This scene occurs after last week's session of Changeling, following Clio's run-in with the House of Winter and her visit to Malvolio's party.
RATED NC-17 (to be safe) for sexual content, slight gore, 'unusual' Changeling physical features, and language.
Clio seated herself at the dressing table in the bedroom Malvolio had directed her to, after her decision to retire from the party. She knew he didn't want her to; she also knew he had attempted to spike her drink more than twice. She had avoided this by pretending to be drunker than she was - she wanted to remain somewhat in control of her actions if possible. Additionally, Malvolio knew next to nothing about her level of tolerance, and he was less likely to interfere if he thought she was already intoxicated.
In reality, Clio had been sipping her drinks and then discarding them whenever Malvolio mingled elsewhere, only finishing a third of each glass. But if she at least appeared vulnerable, she knew she could get him alone. She was utterly aware where this would lead, and accepted the consequences - Malvolio's main language was pleasure, after all. She'd always resisted his thinly veiled advances, so what better way to feign trust than to give in?
She had to wait a while. The room almost seemed like it belonged to someone - there were trinket boxes on the table and a small selection of clothes in the wardrobe. Conversely, the bedsheets were freshly laundered and the space had the air of hotel accommodation. The decor was elegant, if a little brash for Clio's personal tastes. Most everything was coated in a rich red, somewhere between scarlet and crimson, with intricate damask wallpaper and well upholstered furniture, with gold accents. The resulting ambience was dark and yet bright, though strangely claustrophobic. Perhaps merely because of the colours, perhaps because it all evoked some reminder of how things were when Clio was a girl. It was usual to find rooms like this throughout Venice - the Florian itself was an echo of a past era - but somehow, this room jarred with Clio. She wrote it off to nerves, and the anticipation of Malvolio's inevitable arrival. Through the floor the sounds of the party could still be heard, muffled music and voices. Clio had helped herself to a silk robe from the wardrobe, leaving her clothes folded neatly on one of the chairs, and sipped slowly at the drink she'd brought in. As the minutes ticked by, she took down her hair and began to braid it - a habit she sometimes still fell into, and a memory of her life before she was taken.
It was the early hours of the morning by now, and she'd begun to wonder if Malvolio had found himself another distraction - but then there was a knock on the door. He entered before Clio had time to invite him in, and closed the door behind him.
"Ah, Clio - I expected you to be asleep already." He paced forward, further into the room.
Normally she would have retorted, challenging his reasons for walking in if he thought she was passed out - but she bit her tongue, and turned her head a little to face him. "I was tired... I'm not anymore. I'm worried about the House of Winter."
"I told you, you're safe here for now. We're in this together, aren't we?" He knelt down next to her, hand on her shoulder. His face seemed oddly sincere, but Clio had seen him sport such an expression before. She was almost doubtless that it was a mask.
"I suppose so," she answered, keeping her voice light and faithful. She fingered her glass, lifting it to drain the last of the liquid. Malvolio watched her, though she could see he was also taking a moment to glance at his reflection in the mirror. There was a pause; she realised he must be gauging his window of opportunity.
"This room's very beautiful," she noted, taking another look up at the ceiling, "It reminds me of... well, I can't really say. It was such a long time ago. But it reminds me of something."
He simply smiled. "I know what you mean."
A pause, then - "It was a long time ago for you, too?" She had never discovered anything concrete about Malvolio's past - his real life, where he had belonged before. In the early days of meeting him, she had once confided that she remembered the old Carnevale balls, and he had deduced that they were cut from the same cloth, meant to be friends.
"Yes, it seems so anyway," he replied vaguely.
"But you're not originally from here," she only half questioned; she could tell from his dialect that he hailed from a different part of Italy, and a very different period of time than herself. She was almost certain he had a much younger history than she did, even though his way of speech was often concealed in grandeur and graces.
"From Venice, no. Milano. But it pales in comparison. I feel I am much better suited here."
Pushing her luck slightly, Clio ventured - "So you didn't like it?"
"I don't often talk about it. I'm sure you understand." His faintly patronising tone signified that this subject of conversation was not a favourite one. So Clio took a moment to check her image in the looking glass; a fleeting flicker of eyelashes and two fingers brushing a lock of hair aside.
She was practiced at this, and from all she knew of Malvolio, it would take little to persuade him that she'd succumbed to his charms. "Aren't you missing the party?" She inquired.
