Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the cartoon series "He Man and the Masters of the Universe" and I am not profiting financially from this story.
The cold was the first thing Teela registered when she came to; a chill that sliced so deep, she imagined that her blood had turned to slush in her veins. She could not move and her eyelids refused to open, but she knew she was no longer in that lonely white place. She should have been grateful, but she was numb to everything but bitterness. Then she began to shiver.
Suddenly, Teela felt herself being jostled, lifted and then engulfed in warmth. It took her a while to realize that she was being held, and for a moment, Teela felt stunned. The emotions caused by such a simple act had hot tears leaking out from the corner her eyes, and she just melted. In the midst of nestling herself as close as she could to the warm body wrapped around her, she realized that someone was speaking softly into her ear. Perhaps some wires in her brain were still dangling unconnected, because she was having a hard time understanding the words. Teela quickly decided that she didn't need to understand, since the almost musical cadence was flowing through her like warm water, lapping at her frayed nerves and calming her. Then without warning, her heart rate jacked up and her saliva glands started working overtime. The feeling that she was going to be sick was overwhelming her and she struggled against the person holding her. Instead of being let go, she felt herself being drawn even closer. The voice in her ear grew more insistent and Teela groaned helplessly in frustration even as a new feeling swept through her.
It seeped into every pore until it drowned out every other sense. Her body snapped taunt and her mouth gaped open in agony.
The sorceress felt more than heard the hoarse, almost inaudible exclamation. She had known it was coming, but it still tore at her insides. She pressed Teela's head closer to her chest and screwed her eyes shut in anguish because she could not bear the pain for her daughter. She hadn't even remembered changing position, but she must have for she was now sitting on the stone slab with Teela scoped up in her lap.
"You did it… " Adam started then found that he was at a loss for words. The prince had to settle for just staring in amazement as mother and daughter clutched each other. Adam only noticed something was wrong when the sorceress made a small distressed sound before standing up and returning Teela to the stone table. The sorceress seemed to wobble a bit but managed to right herself quickly. Even so, Adam immediately drew closer.
The sorceress moved to stand behind Teela's head then reached out a hand to brush at a few straw strands of red hair from her daughter's face. Her fingers were trembling violently as she smoothed away drops of perspiration that had started to collect over Teela's brow.
It was obvious that the enormity of what the sorceress had just accomplished was taking a toll on her. Adam watched with concern as her worried expression shifted, becoming so stark she appeared almost demented.
"Sorceress?" Adam called to her softly and touched her arm to get her attention. Her eyes darted to his face then back down to her daughter when a ragged groan tore itself from Teela's lips.
"Why is she still in pain?" Adam demanded, sounding tormented. The sound of Teela's short, ragged breaths were blissful and wretched at the same time. She was alive, but it was clear that the nightmare was not yet over.
The sorceress continued to stand poised over her daughter's shuddering form as she grappled with this new problem. She was gripping the stone table at each side of Teela's head so hard that her skin was stretched white over her knuckles. "It took everything I had to bring her back. I hardly have anything left to heal her," she said, finally giving voice to her concerns.
"So after all this, she could still die!" The sorceress shot him a look so harsh, Adam felt like he had been slapped. He knew he should have known better—the sorceress would die herself before letting that happen.
Instead of answering him, the sorceress laid her hands over her daughter's bandaged chest again. Adam knew what she was trying to do, so he moved even closer to the stone table and did the only thing he had the power to do—he started praying.
The sorceress had her eyes closed while she concentrated on the final task of repairing the worst of Teela's injuries. The damage had been extensive—not only the initial stab wound, but also the surgeons efforts to remove the knife. She was sure that they had done the best they could for her daughter, but she suspected that Teela had died before the doctors could start dealing with her internal injuries. She had no idea how long it took her, but even with her eyes closed, she knew the exact moment when she had finally succeeded. She felt it in the steadying rhythm of her daughter's heartbeat and in the gradual relaxation of her muscles. A sigh of profound relief soughed through her as she dropped a spontaneous kiss on Teela's brow, the sound becoming muffled against Teela's hair. The guardian remained like that for a long time, fighting with all of her remaining strength not to fall apart and start bawling right there. When she finally straightened and opened her eyes, she found herself pinned by Teela's solemn, forest green stare.
Her daughter watched her with an eerie intensity, even tilting her head back to get a better look. The sorceress had a sudden flashback of Teela as an infant, staring up at her with the same curious attention, her chubby little hand curled tightly around her mother's finger as she tried to pull it into her mouth. At that age, everything her little love touched ultimately ended up in her mouth—she had had to watch her very carefully.
