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Disclaimers: Universal/MCA/Renaissance are the proud owners of...um...I think I forgot their names. Hmm...oh well, Iím sure one or two of you out there have an idea of who it might be. Anyway, whomever they may be, their souls live here in the realm of fan fiction, where I think they truly belong.
Subtext, maintext, supertext...call it what you will. These stories have gotten more explicit as this little series has progressed, so donít be surprised at what you read in here. Although, IMHO, these are more like bits of sensuality than anything else you might label them. But this isnít just sex folks...at least, not for me. Poetry? Erotica? I just have no idea what to label the silly things. Altfic just seems so confining nowadays. *G* Anyway, call it what you will, just keep the flames to yourself.
Phantom is the fifth short story in the series called "Apparitions of Love". Enjoy.
I am dry with longing and I hunger for her.
Safe now. Iíve flown to you like a child to its mother.
I awake feeling as if Iím floating in a warm pool of sunlight.
Itís always day here, or at least Iíve never seen the night and the bright stars that grace it. Even my memories of the evening are vague. How many days have passed while Iíve been here? How many turns of the seasons? Have I always been here? Have I ever even seen a night sky? A moon? Spring or winter? Or are these recollections just flitting figments of my mind?
Whatever they are, the memories are dim, fading...slipping away to disappear in the glowing comfortable heat of the light that wraps around me.
I finally realize, after what might be another day or two of dreamy thoughts, that my eyes are closed and so I open them. As I sit up, I gaze around in drowsy curiosity at all the people that drift around me. They seem to pay me no mind, although one or two do gaze at me with vague smiles.
Beyond them are green fields of grass as far as I can see, broken only by groves of trees and a meandering stream that flows into a tranquil pond. Women and men peacefully sit, walk, or sleep in the warm light. Not a one with an urge to be anywhere else. This is our existence...this light, this peace.
I wonder if this has always been so.
As if that thought is a beacon, a feeling unlike any I remember comes to me. Before, there was only tranquillity inside me, now there is uncertainty and loss. But it does not come from within me, for I have nothing to regret, no pain to bear. In fact, I canít recall a time when I was sad and when I try to remember the feeling, nothing comes to mind.
So what is this? It seems so foreign, a sensation that is a stranger to this world of serenity.
And I respond to it. It is impossible not to.
It tugs at my soul, an ache that, at first, only trickles into my soul, but quickly builds into a steady stream of indistinct but stronger emotions. My palms itch and I feel as if I must do something...anything.
Standing up, I scrutinize this idyllic place more closely, certain that something is amiss. But I find only happy people and I see no lonely...yes, thatís the emotion, I know it.
Itís loneliness that wells up from deep within me. So intense, it moans like a living being inside my head...inside my very soul.
Calling, begging for me.
Craving every part of me.
Heart bleeding, aching for me.
This existence...this warm womb of a world is all I know. No sorrow here. No pain. Emotions that I donít remember having before and barely understand. Where does this pull come from?
I close my eyes for only a moment, to try and find its source, but all I feel is the sadness growing, spreading throughout my body until I feel wetness on my face.
In shock I open my eyes again and lift a shaking hand to my cheek and look at it. Water, warm and clear, is on my fingertips. Carefully I taste it and the faint salty flavor surprises me.
That is what these are. I remember now. Tears.
I look at them in both awe and confusion. What need do I have for tears here?
Then I find my feet moving, almost of their own accord. Away from these people, these specters whom I donít know.
As I walk through the soft, sweet smelling grass, the tug within me seems to grow even stronger, as if with every step I take I grow closer to its wellspring. Soon I find myself running as fast as I am able, a wind in a world without even a breeze.
Beyond hills of soft clover, through cool springs, and past groves full of content people.
Every step brings new breath into me, blowing away the haze within my mind. I donít completely understand it, but I know...I know this place is not meant for me. That something...waits for me. All I need do is find it.
Through a forest of tall trees and into the mist I journey, my pace never slowing. The fog grows darker and the light becomes a reddish hue. Then Iím through and running past a far different landscape. Grim people inhabit this place. Screaming, writhing, masses of people in a world that is definitely not like the meadows I know.
But my eyes barely acknowledge their existence, for the need I have to keep running, to find the source of this pain and suffering, is far greater than my curiosity for this darker realm.
Through shadowy caverns I travel, moving unerringly toward my goal. Soon, I am passing fewer of these desperate souls and I am now alone.
A massive structure rises before me, but I barely see. Only the flash of the white, glistening bones of the gate catches my eye for a brief moment. It doesnít matter that the space between the bars isnít wide enough, or that a dark shape hurls itself at me as I twist and dive between. It doesnít matter that this beast has three heads or that its eyes gleam with an immortal glow. It doesnít matter that fangs snap at me and the monster howls loud enough to make the ground rumble in protest.
It just doesnít matter.
The bars are no hindrance if you donít let them be and the dog is just that...a dog. Three heads or one, I leap over and disappear into the shadows, not even hearing the cries of annoyance and rage.
It just doesnít matter, because itís already behind me and I have only the earth, damp and moist, surrounding me, herding me like a child being born towards...towards...
