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Editor's Choice Award

The characters contained within this small vignette, while remaining nameless, may contain some striking similarities to two characters on one of my favorite syndicated television series, Xena:Warrior Princess. No copyright infringement is intended, nor is any monetary gain expected as a result of posting this story. It is merely meant to entertain the reader, and to enhance the domain of fan fiction in general.

In addition, the story may contain what some readers could consider actions that are suggestive of sexual behavior, therefore: be warned! If you do not care for such reading material, stop here, now. Thank You.


by Lisa Grandstaff

We had spent most of the afternoon arguing with each other. I was bone tired, and sick of the negative atmosphere of our conversation. Every once in a while, there's just a day like this. Most of the time it's because she's gotten some glimpse of a past event that instantly transports her to a place she'd rather not be. It taints her mood, and makes a sunny day seem downright colorless. Usually, I can talk her out of this frame of mind, after a while, or maybe distract her, but not today....

So, we finished the day's travel in uncomfortable silence. I decided that for once, I was going to let her brood about whatever it was. With some time, she eventually talks to me about what's bothering her.

After nightfall, we sat at the fire, exchanging only small talk... microscopic talk, actually. I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer, so without any further ado, I said "I'm ready to turn in. I hope you don't stay awake too long. Whatever it is, it's not worth it."

She looked at me in sudden anguish, and said softly "If you knew, even you wouldn't say that." She looked away again, and resumed her troubled examination of the flames dancing in front of us. I sighed.

"Well, since I don't know, I'll just have to assume it's not worth it."

She didn't reply, nor did she look at me again. I went to my blanket, established myself in a comfortable position, and fell immediately, soundly asleep.

I had no idea how long I'd been sleeping, when I realized I had awakened. I didn't move, too comfortable to be concerned. In the haziness of my interrupted sleep, I found I had flung the blanket back to cool down a little. It covered only my legs. I heard nothing except the quiet popping and cracking of the dying fire, and the noises of the night insects.

I love the sounds of the night; they always remind me of the first fresh and wonderful evenings I spent with her. Memories like those are priceless. What dreams I dreamt, what wild and whimsical possibilities capered about in my imagination! My life was to begin anew, with each day bringing me closer to everything my spirit had thirsted for, but could not drink of, at my humble village well.

She often outshone the morning sun for me, back then. As the days wore on, I found it hard to reconcile my fanciful nocturnal visions with the daily realities we faced; visions of her and I that I felt sure she did not share, or even conceive possible.

That time felt out of reach for me most days, now... woven into the background of an enormous tapestry depicting things far greater in scope than I would ever have foreseen. Many of those things had been good, and some bad, but one thing had endured, miraculously: that immense and invisible bond between the two of us.

I began to drift back to my cozy slumber, when I felt a gentle, tentative touch on my shoulder. I remained still, my breathing that of a dreamer's sleep. Her hand rested there, lightly, for a few minutes, as though she debated on wakening me, then withdrew. Before I could shift myself around to face her, I felt her fingers trace a line down my arm, pausing at my wrist, then back again to my shoulder. I decided to simply lie motionless, and let the sensation of her touch envelop me.

The noiseless fingers proceeded to my neck, and stopped at my hair. She gently held some of it, then bent to smell it. I could feel the heat of her body as she drew nearer. Still, I did not move. She was trying not to waken me, I could tell.

Her fingers brushed my cheek, and tenderly caressed it, following my jaw line down to my throat, and back up to my ear.

"If you only knew...." she whispered to herself; partly to me, too. I made no sound. I wanted so desperately to turn over and face her, to soothe her hurt, to hold her close and tell her everything would be okay, even if it were only for this moment or two, but I was frozen in place.

For several long minutes, she stayed next to me, listening to the sounds of my breathing. I stirred slightly, and I felt her retreat. I rolled over onto my back, and continued to feign sleep. She drew near again. Through my closed eyes, I imagined her staring at my face, believing me in peaceful repose. It was that familiar, haunted pain in her eyes, the pain we both share all too frequently, that she gazed at me with.

But that is our life, after all. Who's to say any of us deserve to be happy? Once, I believed it was possible for everyone; most people just needed to find the way... now I, too, shared that common existence of struggle, only occasionally coming across a joy-filled experience or two. How I cursed myself for my arrogance-- my foolish and immature lecturing of someone older than me by so many lifetimes. Things are not that simple, I said to myself, and I've got to come to grips with it.

I felt a warm palm alight on my stomach. I barely supressed my responsive tremble. Her fingers gently caressed my skin, as though she touched the finest silk, or the cheek of a newborn baby. She lifted her hand and placed it on my neck, her thumb resting on my cheek, cradling my chin with potent tenderness.

"I have to find the strength to tell you, my love." she murmured. "It's in here, somewhere. Believe me, I promised you no more secrets. Please, give me time."

I almost spoke aloud in that instant: "My love... whatever you're seeing, the past doesn't matter. It's over and done with. Only the future is important. Our future...." but I held my tongue. Laying there, feeling her despair in the heavy night air around us, I swore to myself that we would get it all out in the open tomorrow. As for tonight? I couldn't stand much more of her touch and lay here as though asleep. At each moment of contact, my head had begun to swim, and now I could barely breathe normally. What would she say if she knew I was awake? I thought.

She spoke again... to me, to the night, to herself.

"Is it my job to hurt you? Did she speak the truth?"

I had no idea what or who she meant. I had resolved once more to accompany her on this winding road to... where? This time, I was determined to be her partner, and not her follower. She seemed to accept that with no qualms. So what were we looking for? I didn't know anymore, nor did I care, in that instant. I could only imagine what the future held. The very near future. Like the next few minutes.

Without opening my eyes, I lifted my own hand and put it up to hers; it still remained on my neck. If she was surprised, she never showed it. I felt her hair on my face, tickling my nose, as she bent to kiss me softly. It never failed to astound me that someone so strong, so hardened from a life of adversity, could possess such exquisite gentleness. My heart pounded in my chest, but I grasped desperately for calm, wanting to see what she'd do next.

She lowered her body onto the blanket, next to me, placing one hand on my stomach, her head propped up by the other. I turned to look at her.

"What..." I started to say, but she interrupted.

"Shhhh. Don't move. I just want to look at you. I want to see your face."

Her eyes locked onto my face, and she stared at me as if studying every detail and committing it to memory. As if she needed to! I tried to relax, but my pulse was racing, and her proximity was like a powerful magnet, drawing me ever closer. I no longer cared for questions of philosophy or personal discovery; right then and there, I only cared about one thing. I caught her gaze and hoped she could see the longing in my eyes.

"We have to talk." she said at long last. "But not tonight."

My heart leapt with joy, then. Talking was not at the top of my list when I needed every spare effort to control my overwhelmed senses. I took her free hand from my abdomen, and whispered more urgently, "No, not tonight. Nothing matters, nothing but this instant!"

Finally, she smiled!

"Some things never change, do they?" she asked. "When you've set your mind on something, you just don't let it go."

"You're right!" I insisted, as I pulled her over and wrapped my arms around her neck, her raven hair forming a curtain around our faces. "Your dark side scares me, but then I look into those eyes and know what the real danger is!" I teased.

"The real danger? I could tell you about the real danger of loving someone so much, that you're afraid...." Her words trailed off into the darkness. "We'll talk about this tomorrow, okay?" she asked.

She is my midnight sun, the fire of my soul. And that is the only danger I really know: to be consumed by too much desire. I slid my right hand down to her waist, anxious to feel her skin. "Let me help you with this." I said. She smiled again, and I knew she was mine.


Finished January 1999

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