A smile touched the mother's lips and she moved to stand at the side of the table so that Teela wouldn't have to arch her neck. She then spared a glance at Adam who had remarkably remained quiet throughout the time it took for her to try and heal Teela's injuries. The prince was kneeling on the opposite side of the table. He pressed one of Teela's hands of his lips, while his left arm was draped protectively around her waist. With his eyes tightly shut, Adam had no idea that Teela had awakened. The sorceress chose not to tell him just yet. She couldn't help it. After a lifetime of hiding from Teela, the sorceress desperately needed Teela to see her now.
Yes, I am your mother. The sorceress blinked in surprise. Though she had withdrawn herself completely of Teela's mind once she had regained consciousness, it was as if they were still connected. The thought had been meant to be her own personal declaration of joy, yet she had sent it to her daughter even before she was aware of what she was doing. She gave herself a mental shake and turned her attention back to Teela.
Teela was her daughter, and that was exactly why she had been targeted by Tah'na, the sorceress thought to herself. It was almost shocking that such an unwanted thought could still reach her now, when she was happier than she had been in years. The sorceress' smile faded. Teela had suffered because of her. Even now, her daughter was still suffering because she had not been strong enough to complete the healing. Before, when Teela had first awoken, the pain had caught her off guard. Now the warrior in her bore it with barely a grimace, but the sorceress knew it was still there, gnawing at her.
Tears burned the backs of the sorceress' eyes, but she willed them away. She would not let Teela deal with any more pain, not even her own mother's. The sorceress smoothed her daughter's cheek, trying to impart comfort if she could. Every protective instinct in her told her that she should just let Adam take Teela back to the palace, remove all of Teela's recent memories of her, even this moment, and just leave her in peace.
Teela's expression darkened and she flinched away from her mother's caress as if it burned her. The action did not go unnoticed by the sorceress and she slowly drew her hand away. Her daughter now regarded her with an emotion that so resembled disgust, the sorceress couldn't help the anguished gasp that punched out of her lungs.
Adam looked up at the sound and gasped himself when he saw that Teela was finally fully conscious and stable. He didn't say anything— he couldn't. He simply shot to his feet, and nearly fell over himself trying to get close enough to her to plant a lingering kiss on her cheek then on her temple, and another one over her right eye, all the while touching her face gingerly as if she might break. Teela turned her head towards him then, her expression softening as she curled her fingers tightly around his hand. Adam being close was like sunrise or snow in winter—he was a given, he was her rock.
Despite her own inner turmoil, the sorceress couldn't help the smile that formed in her heart as she watched the two of them together. She looked away from them for a moment, suddenly feeling like an intruder. When she glanced back, Teela's hard eyes were back on her. Her daughter opened her mouth to speak, but the words crumbled in her patched throat.
"Adam, she needs some water."
Adam ran off to get some, returning half a minute later with a goblet. The sorceress took it from him and gently eased her daughter's head up so that she could take a sip.
"Is she all right?" Adam asked.
"Yes. The worst is over, but she will need a lot of rest, and she is still in a lot of pain. I am going to make you sleep," she directed the last at Teela whose eyes flashed angrily at that statement. "Then Adam will carry you to your room. I am sorry, but I believe it would be for the best if you remained here for a few days before returning to the palace." She was surprised at how calm she sounded. Here she was, discussing her daughter's leaving as if it would not kill her this time. What made it worse was the fact that this time it may not be her choice. She could sense a deep anger in Teela, and it was not difficult to guess why. She had not forgotten that in Teela's mind, she was the mother that had abandoned her, the same mother that had made the two people she trusted the most lie to her. In all her angst, the sorceress had never thought that Teela might in fact be grateful for the chance to have all memories of her wiped permanently from her mind.
"I am going to put you to sleep now," she said quickly, her voice tight with strain. The sleep spell was a simple one which would take no more out of her than it would to bat an eye. For that, she was grateful, for she found that she had reached her limit; she could barely look Teela in the eye. If anything could break her, then this was it. The sorceress moved her hand to cover her daughter's eyes then jerked in surprise when Teela's hand shot up and wrapped around her wrist tightly. Her daughter mouthed some words, and though they were barely audible, they sounded harsh and angry.
Even as she moved nearer to hear what her daughter wanted to say to her, the sorceress dreaded what she might hear. The words 'do not touch me,' or perhaps, 'I hate you,' were among those that could do irreparable damage. Still, she leaned closer and presented her ear.
