Title: "Avant"

Author: Shaitanah

Rating: R

Summary: Locked in a battle since the dawn of time, they are both enemies and lovers. And they want more. [anthropomorphic Fire/Water; SLASH]

Dedication: for my darling Hedo-chan. It's all your fault. XD

A/N: I even managed to squeeze a pirate-theme here. Obsession, thy name is me. XD


AVANT

Fire's fingers were covered in patches of plaster concealing gashes that were still raw. Blood came out in bubbling light through his splintered skin and welled up underneath the tight-fitting bandaids. He moved his hand slowly, half-clenching and unclenching a fist, as if surprised the digits still worked. Poorly, though.

Bloody Water!

The ocean was the one place Fire would never risk engaging in combat with him; or so he thought until today. They had been at war since forever, drawn to each other as polar opposites usually are, counter to logic and common sense. (Some even joked that Fire would never let his judgement be clouded by such trifles as reason, especially when it came to his nemesis.) Fire usually strove to corner him ashore where the amount of open water was minimal; Water was uncannily persevering and was able to draw strength from the ground, so why give him unnecessary advantages?

Today, though, Fire really got himself in a fix when he jumped into the longboat and followed Water to his galleon. He had been following Water across the desert, driving his enemy further into the maze of incandescent sand dunes where heat and dearth would do their job. Occasionally, as he caught up, they would clash, and he smirked jubilantly at the sight of Water's parched lips and lacklustre eyes. Their battles grew more and more fierce, but unfortunately beyond the desert there lay the sea, and Water's crew was loyally waiting for their captain.

Fire wasn't about to give up. He had come too far to let this smug bastard triumph again. He sailed the ocean swelling with turbulent waves all around him, his boat hopping up time and again, arousing clouds of splashes.

He reached the ship and aimed his gun at her captain – and then Water lashed out and struck him with his whip, a low, cowardly weapon which he carried with pride and wielded aptly. Fire dodged the blow, and the long, moist tail of the whip glided across his hand, shredding the delicate leather of the glove. Fire hissed in pain. Another blow came down swiftly. The pistol fell out of Fire's grasp and plopped into the sea.

A throaty voice aboard the galleon yelled out commands. The oars flew up, spraying the longboat with showers of water. Fire darted back, the boat rocking beneath him. A wave rolled against the board, and for a moment the entire vessel keeled over so perilously that Fire was certain he would tumble overboard. He thought he could hear Water laughing.

He ground his teeth furiously at the memory. His hand hurt, but that stringing pain, as well as the magnificent view of the ocean with a moonlight track sparkling across the light waves, helped keep him concentrated.

He leaned against the white column of the elegant colonial-styled house located near the beach and watched through half-shut eyes as a gaggle of young men and women danced around the fire on the sand. Sparks were flying, blazing brighter than the stars overhead; bare feet churned up the sand and covered it in chains of footprints. Fire smiled a slow, lazy smile.

He moved leisurely down the porch, kicked off his shoes and strolled towards the dancers. Waves rolled lazily over the sand bar, offering tributes of smooth shingle and multi-coloured shells licked clean.

An old fiddler with a cunning, wizened face tortured the strings with a bow. A duo of young wiry mulattoes were shaking their braided hair over the tattered drums in tune with a teenaged percussionist who grinned broadly, revealing glistening brackets across her teeth.

Fire joined the dance. Sparks flared brighter. He could see streaks of perspiration lining their lithe bodies as they flitted and swayed and flirted with flames that in turn rose higher and higher like a bunch of snakes mesmerized by a charmer's flute.

A girl in a light red dress shifted closer to him and flashed him a seductive smile. He reached out, not quite touching her, but gliding his open palm just a few millimetres over her body. Her chest fluttered. She swayed forth, almost pressing to him, but he took a graceful step back. Something flickered in her languishing eyes.

She spun closer, the flaps of her skirt billowing like flaming tongues around her. Fire caught a glimpse of a chocolate-coloured hip. He grasped the tips of her fingers and planted a searing kiss upon the edge of her palm. She sucked in a shaky breath.

A gentle smirk twisted Fire's mouth. He let the girl's hand slide out of his and retreated, digging his toes into hot sand. Mild sea breeze carried a tinge of flowery fragrance and the warmth of the fire.

Fire walked back to his house, smiling vaguely. His wounded fingers tingled, and the sensation was not particularly unpleasant.

