission. They know what he's here for too, and despite the Keeper constantly being either terribly moody or silently tense altogether, it's not as if they won't try to gain his attention in the hopes that there would be some Lux in it for them.

Those hardened eyes of his look like a glare when his gaze meets with these others. In fact, even when he spies the person whom he seeks and approaches her, his countenance never softens. No words are immediately exchanged between the pair of them, though he watches her in that eerie silence for a time before proceeding forward into the designated lounge. Here, he settles himself down into one of the seats where he finally states in a flat tone, "Congratulations. I'd heard that you'd been elevated to Patron recently."

He was dressed in his usual Monitor attire, all dark attire with a black jacket worn over it all. He dons several firearms, all of them of the pistol variety as well as a sheathed knife attached to his boot.

Eden's eyes are smoked with kohl and she is wearing a long wrap dress today with bared arms, shoulders, and twist drop on the cleavage, hem layered long and asymmetrical. While it's honestly just a piece of very nice material, the way it's cut and wrapped is elegant, decorative, and cleverly flattering, a modern sexy and swank twist on Roman attire. It's splashed with shades of dark and light blue in variation and she's wearing dark stone and polished pale bone bead earrings and bracelet to match, some dyed and matching feathers and beaded ribbon wound in through her arranged and tousled hair. Her feet are laced up in simple leather sandals, but those have beadwork too, so as to suit the Fortunate woman's style for the day.

Once in the private partition of lounge area designated for more intimate time with Callers, her head nods in genteel fashion to the news and congratulations presented, making her way immediately to pour him a favored drink. It's then that she turns to look at the man with words and a slightly proud creep of smile, though she largely keeps humility intact, "Thank you. I hope to be an asset to Sanctuary and contribute accordingly as I can."

Now. This is the time when a lot of companions often ask or assess how the Caller is interested in spending their time. And Eden does do those things, but she doesn't do it outwardly or in the same kinds of ways. But she does have a bit of a routine that has method to it.

First, it's the drink, which is either delivered in silence or during small talk. Then it's the approach, and that can vary, but she always comes incredibly close with ease into personal space, feeding off of how she's receieved. This time, she delivers the drink and reaches for his jacket to remove, pausing in brief after the touch with silent indicator of what she's doing. She's good at showing intent with that bare pause of time that allows her to be redirected and approach from a different angle if cue response points otherwise.

"It's strange, isn't it? To use and trust the power of words in a world like this. So much life and death is confronted with brute force or violence-- it is the way of things, to take or be taken from, to be strong and prevail over all that's weaker. Yet..." Eden's bare shoulder hitches up some as she puts on a vaguely rueful smile, "I am to win battles with words. I anticipate the challenge when it calls."

From where he's seated and trying to relax, Locke's eyes wander her form through the wisps of fabric which cling to it. He's open about this, but then again, Monitors are known to stare and usually, people have a right to feel uncomfortable beneath a Monitor's gaze.

Perhaps in his younger days, he may have been more open to start a discussion and ask a few questions, using his natural charm to disarm people. Those days are long behind him. Instead, he just sits there, graciously enough taking the offered drink and then a single sip before he relaxes somewhat in order to help make the process of jacket (and probably weapon removal) that much easier for her. In fact, the glass is set aside and he removes first one pistol, then his second, to lay in a place within his reach while ensuring that she needs not handle them. "As the strong should be the victor." He finally pipes up, resettling himself within his chair as he leans forward to loosen the blade sheath at his boot. "And Sanctuary is the powerhouse of the wastelands." There's this thoughtful pause, his eyes lifting up at her as he undoes the final strap. "In some battles, words are just as strong, if not stronger than brute strength." The sheath is finally removed and he turns to lay this down at his side.

"I suppose, in a sense, it's because words and force are like the the ammunition in your guns. Strategy, determination, and skill is the weapon." Eden smells like two different minglings of fragrance, a dusky and dark floral from her soap mingled with sweet oils applied to her skin. When Locke is free of jacket and weaponry, she eases behind where he's seated, and though she's behind him, he can feel her presence in close as she settles her hands to the hard, muscled lines of his neck and shoulder curve, complimenting with subtle earnest, "You certainly know battle better than I ever will. Travel will feel secure in your company."