"What is it, darling?" she asked soothingly.
"Don't send me away again. Don't do it! Please!"
Duncan tore into Greyskull like a man possessed. As soon as he had seen Adam off he had sprinted to his own speeder and followed the young Prince at a frantic pace, though still much slower than the prototype. Still, he was certain that he had made darn good time. So when he did not immediately clamp his eyes upon his daughter as soon as he burst through the entryway the first thought that popped into his head was to start single-handedly ransacking the castle. Holding his head in both hands, he let out a shout of frustration. He needed to calm down and think. He thought of the countless battles he had faced as a palace guard and as a Master. He was capable of being calm under pressure. Now, if only he could remember how. Duncan inhaled deeply and lowered his hands to his sides as he tried to force himself to calm down, the bones in his hands cracked audibly as he made two fists.
The chamber where Adam had first found the Sword of Power was the only place that he could think of that the sorceress would have taken them. Located in the center of Greyskull, the chamber was perhaps the best location to harness the type of power that she would need, to do what she had to do, which was bring their daughter back to life! Duncan was positive that that was her intention, he could accept nothing else. He began to run.
Man-at-Arms skidded to a halt at the sight that greeted him from the entrance to the chamber. Lying in the center of the room on a stone table was Teela; she must have heard him because she turned her head towards him at that moment. He saw her eyes widen at the sight of him and she then said something that didn't reach his ear. When she made as if to get up, the sorceress pressed her shoulder back down onto the slab. That was the first time Duncan realized there were others in the room. Not once since the sorceress had commanded Adam to bring Teela to Greyskull, had Duncan questioned her ability to bring Teela back. Still, the reality of what she had done overwhelmed him. The next thing he remembered was Adam helping him to his feet.
When Teela had awoken only a few minutes earlier, her memories had been murky at first. All she recalled for certain was a feeling of being overjoyed that her father was finally with her. When she looked around for him and found that she was once again alone in another strange place she had panicked and hopped out of bed before common sense could kick in. After almost passing out from the pain that that stupid move had caused, she had to take a moment, and that was how her mother found her.
"You shouldn't be out of bed yet."
Teela almost jumped out of her skin at the unexpected voice from behind her. She didn't turn around, but she knew that the sorceress was standing just inside the doorway. She estimated that she had been at Greyskull for two days now, but the only thing that she had seen so far was this room and the backs of her eyelids. Teela had her mother to thank for that one. She hadn't liked being forced to sleep; she didn't like being forced, period. She bit into her bottom lip and considered whether she should let loose the words that were tickling her tongue. She eventually decided to let it go—she was not in the mood for a confrontation.
"I'm fine," the young captain muttered and turned slowly around before heading back to the bed, silently fuming. She didn't need anyone pointing out the obvious; she knew she shouldn't be out of bed. In fact, the question—what the hell am I doing out of bed?—had been replaying in her head for some time now. Everything ached, and not only her wounds. Walking upright was proving to be ridiculously painful, but Teela forced herself to because she was watching. It was a good thing the wall she had been leaning her head against was a few short steps away from the bed.
When Teela finally made it to the bed, she groaned—it was going to be painful lowering herself onto it, even more so if she had to pretend the opposite and force graceful movement out of her rebelling muscles. In the midst of grinding her teeth at that notion, she felt her mother close behind her. Before Teela could protest, her mother was fluffing pillows and then easing her gently onto them.
"Thank you." Teela said sheepishly, suddenly feeling very foolish.
The sorceress nodded her reply while settling herself down at the side of the bed. A deep furrow had formed between her eyebrows. When she spoke, her soft voice held a stern edge. "Like it or not, you need complete rest. Your need to give yourself a chance to recuperate, and the only obstacle to your wellbeing is you, or rather your stubbornness and your pride. If you need help ask for it."
What the hell? Teela thought and looked at the woman with an incredulous expression. She was being scolded, tactfully, but soundly nonetheless. Their first real conversation and Teela was already getting a stern talking to. Teela would have laughed at how ludicrous the situation was, but she had a feeling that laughing was another activity that would hurt like heck.
The sorceress knew that she had perhaps said the wrong thing. Before she had entered the room, she was content in her belief that her daughter was safe, recuperating, and finally under her roof and her protection, at least for a few days. Instead, Teela was upright and so obviously in pain that the sorceress felt an emotion that she had never felt before towards her little love—total exasperation!
