She also remembered those words. At the time, they had been comforting. Straight avarice, as a reason for helping her, was understandable. Coming out of the honeyed words and 'because you deserve it' promises of Panatha, it had been a relief. She never could have trusted him if he had claimed altruism, because then and there, altruism was deeply suspect for every reason that mattered.
Even now, coming from someone who hadn't gained her trust as he had, she would have put the talk of gifts into the box labeled danger, proceed with caution.
She didn't pretend that they hadn't changed since that day. Not merely as individuals (she more than he, in every way it could be measured), but in how they responded to each other. Respect, friendship, affection had grown out of something merely hungry and amused. She could accept a 'gift' from him.
If he could accept the same in return from her.
It seemed, for the moment, like he could.
Of course, that all seemed perfectly academic when he flashed innocent eyes at her and trailed questing fingers up her side.
She'd had every intention of sleeping on the couch in the room just outside, door open so she could listen until he said that. She couldn't hide the flicker of surprise that flashed across her face. Sure they slept together, but they didn't sleep together. For all of the hunger shared between them, that was not an intimacy that either had attempted to instill, both respecting something unspoken, thus far, uninvited by either.
Irajah had rarely in the past slept with her lovers. Had rarely had a situation where that sort of vulnerability and a different kind of intimacy was desired, or indeed easy. One person had so effortlessly fit into her life in that way for a few short weeks, but her death had changed something between them in a way that she did not pretend to understand. And in truth, couldn't, if he wouldn't speak to her.
So many things changed in that single moment of blade across pale flesh. Some she couldn't change back, even if she wanted to.
What then, did she want to do with this change?
Were these pathways she wanted to tread simply because it was easy to do so? Because it was convenient, because she was convenient? To simply do, as she had always done, only filling the space offered to her without concern?
Or did she want something more than that?
"I will sleep on the couch," she said slowly, forestalling a response by laying a pair of fingers on his lips.
"Or....." she searched his face, not really sure what she was looking for, which made it impossible to find. "Or I'll stay here with you. On two conditions. The first is that you tell me that's what you want. The second..... that you do as I say. For one night. I'm not going to have you injure yourself worse because you're as stubborn as I am, and I'll have that promise from you now, or I'll steal one of these pillows and out to the couch I go, so you can rest, Carach."