Title: Drastic, but Necessary (1/1)
Romance/PG (No real warnings...)
All children have to leave the nest at some point – even if they're no longer children. And when they finally depart, it is our loved ones that help to heal the hole left behind.
Time Line:
Yule Solstice (the week of December 21st), 2480 A.S. A few weeks after Just a Touch of Ice.
Sin – 480 years; Draca – 125 years; Gwen – 40 years; Kyris – 64 years; Kira - 13 years

Don't be ridiculous! It's slash. It was in the summary.

Drastic, but Necessary

"Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."

The final article of clothing was tucked away into the plain leather satchel. The bag was shut with a hollow finality. Gwen tugged her sparse luggage over her shoulder, giving her modest little room another once over. Many of her possessions were still in the same condition as they'd always been. The portrait of her parents (passed on years ago), most of her books, and a few of her treasured knick knacks remained on their shelves. It was only her clothes and the essentials that she was taking with her. For now, at least. But despite the fact that it was still intact, it was eerily quiet – eerily empty. The violet eyed woman turned for the door, ready to leave, but stopped short.

Sin was standing in the doorway, dressed in his usual black winter ensemble and appearing decidedly lost. He stared at her with ruby eyes that were both unbelievably sad and equally proud. Gwen offered him a smile, though it was slightly pained.

Sin returned it with one of those genuine grins that had always been just for her, but it too was laden with pain. He opened his arms to her, silently beckoning her forward. The Kitsune obeyed, stepping into the assassin's embrace. Strong arms wrapped around her, and Sin pressed his face into her short chestnut hair. Gwen returned the embrace, smoothing her hands up his back.

Sin was shaking – though hiding it well.

The seraph drew back to plant a kiss on her forehead – tender and fatherly. Gwen felt the prick of tears behind her eyes, but forced them away. She was going to do this. She had to do this. The Kitsune pulled herself away from the man who had acted as her mentor, guardian, and surrogate parent; giving him one last smile before making her way through her home. As she walked, Gwen couldn't help but recall the various memories that saturated every corner of her modest home. She'd lived here all her life. She'd been born here, been raised here, and continued to inhabit it ever after the untimely death of her parents.

Now that she was leaving, those once faded memories shuffled to the forefront of her mind. Every insignificant little detail – a scratch on the wall, a worn doorjamb - was one more memory trying to hold her back.

She didn't notice them until she was at the bottom of the stairs leading into her shop. The remainder of her small family stood near the open air front of the apothecary, all of them beaming warmly at her. There was Draca – the man who had first been a curiosity to her, then a mentor and friend, and now he was as much a surrogate parent as Sin was. There was Kyris – fiery and mischievous, forever her confident and friend. Even Kira – the newest member to their mismatched family – was there to see her off. Gwen silently gave the young Fire Fayth all the blessings in the world. She hoped Kira would be able to have all the caring and love Gwen had received during her life.

Kyris glanced over Gwen's shoulder as Sin followed her down the stairs, before meeting Gwen's eyes. There was pride in those pale gray orbs, but there was also confusion and sadness. Gwen understood that perfectly.

Her decision to leave the Haven was a sudden one and she had neglected to give her true reasons. She's done that on purpose. It would make her departure seem all the more stark and painful. It needed to be, or else all her efforts would be in vain.

"You ready to go?" Kyris asked softly. Gwen nodded to her, casting a glance at each of her most precious people in turn.

"Yeah. Let's go."

The walk to the docks was unbearably brief – as her home/shop in the market district was just a few streets over from the port district. It took less than five minutes to reach the ship that would take her to the mainland. The trip was completely silent – painfully so. It seemed that none of them could bring themselves to break it. Gwen couldn't either. She felt hollow inside. Hopeful, but hollow.

She was leaving the only home she'd ever known, for – as far as her family knew – no clear reason at all. And it hurt.

But it was necessary. For when it was finally time to board the ship, after she'd given each of them a brief hug – Kira, tentative and a little awkward; Kyris, proud and motherly; Draca, firm and with the whispered wish for good luck; and Sin, subtly trembling and reluctant to release her – Gwen looked back from the deck.