"I am sorry." Still, she apologized, not wanting to alienate Teela anymore than she had already done.
"Where are Adam and father?" Teela asked suddenly. She didn't want to be alone with this woman—this stranger—who was also her mother. It was just too awkward, and she was getting angry.
"I sent Adam back to the palace, but he will return." It had been extremely difficult convincing the prince to leave, but he had other responsibilities. "Too many unfortunate things have happened in too short a time. The people are afraid and anxious, he is their Prince. He has to reassure them that their Captain is alive." The sorceress' lips curled up into a wide smile that opened up her face making her look positively joyous. Teela felt something in her chest lighten.
"Your father is here in the castle. He…he decided that we should take some time to get to know each other—to talk."
"Really?" Teela answered noncommittally, her eyes downcast as she coiled a lock of hair around her finger, unraveled it then twisted it again.
"I can get you something to drink. I have a variety of teas I know you will like."
"How can you know what I like?"
The sorceress swallowed hard and pressed on. "Teela, I know there is tension between us that cannot be helped, but I want you to know that I understand how you feel—"
"You understand, huh?" Even Teela cringed inwardly at the bitterness she heard in her own voice. Talking was definitely not a good idea right now.
There was a pause as the sorceress considered the waves of emotion that were coming from her daughter, all of them strong, most of them negative. Instead of backing off as she knew Teela would have liked, she moved closer, pulling the hand that Teela had been using to twist her hair into her own.
She rephrased her statement: "I imagine that you must be very angry with me."
Teela stared down at their clasped hands, her thoughts in turmoil. She didn't want to feel like this. She didn't want to hurt this woman, but she knew that simply being related to each other could not guarantee that the bonds of love and trust would just click into place. This made Teela feel even worse, because it seemed as if she was standing in the way of her own happiness. If she could not somehow let go of her anger she would be denying herself the thing she had wanted for so long—a relationship with her mother. Yet, it was not her fault that their current relationship was so strained. What was done to her was unforgivable, and she could not pretend it did not happen, and she definitely didn't have the energy to talk without being brutally honest.
"Maybe we should talk later when dad is here. The way that I'm feeling now…I'm just afraid that I'll say something that I'll regret." She laughed once without humor and glanced up. There were tears shimmering in her mother's eyes and it cut her to the bone to think that she had caused them. "I'm sorry. I'm not normally this unpleasant to be around."
"You are not unpleasant to be around," her mother said kindly and Teela almost broke down.
"I don't—I don't want to be angry with you. It's just…I can't help how I feel right now. Every time I look at you, I feel as if I should know you, and the fact that I don't makes me…" she shrugged helplessly, "It makes me sad...and angry. I think about what my life could have been like if you had been in it and I feel cheated. Then I start thinking about how much I love father and how great he was with me when I was growing up and I realize that I shouldn't want more than I had, but I do—I did."
She remembered all too well the hollow feeling she had every time she had watched Adam and Queen Marlena together when they were children. When she was twelve, the queen had even tried taking her under her wing. Marlena had never shown her anything but kindness, and Teela often found herself by her side during the day. With Adam at the age when being rambunctious was better accomplished away from his mother's sight, Teela suspected that the Queen delighted in pretending she had a daughter to mother as much as Teela pretended she had a mother to love. It was a delightful fiction and Teela had indulged in with all her heart. That was until she noticed the pitying looks that the queen's attendants cast her way. After that, her pride had not allowed her to enjoy her fantasy anymore and she found herself indulging in rambunctiousness with Adam instead.
The sorceress was at a loss. Her mouth gaped open slightly but she had no words, none that Teela would accept anyway. Her first instinct, her only instinct, was to take Teela into her arms and hold her tightly, but who would she be comforting? Teela or herself?
"Please talk to me, Teela. We can't resolve anything if you don't talk to me," she pleaded after a long moment when Teela just continued to stare down at their joined hands.
Teela's attention snapped back to the sorceress, her expression fierce and confrontational. "I told you I didn't want to do this now! Why keep pushing? If you want to know what I'm thinking so much why don't you just pluck it from my mind? It's what you do best."
Her mother looked at her sadly. "I'd prefer it if you would talk to me, darling. Besides, I cannot." She continued when Teela looked confused, "Yes, I can read the thoughts of others, but it is a gift I have had to learn to control. Plundering a mind without consent is not the purpose of this power. However, I cannot help feeling the emotions of some people. And sometimes a person's thoughts or emotions are so strong that I hear what they think without intending to, but I try not to cross that line."
