Onyx-worrystone: Thank you so much for your review. You made my day. I am very glad that you liked it. Depending on my work schedule, I may start a sequel soon, although it may be a while before I post. Keep your ears open. I already have an idea for it. I appreciate your sticking through with all 9 chapters!
Clibby – thanks – hope you enjoyed the rest of it
Steph4nie-ff: (07/07/2005) Thanks! When I picked up the new series, I was very surprised by the direction it seemed they were taking these 2 characters. In the 80s I never would have dreamed of these 2 together. But now that I see it (or at least see glimpses of it), it really works. These 2 are the perfect foils for each other. They have so much in common and so much that is different. I really hope to see it work out in the comics. We'll see. In the meantime, I have started work on the sequel. Its working title is Deeper, although that may change. I like to have a completed story before I post, so it may be a few weeks before anyone sees it.
Final chapter - Sunrise
She got the best sleep she had ever had that night. She remembered drifting off on the plane. She did not remember getting into her room, but she could imagine quite well how she probably got there. She still rose before the sun, but this time it was by choice.
It was almost too much to absorb all at once. But as she watched the skyline to the East, away from the sea, she finally realized that the fist eternally clenched around her heart was no longer there. Not just relaxed. Gone. The lightness of grace filled the space that the fist left behind.
And her heart for once felt as big as the sky.
The East was beginning to lighten. The city was a dark silhouette against a darker sky. She could feel her heart beat a little faster every time the distant colors changed. This is excitement, she repeated to herself. This is what anticipation feels like. And she allowed herself to feel it freely for the first time in her life. Her feelings were there for her to savor this time, instead of the flavor of others'. Having experienced a brief moment without the constant noise of life in her head, she finally knew what her own emotions were.
Garfield's prediction about her walking had come true – her inner thighs screamed with every step. But this was ordinary pain, not aches taken from another. She knew this would go away. Eventually.
She shivered – partly from watching the sunrise with fresh eyes, partly from the cold breeze whipping across the top of the tower. She had forgotten how cold it got in San Francisco – and thought how lucky she was that there was no fog about – and wished she had brought her cloak. Even in summer, it could get quite chilly. But the blue fabric was still dripping onto the floor of her shower. She hugged herself tight and shivered again.
She felt, more than heard, the rooftop door open, and she exhaled contentedly as she felt the energy of the one who opened it. But this time it held the warm scent of baking bread, not a rock hard of sweet and sour. Arms from behind wrapped a blanket around her, granting more than one wish. The hands rested on her shoulders.
"Are you okay, Raven?" asked the voice that she expected.
"More than okay, Garfield. Finally, more than okay."
She rested one of her hands on top of his and squeezed his fingers.
"Finally," she whispered.
"Couldn't you sleep?" he asked. He stepped forward to stand beside her, one arm across her small back, the other still underneath her hand. He did so with the circumspection of a cat – one did not simply paw such a girl. No, lady, he thought.
She did not move away. In the thin light, she could barely see the green of his skin.
"Yes," she replied with a loud exhale. "But my mind and my . . . heart . . . are still trying to soak all of this in. My whole world is different . . . in ways I never would have imagined before." She turned her head to look at him. "I can feel now, Gar. It's almost overwhelming. I'm not sure what to do with myself."
The fact that she called him by his shortened name did not escape him.
Her voice was soft. "Thunder Horse called me Dawn Child before we left last night. Not Twilight Child. I guess I just wanted to see the next dawn, to really feel it for the first time."
He smiled back at her.
The sky was a clear liquid color, and details of the city popped out one by one, like stars. The sun was almost to the horizon.
"It's a new day for you, after all, so to speak." He patted her shoulder lightly. "Would you rather watch it alone? I'm sorry if I interrupted . . . "
She squeezed the hand on her shoulder. "No, please, please stay. You understand. And I would like to share this. With you."
She paused, the right corner of her mouth twitching in an odd, almost painful, fashion. He frowned, not knowing what she was doing.
"Then why are you making such a face?"
"Oh." She pursed her lips and looked rather embarrassed. "I was trying to . . . smile. I am sorry. This is unexplored territory for me, you know."
"Don't be sorry, darlin'. I think, however, that THAT is something I can help you with. Though if you would ever laugh at my jokes, you would get more practice." He grinned broadly and waggled his deep green eyebrows at her.
She hung her head and closed her eyes. "I have a confession to make. I have never suppressed a laugh around you just because of my control. I never actually understood your comedy. Nobody likes to admit that they don't have a sense of humor – even stone cold empaths – but I don't. I just don't. I had never heard of humor before I came to Earth. It was confusing to me. Azarath is not known for its jokes."
He moved his arms and turned her to face him, their faces in half-shadow. He put his hand under her chin and tilted her head up to face him. Slowly, slowly! He felt clumsy. He still wasn't used to being taller than she was. Her eyes were now a little sad – but even sad was better than the "stone cold empath " look that he was used to.
"Don't worry," he whispered. "I'll help you with that, too. If you want, that is. I won't force anything on you that you don't want." He paused a moment. "But you've got to tell me how you feel about it."
She blinked, twice, then swallowed, hard. Only her hand moved to point towards the sea, finally visible in the unfolding light. A sliver of sun was peeping over a pink horizon. She was trembling.
"The first time I saw the ocean, I felt lost. I had read about the sea, but we did not have one in Azarath. It was so big and so powerful and so beautiful that I was struck speechless. "
She blinked again. The wind whipped her blanket around both of them. A ray of light reflected off the jewel on her forehead.
"That is how I feel, being able to truly experience these feelings for the first time. Lost." Her pointing hand now touched his arm. "Will you . . . help me be . . . not lost? I think you can. I would like for you to."
This was unexpected, but welcome. Awkward, but welcome. He found that he was shaking, too.
"YESSSSSSSSSSSS!" he yelped. Then he tried to regain some dignity for the sake of his very serious companion. "Um, I mean, I would love to."
He held his breath, about to plunge into that sea himself. Slowly, gently, he pulled her close. She didn't resist. He felt her arms slip around him while he buried his face in her hair. The animal in him knew her scent from a distance, but this was the first time he had caught it this close for this long. Without being in the middle of some universal crisis, anyway. A deep, woody perfume. Rosemary. He winced when he remembered his own omnipresent eau de wet dog, but she didn't seem to mind it as she leaned more strongly against his chest. She did feel a bit . . . stiff . . . though.
She felt his warmth, even through the blanket. The warmth made her feel . . . how does it make me feel, she asked herself. She had never had this emotion before and could not name it. It is good, even if I cannot describe it. Now it was just the two of them, and no one could hurt her. Not right now. She felt confident that he would not allow it. . .
Ah, there's the word.
The first time I've ever felt . . . safe.
And she relaxed.
And he smiled. Had the word "safe" just escaped those lips?
They stood locked in that embrace. The sun shone down on them, full and bright and golden.
The dawn they had waited for was here.
If you enjoyed this story, you can read the following sequels to follow the rest of the storyline:
Stair Luge Samurai
and coming soon . . . Dawn Child