If only I knew.
The scent of water comes to me and I follow the thread of anguish towards it, diving into the dark, cold depths without taking a breath.
Down into the murky pool I swim, my strokes as swift and as sure as my racing steps on land.
Here in the deep gloom, my only light is that which is within me. The glow of the fields, the warmth of contentment and happiness is gone, replaced by the call, the need inside.
Then, there is a new light, flickering not far below me. Twinkling and teasing me on, until I break the surface of the water and come out into the world again.
A cloak of ebony thrown across the sky and glittering tears that have fallen from the gods' eyes.
I remember this now.
Orion. The Fish. Andromeda. So many others.
As I leave the lake and begin again my hurried journey, fragments of memory come to me. A warm, crackling fire. Fur from my bedroll tickling the backs of my legs as I stare up into the sky with...with...
I almost stumble as I realize that this vague shape without a face or voice, which now stands out from the fog in my mind, brings more forgotten memories to the fore.
Slim hands traveling over my body knowingly. Soft lips tease my lips.
Now the ache within me is no longer just from this other source, but wells up from my own depths.
With a burst of energy, I run faster until the shadows of the trees pass by in a blur.
I must get closer.
It draws me...something...
No. Someone draws me nearer.
Then the shadows pass and I know I am near. Instinctively I slow down and come to a stop.
A campsite lies before me with a banked fire, meager belongings, a faintly familiar pale four-legged shadow in the trees, and a near naked form lying on a bed roll.
Still drawn, as if I am a moth to a flame, I kneel down beside the slumbering figure.
Hair gleaming in the bright moonlight, skin almost glowing as brilliant as the embers of the fire. Leisurely, my gaze drifts down her body, taking in the light sleeping tunic she wears that reveals more than it covers.
Just the sight of her stirs me. A tide of desire rushes up within me, but still I feel confusion as well.
Who is this woman and how does she cause such turmoil inside of me?
I bend down and try to brush my hand along her cheek. But I am a phantom...nothing to her. I can feel only the vaguest of sensations as I caress her skin. It is then that she rolls over from her side and onto her back, one forearm resting under her head.
So beautiful...but who is she? What does she mean to me? What is this pain she bears inside? So beautiful...so sad.
As if entranced I lean down further, my face to hers. Breath, that sweet, life-giving elixir, escapes from her lips. I tremble as I taste it upon the night air, savoring its warmth and dive in, brushing her mouth with mine. Like a breeze, I touch her the only way I can.
The moan that erupts from her melds with my own and my hunger increases tenfold. This is no stranger now. No memory can taste as sublime. This is the other half of my soul.
She sleeps, dreaming of whom I need not ask, for her eyes flutter beneath long lashes and she whispers my name in aching, sensual need. This was the call I answered.
Oh Hades, you placed me in the most divine of worlds, but even with the pain of memory taken from me...I knew something is missing. No matter the distance, no matter the price I have yet to pay, there is no way you could hold me from the very person that brings me the most peace. By her side...that is where my Elysian Field is. Nowhere else.
I run my hand along the planes of her face and even though I can barely feel it, I do remember.
Silken skin passes under my fingers and fine hairs rise as I drift down to her neck. I imagine the faint warmth as hotter under my touch, her pulse, drumming rapidly against my hand, matching my own. A whispering trail along the top of her breastbone, to dip into the slight well at the base of her neck.
My lips can do nothing less but to follow my caresses now and I brush them, like the lightest of feathers along her skin. The subtle scent of her body wafts up to me and I nearly whimper as the memories keep flooding in.
No ethereal flower from Persephoneís gardens could smell as fragrant. My ghostly lips barely taste her skin, both my hands now roam her body.
As I cup soft swells through the thin material, my thumbs brushing hardened tips, I lift my head and gaze down at her face. How could I have forgotten this face?
I love you, I murmur, wondering if she could hear my words in her Dreamworld.
Eyes, sparkling like the most precious of gems, open sleepily and I gasp aloud in wonder at their depths. My hands still and I wonder if she truly did hear me, or perhaps even felt my touch. But I know that it is impossible, for I am insubstantial. My hands can barely feel her warm skin and she could easily dismiss my touch as the gentlest of breezes.
Oh Hades, now I understand why you take the memories from us. It is not the painful recollections that we need to be protected from, but the most pleasant. What we do not miss, we can not yearn for.
And then...she calls my name.
Perhaps she glimpses me by the light of the moon or perhaps its Loveís eyes that gift her. Either way, I answer her, my eyes brimming over with joyous tears.
Carefully she reaches up and cups my phantom cheek and touches one of the glittering drops. Bringing it back down she gazes at it in reverence.
"Beloved," she whispers, her own tears now sliding off her cheeks.
Love, I answer. Yes, my heart aches, but it soars also. The pain of remembering is indeed worth the price.
"Is this..." she paused, her face drawn with sadness. "Are you..."
She cannot finish and my heart begins to break along with hers.
Yes, this is real. I am here. As much as I can be, I reply. I could come no sooner.