Once she has grip to press downward, her fingers knead in with testing squeeze, then riding press of her thumb in different areas until she finds a strategic place to bear pressure against. And she holds that pressure firm, gradually increasing and still to let the muscle tension try fighting her back until it has no choice but to give with pinpointed precision on her part.

Like a lot of Companions, she's good with her hands, but her style tends to differ here too-- instead of rubbing him incessantly with general overall aim, she strategizes, seeks, and winds down high tension areas with stark efficiency. But between that firmness, she paces and dotes with grazes, caresses. As her hands pull up, the area floods with warmth and tingle of release, and while that's happening, her fingertips graze over the nape of Locke's neck, brushing through short hairs while her other hand runs rub down the length of his arm and back up. It's goosebump inducing the way she does it, then she grips again to repeat with thumbs splayed under his shoulderblades at pressure points next.

In the very beginning, when Eden first met Locke in the bazaar, the Keeper was already working towards being comfortable to allow his face to be seen without the protection of a mask. He had spent good Lux on that mask too, having it painted to better reflect his fractured mind. Since then, though, he's wary of anyone who looks on him directly, even if he catches sight of people staring from out of the corner of his eyes. In truth, it's probably all paranoia, but it's what leads the tension in his shoulders which Eden will feel once her hands are on him.

Wearing a simple gray tunic beneath the jacket, his posture straightens beneath her touch, sitting tall when he should be relaxed. This is a good position for her to be in with him. When she's behind him, there's no way for her to look upon his face and so he's content to just sit there. The way in which she applies pressure to help loosen the tightness of his back and shoulders and the kinks within his neck is also something that's incredibly reassuring for him.

She may know him to not be much of a conversationalist, keeping whatever Monitor secrets there are close to his breast. So for a long silent moment, he just allows himself to feel her touch and breathe in the soft fragrance emanating from her person. She can feel his pulse beneath her fingertips, sensing each and every breath that he takes by the subtle rise and fall of his shoulders.

Eventually, he murmurs, "Most of my battles are fought here. In Sanctuary." This is spoken almost modestly. "But as a Monitor, we're always ready to protect and defend the caravan." She feels a slight shift now as he turns partially to the side, giving her a little hint of his profile and the scarring at his cheek, before he faces forward once more. "Are plans being made for you to journey forth for the means of diplomacy?"

Eden is extremely aware that Locke has insecurities about his facial scarring. She actually makes very clever, backhanded reasons to be to the side or behind him, to have her lashes lowered to entertaining task, or to have him behind her where suitable, depending on how they spend their time. It's not that she avoids looking at him, not at all, she doesn't treat him delicately or like an emotionally-scarred piece of glass, either. In truth, she sees his eyes more than anything each time she looks at him, so it's easy to keep eye contact that he knows is direct, and her own eyes are such an expressive draw, he can tell she's not looking at his face so much at all.

But naturally, that won't stop the paranoia, she knows that, he lives with it daily, whether the actual judgement from others is there or not. She knows they aren't battle wounds he wants to wear with honor from the wastes, she knows it's a punishment someone doled onto him to ensure he felt punished all his life. So mostly, she just takes away the worry where she can with positioning, giving him those moments to exist and be present with someone in a way where he doesn't feel externally judged.

"Having Monitor guard in addition to the war party lends me a security that extends more deeply, I think. You are a home presence, and so, when I leave home, I have you and yours as a piece of home along with me. It will be important to keep my calm, regardless of what might be encountered. It's important for the task."

She's not really trying to stroke his ego, but him knowing that might well be a pleasant thing to know all the same. It's not that she's outwardly praising one escort caste over the other, but his presence definitely means something a little bit more rooting and steadying for her than a walking/riding armory. Afterall, during diplomatic excursions, she not only has to travel what's jarring and unfamiliar for her, but she also has to be able to perform and get results by the end of the mission, as desired by the Triumverate. Her steadiness matters as much as her safety.

