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Disclaimers: Universal/MCA/Renaissance are the proud owners of...um...wait...gimme a moment, I can remember this. Hmm...oh well. You know the drill. Anyway, whoever they may be, they arenít named here so I donít have to really disclaim them. *raspberry*
Subtext, maintext, supertext...explicit, whatever, just donít be surprised at what you read in here. Iíve never been one for labels and have had the same attitude toward all of the bits in this series, so call this what you will and email me with critiques and well wishes; just keep the flames to yourself.
"Mirage" is the seventh and perhaps final short story in the series called Apparitions of Love. Enjoy.
Itís raining so heavily that I can barely see a horse length before me.
Rain, driving, stinging rain that pours from the heavens like cold stream water from a cupped hand. It changes the world. A veil drops over my eyes that I can barely see through. Images become distorted, unreal. Trees that used to stretch up to the sun, yearning for its caress, now droop and sway under the force of the storm. The entire countryside disappears under the heavy, gray pall. The packed dirt road has become a quagmire, the mud clinging to my legs making my steps heavier.
I can barely remember the last time we didnít have rain, for weíve been walking in this dismal weather for what seems like an eternity. Day and night are barely distinguishable from each other, a pale glow in the dark clouds the only clue that the sun is riding high above.
I sigh and look over to my right, eyeing my equally gloomy companion.
She has seemingly endured the past days very differently than I have...which means better than I have. Who can blame her? I know I donít. Sheís walked beside me, drenched down to the bone, never complaining. What I wouldnít give to have her strength. Even from here I swear I can feel the warmth radiating from the depths of her soul. All bright sunlight and power, she gives more light to the world than even the sun.
Another sigh eases from my lips and I turn my gaze away, back to the sea of water that descends around us. Every second that passes drags me deeper into misery.
The day is growing short and though we would rather continue on our journey despite the weather, we both recognize the need to get out from the harsh weather and rest. Thankfully, shelter is easily found in this region of the mountains. Caves riddle the cliffs, dry shelter for travelers such as ourselves.
Wordlessly, we find a home for the night; a deep cave large enough for both of us and Argo. Hunting, setting up camp, and all the other chores are quickly done, for the sooner we gather wood and get out of the rain, the sooner we get dry and warm.
Soon, the fire is built and dinner is slowly roasting. Argo is comfortably settled in a side chamber. Tasks that have been put off for weeks are done in complete silence, both of us tired and worn from struggling through the mud. Leathers cleaned. Clothing laundered and mended. Armor and weapons are polished. Half-written stories completed.
Itís been days since weíve really spoken to each other. Days since weíve touched each other in passion and love, or even in companionship. The rain seems to have drained all heat from my body and all the emotions as well. I feel empty, bereft of everything...even life. I have no energy to talk to her.
The rain continues to fall as we eat, shrouding most of the world from our sight, leaving us only the limited view from the cave entrance. A curtain of water shuts us inside the earth.
The warmth in our cave grows, fed by our campfire and the heat from our own bodies. My lover grows restless, but I grow drowsy. The exertion and the fire saps my strength and I find myself nodding off into sleep.
I dream in color. Blues and greens. Of grass covered earth and crystal clear waters touching, merging like lovers. A gentle stream meandering its way through a glade.
It's much later when I finally awake, but night has come. My body is sore and my mind still bleary from sleep. Sitting up, I lean heavily on one hand and rub the remnants of the dream from my eyes, then look for my lover. I see her almost immediately and gasp in surprise.
At least, I think it's her.
My heart skips a beat and my breath catches painfully in my throat.
My lover. My heart. The other half of my soul stands framed by the rain, the bright flashes of lightning making the water glow as it falls on her body. I blink, hoping the sight doesn't disappear when I re-open my eyes but fully expecting it to. My body shivers as the blood pumps more quickly through in my veins when I realize that this is no dream.
The vision before me is perfect, but almost of a dreamlike quality. She's outlined by the glowing silver rain, which looks as if it's framed...entrapped, by the high arc of the cave entrance.
