Nora wasn’t sure how long she had been sitting out in the garden but it had been dark a very long time. She brought the bottle up to her lips and took another drink, closing her eyes as the liquid burned down her throat.
No matter how long it had been, she was nowhere closer to figuring out what was going on with Leo. One minute, she had been in his arms with an odd feeling coming over her and thinking that she didn’t want him to leave. But then the next, she was pushing him away. Like she always did. Perhaps it was because it had long been a force of habit.
But for the first time, she found that part of her didn’t want to push him away. Or did she?
Nora shook her head slightly and then looked up at the star-filled sky.
“There you are, Little Miss.”
Nora glanced over her shoulder, seeing Martha walking towards her with a blanket.
“Told you, Nora is fine,” she said, smiling slightly. The synth only chuckled and then dropped the blanket on her shoulders, tutting here and there.
“It’s getting colder at night,” Martha said. “Need to take care lest you catch a cold.”
“Ah, but that’s rather hard for me to do,” Nora said dryly as she took another swig from the bottle and Martha sat next to her on the bench.
“You’ve been out here quite awhile. Did something happen?” Martha asked. Nora sighed.
“A lot’s happened,” she admitted with a frown.
“I sense this has to do with the argument you had earlier,” Martha replied. Nora looked over at the synth. “Really, I do think that Leo Elster has a good heart.”
“Where’s this coming from?” Nora asked, glancing nervously towards the manor. “Ian send you out to talk to me?” Martha chuckled and shook her head.
“You forget. I’ve known you a long time, Nora. I know when you are upset and can usually tell what about,” Martha said warmily. “You’ve been different since he came here.”
“So?” Nora asked, looking away as she shifted on the bench. “Maybe he puts me on edge.”
“He certainly does, but in a good way,” Martha said sensibly. Nora stared at the synth. “I may have not had consciousness for long, but it’s been long enough. You want to open up to him, but you’re fighting it.” Nora’s eyebrows shot up. “Stop fighting. Not everyone has ulterior motives for getting close to you.”
Nora swallowed as she looked back at the manor, seeing several lights on.
“I can’t help it, you know. I was brought up to never let anyone in,” she said.
“You let Ian in. And look how well that’s gone,” Martha countered.
“He could have a life without me,” Nora replied glumly.
“I think he rather enjoys his life with you,” Martha said. “And the both of you together have created a place where many others can have a good life. Think of what you could do if you keep working with Leo?”
Nora thought about it a moment. It was true to an extent. And it was why she and Ian had sought him out and wanted to bring him in from the beginning. But she hadn’t expected that she would develop feelings for him.
She started as the thought crossed her mind. But she couldn’t deny it. She had developed feelings for Leo, even though it hadn’t been all that long. How did that happen?
“If there is anything I’ve learned so far, it’s that life often brings us the unexpected. Sometimes it’s best to just go with it,” Martha said.
Nora stared at her a few moments and then looked away.
“I suppose,” she murmured.
She had always thought the unexpected was bad. That it could ruin everything. In all the work she had done, she and Ian tried to minimize the unexpected. But at the same time, she had often been drawn to it. Even though it sometimes put her in precarious situations. So why was she attempting to run from this?
Martha leaned over and rested her hand on Nora’s leg. Nora looked over at her, seeing the soft smile there.
“Go to him. Talk to him. And don’t be afraid. Don’t run away,” Martha said. She then stood and started back towards the manor.
Nora allowed her words to sit in her mind.
Don’t be afraid… Don’t run away...
Leo had just stepped out of the kitchen when he heard the door to the courtyard open and closed. He looked over, seeing that Nora had just stepped in. When she saw him, her eyes widened as her body seemed to freeze.
He couldn't get the feeling of her in his arms out of his head. So much so that he hadn't been able to sleep. He wanted to talk to her. To try and sort out just what it was going on between them. But she had disappeared, obviously not ready to talk about it.
But here she was.
"I…" she started. She then shook her head and started walking, not stopping as she passed him.
"I think we should talk," Leo called out. Nora didn't slow down or respond.
Sighing, Leo followed her.
"About what?" she asked, her tone crisp. Leo frowned.
"About what happened earlier," he said.
She sped up slightly, but so did he. They were moving through the first floor atrium now, towards the stairs that led to the second floor.
