|The Distance Between Temperance and the Lovers
Author: Annwyd PM
Through the years, as they journey to Terra, Leo is at Jomy's side. But what exactly does that mean? Copious Tarot references and occasional speculation on Leo's character. Leo/Jomy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 1,958 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 5 - Published: 04-28-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5930779
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
At first, Leo never asked why Soldier Blue had chosen him. He was quiet and he was helpful; what more could a leader look for in an aide? But there were other Mu, older Mu who had known Blue for longer, who could have taken on the task just as well. Eventually, Leo had to know.
He asked as gently and respectfully as he could manage, which was quite a lot. He was always gentle and respectful. Soldier Blue, why am I at your side?
By that time, Blue sought refuge in his bed most times when he was not at Physis's side. Now he looked up from the bed, those luminous eyes opening, and he smiled. "It was Physis who told me. You'll be needed, Leo. Not just by me."
Leo nodded, and he accepted that as an answer. But it wasn't the whole answer, and he knew it. He didn't push and he didn't pry, but he wanted to know more about where he was in this new world that had saved and adopted him. So he waited patiently, and one day, Blue sent him to speak to Physis.
He sat in silence on her stairs for a while before he sent the question her way. Lady Physis, why am I here?
She drifted to the edge of the stairs and stood there for a long while. Leo readied himself to catch her should she fall. Finally, she said, "Leo...I can only feel your thoughts when you direct them at me. At all other times you are so quiet and so contained. Is that why the cards told me...?"
He stood up and made his way to the top of the stairs, where he carefully steadied her with one hand. Through that grasp on her arm he sent her a pulse of understanding: the knowledge of growing up silent and alone, somehow knowing that you were always at risk, and then going from that to a world that embraced you. I contain myself so I can serve this world of the Mu better. What did the cards tell you?
She turned back to the table where the Tarot cards lay, and he let her go. He watched as she stood in front of the spread of cards and turned one over. It bore an image of a woman pouring water from one golden chalice to another, and beneath that, the word TEMPERANCE. Leo didn't know what it meant, but if he was needed to be the one who poured water from one cup to another, that was what he would be.
"This isn't all," Physis said. She turned over three more cards, right next to each other. One, a young man carrying a chalice. PAGE OF CUPS. Another, a man charging forward with a sword in hand. KNIGHT OF SWORDS. The last, an older man, regal and powerful, holding a staff. KING OF WANDS.
Those aren't me, Leo said. He knew it without being told. It was all right for him to be Temperance, where the center of the card was the water flowing between cups, not the woman who directed its flow. But he wouldn't be the man at the center of the card.
"No," Physis said. "This is someone else." She turned over one last card. Two bodies intertwined. THE LOVERS. "Someday, he'll need you."
Leo nodded. He would be ready. Until that someone needed him, he would wait and watch the new people he had joined, and he would watch the perpetually sleeping population from which he had woken to see who else needed to be rescued.
Will that be my job? Leo asked.
"I can't know," Blue said.
But since the moment he heard the name, Leo was sure. This boy would be the man in the cards.
When he felt Jomy's hands on his sides, he knew that he would be something that Jomy sought, too, even if he didn't understand just what yet. He would learn later.
And when, bleeding in body and mind, he collapsed on the newly-blasted ledge made by Jomy's awakening power, he wasn't worried. He saw Jomy streaking across the sky. Jomy would be fine, and as long as Jomy would be fine, Leo would be fine too. Because Jomy was still that inexperienced boy who had held a cup on the card, and he was going to need Leo.
Leo passed out with that thought in mind, and when he awoke, he was back on the Shangri-la, where he belonged.
It might have been too much. One day, four years after they left Artemesia, Jomy seized Leo by the shoulders and said, "Why can't we communicate like this with the humans? They lived the same lives as we once did. They want to return to Terra, just like us. Why not?"
Leo hesitated. They might not be ready to hear us yet.
But he was only just transforming from the boy to the man riding forward with a sword in hand, and he would not be stopped.
Three days after the attempt to communicate with the humans, Jomy took hold of Leo and pulled him close. "Why was all I felt a sad and disappearing thought?" he demanded to know.
I don't know, Leo said. Right now it doesn't matter. Stay with us, Jomy. You're needed here more than you are by the humans.
Jomy stayed. To some of the Mu, it might have seemed like he only stayed in body, like his mind was far away, still reaching for the humans and their shared yearning for Terra. But that night, he kissed Leo, and Leo felt the strength of his thoughts once again, warm and brightly lit with hope for all the Mu.
Leo felt something else, too--things he had been too young to feel before the Mu had rescued him, and things it had never occurred to him to feel after that.
Jomy's bed was smaller than Blue's, but he and Leo could lie in it comfortably together, and so they did. The next eight years were lonely ones for Jomy, but not as lonely as they could have been. Perhaps the others suspected, but they had no way of knowing for sure, as Leo was always careful to mask their feelings from the other Mu when they made love. Jomy's thoughts were too strong; the way he felt at such a time would overwhelm everyone if Leo didn't hold it back. So he did.
But Jomy's thoughts raced far afield, and Leo could not stop them. He didn't want to. It was Jomy's task to think of the future, just as it was Leo's task to think of Jomy. One day, while they lay together in bed side by side, hands cautiously entwined, Jomy spoke. "Do you think we're the only ones who do this, Leo?"
Leo turned to look at him. He could see an indistinct idea beginning to form behind Jomy's eyes.
"I don't think we should be," Jomy said.
They met sometimes, in the fields that slowly spread on the red planet, and Leo would offer Jomy the newest fruits and vegetables grown there. Jomy always smiled genuinely when he took them.
In those days, Leo could see the man who had charged forward with the sword of his ideas turning into the king who held a growing staff for the benefit of his people. He was glad, but he wondered if he would still be needed himself.
But Leo was still needed. Physis no longer read her cards, now that Blue was gone, but Leo had looked at them, curious to know what these things were that had shaped him and Jomy so. He had seen that Temperance came after the Lovers. It was all right. He knew what he was needed for now.
He felt the pain in Jomy's thoughts when Jomy allowed no one else to feel it. He took that pain and transferred it into himself, and by sharing it he made it real: the things they were doing hurt Jomy. By making it real he made it tolerable: the things they were doing were necessary.
But Jomy surprised him one day, as they prepared for battle once more. "I found this," he said. "On the floor." And he held out a card.
Leo took it and turned it over, only to see the familiar form of the woman pouring water between cups. It's Temperance, he said.
"It's you," Jomy said, "isn't it? Keeping my pain from overflowing. No one else knows how to do that."
Leo nodded, and he smiled.
"Someday," Jomy said, "thoughts will flow between Mu and humans too. And it will be more than pain."
I'd like to see it, Leo said. Just once, I'd like to see humans feel real things the way we do. With us.
"You will," Jomy said. "Even if it's only once. You'll be with me when I make it happen."
Leo accepted that, as he accepted his role as the one who understood Jomy. That acceptance had shown him pain, but it had brought him joy as well--in Jomy's arms, from the sound of Jomy's voice. Temperance came after the Lovers, and the cards did not return to what they once were. But Leo was satisfied with what had become of him and Jomy. He could only hope that in the end, they would both be satisfied with what became of the Mu and humanity.