I will not tear her heart further by saying that I could not remember her. Sheís burdened by enough pain as it is.
"Touch me," she pleads, her eyes streaming with burning tears.
I lean down once again to try and capture her lips in mine. Need...aching desire. Such words are insignificant beside the truth. As her mouth and mine merge, I feel more solid against her and swear I can taste her more fully.
She groans beneath me and places her hands upon my hips, her fingers instinctively pulling me down on her.
Length to length. Warm flesh against spectral flesh. Living breath mixing with ethereal breath.
Almost trembling from the exquisite sensations, I part my lips, offering...supplicating myself to her. With a sigh she complies and delves within me, searching out each remembered taste and texture.
My hands begin to move again, caressing soft flesh through the light and billowy shirt. Legs part and entwine.
Sure hands run up and down my sides, exploring each rib, each dip and swell. If I was wearing any semblance of clothing, it is long gone. My body trembles at her touch. It knows its other half. It has no need for reminders.
I love you, I tell her again, glad that she awoke from her slumbers.
Her answer is only a growl of need as she consumes my mouth and devours the contours of my body with her hands.
She begins to move under me, undulating with want as she presses up against me, demanding...commanding.
I obey as I have always obeyed. She summoned me and I came. There is nothing I would not do for her.
She gives a small groan of annoyance as I leave the sweet well of her mouth and travel down. Then she gives a louder one when she realizes that I plan to torture her.
She may command and I may obey...but I obey at my own pace and I plan to savor every single space of her body that I can get to. I want to sear her into my memory this time. Never again will I forget. Never!
As my lips once again explore the body of my soul, I carefully roll us over. Then taking her nightshirt in my two hands, I will them to grasp it and tear it from her body.
My mind hazed by desire, I donít care how I did it, only that the objective was accomplished and she is revealed to me, fully.
She glows in the moonlight like a goddess, rising above my supine body, her eyes glittering into mine. Taking my hands in her own, she guides me to her, returning me to her soft curvy flesh.
Touching? Merging is more accurate.
I moan with pleasure and lift myself up to taste her. Hardened tips strain against my lips as I kneed and caress. Her hands in my hair urge me on, begging me for more one moment...demandingly crushing me against her the next. Her warm silken thighs wrap around my waist and I can feel her desire searing me.
But not enough...I need more and eventually I leave the feasting grounds of her breasts and pull her up and above me.
I tease her as only I know how. Each nip, each nibble on her lithe inner thighs sending a riot of tremors through her body.
Eyes narrowed to bare, gleaming slits, look into my own with hunger.
"Touch me," she pleads yet again, her voice cracking with the strain of want.
Forever, I promise as I finally stroke the length of her, tasting her.
How could I have forgotten this? This sweet potion that pours from her as strongly as the love she shares. She is my fountain, my wellspring and I eagerly drink from her, taking everything she has to offer.
Even when the first shudders rip through her and she arches into the sky screaming my name like a benediction, I do not stop my partaking of her essence...my thirst is far too great. So, again and again I suckle and stroke her, enjoying her continuing cries of pleasure as much as her taste.
It is only when she collapses against me, pleading with me to stop, that I move and bring her into my arms.
As the night stills around us, recovering from my loverís passionate outcries, I take in a breath just so I can inhale her scent again. My eyes close with delight as I taste her on my lips...and in my soul. I shall not soon forget her.
When I open them again, she is looking down at me. Several emotions flicker across her flushed face.
Sorrow. Love. Fear. Desire.
But I donít need to see them on her face, for I feel them within me. I donít wish to go back, for I love this woman. I donít want to go back to that green meadow where only happiness reigns and desire is forgotten.
Even now I can feel myself becoming less tangible, the sensation of my loverís skin growing faint.
"Donít leave. Please," she begs. Sparkling tears once again flow from her beautiful eyes.
How can I deny her?
How can I refuse my Elysia?
Actually, Iíve purposefully left it so that either one of our heroines can be the phantom. I think this story (out of all in the Apparitions of Love series) comes the closest to being vague about who is who. This is a good thing, but if youíre not satified with that answer, hereís another. If you want, you could say that this is my answer to Sacrifice II. Although I rather doubt TPTB will bring Gabrielle back to us this way, itís sure fun to think so. *VBEG*
Iíve actually written several stories or scenes with this theme. For some reason death and love have always hit a poignant note with me. (Romeo and Juliet is still my all time favorite Shakespeare play.) Because of this, One Last Warlord, Broken in Two, "The Tapestry of Love" series, and Two Hearts, One Soul have been among my favorite to write. This same theme is also one reason why I changed my views on UberXena fan fiction. Just reading about the spirits of these two characters that refuse to be separated, even by death, is just so interesting to me.
Can you believe I was so pumped when writing this, that I completed it in six hours? *G* Now if only Passage Into Darkness would go so well. *L*
Anyway, it looks as if Iím babbling yet again.
Warlord in Training - Card carrying Union member even.
Have Katiepult! Will throw bards into a pit of lava for a farthing or two. *G*
"Bard? Where? No bards here only us orphans of war. Is that a kettle of gruel you have there?"
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