It is of infinite importance that a soul soar to the heavens with the force of relief, of release, propelled by love and charged with destiny's blessing. However there are moments when a thin thread snags on a cliff, and breaks a soul's flight. And then with no more momentum, the poor essence falls headlong back to earth, not knowing its purpose, lost for eternity, restless.
And this is the time that the soul needs soothing.
Soothing by a soul that would wrap itself around the tragic, and then slowly, like a mother cat to her kitten, drink away the wounds and tears, like a burning flame lick at the wooden columns. Like that long forgotten lover, heal the scars that mar the skin.
His soul left the beaten body and tore through the dark, gloomy clouds. He raised his face to the sky, eager to receive that sweet kiss of the sun. But then the floating essence was caught in the clash of the air, struck by lightning and sent madly spinning down to earth. Heaven would not receive a soul as turbid as his.
Lost, with no physical reality, he wandered the streets and breathed deeply when there was no need. There were no memories now. There was nowhere to go. He could smell and feel nothing, for he was no more… yet he existed.
And the soul that did not have identity, but knew his fears, allowed the invisible force of attraction to pull him through and navigate him.
Until he found himself in a strange enclosure that seemed like home.
She was so tired. Seeing him so still, watching as these strange men cover that coffin with soil and sealing him forever underground physically and emotionally drained her. Her heart called out to him, and it seemed as though part of her flowed down to him, and was therefore buried when she threw the single rose at the lid.
With petals the same color as those he had scattered over the path they took on that first and final night of love.
Piper took off her earrings and placed them in the jewelry box of her dresser. Piper touched the ring that he had given her. "Leo, wherever you are, with all my heart, I thank you."
"And you're welcome." Her gaze widened at the sounds of his voice. Slowly, her eyes rose to look at the reflection in the mirror. He stood smiling behind her, seeming so refreshed and rested.
"Did you think I would just leave you, Piper?"
She broke into a relieved smile and turned around, launching herself at him. Piper flung her arms around Leo, only to hug the empty air. "Leo…" Tears rose to her eyes. He wasn't there anymore. "Leo! Come back! I need to feel your arms around me one more time," she screamed at the void.
There was no response. The silence screamed so loudly that her hands rose to cover her ears.
"Leo!" she called. "I need you! Please don't go!"
Sunlight caught at the ring on her finger, reminding Piper that she had just gone to his funeral, that he had died protecting her. "No…" she moaned. "That was just a nightmare. He's at the university. He has a class. He's coming to pick me up for dinner," she murmured like a litany.
It doesn't have to be with me, the wind whispered at her ear.
Piper madly shook her head in denial. "It has to be with you! It's senseless without you!"
But she couldn't deny the truth anymore. Leo was gone, just like all her dreams. The moment she said them out loud, they just disappear. "I can't let you go," she said firmly. "Leo, please come home to me!"
And then she was being shaken. "Piper."
"Leo, I'm begging you. Come back!"
"Piper, honey, get up."
"Piper, wake up!"
Her eyes opened from the bright sunlit room to meet those of her sister's in the dark night. "Prue?"
Prue wrapped her arms around her sister and kissed her temple. "It's going to be all right, Piper. Leo's gone, but it's going to be fine."
"He's really dead…"
"Yes, he is. And I'm very sorry for both of you."
"It's not true."
Prue's only response is to wrap her arms around her sister in an effort to soothe her grief.
Slowly, in sure circular movements, Piper blended the mix and watched the yellow of the melted butter disappear into the sticky batter.
Round and round, she stirred until the sight faded into a blur, out of focus, out of mind. Her arm mechanically did the job while her consciousness was separated from it.
Eyelids closed over tired, unfocused eyes and revealed in the darkness tiny pinpricks of light. "Leo?" she whispered into the empty room. The breeze caressed her ankles and teased the hem of her skirt. Slowly, she opened her eyes. Her gaze settled on the closed windows and still, drawn curtains. "Leo, is that you?" came her quiet query. The wind picked up and kissed both of the pale cheeks, coaxing a small smile to form on her lips. There was no need for sight this time. Once again, she allowed her eyes to close and threw back her head. The sweet, subtle yet powerful sensations washed through her.
Prue was about to get some coffee in the kitchen when she stopped still at the doorway, not knowing what to do about the view. Her younger sister stood still, the mixing spoon at hand, face raised to the ceiling and eyes closed. She cleared her throat. "Honey?"
Piper seemed to snap out of a trance as she looked back at Prue. "Oh, hi, Prue. I'm just fixing you and Pheebs some breakfast." She returns her attention to the batter on the bowl. Prue enters the kitchen and sits on the chair beside Piper. Her hand closed over her younger sister's free one. Piper looked at her sister in surprise. When a smile curved her lips, Piper gave her a like smile.
"Hey, morning." Phoebe walked into the kitchen as Piper finished the last batch of pancakes. Phoebe fished one and dropped it on her plate. "I'm just going to the university to pick up a few stuff I had in the Psych Dep. Now that Le—"
Piper took two pancakes and a small bowl of syrup. "I'll eat in my room. Close the door on your way out, ok?"
Prue glared at Phoebe, and the youngest seemed apologetic. Piper didn't notice the silent exchange between the two. In her mind, she heard his voice, soft, tender, telling her everything she needed to hear. She knew that this was her own conception, but it didn't matter. She wanted to hear him say these words, but he would never have the chance now. Who knew? Perhaps somewhere up there in heaven, he was thinking of a way to tell her this too.
Every time the world turns, the hour comes for us to part. Our hearts may struggle but it's in vain. Piper swallowed heavily, not wanting to say what she thought of that, but not being able to help it either. "When, Leo? Where can I kiss you again?" These moments may be so lacking, but keep in mind, the hour would also come when it's time to meet again. This brought a tremulous smile to her lips. Hesitantly, she nodded in agreement. "As long as there's another tomorrow to face, I will love only you."