"What's there to talk about?" she asked.
Leo couldn't help but feel a bit hurt by her words. He thought they had had a moment downstairs in the lab. That they had been building up to this. But now she was acting as though nothing had happened.
"Well… a fair bit, I think," he said, part of him surprised that he was the one pushing this. When had he ever wanted to talk about feelings?
"A moment of weakness," Nora said harshly.
She was now practically running as she reached the door to her room and pushed it open. Part of Leo thought that he should stop. Allow her space. But the part of him thought that he had given her enough and it was time they got all of this out in the air. Her constant back and forth.
He followed her into her room, shutting the door behind him as Nora started slightly, obviously not expecting him to follow her.
"No, we're going to talk," he said firmly. She laughed haggardly and started pacing.
"It's like… one minute you're hot and the next you're cold," Leo said. Nora laughed loudly as she stopped pacing and turned to him.
"Oh, look who's talking," she replied sardonically. "As if I'm the only one in this house with issues."
"Seriously, Nora," Leo shouted even though the words stung.
She was deflecting - intentionally trying to rile him up to avoid talking about the real issue - and he wasn't about to take the bait. Not this time. Nora walked up, getting into his face.
"You don't even know me," she hissed.
"Exactly! You don't let anyone in! Even me! The one person who knows better than anyone what you've been through!" he retorted. "Why won't you let me in!?"
"How could you even begin to understand!?"
It was a fair question, he had to admit. But at the same time, Leo knew that he was the one person who probably could. He wasn't sure just why he was doing this, but he knew that he needed to. For the both of them.
"You know why! You said it yourself! You were never meant to be created! I was never meant to survive! But we're here, Nora! We're alive! And it's about damn time that we finally started living, don't you think?!" he shouted, slightly surprised by his own words.
When had he ever thought about living? But in just the few weeks here, Leo knew that he wanted to. To open up to something more than running and trying to stay ahead of those who would want to take him in, study him. And he wanted to do it with Nora.
Wait? When had this happened?
Nora's eyes widened as she stepped back from him. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, but she finally snapped it shut and stared at him a few moments.
His heart was pounding, but he had come this far. There was no taking any of it back. No stopping. He was committed to seeing this through. Nora had always been alone. He had always been on the run. Neither of them really trusting anyone save the few they let close. Never let anyone close. But now he wanted to. And he wanted Nora to know that she wasn't alone. Not anymore.
Leo stepped towards her, taking her hands in his. He looked down at them, finding hers warm and soft. A jolt ran through him at the contact. He then looked up, meeting her eyes.
"It's time for us to live our own lives," he said, this time softly. "Forget about what happened and just…" Nora blinked a few times, tears quickly filling her eyes as he moved closer. "Live."
His heart was pounding. Never before in his life had he wanted to stop searching for answers. Trying to understand why his father had done what he did. Never had he thought about anything but staying on the run. Keeping his family safe. But in that moment, he believed his own words. He was ready to let it go. The anger. The pain. For the first time, he thought there was a better future just ahead. And that future, beyond all reason, seemed to involve Nora.
Nora didn't move at first and he stopped, his lips hovering just over hers. He wanted her to make the choice, the next move. Time seemed to stretch out before them, but it was likely only seconds. Leo wasn't sure what she would do.
After what seemed like an eternity, she finally leaned towards him, pressing her lips to his. For a moment, it took Leo's breath away, feeling her soft lips against his. He then began to move his, letting go of her hands as he rested his on her waist, pulling her closer. Nora's arms came up around his neck, gripping him tightly as she pulled him against her, deepening the kiss.
He had never felt something like this before. This sort of connection with someone. Yes, he loved his family and would continue to do whatever he could to protect them. But he found he also wanted to be with Nora. To invite her into his life.
And that was more freeing than anything in the world.
Somewhere in her mind, a voice was telling Nora that she should stop. That she couldn’t let anyone get too close to her. They would always end up hurting her or get hurt themselves. Or they had some ulterior motive in mind. But at the same time, a louder voice was urging her to let go. To finally feel.
A fire was coursing through her veins and for the first time in her life, she felt truly alive as Leo’s tongue slipped past her lips and into her mouth. Her fingers tangled up in his hair as she desperately clung to him, wanting to feel more. She could feel his hands slide under her shirt, sending electricity through her.