Dark to light to dark.
Earth to water to flesh.
She must be a mirage, a waking dream that clouds my mind with beauty and calls to my blood with the seduction of its illusion. The shimmering reflection on a still pool of water. Or perhaps sheís just an apparition of my love, a vision Iíve created as a last dying cry of need from my soul for hers.
Heat, almost forgotten in memory, flashes through my body to the center of my being at the mere sight of her standing there silently, leaving me lightheaded and weak. Then, as quickly as it came upon me, the warmth is gone overtaken by the cold Iíve been living in. I lock my arm to keep myself from falling back down to the bed furs and take several deep breaths to try and calm myself. After the dizziness passes I quietly stand and make my way around the fire to the entrance of our cave, stopping a couple of feet behind her where it is still dry. Her back is to me and she seems completely unaware of my presence, her eyes closed and her head tilted back, letting the torrent hit her in the face and sluice down her body.
She raises her arms and holds them out from her sides as if she is trying to embrace the rain itself. Before my eyes she seems to be becoming more water than flesh and just the thought of that possibility frightens me like nothing else in the world. Has she finally given in to the cold? Have the last few days driven us so far apart that she would leave me so willingly?
Sharp fear uncoils from deep within me, chilling even my bones. If she becomes one with the storm will she disappear? Will her flesh, that I love so much, become one with the cold outside and leave me here, bereft...alone.
Her sleek body is covered in a white linen shirt, which clings to her like her own skin. A thin membrane of heaven's liquid runs down her body to pool beneath her feet, mixing with the earth and slowly covering her feet.
Carefully, fearfully, I reach out my arm, my hand instantly becoming drenched, and brush her back.
She moves fast, almost too quickly to see. One moment she is facing away from me, the next her eyes look into mine.
"Youíre awake." She speaks so softly that I barely hear her over the patter of rain on the ground.
"Come inside," I ask simply.
After a long heartbeat she nods and takes my hand, letting me pull her back into the warmth of the cave.
I need her I realize. I need to hear her voice, feel her touch. Without it, even the weather outside isn't as cold as what is inside me. With her, I live. Without her, I fade away.
I need her to warm that cold, lonely core within me and I need to be inside of her, melting the ice within her. After days of being dragged down into glacial silence, I can barely breathe. I know without her love, it will soon be too late.
Carefully, I lead her back into the depths of our cave, setting her on our furs. I look down at her, drowning in the fathoms of her sparkling eyes. She's beautiful, perfect. Silken flesh, taut over powerful, sleek muscles and solid bone. So deceptive, she's almost an illusion, teasing the eye with softness and sensuality. Still, under my eager eyes I can see the natural power beneath that to me is just as seductive and pleasing as the vision she exudes.
It makes me shiver in awe at the thought.
Gently, almost reverently, she reaches up and pulls me down to her, touching my face with her hand, her long fingers gliding along my jaw. With a contented sigh I kneel over her thighs, leaning into the caress, my eyes closing with pleasure. With just this simple touch, I feel the cold thatís been inside me for days, beginning to evaporate. Her touch, so undemanding, so loving, shelters my soul from the rain and warms me by the fire of her soul.
Lips brush against mine. Once. Twice. Three times before pulling away. In that moment Iíve become addicted to her once more and groan as I realize that Iím already starving for another of her kisses.
"Donít...donít tease me," I beg, reaching up to wrap my hands in her hair, pulling her back to me.
A soft chuckle is my only answer before I muffle it with an ardent kiss. Sweet wine has never tasted as good and I brush past her lips, diving deep within her.
Our tongues explore one another with growing intensity, as if we havenít kissed in months, let alone days. Passion flares, quickly rising up out of control. Her hands begin to roam my body, conquering each place anew.