She knew she had done the right thing when she saw Draca step subtly closer to Sin and slip his pale hand tentatively into the assassin's trembling one. Gwen smiled upon seeing that honey-toned hand clench briefly around the one in its grasp, despite the fact that Sin's body had suddenly tensed in discomfort from the action. Amethyst caught pale gray as her eyes trailed upwards. Kyris raised a quizzical brow at her, eyes darting between the Kitsune and Sin and Draca's linked hands.

Comprehension suddenly dawned, and the barmaid grinned broadly at her. "Good job," she mouthed.

With a return smile and an enthusiastic wave of farewell, Gwen watched the figures of her family grow smaller and eventually fade as the ship left port. It was only when the port was finally swallowed by the protective barriers surrounding the Isle of the Lost that she turned from the railing. The Kitsune breathed in the sea air deeply, exhaling a sigh of relief.

It had been a risky gamble: leaving the Haven as a way to push the Vampyre and the Fallen Angel closer together. But all children had to leave the nest sometime (though she was hardly a child anymore). And what better thing than the comfort of a lover to soothe the pain of that child's absence? Indeed, she had taken a gamble, resorted to drastic measures.

Drastic, but necessary. And so worth it.

The amount of work he was able to stumble upon in the last two days was seemingly endless. Papers were spread across his desk – the finished ones stacked neatly out of the way; the half-finished and discarded spread out in hopes of catching his eye. But no matter how hard he worked, the ever-growing pile of things he had to take care of never appeared to lessen. He didn't want it to.

After all, Sin was type to work until his mind blanked when something bothered him.

He'd been working non-stop for the past two days without sleep and barely any food. The assassin didn't even try to sleep – he knew it was pointless. Every time he even paused to think, the hollow pain in his chest threatened to overwhelm him. He dare not even imagine what his dreams would be like.

Gwen had only been gone for two days – only forty-eight hours, only 2,880 minutes – and already he felt like he was falling apart. He knew it was idiotic. It wasn't as if she were dead (though that thought alone made his heart ache). She was making a new life for herself on the mainland, in the Eastern Forest on Espyra – a relatively safe place.

The Kitsune was making a new life… without him.

Sin set down his pen, the solemn thought all but destroying his will. He was made aware of a stabbing pain in his shoulder and neck. Considering he'd barely moved in the last two days, it could only be expected. But it was nothing compared to the constricting pain in his chest. Sin covered his face with his hands as he leaned his elbows onto the desk. He ran his hand wearily through his hair, hissing softly as the movement aggravated the knots in his shoulders. It felt like a white-hot knife had slid into the tender flesh at the crook of his neck. But despite the pain, his mind continued to whirl.

Gwen had left without giving her reasons. That, in itself, was absolutely confounding. Why would she just up and leave the Haven? What could have happened to cause this?

The Fallen Angel had only one idea as to what that was – and the very thought killed him. 'This is… my fault, isn't it?' A shudder shot through him, the realization chilling. Gwen. He'd helped to raise her. She was practically his daughter in his mind. His little girl, although she wasn't so little anymore. And because of him – a soft, ragged sound that he refused to call a sob erupted from his chest – she'd been driven away. All because of what had happened those few weeks ago -

He couldn't hide his gasp as hands suddenly grasped his shoulders. Long, skilled fingers began to knead into the knots that lay just beneath his skin, drawing a near pained groan from his throat. He had been so preoccupied with his thoughts that he hadn't even noticed the other's approach. The kneading, massaging hands worked in silence to ease the tension in his shoulders. Sin's head dropped forward as thumbs firmly stroked up the back of his neck, loosening the muscles and relieving the headache that had been forming. The delicious brand of pain was vocalized in soft sounds of weary pleasure. His breathing deepened and slowed, the tension gradually easing from his form. For the first time in days, his mind was blissfully blank.

It was far too soon that those magnificent hands left him. The low keen of disappointment that issued from his mouth was cut short when his chair was pulled slowly back, leaving a generous space between him and his desk. The flow of Color that was his partner moved into that space, leaning against the edge of the desk. Draca was silent, but with his emotions laid bare to Sin's eyes, he didn't need to say anything. The man's soul was filled with the dreary Colors of sadness, concern, and outright worry – dully navy, jade, and cloud gray. Sin stared up into Draca's face, finding that he was unable to speak.

