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A Storm of Shadows
With the air of one condemned, Jessie followed Akari to Kutkh’s chambers. The servant opened the door, announcing her arrival. "Lord Kutkh, Miele was prepared as you instructed."
"Thank you, Akari. See that we are not disturbed."
"As you wish, my lord."
Jessie watched the Goa’uld warily as he made his way over to her, noting the lazy smile masking the predatory nature of his stance. Taking her hand, he raised it to his lips, kissing the back of it softly.
"I must say, you look absolutely stunning. The turquoise suits you perfectly."
Jessie dropped her eyes, feeling an unwanted blush heat her cheeks from the unexpected compliment. "Thank you, Lord Kutkh," she replied softly. She was slightly surprised at the change in décor compared to his room on the ship. The layout and furnishings were similar, but whereas the one on the ship had been decidedly gaudy, this room was done with a subdued elegance, an equal balance of black and pale cream, the silks and satins lending a subtle opulence to the overall scheme.
Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm, he led her over to the corner of the room where a plush, cushioned futon with rolled arms was located, a low table set directly in front of it. "Are you hungry?" he asked, indicating the tray laden with fruit, along with the loaf of bread beside it.
She shook her head, too nervous to have any appetite.
Kutkh sat down beside her on the futon. "We haven’t had a chance to really sit and talk, and I wanted to remedy that before moving on to other things." Focusing on the silver filigree marking her forehead, he asked, "So, when…exactly…did you arrive on Neowe?"
Oh hell. She did not want to play twenty questions, especially with him. He was way too observant for her liking, and it was the equivalent of a verbal minefield. "I arrived a day or two before we met, my lord."
"And your guard?"
"We became separated in the melee, before I was struck down."
She turned slightly away, wrapping her free arm around the front of her waist. A protective posture. Interesting. Kutkh waited a moment before adding, "Do you think he got the girls to safety?" He leaned back, relaxed, as her posture stiffened. He smiled at her startled expression. "Don’t worry, Miele; it’s our little secret. Actually, I think it’s very admirable how protective you are over children…though it was foolhardy risking Ba’al’s wrath."
Jessie sat frozen, her mind racing as to what she should say. Deciding that shades of honesty worked better, she cleared her throat. "I…I overheard the servants talking about the fate of the girls. I just couldn’t…they were too young…there would have been irreparable harm to the youngest ones." Her voice trailed off into a whisper.
Kutkh was frank in his assessment. "You are correct…they would not have survived. Ba’al can be quite cruel when the mood strikes him. If he had found that you were responsible, though, you would have taken their place." He saw the visible shiver that ran through her.
"Better a grown woman than a child."
His gaze settled on the silver filigree markings once again. "You are a gedikli?"
Honesty had its place, but she couldn’t risk blowing her cover. "Yes, my lord."
Running his thumb along the curve of his lower lip, he asked, "Intact?"
Mindful of what Delek had told her, she replied, "No, my lord," another blush heating her cheeks. Her thoughts regarding the Tok’ra were not kind at the moment.
Kutkh stared at her, contemplating her response. "Pity," he said finally. "I do enjoy making a virgin bleed." He knew the shock on her face was genuine, and it served his purpose of keeping her off balance. "I’m not cruel like Ba’al", he said as he reached for the small wooden box that sat on the table, "it’s just an expression of one’s dominance." Opening the lid, he sorted through the contents. "You must have arrived close to that day, because I’m certain I would have remembered you if I had seen you before. You weren’t at the prior gedikli auction I attended."
Jessie struggled to keep her mouth from dropping open at the contents of the box. Thin, rectangular papers were neatly stacked in one corner, and what appeared to be a small amount of pot was nestled on the opposite side, the pine green intermixed with a generous amount of rust red ‘hairs’. Kutkh picked up one of the papers, filled it with the dried herb and expertly rolled a joint in front of her eyes. Now that had not been in any of the briefing notes she had ever read—when in the hell did the Goa’uld start smoking pot? She knew for certain Delek hadn’t mentioned it.
Kutkh took an ornate lighter from the box, depressing the tiny lever, which formed a spark. A small blue flame flared to life, and he held it to the end of the joint as he drew on it slowly, igniting the end. Setting the lighter aside, he looked over at Jessie, who seemed to be trying to become part of the side cushions at the moment. She couldn’t have moved farther away from him if she had tried. His eyes fell to the base of her throat, where her pulse was racing. Leaning over, close enough that he could detect the slight scent of the lotion Akari had used on her, he asked, "Is there is a problem, Miele?"
"N-no, my lord. I’m just a little nervous."
Kutkh was quite enjoying this cat and mouse game. "Then some daninha would be helpful, no?" He sat quietly, waiting for her response. He smiled at her continued silence. "Surely you know what daninha is?"