Upon entering the living room, he sensed somebody's presence. His awareness grew as he ventured deeper through the suite of rooms. The thrice accursed pirate was lounging in his arm-chair. He grinned insolently at the sight of the host.

"You lost me my best pistol today," Fire said matter-of-factly.

Water rose fluidly and swaggered up to him. His hand drew a slanted line across the air; Fire evaded providently, noticing tiny droplets on the tips of his fingers.

"You've given me quite a bit of grief in the desert. My revenge so far has been surprisingly meek, considering the arsenal you indisputably have to spare."

"Get out of my house."

Water smiled, but his clear blue eyes remained impassive.

"How long have we been playing this game? We're growing stale. I was thinking–."

"Look at that!" Fire quipped. "You're good for something other than doing laundry, too."

Water ignored the scorn and drew closer. Fire stiffened visibly, but let him speak.

"I was thinking," Water pressed, "that we could try and settle our disagreements verbally."

"All right. If you admit I'm more than a mindless destroyer."

Water's eyes glimmered mischievously. "Suppose. But then, you take everything to the extremes."

Fire snorted, inadvertently inhaling his strong, salty scent, and gave him a calm, is-that-so look. He was never one to beat around the bush, whereas Water showed a distinctive flair for it, the double meaning in every word of his mercilessly leaking through. At least he never disappointed.

"Dryness is painful," Water whispered in his ear.

He was standing closer than Fire would have permitted him to be, his lips just short of brushing the rim of Fire's ear. Fire turned to face him, his eyes hard. Water's lips looked dehydrated; he flicked his tongue over them in a simple, yet sensual manner.

"I see," Fire chuckled. "Your peacemaking attempt is nothing more than a way to flaunt your ostensible superiority."

"You're paranoid, you know that?"

Fire laughed and walked up to a small coffee-table with finely wrought legs. Music on the beach was still audible, slashing sharply through the air like lightning during a thunderstorm. Fire poured himself a cupful of spicy wine, heated it and took a generous swig.

"So are you a saint, oh great commander of ebbs and flows?" he scoffed. "You who creates tsunamis and reshapes the face of the Earth with a flick of his finger! You're no priest, my love; you're a villain in your own right."

Water flopped back into the arm-chair. Stark bluish veins on his temples were pulsing.

"You singe everything you lay your hand on," he remarked, odd feelings mixed in his tone, "yet you shy away from my touch."

"You're a disease that affects this entire globe," Fire spat contemptuously.

Water grinned proudly. "All you do is burn, devour, conquer. Liquid can take on different characteristics, though. It may be cold and brutal – or warm and gentle. Life or death."

Fire wanted to protest, but there was little point in that. He felt tired and sore from the long chase and these endless squabbles. Water and him would always find a reason to argue, and the bastard would always gain the upper hand. It was becoming exceedingly frustrating.

He squatted on the floor, one hand gripping the armrest, and put the steaming cup down. Water eyed him quizzically, his head inclined slightly. He could be beautiful, almost solemn, when he was serious and unmasked like this.

"Life or death," Fire repeated pensively. "But what makes you warm?" He raised his hand and let it hover over Water's lap, down to his knee and up again. "That's right." His lips stretched in a semblance of a smile. "Me."

A soft sigh escaped Water's lips. Fire's palm emanated warmth that seeped into the other's tender skin, igniting his body from the inside.

"How cocky," Water muttered, trying in vain to recompose himself.

Fire's hand halted over his crotch. He could feel excitement coming off Water in waves; it prickled teasingly at his open palm. Fire imitated gentle stroking motions, sliding his hand up and down, but never actually touching.

"Look at me," he whispered commandingly when he saw Water's heavy eyelids droop shut.

Water complied and glowered at him with open hostility – but there was something else in his icy eyes too, something that Fire enjoyed and wanted to bring out further.

Water thrust to meet his hand, but Fire withdrew it promptly. He smiled at the sight of Water, his shirt open, cheeks flushed, the tip of his tongue pointing wantonly between his moist lips.

"Feels good, doesn't it?" Fire prodded and paused to take a sip from his wine cup. "I wonder how long it would take to make you boil."

He ran his fingers over the hard leather of Water's boots, knowing that the other would feel the heat, but not the touch. He brought his face down and nuzzled the fabric of Water's trousers, mindful not to press too hard. Water failed to suppress a soft groan.