The feathering touch moves, it grazes Locke's ear edge after his head is turned and faces forward once more, the other fingers dust down his ribcage at one side. Then she leans forward some with slide of hands to pressure in on his lower back next, and he can nearly feel the breath of her words in his hair while she's closer positioned, "... yes. There is an enclave that is rumored to have many children, not just children, but a good few pure children. It's a fringe breeder cult, I believe, that has set up base before moving onward. I do not yet know the timeline or specific details of their belief system, however... I understand it is time to profit and grow with what they can provide."

That basically means a diplomat is being sent to make them secure in handing over children without force. But people can react very badly to that, and people that are purposefully breeding might act extremely to a show of force. Therefore, Eden.

Locke's broad shoulders are incredibly tense, they even tighten a little at her initial touch and during times where he feels that she may be looking at his face. Those moments are few and fleeting, because Eden does work to ensure his comfort as best she can to help set his mind at ease.

He sits there stiffly, his hands resting on his thighs, dark eyes staring out at the partition, perhaps lost in his thought. She would be used to this by now as their sessions usually start out this way. Though with her expert care and the lull of the expensive scent which lingers on her skin and in her hair, eventually, she will feel the muscles in his shoulders loosen. It's a slow process.

Sometimes it's as if he's not paying attention at all, like he's in his own head, saying nothing. But very often, he'll respond to something said, which very well means that he's been listening all along.

There's this sense of pride in him and his abilities when she talks about feeling safe in their presence. In fact, while he may have been relaxing, his posture draws up once more. She may not be trying to stroke his ego, but he takes pride in what he does. Who he is. "We're just doing our duty. But I'm glad that we bring you a peace of mind." Rather than talking about merely himself, he adds the rest of the entourage into this, sounding almost humble.

Listening to her describe this first diplomatic mission as a Patron has the gear in his mind already turning. He may not know the wasteland as well as others, but he likes to think ahead, knowing what gear to bring in preparation. The soft warm whisper at his ear is almost distracting, yet soothing all the same. The way in which she speaks of this important event in that calm, comforting voice does little to help with his focus, but while he might not come out and say it, he appreciates these efforts made for his benefit, so he'll believe.

"I'll make sure that I'm part of that entourage then. Keep me abreast on when this envoy will be sent out."

"Of course. It will be just so. We persist and prevail." Eden tells Locke with easy compliance, as if she'd have it no other way. Her communal 'we' is redolent with respect and faith in the Sanctuary system, and if she's nervous about her first official missive due when it's time (anyone would be in her position), she isn't letting on. Eden doesn't often talk about herself or what she's feeling. She talks, yes, but the topics often stay very outside or Caller-focused unless she's specifically asked, and even then, diplomacy, training, and care might trump her out of sharing to the point of crossing any lines that ever make anything about herself. It's just not the way of things.

Therefore, even though she's been very careful about the way she's phrased her contemplative admittance in a way that displays keen respect for the system, talking about this personal elevation to Patron and what certain things mean to her is a rare gem of a moment she doesn't overextend. Instead, she lets silence reign for a time after that decisive quiet response.

Eden's hands on Locke's lower back fan up, she leans over his back and shoulders to rest with her chin placed atop the man's head as her fingers pulse a series of squeezes down his arms, all the way to the wrists where his hands rest at thighs. With more reaching lean, her head tips downward more with adjust, cheek pressing at his ear, hair brushing with soft graze and tickle. Her hands move from wrists then, splaying out over the backs of his hands before turning them both palm up to pinch fingers with kneading roll between thumb and forefinger, "Do you ever wonder why I do this?"

He might not think to, but he knows it feels good in a way that creeps and spreads and steals some of the pressure inside his head due to prolonged body tension and stress.

His mind on these children, this brings Locke back to those fleeting memories of his life out in the wastelands as a child. It was a hard life out there, moving from place to place like traveling nomads. They weren't the happiest of times, but it's the little that he has to grasp from his time with his own family before arriving in Sanctuary.