"How the hell can you say that?" Teela shouted, outraged. The sorceress looked taken aback by her vehemence, but Teela didn't care. After listening to that whole spiel about how plundering someone's mind was an abuse of power, she felt something trip off in her head. If she was angry before, now she was furious. "Do you remember the first time I met you? I was dying then too, remember?"
"Of course I remember."
Teela ignored her, her lips curling into a snarl as she realized that she had to be literally at death's door, before this woman even felt compelled to have anything to do with her.
"After you saved me, I sought you out. I didn't even understand why at the time, but I came to Greyskull looking for you like some lost pathetic puppy? Then, right then, you could have claimed me. You could have told me who you were, who I was. If you didn't want anyone else to find out, I would have accepted that, I would have kept your secret. But instead, you took my memories! All you left me with was a vague impression of you; I couldn't even remember what you looked like! I understand why you sent me away when I was a child, but I don't understand why you did it to me again. You could have trusted me—" Teela stopped abruptly. Her throat had clamped up tight and she couldn't even see straight anymore.
"I don't understand mother. I don't understand. What is it about me that you couldn't trust? Even father and Adam, they know me. What were they…how could they have kept this from me? It makes no sense."
We did not mean to hurt you, my love. Before Teela could move away, the sorceress was already pulling her into her arms.
"Please, don't do that." Teela pushed herself away. She didn't want this woman inside her head at all. "Don't you see? I understand you want to protect me, I know you love me, but I cannot trust you, I cannot open my heart to you? What's the point, when you can just wash yourself away from my mind because you think that that is the best way to love and protect me? I heard your thoughts back there in that chamber: 'let Adam take Teela back to the palace, remove all of Teela's recent memories…just leave her in peace.' " Teela's glare held a mixture of pain and disbelief. "How can you keep doing this to me?"
The sorceress listened to all this helplessly. She could not deny the thoughts that had run through her head before, but that was then. Now, she could not imagine a life without the scowling young woman. She would not send her daughter away because she could not. However, the threat to her daughter was still alive in that cabin, and for Teela's sake, it had to be dealt with, permanently.
"And another thing…this mind reading ability, which somehow I apparently have now, well, I don't want it."
"I know you do not understand, Teela, but I sent you away because I love you." Teela scoffed and turned her head but the sorceress held her chin firmly to make her pay attention. "You have led a good life, have you not? You have close friends who are like family to you; you have the respect of everyone including your king. Though your life has not been an easy one, it has been filled with good purpose. If you had been asked a few days ago whether or not you were content, would you have said yes?" Her mother arched her brow in inquiry and Teela frowned instead of answering.
"If I had kept you with me, my life would have been your life, and this is my life," she let go of Teel's chin to spread her arms wide and Teela knew that she was talking about Greyskull. When she lowered her arms, she said: "I am the Guardian. I safeguard the power of Greyskull and make sure that it never enters into the hands of evil men, because if that happens it would mean the end of all we know. So I keep this power hidden and unfortunately, I must hide along with it. Secrets were all that I had to offer you, Teela, so I let you go. But, now I find that I am not strong enough to live without you in my life." The sorceress shut her eyes for a brief moment then took a deep steadying breath. "So, if I told you I will not send you away again, would you believe me?"
Teela looked at her mother suspiciously. There was no deception in her mother's intense gaze, and Teela almost closed her eyes against it. She knew that she shouldn't believe a woman who had deceived her for so long, yet Teela wanted to with all her heart.
"Yes." Teela heard herself say, and this time, when her mother drew her into her arms, she didn't pull away.
"I have to leave now; there is something that I left unfinished," she said after easing Teela out of her embrace.
There was something ominous in the sorceress' tone and when Teela looked up into her face she looked resigned but determined.
"Where do you have to go?"
The sorceress guided Teela's head back onto the pillows then stood. "I'll get your father to come sit with you while I'm gone. He's very anxious to see you." She smiled a little at how generous Duncan had been in insisting that she should be the first one to visit.
"I don't want you to go." A sudden flare of anxiety had her grasping at her mother's hand. She didn't know why, but she felt certain that nothing good would come from this thing that her mother felt she had to do.
"It'll be all right, I promise you. I know that I cannot protect you from everything, but there are some things that are within my control."
A/N: This story is almost at an end, thank goodness. I wanted to say thank you for reading up to now, and thank you very much for your patience, as I tend to get distracted and can't update for months...