Malvolio shrugged. "It would be wrong of me not to check on you." A few seconds, then he added, "Besides, all the other interesting people have left."
She reached out absentmindedly for her glass again, even though it was empty, tracing her index finger around the rim. "You find me interesting?"
He smiled once more, although this time it had a hint of mischief. "I assumed you already knew that, Clio." His hand had steadily shifted from her shoulder and down her arm, but ever so gently. If Clio had been drunk, she wouldn't have noticed it until now. When she didn't shake him off, he continued speaking. "I meant to ask you where the book is currently."
"It's not at my apartment. It's with a friend."
"A member of your motley?"
She shook her head. "That's not important."
Malvolio sighed almost audibly; for a few moments he averted his eyes and seemed to be thinking. Then he cast his full attention back to Clio. "You still haven't used the book, then? Not since I met you in the Florian?"
"No," she confirmed.
He looked slightly confused. "That's a little wasteful. I thought you were desperate to meet your true love." There was a mocking, yet friendly tone in his voice.
"I wouldn't say desperate," Clio countered indignantly. "...I just... want to be sure this is what I want."
Malvolio raised an eyebrow. "You're not sure?"
Shrugging, she got up slowly from the chair and turned from him, pacing. He rose from his crouching position and stood, watching her.
"You know, I've been trying to escape from who I am, who I've been forever. But really, I don't know how to be anything else. I think I'm afraid of being something else. I don't think I understand love. That's why I haven't used the book yet."
Malvolio approached, and she felt his hand back on her shoulder, easing her around to look at him. "I didn't mean to upset you," he said. He sounded almost apologetic.
"You didn't," she claimed. "I mean, I should have used it sooner, but I thought I'd have more time. After all, finding my true love means my last true Carnevale." She made sure there was a palpable note of wistfulness in her last sentence.
"I wondered if that might be the case," he answered, after a short silence. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed." His fingertips touched against hers, and she couldn't recall ever being this close to him without trying to turn away politely. Luckily it wasn't too long before he spoke again, as he measured the glazed appearance of her eyes and the apparent compliance to their proximity. "I always imagined we might be more than friends, Clio." His other hand rose up slowly to her hair, gently moving his fingers through the half-braid and loosening it to let her hair free. "Perhaps I can just settle for making this Carnevale memorable..." He brushed a thumb against her cheek.
Clio let him kiss her, planning to draw back, even protest, before agreeing to his advance. But the heady sensation of his lips - tender and smooth as rose petals - moving against hers was more inviting than she would have cared to admit. She had never thought about kissing Malvolio, even during those awkward party scenes when he flirted with her shamelessly in front of the entire crowd, making her blush because for some reason, his words affected her. She slipped her tongue into his mouth as he braced her firmly against the door of the wardrobe.
His fingers tugged gently at the sash of the silk robe, loosening the knot and and pushing the garment from Clio's shoulders. It fell to her ankles, revealing her mien fully for the first time. Her flame-red hair cascaded over rounded breasts, but breasts that were covered in scales. Clio's entire body was silver-blue, glinting as though under moonlight. The scales spread from the shoulders downwards. Her face was smooth, and her neck was slender as it seemed in her human form, but there were several slits - gills - in either side of her throat. The spaces between her fingers and toes were webbed.
Malvolio raised an eyebrow, but it wasn't as though he hadn't been with his fair share of interestingly designed ladies. In any case, his own mien was strange enough. It was one thing for Clio to be acquainted with his purple hair and rose-like lips - but as he tore open his shirt, losing a button or two, his appearance seemed amplified. His chest was even paler than his face, translucent. It would have looked fragile if not for the muscles still showing beneath the skin. He was hairless from the neck down, but violet veins - or they looked like veins - snaked from his navel, and past the waistband of his trousers. Touches of this purple could also be seen at the tips of his fingernails and around his nipples.
"Facciamo l'amore," he whispered, tracing both hands outside the curves of her breasts.
"Amore?" She repeated breathlessly, her hands on his chest, grasping at him. "Voglio scopare." It wasn't a lie - she didn't think she had ever 'made love' to anyone, and she wasn't sure what it was like. With Malvolio, it was surely just a turn of phrase, but either way, the word 'love' and Malvolio did not seem to match.