I breathlessly pull back and rip the soaking shift from her body, my hands instantly drawn to her cold, wet skin. Sheís now naked under my eyes and hands, and I devour her as if I've never seen her before. She's like pure golden fire molded into the body of a mortal woman; her skin glows with desire. Slowly, both her flesh and mine begin to warm under our caresses. It's when I finally reach her breasts that a moan escapes. From me? From her? I don't know and I don't care.
Her nipples grow hard and needful under my seeking fingers, yearning for more. I move forward, straddling her hips now while pushing her back into the furs so I can have the entire expanse of her beneath me for my pleasure.
Growling, she recaptures my lips in a hungry kiss causing my heart to lurch as her tongue glides over mine. She delves, burning me with her ravishing.
I can feel the cold core of me melting away under her loving attention.
I strip off my own clothes, letting them fly and fall where they will and lie against her, my length fully on hers. How did I survive without this? How am I still alive without her breath mixing with mine, without her skin sensually sliding against mine?
As I slip my thigh between hers and press up into her, a moan from deep within her vibrates throughout my entire body. Her reaction brings a smile to my lips and a thirst for more of her rages within me. Slowly, I make my way down her, nipping and tasting as much of her flesh as I can. Her long, graceful neck, the hollow nestled at the base, the delectable skin of her chest.
I tremble as I touch her, finding her breasts again like lodestone to steel. Teasing her mounds in wide tentative circles, my lips kiss the warm valley between them. She arches up, urging me on and I willingly comply with her command, taking possession of her nipples with my mouth. I bite, I lick, I tease her until she begs for more. How can I deny her request, when I want it just as much?
Hungrily, I make my way down her body, stopping only momentarily at the muscled length of her stomach, until I come to her center. Nectar, spicy and sweet, awaits me and makes my mouth flood with anticipation. The scent fills me and she trembles, waiting for my touch.
A feather's touch at first, shy and wondrous. She tastes like the first hint of summer, warm honey coating my tongue and exploding in my brain. Then, unable to control myself, I dive into her, consuming her with all my will. She writhes beneath me and wraps her fingers into my hair, pressing me deeper into her. I give her all she demands and take all I wish. My tongue caresses every inch over her, delving and swirling, driving her into passion's insanity.
I can feel myself rising along with her, warming myself at her fire. My arms hold her wildly bucking hips down so I can feed unhindered, my own body responding to each quiver, my heartbeat pulsing as fast as her own.
As we merge, body and soul, the remnants of cold within us melt and dissolve, and we reform as one. Cries of our love fill the air as we crest the peak together. Then as we fall from that glorious height of passion, I pull myself up and collaspe in her waiting arms. Heat radiates off our entwined bodies, mixing with the colder cave air. We shimmer, like a mirage giving off radiance in a desert, but instead of lost hope at the end of our journey, there is peace, warmth, and love. Together, we give the hope we need to each other, making an oasis which is more beautiful than any apparition. Apart, we are cold and lifeless, mere shadows among countless others in a world of almost complete darkness.
"I miss this," I whisper into her ear, kissing it just because it's there. "Days...we haven't touched for days."
A soft chuckle answers me and she turns in my embrace kissing me gently. "Much too long," she agrees.
Her hands begin to roam and I feel my heart warming again. Soon, we are merging once more, fighting against the cold outside that wants to drag us down. For here, together, we are more than any apparition. More substantial than any dream or reflection, far more real than countless visions or illusions, more alive than spectres or phantoms, and far more solid than any apparition or mirage.
Together, we are reality.
Together, we are love.
Well, I seem to be running out of titles, so Iím going to end this series with Mirage.
It was in this series that I first started writing subtext, and although it has spread out somewhat into my other work, Apparitions of Love has always been the place where I could experiment by writing alt poetry in a kind of prose (or at least my version of it). I hope youíve enjoyed reading these "stories" as much as Iíve enjoyed writing them.
Have Katiepult. I think my catapult is on strike. Sheís ignoring me.
"Bard? Where? There is only one bard folks and the rest of us are just figments of someone's deranged imagination."
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