With his body in such expert hands, Locke does feel much of his tension begin to slowly melt away. There are times when she can sense that the tenseness had returned, primarily when his own dark thoughts remind him of his scars, his failings. They pop into his head every so often, often for no good reason, though usually when in the presence of others. For a brief self-conscious moment, he turns his head in the direction opposite Eden, his gaze lowered, just as he feels the tip of her chin rest gently atop his shortly trimmed hair. He takes notice of her hand on his, now that his gaze had lowered to do so, just as she leans in close to press her cheek against his, making him breathe in that lush aroma that surrounds her. "You smell divine." He murmurs as an odd compliment. And while some might feel abashed to have uttered those words aloud, while Locke may be not confidence in his appearance or reputation, he does hold confidence in his words.

Slowly, but surely, between spikes of sudden anxiety, she might be able to feel the Keeper finally begin to relax. His shoulders remain squared and stiff for a time, but eventually, they start to droop in relaxation as he draws in deep, quiet breaths. Her question is something that he hadn't really thought about, but he'll bite and push her to answer anyway while lending forth a bit of his own childhood memories, "Why you've become one of the Fortunate Ones? I didn't think you had a choice. I was almost chosen to join this caste, but at the last minute the Triumvirate changed their minds, believing that I would make a diligent Monitor." With the face that he has now, the idea of him being a Fortunate is almost laughable in his mind. "Why? Why do you do what you do?"

"No. Not that. I was born with fortune, I was found and brought when it was time. I belong nowhere else." Eden clarifies, though it takes her a good few heartbeats of time to consider the fact that Locke just shared something somewhat personal with her, and complimented her, at that. It doesn't precisely throw her off track or anything, her fingers keep their rolling knead at the pressure reflexology point between his thumb and forefingers a bit longer. It's also a very entitled way to say she was found stashed in some salvage near dead bodies as a babe by Vishys and Sebas, once upon a time, but she leaves out those personal details in favor of the very solid sentiment as to where she belongs. It's the part that matters the most, the piece that she truly believes, it is what drives her duty and compliance, it's why she takes relish in feeling the anxiety and tension inside the man she's touching start to shift.

A woman can be proud and moderately humble at the same time, but it's a rarity to have that balance. Eden believes she is more, she's told she is more, but because she is more, she has a duty to the others that preserve her and this very Sanctuary. She has a duty to the future and the status quo that comes due in trade for fortune. And she accepts that through and through, graciously, diligently, gracefully, everyone knows it.

Eden smells divine. He likes it. She feeds it. Her fragrant head of hair tips with nuzzling brush against Locke's neck and the side of his face when she turns her own face down into his neck and shoulder at one side. She steps into the leaning press so that the melding pressure of her body isn't gentle, but firm, conjoining them more while she sets him awash in signature mingled scent with the closeness and subtle motion.

But then, after that time, she clarifies more, "Your hands, right here, there's a pressure release there. And you..." Still holding one of his hands to show the place with pinch of thumb and forefinger indicatively where she was kneading, she eases back around in front of him to draw the captive hand over her hearbeat and the top of her covered breast, "You are full inside. You always are. It is too much sometimes, it starts to push to come out, and you fight it. It makes tumult until you are a powder keg. So when you come to me..." Eden is in front of Locke now, standing like that, but again, she's stepped in close, gradually nudging with step to spread his knees so she can ease right in with his nose at her dress-clad sternum while he's seated, between and below dress flattered decolletage. It's an intensely sensual, intimate position that obscures his face again, lets him ease and breathe her in and listen, knowing she's not looking at him while speaking so candidly, "I will always give you what you believe you need to valve release, if you ask it of me. This fact, you know. But it hasn't escaped me, the moments of faith you give me when you let me choose for you."

Eden releases Locke's hand and leaves it where she rested it, half-skin touch, half-dress fabric, murmuring down to him, "Let me help you find what you need. You deserve it. Some people spend their whole lives never knowing, and that life is not for you."

And suddenly, perfectly composed graces and earnest can't hide her body's response of quickening pulse under his hand. She just asked Locke for the reins.

While his earliest of years were spent out in the wasteland, Locke's been on envoys and rescue parties enough to know what life for a child is like out there. Perhaps she was found and rescued the way they were planning to do with these other clean children. He's taken part in such missions in the past, though it's more often done primarily by War Children.