Between Goa’uld and Neowan, Jessie could not recall anything that even remotely sounded like daninha. And going by the sinking feeling in her stomach, this was going to be the thing that tripped her up, blowing her cover story to hell. Seeing Kutkh wasn’t going to let her off the hook, she answered truthfully. "I’m not familiar with that word."
Holding the joint up between them, he stared at her. "This is daninha. I find it odd you don’t know the term. Gedikli slaves are trained in the erotic arts, as well as the use of aphrodisiacs, stimulants and substances that induce relaxation."
If by some turn of fortune she made it out of this predicament alive, she vowed to find Delek and make him pay for every piece of information he omitted about this mission. Improvisation was not her strong point, and she was quickly losing ground. "I was never taught the use of substances, my lord." Kutkh was watching her too intently, and she knew this game was about to end.
"You’re frightened," he said simply.
Jessie swallowed against the lump in her throat. "Apparently I’m not as well trained as I should be. I-I’ve heard tales of what happens to servants who disappoint those they serve," she whispered.
Kutkh tilted his head to the right, studying the young woman. She was indeed frightened. That she wasn’t telling the whole truth was obvious to him, but he was willing to let it slide…for the moment. There were those servants who tried to rise in rank by placing themselves in the right spot at the right time—he had assumed this was what had brought her to Neowe and the stronghold. Reaching out, he caressed her cheek with his hand. "I’m not disappointed. I’m a little surprised you’re more innocent than I was expecting, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, it’s easily remedied." Once again he held the joint up between them. "This is daninha. It is a plant, the buds of which are harvested and dried. It can be rolled up and smoked, like this, or placed in a pipe. Others choose to ingest it. The main effect is a relaxed feeling, along with heightened senses, especially to touch."
She watched as Kutkh took a small hit from the joint, licking his lips after he did so. So great was her anxiety that she had forgotten why she was there that evening. That was, until he spoke.
"Kree tal lok."
The lazy way he was looking at her didn’t carry any threat with the order, though she had to remind herself not to smart off to the command of ‘kneel before your god’. At the moment it was better for her to be subservient, especially if it kept her alive. Moving from her place next to him, she knelt down between his legs, watching him warily.
Kutkh leaned forward, slipping his hand beneath her hair, caressing the back of her neck before taking a firm hold of it. "I want you to breathe in the smoke and hold it; understand?"
Jessie nodded slightly, the warmth from his hand causing her neck to tingle. Between him holding her in place, and the expression on his face, she knew there was no room for argument; he wouldn’t tolerate a refusal. Her eyes widened as he took the joint, reversed it and placed the end that was lit in his mouth, holding the joint with his teeth. Bringing his lips together, he brought the end a mere inch from her lips and slowly exhaled, blowing a steady stream of thick smoke into her mouth. She inhaled, her eyes watering from the pungent smoke, but she managed not to cough. Taking the joint from his mouth, he placed it inside a small tray on the table.
Kutkh still had the back of her neck in his grasp, and the testosterone level had definitely clicked up a couple of notches. He leaned in close, his elbows braced upon his knees, his mouth almost brushing hers. "Give it back to me," he murmured. Glancing at his mouth, she slowly exhaled, watching as the smoke disappeared between his lips. If that wasn’t an intimate enough exchange, as she looked back up at him he closed the distance, brushing his lips against hers in the softest of caresses. It wasn’t an actual kiss, per se. Just…a touch.
Gazing into his eyes brought in thoughts of lighter blue eyes, ones that looked upon her with love, and with that came a rush of sadness, tears stinging her eyes…a reaction that Kutkh misread.
"Shhh," he said quietly, "I’m not going to hurt you."
At that moment the door whooshed open, and Jessie saw Kutkh’s gaze change to one filled with irritation, along with a heavy sigh. "What do you want?" he asked irritably, the odd dual tone now present in his voice.
Ba’al raked his gaze over the insolent Goa’uld, taking in the slave kneeling at his feet. The smirk on his face grew when he realized what he had interrupted. Utilizing the dual tonality himself, he said "I left word for you to report to me with your findings."
"It wasn’t anything that couldn’t wait until the morrow," Kutkh replied, looking at Jessie as he slowly stroked his hand down her arm.
"On the contrary," Ba’al said, his voice tinged with annoyance, "I requested the information for a reason."
Kutkh rose to his feet, a hand beneath Jessie’s elbow causing her to rise with him. "I have more important things to attend to."
Jessie groaned silently. This idiot was going to end up getting them both killed. She could literally feel Ba’al’s gaze boring into her back.
"Such as?" Ba’al asked, an amused tone to his voice.
"Training my newest acquisition," Kutkh answered, a smirk on his face.
Ba’al raised an eyebrow. "Your method of training leaves much to be desired. There isn’t a mark on her."