Nora stepped back from him a moment, taking deep breaths of air as she stared up at him. She knew they were standing on a precipice. She had a choice. She could stop this now. Push him away. Shut the door on whatever it was. Shutting the door would be safe. She would be safe. If she let him in, she risked getting hurt. And she had already been hurt so much in her young life.
But looking into Leo’s eyes, she felt as though she could trust him. That this, whatever it was, would be okay.
She stepped back from him and out of his arms, reaching down to the hem of her shirt and pulling it up and over her head. She then dropped it to the floor and looked back up at him, feeling herself standing before him completely vulnerable. Leo gulped slightly and then reached back, slowly pulling his own t-shirt off. Nora’s eyes trailed down his toned chest, coming to rest on the jagged scar on his side, the wire that protruded from it. The physical reminder of what he was. That he wasn’t completely human.
Well, she wasn’t exactly your normal human either, was she?
Her eyes came back up to his and she saw the worry there. He was waiting to see how she reacted. Nora, in some strange way, felt even more connected to him. She had always felt there was no one in the world who could understand all of her - not just her trust issues, but what she was. But he could. They were the same.
In a second, she had closed the distance between them, her lips clashing with his as her hands roamed over his body. They were moving and she bumped into the bed before falling back on it. Nora gasped slightly, feeling his full weight on top of her and relishing in it. She couldn’t help as she arched her back, wanting to feel more.
Leo’s lips left hers, moving down her body as she closed her eyes, reveling in the sensation. It was as though he had opened the floodgates and the rush of sensations coursing through her was almost overwhelming. Sure there had been others - she had wanted to experiment like any other hot-blooded human - but this was something different. It was as though he was in her mind, reading her every want and desire. She could feel him pulling her trousers down, his lips feathering kisses down her stomach.
Just as she felt the air on her legs, she sat up, her hands going to the button on his trousers as she looked up, holding his gaze while she undid it and then pulled down the zipper. As he bent down to help pull off his own trousers, his lips met hers again in a languid kiss that set off a flurry of butterflies in her stomach.
Nora wrapped her arms around his neck, leaning back and pulling Leo down with her. He settled on top of her, his weight warm and comforting as she ran her fingers through his hair. The kiss soon grew more heated as his stubble scratched her face, though it created a good kind of pain.
She needed to feel him inside her. Running her hands back down his neck and then to his chest, she reached down in between them, taking his length in her hand and beginning to stroke it.
Leo groaned as his lips left hers and he stared down in her eyes.
“Leo,” she whispered.
She then hissed and arched her back, her eyes closing as she felt his fingers brushing down her and then finding the one spot that had been throbbing in want. Pleasure began pulsing through her as she started panting softly.
“Look at me, Nora,” Leo said softly. “I want to see you…”
She peeled her eyes open, meeting his blue ones. His ministrations stopped and she felt him position himself. Then suddenly, he slid into her, causing her to gasp as he slowly filled her. But still, she didn’t break eye contact as he waited a moment. Nora felt so incredibly full, but she needed more. Her legs began shaking slightly as she tightened them around him and then rolled her hips, urging him to move.
Leo then slowly pulled back out, then pushed back in. She ran her hands back up to his chest, before bringing them back up to his shoulders and around his neck. She could feel him shudder under her touch as he continued his slow, steady pace.
Pulling him down to her, she kissed him urgently, moving her hips to match, the two falling into the same rhythm as Leo picked up his pace. He lowered himself until his entire body was rubbing up against her, creating a delicious friction that had her shivering. But still, Nora wanted more.
She managed to roll over until she was straddling him, sitting up as she looked down at him. A smile filled her face as she continued gyrating her hips, pleased when Leo moaned as his eyes rolled back slightly. He gripped her waist, urging her to speed up before one hand reached down and it was Nora’s turn to moan as he began massaging her clit.
It was as though the heat coursing through her took over as she rode Leo, tossing her head back. Both of them were now breathing heavily, as Nora could feel all the heat beginning to pool in her core. Leo then reached up and pulled her down to him, kissing her furiously as he continued to thrust up. He rolled over, now on top of her again as he began thrusting faster and bent down, taking one of her nipples in his mouth. She couldn’t help but moan, her mind starting to be overwhelmed by the sensory overload.
“Oh god… Leo…” she panted, digging her nails into his back.
