immolation | dj shiva

"Even our intimacies are rigged with terror..." - Adrienne Rich

All I know in this moment is heat and skin. The hot flush of blood rising beneath the surface of her chest, the taste of salt and sweet on my tongue. I block out all the external input that usually clouds my processes: chemical compounds, angles and trajectories, the velocity of desire. All I know in this moment is Sarah.

She sighs. Drags her arm across her eyes as she bites her lower lip. I live for this.

Something more than passion underlies her slow exhale. Sudden tension grips her muscles. It's not my sensors that tell me this, but my sense of her. Stories told to me by the briefest glance, a quirk of her lips, a breath. I read her mood shifts like poems. Her throat moves as she swallows. She has something to say. I know she doesn't want to say it. There is fear in this moment, buried underneath pleasure. She can't stop the question.

"What will it feel like?" Sandpaper and honey in her voice. Dry from the exertion, sweet from its source. She swallows again, pulls her arm down to wrap her fingers in mine. "What will it feel like to burn?"

I consider not answering. Tighten my fingers around hers. She knows I heard her question, so I take a moment to process it. Really, a microprocessor could answer her in nanoseconds. Give her details about the flash point of human flesh, the temperature at which bone turns to ash. A dispassionate exposition on thermodynamics. A terminator would tell her this.

As I think through the many ways to answer, her eyes drift toward the clock beside the bed. We both know the date. I move lower and draw my tongue over the taut muscles of her belly, goosebumps rising to meet me. I wasn't fast enough. Her hand shakes in mine, her green eyes swivel back to stare at a point somewhere behind my left shoulder. The inexorable march of time continues with each tick of the second hand. She desperately wants not to be afraid. She knows that I am not fooled.

I know that she needs an answer.

I draw myself up to her. Those green eyes that have stared me down in anger, softened in pleasure, and asked of me things that I never knew I could feel... I need them now. As scared as she is in this moment, her eyes are life. The hypnotic pull of her gaze keeps me from drifting off into cold, mathematical calculations and pedantic recitation of facts. That would be easier right now. It would be easier to be a terminator than her protector, her partner, her lover.

I am no longer a terminator. I am only those things that make me a part of her.

I contemplate the first time I watched my body burn. The body, I correct myself. I remember the prickle of heat on my skin, the burn in my nostrils, the smell of burning flesh. Watching the mirror image of myself as the flames licked away skin and the metal shone from underneath. Then her hand under mine. Conscience coalescing into emotion.

I think about pain. The moment when bullets dig deep into flesh, the searing flash and the moment of near blindness that follows. The sharpness and the dull throbbing as she digs the bullets out with whatever is handy... a knife, a screwdriver. She has always been gentle, even when she hated me.

I think about her touch. The temperature of her skin, the calluses on her fingertips, the patterns she's drawn on my back in the dark, the flames that lick out across nerve endings at each caress. The emotions she has drawn out of me with those fingers, driving deep inside me.

And I think of how it feels to be inside the heat of her. Her muscles clenching around me, welcoming me into a fire like I have never known.

I realize then that I don't have the answer to the question she is asking, not really. The only answer I have is to be found in the space between us, the heat of her breath on my lips, her body against mine. I can feel the heat as my face reddens.

"Do scary robots have defense mechanisms, Tin Miss?" She reaches up and wraps her fingers in my hair as she chuckles. It's low and gravelly and... breathtaking. I have a place in my database just for her laughs. Her lips are soft on mine as she grants me another amused laugh. "Are you practicing avoidance because you don't want to tell me?" Her grin is wry, but her eyes tell me the question is a serious one.

"I... I don't know." Her brow furrows. I try to formulate my thoughts into words. "I could give you a million different answers, some scientific, some just conjecture." I unwind my fingers from hers and gently stroke her cheekbone, soft skin a salve for my confusion. "But the truth is, I really don't know what to say." I drop my hand. I feel useless to her in this moment.

I believe that the bending of time to change history is a futile effort. Maybe we cannot stop the future, but only delay the inevitable. I would have stopped the world for her if I could; used all the technology contained within me to find a place for her not filled with fear and destruction and watching John and Savannah harden into scarred warriors. I would have done this despite the fact that it runs counter to every notion of cold logic contained within the mechanisms of my existence. I would have done it because none of that stops the swelling in my chest when she looks my way, the warmth that suffuses my body when she speaks my name. I would have done it if it were possible. But here we are, on this day we have fought so hard to stop. Today, I have truly failed Sarah.

I can't look her in the eyes.

There is an instant upon which everything hinges. A move in either direction can determine the path of the future. Time contracts on a molecular level and expands into a measure larger than even advanced machines can comprehend. Caught on a breath, the moment passes as she lifts her hand to take hold of mine again.

I lift my eyes to meet hers. She wraps her hot mouth around my fingers, wetting them with her tongue. She slowly glides both of our hands down her body, easing between her legs. Blood beneath my skin boils as I touch liquid heat.

Her breath caresses my ear as she whispers. "If this is what we have, then we burn together."

As I slide into her, Sarah arches her back. She closes her eyes and bares her throat to me. I marvel at the curve of her jawbone. Our pace quickens. The clock strikes midnight without a sound. The day ends. Another day begins.

All I know in this moment is heat and skin.

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