"Very fortunate, indeed." He says in agreement to her statement that she was born with fortune. "The blessed become Fortune Ones after all." The others are spread out within the rest of the castes, but he will come out and say, "And the most disciplined become Monitors." Despite his own scandal, he still believes this to be true to some extent.

He continues to shift between relaxed and tense states, though the more the presses at his pressure points and the closer she lingers, feeling her gentle weight and warm breath against helps to keep him calmed. This even gives him some time to shut his eyes in rest to relish in this moment even as he listens to her explain to him about just how much anger? tension? that's got him so wound up that he's always close to bursting.

Feeling the softness of her breast beneath his hand now, that's when he opens his eyes to find her standing before him, his gaze looking out towards her torso, admiring her feminine form beneath that wispy and luxurious fabric. Whether people aren't looking at his face directly or not, Locke is used to feeling their eyes on him in judgement. It was his insecurity kicking in. Yet with his own face so close that he could bury it within her chest, how much of his visage was there to see. His dark eyes do not lift to check and instead focuses on her the softness of her skin with his hand still resting on one breast through the fabric.

Often, at some point after drinking and 'discussion', he'll take what he wanted as was his reward for good service. Especially recently and in light of his most recent and most important trial which saw his own tormentor exiled, he had reason to celebrate any way that he wanted.

Though Companions tended to believe they knew exactly what you needed. They were trained to do just that. But he has to wonder now, what exactly does he need? Only then does he allow his gaze to trail all the way up, catching the lower half of her face at this distance. "Tell me, how do you plan to do that?" Perhaps that's his way of offering permission.

"We don't plan. We try. We'll find it. Eventually." Now. Up until this point, Eden has generally been using the term 'we' collectively in general, in that communal respect and care way that expands to Sanctuary itself. She cares for him and others like him, he and his (and others) keep her safe, that's the way things work as a construct by design. But now, when she says this, her eyes dropped to focus on Locke's dark ones as he looks up to inquire, she is talking about the two of them. It's not for the collective like this, it's for him. Yes, it's her duty to give to him, care for him, to be his outlet, and she makes it quite personal in very nice ways that can make a person feel valued as an individual, not a cog in the machine.

But... this is intimacy, that subtle difference and shift of pronoun usage in a context just so. Her tone implies gently that neither of them know, and that it's okay that they don't know, people aren't meant to know all the things they need, otherwise life would be much easier for everyone. If she were actually getting lux, it might sound like the absolute most amazing lure to keep a man coming back for the sake of steady income. But this isn't that, she's his due and he's her charge, in a sense, Monitors don't pay. She also sounds like she absolutely knows they'll figure it out together, given the chance. She exists on faith like that, for many reasons.

Usually, their mouths don't meet until their bodies are engaged, and even then, that's rare given positioning to keep him from fixating on the idea she might be looking at his face. Eden changes this. While she's stepped in standing with him at seated nuzzle against her body and dress looking up, she uses her hands to unfasten the tuck and tie holding the wrap piece together so artfully as garment. Fabric starts to fall away from her, but catches with him in the front to keep her partially modest, revealing silken, fragrant skin in the peripheral. Her ribcage and flare of hips are bared, the sides of her breasts along where the fabric is swell with side curve, then she gives instruction with such a gentle whisper, "Stand up."

Locke isn't going argue with a Companion about whatever techniques they use to appease their patrons. While he doesn't exactly nod to show his understanding of this, there's a subtle shift in his expression that may hint at it. Whether he actually caught on to what she's truly implying, that the use of 'we' meant the both of them rather than her speaking of the collective as a whole, he masks any reaction to it.

When their eyes meet, she might sense that tension rising again within him. It's a brief thing, the way his shoulders stiffen, but he's put at ease when he gets the impression that she's not looking at his face, nor does she notice his shameful scars.

Those dark eyes lower automatically once they notice her garment being undone, presenting herself to him. She doesn't give him very long to bask in her vision up close and instead he hears the soft whispering command. There's this moment where his eyes twitch, narrowing slightly in quick silent thought. But he complies and rises to stand and face her directly.