"Fucker, do it or don't do it, just stop yanking my chain!"

"I can't touch you," Fire reminded him, his voice suddenly serious. The echo of his own words rumbled in his ears. Can't. Not do not want to.

His lips ghosted over the hardness bulging in Water's trousers. He gritted his teeth. He wanted more.

Water bucked his hips, rocking desperately against the empty space before him.

"How does it feel?"

"Nngh… burning," growled Water.

Fire raised his head, returning his hand to its previous position. His movements grew speedier, jerkier. He looked away from Water, the sharp cadence of his breath too evident a reminder of his presence all on its own.

Fire's gaze wandered over the room, traveled over the sheer lace curtains billowing slightly against the open terrace door. A bleared disc of the moon shimmered behind them. Two massive painted vases stood sentry on each side of the door. Fire turned his head, regarding the setting. A heavy bookcase crammed with antique volumes; a large navy-themed panel, an odd tribute to his enemy's playthings; a few thematic paintings glorifying fire in various incarnations. A volcano erupting over a patch of jungle. A giant fire-breathing dragon with sunset-coloured scales, portrayed in flight. A hearth in a poor man's household. A solitary candle melting away in the night.

Water's hand on his shoulder snapped Fire out of his reverie. He froze, breath caught treacherously in his throat. The expression on Water's face held something curious and unfathomable.

"Don't you wonder," he murmured as he slipped out of the arm-chair and sprawled on the floor and wrapped his legs around Fire's hips, "how it would feel to have me inside you?" He rubbed needily against Fire. "Filling you up. Rising like a tide inside you." Another thrust, hard, unabashed. Fire released a shaky breath. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

Fire positioned himself over Water and thrust forth to meet him halfway. They ground their lower bodies against each other, doing their best to ignore the impediment of multiple layers of hot, sweaty clothes.

Fire cupped Water's buttock and pounded harder against him. He wondered what it would feel like to lick those glistening beads of sweat off his brow. He would have wanted to taste every inch of his body, to consume him like a spark sets ablaze a puddle of petrol.

"If I could," said Water, "I would flow into you. I would–." Short, snappy gasps punctuated throughout his words. "I would saturate you."

"Don't," Fire cut him off. "There is no 'could' or 'would'. I'll have none of that."

He dug his fingers into Water's hips and moved faster, reveling in the friction that had become almost unbearable.

"I'd let you drain me," Water continued, implacable.

"Please, don't."

"I would turn into steam for you and share your heat." Every word a stab wound.

Release rolled like a shockwave through both of them. Fire collapsed on top of Water, still firmly clutched between his thighs. His breathing heavy, he let the pungent scent of salt, wind, and sun wash over him. He shifted, rubbing his cheek against Water's chest – and suddenly there was cool, slick skin instead of the coarse canvas of a sailor's shirt, and Fire shot away from the agonizing, stinging sensation with a choked outcry.

He froze, looking Water directly in the eye, their lips nearly brushing. Fire's mouth was half-open, his face contorted with pain from an acid burn forming on his cheek. Their breath mingled, a dizzying concoction of wine-soaked fruit and the ever-present salt.

Fire struck the floor with his hands and dragged them around Water's body, leaving deep scorch-marks on the carpet. Sparks flared. A distinctive aroma of soot followed.

He wanted the whole package. He wanted Water's mouth on him and he envied those stray pebbles that came out of the sea polished so flawlessly.

He wished suddenly for the girl from the beach. He wished it were her slender legs wrapped around him. He would plunge fiercely inside her. He craved a feverish, pliant human body in his embrace, someone he could inflame, but not waste, someone that would lust after his heat, but would not put him out along the way.

He leaned closer, placing a greedy open-mouthed kiss upon Water's lips, and felt Water kiss back within a fleeting second until the stinging was too much and they pulled apart, both hurt and gasping for more. Water hesitated to wet his dry, reddened lips. Fire's mouth was burning in liquid agony.

He got up, shaking slightly, hair falling messily over his eyes, and attempted to smooth his crinkled waistcoat. Water knelt before him, looking weary and thoughtful.

"We're both scoundrels," he mused. "We both devour oxygen and leave others to die."

He rose and made for the door. He glanced back, short of stepping over the threshold, and addressed Fire a pale shade of his habitual impudent grin, then drove his tongue over his lips at last, savouring the aftertaste of the kiss.

"But I have more mercy."

January 9–10, 2010