Crash and Burn

By ThistleDemon

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The blast hadn't been hot, for all it exploded fiery orange from Lloyd's open palm. No, it'd been cold, buzzing force that ripped the air from their lungs and the strength from their limbs and slammed them brutally over the cliff and whistling down into empty space.

When they stopped free-falling, Rose hit first, her head striking a rock with a sick wet SMACK, and then Dart landed partly on his feet. He heard his ankle pop-crack (the pain lightninged out of it in a rolling flash that made sparks explode in front of his eyes) and they started rolling over jagged rocks and billowing dust.

When they came to a grinding halt at the bottom of the cliff alongside a small landslide of pebbles, he was nearly unconscious from the battering he'd taken.

When he became aware, Rose, who was unconscious, was hemorrhaging from a wound to her skull and neck, and he tried to scream, but his throat was packed with dust and he hacked and wheezed while he fumbled at his belt pouch for a potion, a fog, something, anything and found a white-cold bottle. He tried to yank the cork out, but it wouldn't come, so he hauled on it with his teeth. When it came free, he spat it away and splashed half of it in her mouth and the other half where she was leaking blood like a punctured wineskin.

She stopped bleeding, presently.

Dart exhaled. Sagged. Began the horrifically painful task to remove his boot and check his ankle.

His eyes were calm as he finally viewed the damage. Meru could fix it in a second- hell, even Miranda could, new as she was to the white dragoon spirit. And as soon as one of them found him, it would be healed, and he could walk on it again.

But it was unmistakably broken. It throbbed as he looked at it, a sick pulse that he couldn't block out. And he couldn't use any healing items on it until it was set… and Dart wasn't sure he could do that on his own.

And there was no predicting when they'd be found.

They were, quite simply, fucked.

"I didn't know he was one of the Winglies," he murmured to himself. He raised a hand and rubbed his face, then leaned over to check Rose. She was still out, but not bleeding, and she was breathing smoothly. She lay like a discarded doll on the terrain, her armor scratched and dented and gray with battle with the Divine Dragon. "Better shape than me, though," he muttered, then grabbed her shoulder. "Rose," he said, "Come on Rose."

She didn't respond. A cold tendril of panic coiled at the base of Dart's neck and wound down his back.

Let her wake up, he thought for one frozen, desperate second. Oh Soa, fuck, let her wake up.

Dart never swore. Only in his prayers.

Her eyelids fluttered then in her pale, dirt-smudged face. Her hair was lying in a wide swathe of oily black across the rocks, crusted with dust and blood. She moaned then, a sound so soft and hurt and childlike that to come from someone so cold and heartless as Rose meant that something was direly wrong. Dart's eyed widened, and he pulled her up into a sitting position with one hand cradling the back of her neck, carefully pulling her hair from the ground (because it was a beautiful thing, it was one of the most beautiful things about her aside from her black eyes with long lashes and the perfection of her skin and he didn't like to see it fouled so). "Rose, look at me," he said urgently. "Can you tell me who I am?"

Fluttered again, then open, then blinked. Her eyes were black, this was true, a strange deep black like drops of oil on ivory. They were unfocused and vague, and caught on his with difficulty.

Rose gave a slow, strange and wondering smile as she met his eyes. As it cracked across her face, she said, "I thought…" she paused to swallow thickly. "….you were dead."

Dart froze in confusion. Rose didn't smile. Rose didn't look like that at him. Not at him. Not ever.

Rose sighed slowly, still smiling that strange hesitant smile as she sagged into him. Her hand spider-walked to his arm and rested on his shoulder weakly. Her words were slow and meandering and gentle. "Don' worry….we took 'world back. Won' let 'em ruin it." Her hand tightened. "Virage…. Embyro. Moon wi'…" the smile faded, her eyes closed as her face twisted suddenly with more exquisite pain than Dart had ever seen her exhibit. "Black power…" she breathed out finally.

He went very still.

Dart had never, ever, beheld Rose in a situation where she was not in complete, icy command of herself. Even when they were stranded on the beach together, and he woke up with her bent over him like she'd been there all night, she hadn't said a word, and certainly hadn't done anything like this.

And… black power, she said. That drove a cold spike through his gut like nothing else.

"Rose, what do you know about this?" he whispered under his breath, eyes searching her battered face.

Her eyes opened, and he thought she was going to answer him, but instead she surged forward and his arms tightened around her in shock. She smoothly slipped a hand behind his neck to draw him close and then she was kissing him, hard.

This wasn't like any of the kisses Dart had previously experienced. This was lips and teeth and tongue and her hot breath and the scent of her blood on her hair. The kiss burned itself all the way down into his belly and spread out, and his breath hitched. Still, she went on kissing him, and dimly he recalled that this wasn't right, that she wasn't his and never would be, that she was suffering from a bad head wound that probably needed more attention, but oh Soa, there, and it was lost.

Without really realizing it, he was leaning backwards and she forwards, urgently now, her hair falling over them in a black curtain. His hand was still around her waist, and hers on his shoulders and face, and he was kissing her back now, more out of surprise than anything, but she was lovely and cold and fair, and he couldn't believe this was happening, so why not play along if it was only a dream?

She kissed him like she thought they would both die tomorrow- she kissed him like she hadn't seen him in years- she kissed him with such a fierce and dazzling energy that this was not Rose, this couldn't be Rose.

And all thoughts of sweet Shana and her soft lips and softer sighs went out of his head and into a dark place he couldn't recall.

Her white hands were skirting down his chest, to the edges of his armor where her fingers could meet flesh. He shivered where her hands met him, and then flinched as they ventured lower, lower still, and he made a harsh noise in his throat, a startled grunt as his world became very, immediately and urgently, focused.

It was the noise that made her stop.

She did stop. She met his eyes, and she was confused. Bewildered, in fact. Undone. Her eyes searched his for a moment more, a heady, horrible moment, their faces mere inches apart. He could still feel the sensation of her lips on his. What she searched for, she did not find, apparently, and her face fell into a sadness so profound, so full of centuries of pain, of unending heartbreak…

Rose fainted again.

Dart sat up, ignored the scream of his ankle and other body parts he'd manage to injure on his way down, and lay her down on the rubble once more.

His thoughts were empty.

A shimmering, buzzing noise, from above. Wings of light.

Meru, descending down the cliff face.

Her narrow pixie face was twisted in concern, but it lit up instantly when she caught sight of them. She flew over in a dizzying swoop and called out to them as she did so. "Dart! Rose! Finally I found you guys!" She landed with a crunch of gravel, then her red eyes widened, "Rose is hurt! I'll bring her up first, just wait a bit." Squatting, she hauled Rose onto her shoulder, then let her wings flare into life once more. She rose slowly and laboriously into the air again without a word.

And although Dart would try to forget what had just happened, he never could. Not really.

Rose, when she woke up after being pumped with enough healing energy to reanimate a chunk of rock, certainly didn't seem to remember it. When Dart's ankle was seen to and shortly restored to working order, he certainly didn't mention it.

When they moved out, they headed back to Deningrad to tell the Queen that her city was safe, and to see Shana once more. And what transpired on the cliff face was never spoken of between anyone.

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Author's Note- Ha. Angst. Ha.

Please tell me what's wrong with me. I mean the fic. Seriously. Too much angst? Too much wtf? Bleh. I'll just say I was drunk.