Kutkh looked at Ba’al with narrowed eyes, weighing his options. Using the tips of his fingers, he trailed them down Jessica’s back, causing her to stand a little straighter. "How I treat what is mine, is totally up to me. My methods may be different, but that doesn’t negate my status as master, and I would venture that if you paid attention, you might actually learn something."
Jessie didn’t have to look at Ba’al to know that his eyes flashed in anger. Hell, she was close to slapping the crap out of Kutkh herself for being such an idiot. A snake baiting a snake was never a good idea.
"Instilling fear is the quickest way to obedience. Let me have her for the evening, and I’ll see that she’s trained properly."
Kutkh snorted in annoyance. "I remember what happened to the last slave I let you…train. I prefer my own methods of breaking them in, instead of actually breaking them."
Ba’al shrugged. "The sarcophagus can repair any damage sustained."
"Thanks, but no thanks. As far as the information, I’ll have it for you tomorrow; I’m awaiting a communiqué."
"As you wish. Just remember, Kutkh, you are here because I’m allowing it. Don’t overstep your boundaries as a minor System Lord."
"I’m here because I have access to something you want—nothing more, nothing less. Unlike some, I have no delusions of grandeur. Once our business is concluded, I’ll be on my way."
A moment of silence ensued before the whoosh of the door signaled Ba’al’s departure. Kutkh turned his attention back to Jessie, noting she was trembling again. Reaching out, he ran his hand gently down her arm. "Miele?"
"Thank you," she said shakily.
"For what?" Kutkh reached around her and retrieved the joint and lighter.
"For not turning me over to Ba’al."
He regarded her silently as he took a hit. Blew the smoke out slowly. "I may be many things, but I’m not a monster. I promise you, you don’t have to worry about Ba’al…as long as you’re an obedient servant." With that he repeated his actions from earlier, holding the joint between his teeth as he shotgunned another hit to her, cradling her head with one hand.
Jessie frowned slightly as she began to feel the influence from the drug. Despite her fear and anxiety, she could feel herself relaxing, becoming more aware of her surroundings as her senses heightened. A slight wave of lightheadedness washed over her and she reached out to steady herself, her hand coming to rest on Kutkh’s chest. Through the woven fabric she could feel the warmth emanating from his skin, the slow, steady thump of his heartbeat…things she would not have noticed before. Coherent thought slowed as sensations took over.
Kutkh stubbed out the joint, watching Miele as she became more in tune with her senses. Normally he wouldn’t have given her two such strong hits, but with Ba’al’s interruption and his inferences about training, he had her so scared Kutkh knew she wouldn’t have been able to relax. Now, hopefully, there would be no more interruptions. He smiled to himself when she placed her hand on his chest, watched as her brow furrowed as she focused on the sensations she was experiencing. As far as daninha, he had no doubt she had never tried it before. Once again, the thought struck him that she had been trying to rise through the ranks, but he wasn’t absolutely certain…there was something about her, he just couldn’t put his finger on it. Although he preferred his female slaves sans clothes, for now he allowed her to keep hers on. Working on the assumption that she was an innocent, it would be to his advantage to take away the layers one at a time. It made for a more pliable servant later on.
Jessie was still focused on the warmth beneath her hand, the slow, steady thump of the heartbeat…the heartbeat of a Goa’uld. Yet, when she looked up at him, all her senses were telling her this was a man; not focused on the snake controlling the situation. That the drug could bring down her defenses that quickly, reducing things to basic instincts was definitely not a good thing; not in a situation like this.
Kutkh leaned in, resting his forehead against hers, noses side by side, mouths almost touching, and…did nothing. He let her own senses awaken, could feel when she started responding to his closeness, the way she looked at him, the shallowness of her breathing. Yet, she didn’t lean into him, didn’t initiate a kiss, which led credence to her claim as a gedikli. If she were experienced, surely she would have responded by now. The possibility that she loved another never crossed his mind.
The rush of desire caught Jessie by surprise, but her brain was too befuddled to sort out her thoughts. The warmth, the scent of this man so close to her was clouding her thoughts further. When he moved, fitting his mouth to hers, just feeling took precedence—she didn’t pull away. It was tantalizing, mesmerizing, and the onslaught of sensation so strong when he brushed his tongue along hers it caused her to gasp. Which just fed his misconceptions about her. Jessie had little recollection of exactly what happened next. One kiss blended with another, touching, tasting; no awareness of specifics, just a maelstrom of sensation. Cognition occasionally would surface, but only for seconds before dying out again. She didn’t specifically remember Kutkh taking her clothes off, or him disrobing, didn’t remember being taken to his bed, but all too unfortunately she did remember their joining, a moment of clarity she could have done without. The quiet tears he saw Kutkh attributed to her inexperience, the unavoidable discomfort of their first joining, even with her not being intact. It took him no effort to hold her in place, with him being Goa’uld and her a mere human, to complete the act to his satisfaction. When all was said and done, Jessie was fully cognizant…and there was nothing that could take that memory away.
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