Eden loses her dress entirely while Locke rises into a stand, keeping her close press with no back out of his space to give him room. The fabric between them rolls and presses and slides and finally just drops after his clothed body is finished skimming against hers on the way to standing, then she's bare skin and reaching a hooking arm and hand up to hold at the back of his neck. She draws him downward, bringing her lips up to meet his without tentativeness, but enough shown intent that he's able to direct or let her direct as desired, murmuring, "Let yourself feel something else for a while. We'll go from there."

Something else. This is something else, this isn't usually how either of them engage. Yes, she's sensual enough with him in approach any other time, incredibly so when called for and given time and space for it, in fact. But there's always the small distances of care that allow him to dictate the mood, the moment, to be just as much eyes and control with the touch.

This feels more like an undertow, her taking the reins, but not yanking control or even gripping fast. She just moves them, like letting a wild mount get used to the new sensation of a companion rider, lets him adjust to the small trusts involved.

So much care for a single kiss. It's not a heat of the moment kiss for the physical pleasure of it, though it's pleasure all the same. It's witting, it's a present-in-the-moment way to feel such a thing, slowed down and shared instead of given or taken. And it's so goddamn human in the ways he doesn't get to be.

On his way up, his chin lowers to catch sight of the full release of the diaphanous garment, watches as it flutters away, leaving her fully exposed. Locke's not shy with his touch either. He's a monitor in discipline, but that doesn't mean that the man doesn't know what he wants.

This something else that she speaks of is often the main reason why he visits Companions to begin with, for the physical release of exactly what she'd spoken of earlier: The release of all of this tension built up within him.

However, as her guest, he's used to being in full control once the mood strikes him and the drinking and small talk is over. That doesn't mean that Companions don't try to ease one of their... guests into something more sensual with flirtation, but there's something about all of this that lacks that playfulness. This wasn't flirtation, despite the kiss that she grants him and something that he soaks up. Kissing is not foreign to him, but being this close, face to face, has always made him reluctant, thus it only comes into play when the heat has already been turn up and the air is full of passion.

So this kiss and the sensual way that she presents it takes him slightly aback. Remaining perfectly still, the hand at her breast not even lowering, all that he can do is accept the kiss in stride. Over all, it wasn't unpleasant, though at some point, like always, his paranoia flares up and she can feel that tension in his body, in that touch against her skin, yet something sets his at ease once more. She should be used to this back and forth by now with him, his mood swings. That one hand finally moves, it lowers to press against the side of her hip, holding her securely. One thing that he doesn't do, however, is break off eye contact with her. There's this need to know what she's looking at precisely and right now, she's gazing deeply within his eyes.

Eden is considerate in measure, not skittish about her course of action with Locke, shaking things up so considerably, despite what seems like relatively small changes from the outside. She knows his tendencies and they may intimidate or make other companions second guess, take a different route, but not her, no. She rides through it in the kiss, persists and lets him feel it. Because she knows people can feel one thing and it can make them feel a lot of other things too, especially when on unfamiliar grounds.

When tension creeps, she takes time to brush lips in lull, to play her tongue in slow twine before small drawback to linger and breathe with mingling before breaking entirely to look at the man's eyes. Her hand falls to rest atop where he holds grip at her hip, dusting fingertips with back and forth of stroke over his knuckles, her other hand comes up under his jaw with stroke that drops over his throat and adam's apple with dusting, but she doesn't watch the pathing, she keeps to his dark, dark intense eyes with her own.

Her silences. It's not something a companion can learn, it's innate. It's hard to explain why they matter so much, but like any other time, when she's quiet, it's not gauging or thick, it's not waiting space before one of them fills the air with words once more. It's easy, calm and quiet without pressure or any dependant criteria, like a haven for his own quiet. Gradually, she eases the space between them so he can see her in full. Then she takes his other hand to drag with turn of captive fingers over her collarbone and throat as her lashes fall closed with subtle, inviting tilt of face upward to facilitate another kiss she doesn't plan to stop. Not at all.