A hand on his wrist tugged him gently to his feet and flush against Draca's lithe form. One long arm wrapped around his waist, the other guiding his captive hand up to Draca's face. His fingers began to explore the angled features without prompting. Sin's breath caught as his fingertips brushed over thin lips, feeling as they stretched into a sad sort of smile. His searching hand was captured once more, long fingers intertwining with his own as a kiss was laid against his palm. Sin could sense the intention in the Vampyre's stare, and reacted. He balanced on the balls of his feet, expectantly leaning closer.

Their lips met somewhere in the middle, so softly and languidly that his heart ached. But this new ache was much preferred to the hollow, devouring pain that his own thoughts caused, and thus he wanted to drown in this kiss. He untangled his hand from Draca's. It moved to Draca's shoulder, using his hold to both steady himself and to pull the thief closer. He didn't want to think anymore – and the kiss was making his mind go deliciously blank.

Draca grinned against his lips, and suddenly a hand was massaging the back of his neck once more. Sin's mouth dropped open in a sigh that quickly became a breathy moan as Draca's tongue swept into his mouth to caress his own. The seraph attempted to move in closer, tugging at the Vampyre's shoulder and kissing back in earnest. But to his dismay Draca began to draw back every time Sin tried to tug him forward – determined to keep the kiss soft. A barely audible sound of disapproval left him as his partner drew back all together.

The assassin tried – in vain – to drag the man back down, alarmed that the hollow pain in his chest had returned full force. He abruptly discovered that his body was trembling from the constricted agony. A kiss was pressed to his forehead, and then another just above his eye – followed by another and another and another, until soft kisses were being rained onto his face. With every gentle brush of lips his trembling intensified and Sin hated it.

"S-Stop…" He absolutely despised how weak his voice sounded; how he felt like something inside him was going to break. The hand at his nape came around to tilt his chin up and his lips were captured in a petal-soft caress. He felt rather than heard the soft murmur against his lips:

"Let go."

Something inside him broke. A strangled, near silent sound of pain ripped past his lips, his head falling against Draca's chest. Sin's body sagged forward as his legs suddenly ceased to support him. It was only Draca's arms wrapped around him that kept him upright. And he shook. His body trembled uncontrollably, and Sin couldn't make it stop. His breath came in ragged gasps. Pain – hollow and inescapable – choked him.

His little girl was gone. She'd left him.

His shudders became so forceful that for a moment Sin couldn't breathe. A hand carded through his hair, accompanied by soothing murmurs: "Shh, it's all right, Sin. Just let go, baby. It's okay."

Sin clutched at the tall, lithe form of his partner as if it were his lifeline. The Fallen Angel finally tasted the salt on his lips, and – to his shock and mortification – realized his face was damp with tears. "Sh-Shit!" He tried to push himself away from the Vampyre – to regain his composure, to hide. It proved to be useless. Draca held him fast, continuing to murmur into his hair. The seraph soon gave up, collapsing against the inviting body with a ragged sigh. The tears and the trembling and the pain wouldn't stop. All he could do was burrow into Draca's warmth, and hope all else faded away.

After what seemed like an eternity, the thief gently nudged him back. Hands brushed away the salty remains still marring his scarred face; a tender kiss was pressed under each eye. It did nothing to halt the shivering of his body, but the vice grip around his heart began to ease. He watched as a thin thread of sunflower happiness weaved its way through the dull navy in the Vampyre's soul, and tried not to tense as Draca took his hand.

Draca started to walk backwards, guiding him from the study and down the silent hall. The feeling of those eyes on him didn't leave for even a moment during their trek towards Sin's bedroom at the end of the corridor. The seraph could do no more than follow, as the sudden loss of Draca's heat left him vulnerable.

Once inside the familiar room, the Vampyre released his hand and turned away. He moved across the room, opening drawers without permission. Sin couldn't find the will to care. He was still trying to rein in his emotions back behind his now broken walls of ice. It was a pointless task. The Alchemist was raw and vulnerable; he had no strength to rebuild his customary barriers. 'Stop!' he mentally commanded his body. 'Stop shaking! Stop making yourself weak! Stop-'

A pair of cotton pants was pressed into his hands, wrenching him from his unsuccessful efforts. There was only a moment for him to sense the smile being sent his way before his partner vanished into shadows. Sin watched without a word as the Vampyre's Colors faded from the room.

Draca had… left him here?

