DISCLAIMER: The characters Eponin and Solari etc. are owned by Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement is intended and no profit is being made.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
What Dreams May Come
Solari lay staring into the blackness of the bunkroom ceiling. She was exhausted, the work at the reclamation project had been grueling, yet sleep was elusive tonight. She heard a soft groan from the adjacent cot. Turning her head she was able to make out Eponin's huddled form. The weapons master was asleep, but the pain of her injuries managed to breach the veil of slumber.
As she lay back on her cot, Solari was mildly nauseated by the lingering scent of the liniment she had massaged into the corded muscles of Pony's back and legs. She hated that wintergreen smell. Unconsciously, she scrubbed her hands across the fur bedcovers.
Hades, she thought, how did I get myself into this mess? Not only do I have to spend six days at hard labor, but I have to tend to a cripple as well. It's not Pony's fault though, Eph should have known better than to send her out here. My regent owes me one for this.
She glanced again at Pony, replaying the events of the evening in her mind. They had finished work for the day, done a quick wash up, and sat down to eat dinner. Everyone else had wolfed down their meals of venison stew with thick slabs of crusty bread. Solari and Pony were alone at the long table.
"You gonna eat that or play with it?" Solari asked teasingly.
"Not very hungry, I guess," Pony answered as she picked through the contents of the wooden bowl. No way was she going to admit that it hurt just to chew, not even to Soli. "Look, Soli you don't have to wait for me ---go on and get a bath. I'll be along."
"No, I have to wait for you. I've got mud in places you can't imagine and I'm gonna need you to help me with it. So, if you're done, let's go get cleaned up."
After clearing their dishes from the table, Solari helped Pony to the bathing hut. The others had long since finished and left. Solari poured buckets of water, alternating hot and cold until the tub was filled with warm water. Grabbing a clean cloth and a bar of lye soap, she set them next to the wooden tub and said, "Alright, let's get you out of those dirty leathers."
"Oh no, I don't think so, Scout. I'm not one of your little snot nose scout trainees. I can manage just fine," Pony protested.
"Have it your way then, you stubborn daughter of a Bacchae." Solari glared at Ep for a moment as she sat on the bench to pull off her boots. She stood and with a quick flick of her wrist, sent belt, skirt and breechcloth to the floor. As she shrugged out of her halter, the cool, night air played over her nipples, teasing them erect. Pony inhaled audibly, unable to tear her gaze from Solari's breasts. She'd seen them before of course, but familiarity could in no way detract from their appeal, they were perfect. Hard nipples jutted from pebbled areolas. Pony was mesmerized.
Solari felt rather than saw Pony's eyes on her. On pretense of checking the water temperature, she bent over the tub. Another gasp from Pony assured her that her efforts had not gone unnoticed. Unable to keep a smirk from her face, she thought, well, well, it appears the old warhorse still has a pulse. She straightened up and turned back to Pony. Honey colored eyes met and held hers for just a moment, just long enough to send a jolt of delicious warmth to her center. Pony, despite her deep tan, blushed to the tips of her ears and renewed her struggle to remove the boot from her good leg.
Her physical response to Pony had Solari discomfited. The two had bathed together before and she'd never felt anything like this, not about Pony. This was uncharted territory, leaving Solari uncharacteristically unsure of herself.
"Look at you... big, tough warrior. You can't even get the boot off your good leg let alone the bad one. Nooo, you don't need anyone's help. You're just trying to get out of your share of the work, aren't you? Now we're both in trouble because of you." It was meant to have been a joke to lighten the mood, like whistling in the dark, but had come out much more harshly than Solari had intended.
Eponin stopped struggling with her boot, her fingers still clutching the laces, knuckles white. She sat absolutely still for several moments, barely breathing. Through her exhaustion, pain, and the lingering buzzing in her head, she heard the voice of her mother saying "because of you" over and over. All became anguished confusion, as the buzzing grew louder. The interior of the bath house melted away and she was Little Ep again, standing before Laurentia, bracing for the backhand that would surely follow the stinging slap to her right cheek. Time seemed to slow and the child could see the tendons flex in her mother's arm as the fingers closed to a fist, the arm making a wide sweeping arc as it moved toward her face.
"Ep, it was a joke! Relax, would ya?" the scout, startled by Eponin's anguished expression, peered into her friend's eyes.
Eponin did not hear. Her muscular frame visibly tensed, as she focused on the blow that was about to land, steeling herself, anticipating the pain. The impact made her teeth rattle, split her upper lip, and brought the buzzing in her ears to a roar. Her field of vision began to narrow, compressing until she felt like she was in a tunnel. She blinked rapidly several times then closed her eyes tightly. The roaring in her ears slowly faded, giving way to the rustle of leaves and bird songs. She opened her eyes to the sight of the village far below her. Resting her head against the trunk of the tree, she sat on the highest limb that would support her weight. This was her safe place. No one, not even her mother could see or touch her here. She hadn't visited this place since she was a child since that night her mother had given her away.