For a moment, it was as though time had stopped and there was nothing else in the universe but the two of them. She stared into the depths of Leo’s eyes as pleasure continued to pulse through her. It felt more than just fucking, which she had done plenty of. This was connecting on a deeper, more visceral level.
Live with me, Nora…
Nora felt as though she were outside her body, but not. The way they moved together, it was something completely new and yet natural at the same time. While this was not what she was expecting - especially not after everything that had happened today - she wanted more than anything to live in this moment. To take it all in.
She could feel the connection between them - that had seemed so tentative and fragile before - solidify. And while it scared her, she knew there was no going back. Not now.
She could feel it building within her, a pressure settling not only in her core but deep within her as well. Her eyes widened slightly as she felt it grow, wondering if Leo could feel it too. A sliver of worry slid in that perhaps he didn’t. That despite what he said, this was just another shag. That perhaps she had made a mistake.
But almost as though he could read her mind, he leaned down and kissed her gently.
“Let go with me,” he whispered against her lips.
A deep joy filled Nora as she arched her back, her eyes rolling back into her head as she let go and a wave of pleasure rushed through her, a loud moan escaping. She swore that she saw stars as Leo thrust one last time, grunting as he collapsed on top of her.
The two said nothing for a time, just listened to each other’s haggard breathing as their hearts raced in time with each other. Nora reached up and began softly running her fingers through his hair as Leo lay on her chest.
“That was…” she started.
“Amazing,” Leo breathed. Nora chuckled and shook her head.
“My, you have a way with words,” she murmured. Leo sat up and looked down at her.
“I thought that was your job,” he replied.
Nora couldn’t help but smile, surprised to see this lighthearted and playful side of him. Leo rolled off of her and then pulled her close to him, kissing the side of her head as she settled in his arms.
They were silent a few more moments, allowing their heart rates a chance to calm down. But in the silence, she couldn’t help as the fear slipped in yet again, despite what had just happened between them.
“What are you thinking?” Leo asked softly. Nora took a deep breath and slowly let it out, unable to look at him or speak for a bit. “It’s okay. You can tell me.”
“Just… this is all so… new,” she finally said. Steeling herself, she looked up at him. Thankfully the same look was in his eyes as before, calming her.
“It’s… all new to me as well,” he admitted. “I’m not even sure what this is…”
Nora swallowed, thinking the same. She had never been one for relationships. The closest thing that she had was her friendship with Ian, but this was very, very different from that.
Her heart sank slightly as she thought about Ian. He was her best friend and had always looked out for her. How did she even begin to tell him about this? Though in a way, she wondered if he had been trying to push them together all along.
“Maybe… maybe we shouldn’t mention this… to the others… just yet,” she started.
Leo shifted next to her and for a moment she worried she had said the wrong thing. Christ, she was already fucking this up and she wasn’t sure what was going on.
“That might be fair,” Leo finally said. Nora took a deep breath and pushed up so that she was face to face with him.
“I just think we should take the time to… figure this out,” she said. “Without getting anyone else involved. We’re both new to this and I’m terrified that I’m going to be rubbish.”
He smiled softly and reached up, caressing her cheek. He then leaned forward and kissed her.
“Me too, if I’m being honest,” he said. “Alright.”
Nora smiled and settled back into his arms, feeling lighter. She still wasn’t sure what this was or where it was going, but for now, she was okay with that.
“Leo… this is going to be okay, right?” she asked softly. He was silent a few moments.
“Yea, I think it will be…”
Hester stood in the hallway just outside Nora’s room, staring straight ahead at the door. She could hear the sounds coming from inside, though just barely. Of course, she knew what was going on in there. An odd sort of feeling had come over her though, but she wasn’t sure just what it was. And it wasn’t as though Leo could explain it to her. He was currently preoccupied.
She had sensed the physiological changes in the two whenever they were around each other. The increased heart rates. There were also the looks. The intense arguments they would sometimes get into. Then the times she found them speaking softly to each other, something in their expressions that she couldn’t comprehend.
The woman, Nora, was a distraction, not an ally. No matter what the others thought. Humans couldn’t be trusted, especially not this one. Hester turned and made her way down the hallway, calmly walking to the ballroom where the others were charging.
She needed to remind Leo of what they were trying to do. She just needed a plan.