But this time, she lets him come to her for it.

Being always on edge is part of Locke's job description, ready to lash out at any time if need be. But this went way beyond even that, as he was a man who believed that someone could stab him in the back at any moment, as Rand had done way back when. Then there was his shattered mind, so broken and quick to rile up. While he enjoyed the company of Companions and what joy they have to offer, it was hard for him to get any real satisfaction from any of that. Or, at the very least, nothing long lasting.

Still, he was just a man. Human. With human desires and one of that being lust. He doesn't easily fall into a sense of comfort and arousal, but Eden knew what buttons to push with him, how to entice him-- except for that moment where she touches his jaw and she can automatically feel it clenching beneath her fingertips. That was too close for comfort for him and if he can help it, he refuses to allow anyone to touch his face. It's at that moment where she may have seen a flash of something within those intense eyes, something sparking within him in time with the tensing of his muscles. It lasts for a few passing moments, but she is able to set him back at ease, feeling those gentle caresses moving down his throat.

For now, he'll enjoy the silence and the sensations which she brings. Feeling her guide his free hand along her collarbone and ending at her throat, he could feel her very life essence pulsating within her from that point. She can feel his grip tightening slowly around her willowy neck, feeling her heart beating. She held such command, yet showed this vulnerability, if you could even call it that now. In his mind it showed trust on her part. Trust that he wouldn't hurt her, perhaps, despite his firm grip. There was an allure to all of this and while she held the reins, it made him feel powerful in this very moment.

It takes a while a few passing silent minutes where they stand face to face with his hand at her throat and hers on his. If anything, it's as if there was a sudden connection developing between them, their eyes locked on one another. Eventually, Locke gives into his desires, the hand at her neck pressing up against her chin to help with the tilt, his thumb brushing against her jawline now just as he leans in close for this much anticipated kiss.

Everything keeps moving like that between them. There's wax and wane, there's ebb and flow and Eden is patient about all of it, continually drawing Locke back out to be present and feel the novel, foreign intimacy when he starts to retreat inside. She's knew what she was doing when she touched under his jaw, so close to his face, she knew how he'd react with it being near proximity to those scars. It wasn't there, she respects that unspoken rule, she knows how to balm the proxy tension with subsequent slide of sensual touch. It's similiar to a game of boundary testing, but... it's not a game at all. Eden and Locke are fairly serious, intense people, just on different personality levels and for different reasons.

It's rare that companions get hurt in any permanent, lasting sense, but sometimes, this harsh survival world twists a man's desires and outlets, sometimes it breaks them, sometimes it's too tempting to act on those desires with a companion willing to sate any desire on hand. These men (or women) pay the price for ruining the blessed and pure for others when this happens of course, but... generally Callers share the same form of systemic respect for the Fortunate as they have for those they're serving. Eden is aware that Locke can be unpredictable on his bad days, even for someone like herself with a general keen, empathic way of anticipating reactions.

And his hand is at her throat, pressuring-- it'd take so little for him to be triggered, for all of this to go wrong. Eden's pulse starts to pick up under his hand but he knows from looking on her, feeling her body malleable and giving, she's not afraid or deterred. When his hand comes up to bid her skin with caress, her chin with tip, she feels pride in the very motion of him drawing himself into a full-on kiss this time around.

But pride with Eden is different, like most things about her. It's something she feels on his behalf as much as she feels the swell of relish. She thrives knowing he's reaching for her like this, knowing she's giving him reprieve from himself. She doesn't stop kissing. It goes and goes like this, one step backwards to the pillows and bedding for comfort beside the seating area. One more step... then another until it all quickens and shifts to passion and bodies and lust.

And she stays in a position to kiss him all the while. There's spells of slowness, quiet exploring, relish, they come together fully, wholly, and like an anchor, Eden conditions him to //stay with her// through it all. He's not lost in passions and desperate to release like this.

When Locke is with Eden in their private time, she teaches him what it's like to spend time with someone and not be separate and apart. She teaches him about the other kind of 'we'.

Time passes. And he keeps coming back. Rome wasn't conquered overnight.