by llamajoy

Author's Note: for the prompt "Vossler/Ashe, Gangsters, A harmless foot massage."

Amalia is untouchable. Vossler knows that, surely as he knows anything else in this dangerous world. Even if she weren't still in her mourning blacks, he hasn't forgotten his own place. It has only been a month, after all.

But she is beautiful, silhouetted in the doorway; beautiful in the wan morning light that fights its way through the city smog.

She comes in the room and drapes herself over the divan, one shoe unbuckled and hanging from her toes. It's more out of exasperation than seduction; he does not delude himself. But just the same, he's distracted by the curve of her ankle, the visible lace of black stockings at her thigh. His pulse trips over his best attempts at logic, skidding giddily through his veins.

"Amalia," he begins.

"Please," she says, and there's an--earnestness--to her voice, frightening in its intensity. Being who she is, she ought not to be so honest. She ought not to need, and she certainly should never plead for it.

He stands up straighter. "What is it?"

She's unpinning her hat, her hands as steady as any of her father's gunmen. Steadier: she's still standing and they fell, to a man; she has not forgotten it. It's Vossler who feels unbalanced, hair-trigger, watching her nails click against the delicate, black-beaded pins. She says, "We are the only two here," and he doesn't move, every nerve singing warning. One at a time, tiny pins hit the floor.

"Vossler." For the first time she looks at him. Her eyes are blue the way a bruise is blue, the color too saturated, too steeped in hurt. She jabs the last pin into the side of her hat. Vicious. "I am tired of pretense. Sit."

It is a dangerous game, but one that he finds himself not unwilling to play. And the word of a Dalmasca is, after all, law. It is not for him to argue.

He sits.

The divan is high-backed; not meant for two. She is petite, but when he leans back to accommodate her, his shoulder holster digs into his side. A fitting reminder. He clears his throat. "Amalia--"

She shakes her head, her eyebrows eloquently stating her case. He would not have lasted long in his position if he did not know how best to serve the Dalmasca family. "Very well, then. Ashelia."

"Thank you." Her eyelashes flutter closed and she sighs in a way that's indecent. He can't stop looking at her face, because if he lets himself glance at her throat, the smooth white rise of her breasts just visible at the neckline of her blouse--her stockinged foot in his lap--

His train of thought shudders from its rails, demolished. She hasn't even opened her eyes, but she wiggles her toes at him. "Take my mind off things, will you?"

She never was an insolent child, not fanciful or greedy. Well, no more greedy than any of them. She is a child no longer, and she is not her (late) husband; she is not her (late) father. Maybe what she's asking for is all that she really wants.

Like he's handling stolen jewels, he cups her small foot in his hands. Her hose is slippery, silk; the skin beneath is cold but warms quickly to his touch.

Even in black, even bruised, she is inviolate; she has weathered the storms where the rest of her family has failed. She does not look at him as he caresses her, but some of the trouble has faded from her face.


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