A violent shudder assaulted him. He wanted to be angry. He wanted to growl and curse the Vampyre for causing his break down and then just leaving him to pick up the pieces. But Sin couldn't work up the strength to. So the Fallen Angel mechanically dressed for bed – simply to give him something to do. It was pointless to change. He wouldn't be getting any sleep tonight anyway.

Especially not now.

"Hey now, what's with that face?" Sin's head whipped up, wide eyes zeroing in on Draca's spirit immediately. Hadn't the Vampyre left? A flash of electric blue and orange lit up before his eyes – realization and shock – and his partner stalked forward. Long arms coiled about his bare waist, pulling him to rest against and equally bare chest. Sin's breath caught. Was it supposed to feel this soothing? "You didn't actually think I was gonna leave you here, did you?" Draca inquired somewhat incredulously. "I just went to get changed. I'm not gonna leave you like this, baby." Sin's face was tilted up for another tender kiss. "Promise."

Then Sin was ushered – practically manhandled – into bed, the other following him. It was only when they lay side by side beneath the thick blankets that Draca pulled him close once more. "Gaia, you're shaking so much…" Warm hands attempted to sooth away the aforementioned shivers, but with little success.

"And whose fault is that?" Sin replied snippily.

Draca merely hummed in response rather than retort, hands still trying to sooth away his pain. The seraph forced himself to concentrate on those hands, breathing in the scent of his partner. Soon the trembling began to subside – and even the stranglehold on his heart faded slightly.

"It wasn't anything you did, Sin," the Vampyre whispered into his ear after a moment of silence.

"…How can you be sure?" His own voice was muffled – as he'd burrowed into Draca's warmth minutes earlier. He felt less vulnerable here, cocooned in the warmth of the other's body.

Draca snorted. "Because I know Gwen. If she doesn't like something, she's going to say so. She's not the type to run away from problems." He nuzzled into Sin's hair. "She left to experience life outside the Haven, baby, not because of anything you did."

"But I-"

The thief seemed to know exactly what he was thinking because his words were cut off. "I thought we were past that. You apologized and I forgave you, remember?"


"But nothing, Sin." A harsh, reproachful nip at his ear made the seraph jump. "The issue's been resolved. Got me?"

Sin sighed – defeated, weary. "Yes." He just wanted the hollow throbbing in his chest to go away.

"Good. Now get some sleep, okay?" Draca chuckled wryly. "You look like you need it."

Sleep? The very notion of it had eluded him for two days. Why should it come to him now? "I… I don't think I can."

The Vampyre born of Dragons was silent at that. Sin settled further into the welcoming embrace. He had resolved himself to another sleepless night, but at least he was comfortable.

Sin felt Draca's humming against his skin before he heard it, it was so quiet. It gradually grew louder until soft, whispery notes of a by now familiar tune brushed past his ears: "Win dain a lotica… En val tu ri… Si lo ta… Fin dein a loluca… En dragu a sei lain…" Sin stiffened. The Dragon's Lullaby was something he'd heard countless times over the years. The mystical tune was almost Draca's oldest, dearest companion – it seemed to be rolling off his lips in no matter what situation.

"Vi fa-ru les shutai am… En riga-lint…"

But Draca had never sung it to him before.

"What are you doing?" his question was nearly inaudible.

"Singin' you to sleep. That's what a lullaby's for, yeah?"

"Aren't you… isn't…" Sin faltered. That couldn't be right. "You're only supposed to sing it to people who are important to you, right?"

The only answer he received was a flash of pale blue amusement and a smile against his scalp. "Win chent a lotica… En val tu ri… Si lo ta… Fin dein a loluca… Si Katigura neuver…"

Sin's heart constricted once more, though this time not with pain. A thrill of some nameless emotion flooded his veins with warmth. His arms tightened around the Vampyre's form. "D-Draca…" The mystical little tune continued to wash over him as the minutes ticked by. To his amazement, the words began to run together about halfway through the Lullaby. He was only aware of warmth, contentment, music, and Draca. His body grew heavy and lethargic. His eyelids drooped to half-mast, fluttering in a vain attempt to stay open. They closed a moment later.

Dimly, he realized that the singing had stopped. Lips brushed his temple. "G'night, Sin."

And just like that, he dropped off into peaceful slumber.

"Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."

Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.

Yeah, it's short and tame. But it's cute. X3

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