He laughed a little, and then his eyes darkened. "Bene." He gave a devilish smile, and Clio heard the quiet sound of his trousers being unfastened and discarded before her. Her eyes cast down to see his naked lower half, and it was mostly instinct that caused her to drop slowly to her knees. As a whore, Clio had not always been subservient - sometimes a more powerful feminity was preferable - but using her tongue generally did not go unappreciated. Malvolio appeared pleasantly surprised by this adherance to sexual hierarchy.
As Clio's fingers encircled the base of his erect manhood, she was able to study it more intimately. The purple tinge that spread beyond his hips became a full blush over his length, fading into lilac at the tip. The texture was the same as human flesh, with one difference - the surface was slightly sticky, like the surface of a burr. It was more difficult than usual to work with - almost like licking a frozen block of ice, her tongue would stick fast for a second or two. But it was only a few minutes before she became accustomed to it, the glue more pliable when mixed with her saliva. It tasted strangely sweet but medicinal, as though someone had added too much sugar to herbal tea. Malvolio steadied himself with his palms on the door of the wardrobe, allowing her to continue until he could feel her commitment begin to wane. He reached down and took hold of her chin carefully, easing her mouth away and gesturing for her to stand up. Then he turned slowly, making his way over to the bed, and she saw that there were spikes - no, thorns - protruding from the centre of his back, directly along his spine. He arranged himself unabashedly on the blankets, beckoning to her, and Clio felt suddenly quite exposed - walking slowly across the room towards him, completely nude, with his eyes drinking in the view.
She found the foot of the bed, crawling softly onto the mattress in the sultry manner she'd learned in Arcadia; hair falling forward and curtaining her shoulders and breasts. She looked more like a Greek siren now, playing up to the part of wanton seductress. To some it would have been intimidating; if Malvolio felt the same, he didn't show it. He was quietly triumphant in his quarry, letting Clio nestle herself between his waiting thighs. Her body felt unusually cold, the scales smooth and shining, but not like those of the dead fish in the market. They had a vibrancy to them, a quality of brightness. Malvolio swept Clio's hair back, then produced a small glass vial of liquid, seemingly from behind the pillow. Clio couldn't see if he'd hidden it on his person, or whether he'd been keeping it in the room. Her trust wavered a little as he uncorked the vial, offering it up to her lips.
"What is it?" She asked warily.
He spoke wryly. "Something expensive." He lifted the vial, sipping a little of its contents, before looking at Clio expectantly. She noticeably hesitated - she hadn't wanted to take drugs, though she was perhaps naive to think that Malvolio would not ply her to do so. At her look, he pouted. "No need to be scared, Clio. Here, just have a drop?"
A pause, and she relented, giving a small nod. Malvolio smiled and dipped his middle finger into the vial before raising it to her tongue. She barely tasted anything, it was almost just like water. Malvolio's expression was mischevious as he knocked back the rest of the substance, emptying the vial and dropping it to the floor. Clio didn't begin to feel the effects until Malvolio had been kissing her for several minutes. At first she felt an intense wave of nausea - Malvolio's scent didn't help, that dizzy combination of clashing floral perfumes. It felt too strong suddenly, suffocating, and Clio thought she might even be sick. But it passed, giving way to a strange lightheadedness. It left her in a euphoric, dreamlike state, pulling and pushing at Malvolio's sculpted figure as the bedsheets tangled around them. She wasn't quite sure when he found his way inside her, but suddenly her walls were enveloping him as he thrust from below. He cursed breathlessly in Italian, his teeth in her neck, his feet kicking at the sheets as he changed position to lie above her. Her legs curled around his waist, her hands sliding down his back. They caught on the thorns, her palms bleeding, but the pain was fleeting and lost amongs
t the drug-fuelled haze. The smears of blood mingled with the crimson of the bedspread. The next hour seemed to exist in sensory flashes - words mouthed into the pillows, interlocking fingers, a honeyed flavour on Clio's lips. But her high came to an abrupt end just after her climax, the lights and colours coming back into sharp focus - she was hit with a migraine, and blacked out as Malvolio spent himself inside her.
When she awoke, a chalky grey light was beginning to creep in through the windows - dawn was an hour or so away, and Malvolio had fallen asleep next to her. Clio felt sudden, raw pain in her hands, and squinted to see congealed blood. Malvolio's body was striped with it, a striking paint upon his white skin. He looked somehow different lying there, his chest rising and falling with sated breaths. He may even have looked innocent if not for the permanent curve still attached to his lips, as though he was laughing at someone within a dream. Clio propped herself up on one elbow, watching him closely.