"Hey, are you alright? Where does it hurt? C'mon talk to me. Ep, you're scaring me," Solari was starting to panic. She had never seen the weapons master so distracted.
The urgency in the scout's voice abruptly brought Eponin back to the present. She looked around the room like she'd never seen it before. She stared at Solari as if puzzled to find her there. "I'm Um .I'm okay. I'm fine."
"Hey, how about we get you cleaned up and off to bed," Solari said, fully expecting another argument.
"Yeah, fine," was all Pony had to say. She then allowed Solari to undress her and help her into the tub. Solari then slipped into the small space behind her, legs straddling Pony's hips. Acutely aware of her nipples brushing against Eponin's back, she worked as quickly as she could, rinsing the mud from both their bodies.
Though the washing must have been painful for Pony, she never made a sound, stared straight ahead, jaw clenched, seemingly unaware of her surroundings. Solari made several attempts at conversation but gave up after it became clear that Pony wasn't listening. Maybe it's all those herbs Hilaeria's been dumping down her throat. Artemis knows she's had enough of that stuff to drop a Minotaur.
After she had exited the tub and dressed, Solari gently raised Pony's chin, and spoke very slowly and clearly "Ep, we need to get you out of the tub and I need you to help me. Okay?"
Pony seemed to come out of her daze, and simply said "Okay Lets go." Solari helped her slip the sleep shift over her head, then put on her own nightclothes. When they arrived at the bunkhouse, the other members of the work detail were already asleep.
The chief scout went in first and motioned Pony in after her. Dutifully, Solari helped lower Eponin facedown onto the bed. Hilaeria had pressed a bottle of liniment into Solari's hand as they left the village that morning, instructing her to apply it to Eponin's back every evening. The pungent smell of the decoction assailed the scout's sensitive nose, but she poured a liberal amount onto her friend's broad shoulders and began to massage it into the skin. After only a few minutes, Eponin was out cold.
Solari knew she needed to get some rest. Today had been tough and she had five more days of back breaking work to get through. She closed her eyes and willed herself to relax. A languid stretch, a yawn, and she drifted off.
It seemed as though she had only been asleep for a few seconds when she felt calloused fingers glide against her cheek in a tender caress. She opened her eyes to find a pair of eyes the color of molten-gold gazing at her. "Ep, what is it, do you need something?" Solari whispered. "You've been attending to my needs all dayit's time I returned the favor," said the weapons master. Eponin rose from her knees at the side of the bed and climbed onto the small cot straddling Solari's hips. Solari opened her mouth to protest but found a single finger pressed to her lips. "You talk too much, Scout." Eponin husked, as she leaned down to replace the finger with her lips. The kiss was tentative, very soft and slow. Solari parted her lips inviting Eponin's tongue, winding her hands into the thick ebony hair to deepen the kiss. Eponin broke away at last, then trailed kisses down Solari's chin to her throat, stopping to nip at her pulse point.
Solari gasped as she felt trembling hands move under her shift to cup her breasts. Those hands that could crush walnuts were gently kneading, softly stroking her nipples. The thought of that amazing strength, that incredible power tempered with such tenderness was so arousing; Solari could feel the dampness increasing between her thighs. Solari raised her hips pulled her shift up and over her head and tossed it aside. She needed to feel Eponin's mouth on her flesh. Eponin took a thick nipple into her mouth, sucking gently, rolling it across her tongue and finally nibbling it. Licking her way to the other breast, she encircled the nipple with her tongue teasingly. Solari groaned softly, then said "Ep, please." Obligingly, Eponin took the other nipple into her mouth and gave it the same treatment as the first.
Eponin repositioned her torso between Solari's legs. Sliding down the scout's body, she ground her ridged abdomen into Solari's wet center eliciting a whimper. Slipping her right hand between them, the weapons master teased and stroked Solari's lips, using her middle finger to encircle her opening, coming close but never quite entering her.
"Dammit Pony I need you inside me," Solari growled as she gripped Eponin's muscular forearm with both hands and pulled hard in an effort to force the contact she craved. The powerful warrior easily thwarted Solari's efforts. "I know exactly what you need, Scout," Eponin said with a grin, as she slid down Solari's body. "Yes, oh yes" Solari hissed as she pulled the dark head down to her...
Abruptly, Solari became aware of something prodding her shoulder. "Psst. Soli, wake up. Come on, the sun's been up for half a candle mark," Eponin was fully dressed, standing next to the bed, jabbing Solari in the shoulder with the end of her crutch.
Rolling over to face the wall of the bunkhouse, Solari struggled to maintain some sort of composure. Finally, she managed a curt, "Go away! Gods can't I get a moments peace around here. Sweet Aphrodite, I have got to get back to the village."
Eponin, leaning on her crutch, head down, peered at her friend through thick dark lashes and said "Fine. I'm going," and headed to the doorway of the bunkhouse. Just as she reached the door, she turned and said, very quietly, "I just wanted to thank you for..." Before she could finish, Solari, still facing the wall, spat "Just go!"
It was going to be a very long five days.
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