Holding the plate in one hand, she turned and opened the door. When she stepped in, she caught her breath. The plate of pancakes dropped to the floor and broke, scattering ceramic onto her floor.
He sat, eerily she could see right through him, yet he still existed, right on the edge of her bed. Her weak legs carried her a few steps forward, for there was no way for her to be afraid. "Leo?" She carefully sat beside him and wrapped her arms around the figure holding onto himself so tightly. Her arms touched nothing.
He raised his face and looked straight at her. "Who are you?" was his tortured question. "And where am I?"
"Leo, what are you talking about? You're here. With me."
The ghost shook its head. "I don't know what I'm talking about! I just want to be in peace, and this is the only home I can think of. Why? Where is here?"
"Here," she answered, "is home." Her bright smile would have warmed him had he been capable of feeling anything. "Welcome home, Leo."
Confused, yet desperately needing somewhere to cling to, he nods at the beautiful stranger who would have touched him had it been possible.
The sudden rapping of the door startled the two. His clear eyes became alert, and he tensed. "It's all right. Don't be afraid, Leo. It's only my sisters. Prue and Phoebe. You knew them." She smiled and turned to open the door.
"What was that noise?" Prue demanded.
Piper motioned to the broken plate on the floor. "Nothing at all. I'll clean it up later." She tried to push the door, but her sister held it open with her hand.
"Piper, what's going on? Why are you acting so strangely?" Prue peeked inside. She spotted the hazy figure on the bed and looked up at Piper. Calmly, she said, "Piper, you have Leo's ghost in your room!"
"I know. He's come back to me," she said quietly, with a tinge of triumph.
"Are you insane?" her older sister demanded.
"He said he needed peace, and wished to be home. And now he is."
"He's a restless soul," Phoebe explained softly. "He needs our help, to go to heaven."
"No, Phoebe. I'm keeping him!"
"He's not a dog you can keep!"
"Would you go away and leave me alone? He loves me."
"We know that."
"And I love him. Don't you consider the slightest possibility that this was meant to happen?"
Prue shook her head. "Keeping a soul from its rightful eternal sleep is never fated, Piper."
"Who made you queen of the world?" Piper snapped. "I'm not hurting him. And I'm not sending him away when he himself believes he's found his place." She shut the door and clicked the lock.
The man on the bed stared at her quietly as she approached. There was a time when at the sight of her coming towards him, he would smile in welcome and open his arms so she could delve deep and press so close that she would almost be part of him. There was no way to describe the emptiness she felt as his vacant gaze reflected her figure. She waited for those sweet words of love that they used to share.
"Where is this place? Why am I here?" was his only greeting.
"I told you," she replied. "This is the home you wanted to be in. I, Leo, am your home."
There was not even a flicker of recognition in his eyes. "But I don't…" he began slowly, "remember… you."
Piper bit her lip. So badly she needed to hold him. She wanted to embrace her to her breast so much. Maybe if he heard her heartbeat, he would recall everything they had. Very carefully she raised her hands to cup his cheeks, not daring to allow her skin close enough to touch his, because she did not want to feel the desperation of feeling nothing beneath her fingers. "Will you try to remember, Leo?"
"I can't feel anything," he whispered. "There isn't any use for any of this."
"Just… try." Her heart broke at the blank in his eyes, where once the spark of love lit the hazel orbs. "Close your eyes," she said.
Slowly, lids closed over his eyes. She swallowed as she saw his hands rise to hold her waist. She prepared herself for contact, and almost cried out loud when he saw those hands close over her waist, but she felt nothing. Piper threw her head back and closed her own eyes in concentration. "Let me feel his warmth," she prayed. Her lips parted. "Feel my warmth."
She looked back down, and saw him staring at her in that same lost gaze. And then horror crept into those hazel orbs. A flicker of fear and then pure unadulterated terror. He stared down his hands, horrified. Before her very eyes, his hands suddenly dripped with red. "Blood!" he cried. "My hands! Blood in my hands!" He stepped back and fell to his knees, washing his hands in invisible running water. He was wild as he scrubbed, but the blood never seemed to come off. "Stop! The blood! It's everywhere!" A splatter ofblod appeared on his chest. "What is happening to me?" he demanded. "Make it stop!" he yelled to no one in particular.
Piper caught at the sob in her throat as she watched her lover. She understood now. While she wouldn't let go of him, he was suffering in eternal uncertainty. She swiftly went to him and knelt before the trembling figure. "Ssssshhh." Piper drew him into his arms and kissed away at the tears, knowing that it was useless, but performing the ritual nonetheless. She raised her lips and felt the cold air brush against the wetness. Salt of tears. She felt and tasted the ghost's desperation.
"Leo, come to bed." With unstable legs, he got up and allowed her to lead him. He sat down on the sheets. "Lie back." With no other choice, he did as he was bid. And then she curled beside him and silently waited. "This is our heaven," she said. "Our heaven on earth. And I understand now. I'll be thankful to you forever, but this time I owe you a debt that must be paid as soon as I can." She raised herself on her elbow and looked down at him. "The hour to let go comes every time," she whispered. "My heart doesn't want to, but there's nothing I can do." A tiny spark of recognition burst in his eyes. "When can I kiss you again?" She brushed his lips against his, but felt nothing but air.
As an epiphany, his eyes cleared. "When we meet again," he promised.
And then the figure slowly faded, leaving her leaning down at nothing at all. She collapsed facedown on the bed and curled herself into a tight ball.
"As long as there are mornings to face, Leo, you're the only one I'll love."