This was one of my very first fandoms (does that date me :o) before I even knew what fanfiction and fandoms were. I was in high school, and The Phoenix, as brief as it's run was, gave me something to hold onto during a very difficult part of my life. For this I will always be grateful and it will always have a special place in this writer's heart. Since was kind enough to finally add this category I am delighted to post the inaugural story :o).
I dedicate it to Judson Scott, who brought Bennu alive and made the strength of the Phoenix "real" to me just when I needed it most. He was my Angel of the Light.
COPYRIGHTS: Bennu and other elements taken from the context of the TV show The Phoenix are copyrighted to ABC and Mark Carliner Productions, Inc. - The manner of their use, and everything else in Mira-cles, is the creative creation of Amita4ever.
RATED: K (If, at any time, you feels this rating needs to be changed, please inform me through my profile)
Adult Themes: mild
SUMMERY: A mission in life is a powerful thing -- It can seem a reason to live... or to die. -- A lonely road. A stormy day. Two strangers in desperate need. Some meetings are Providential.
ON TIMELINE: I don't have detailed synopses of the different episodes, so I can't verify my details, but this story takes place after Bennu has acquired the crystals, and believes Iago has killed Mira - whichever episode that is.
WRITERS'S NOTES: I started Phoenix stories a very long time ago, completely unaware of the concept of fanfiction. It was written for my own enjoyment, the only "history" available to me was what I remembered from TV, so if this tale does not fall in line with any official canon, please consider it AU -- I would, however, still appreciate reviews regarding characterization and writing skills (positive OR critical).
She had been struck by a sudden yearning to see lush country landscapes - which wasn't exactly understandable, especially since the forecast said to expect at least one more day of chilling spring weather... as if there hadn't been enough already. An incredible front had been crossing the country blanketing entire states so the sun had not been seen for more than a half hour's time the past week. The weather between these infrequent moments of brightness vacillated between drizzling rain and sullen mists with an occasional downpour or hailstorm thrown in to break up the monotony. It definitely wasn't pleasure riding weather, nevertheless, she was glad she'd done it. She wasn't going to have the opportunities to enjoy the countryside, regardless of the weather, for that much longer.
The cool spring breeze blowing through the cracked window toyed with rich brown hair that almost seemed to glow with reddish highlights despite the wan lighting. Her bright evergreen eyes drank in the country around her seeing it as only an artist soon to be missing it could; noting every nuance, every play of shadow and light, every subtle blend of colors. The smell of wet earth saturated the air and she drank it in, savoring its richness. The road she drove on was, so far as she was concerned, unexplored and she merrily dodged potholes and puddles wondering how she had managed to miss it during her earlier excursions. She knew most of the roads back here well enough to drive them at midnight, which was saying a great deal. Somehow, 'though, she had missed this one and the thrill of trying something new in this kind of weather added quite an adventuresome spice to her hunt for undiscovered beauty.
Bennu stumbled to his knees, robotically climbed back to his feet and continued plodding down the road. His strength had reached its limits some miles back. He would get little further, but he didn't care. He was past caring. Gone were the unconscious proud carriage of head and the princely grace of movement. Gone were the bright golden sheen of hair and the subtle aura of gentle power. The clarity of his mystic eyes was now glazed, burning with a new brightness that had nothing to do with his origins. He was a man beyond exhaustion, beyond hope, and almost beyond life. He had stopped looking to the heavens for light. He knew he would not find any, but the rain, the cold, the lack of sunlight was killing him. He pushed on, driven by an onus that was ingrained and instinctive, although reason no longer knew where he was nor even cared. He was like a child's forgotten wind up toy, mindlessly putting one foot before the other. He would continue until his spring wound down, then he would fall and move no more. He stumbled on, gray clouds thundering ominously overhead, but he didn't notice. He was dead to the world around him, burning hot despite the chilling breeze.
She had driven miles on this backcountry road without seeing a single living creature, and as another huge raindrop hit the windshield, she knew why. Anything with any sense was hiding from the storms continuing fury. "Not including me," she added wryly to herself, "but Mom always said I hadn't the good sense God gave a door mouse. I guess this just proves it." She could tell this storm was going to be a bad one, but she intended to enjoy every splashing raindrop, every roll of thunder, every flash of lightning.
She crested the hill wondering what hidden vista the rise hid behind it, and found her gaze drawn instead to a man walking along the road. At first she was startled to find something alive and moving out in this weather, but on the heels of her surprise was the fundamental sense of something desperately wrong. The man's steps were faltering and uncertain. He carried a duffel bag on his shoulder, and it seemed as if that weight was going to drag him to the ground. His only protection against the elements, a blue denim jacket, was thoroughly soaked. She didn't care to think how cold it would be. She honked briefly trying to get his attention and accelerated as much as she dared on the rough muddy road, but feared she would arrive too late. The section of the road he walked on was built up to allow for a bridge over a stream and the steep embankments on either side looked treacherous.
He was oblivious to the approaching vehicle, and even as she pulled up behind him she saw him stumble. The misdirected step sent him sideways and as his weight hit the slick sodden shoulder of the road, it gave way beneath him dropping him down the embankment. He tumbled toward the swollen raging stream below like a puppet whose strings were cut, making not a single effort to save himself. She stopped her truck and was out of the door as he reached the bottom.
From the edge of the road she saw where he landed facedown on the bank, half in and half out of the water, but even as she began looking for a safe route down the embankment, the current caught the man and dragged him in.
This stream was like a hundred others scattered throughout the backcountry. Normally little more than knee deep, the rains had swollen them to the size of small rivers. The raging chest deep current could drown a horse, but she did not hesitate. She leaped down the embankment and into the water intent on the limp form pulling away.
The flow yanked her under as the sudden enveloping shock of frigid cold caused an involuntary gasp, and she forced her way back to the surface coughing in surprise. Ahead of her she caught a glimpse of pale and gold, and she caught his collar in a desperate lunge only to be swept downstream with him. She struggled against the current as 50 yards of shoreline rushed passed in moments, then she glimpsed the top of a fence post passing fast. She grabbed at it, catching it somewhere below the surface, and held on with all her strength.
Her sudden resistance buried her face in the water, as the sodden ground holding the post heaved beneath their sudden weight. She felt the post shift under her hand. Please God, she prayed, Let it hold a little longer... She had no illusions. The cold water would sap her strength quickly, but they might have a chance if she could only get her burden under control. Turning her face from the current she could breath again, but the man trailed downstream like a wet blanket, catching the current and trying to tear her arms from their sockets. His danger was compounded by the fact he remained face down in the water, but she couldn't help that until she could get a better grip on him. She strained against her anchor, drawing the man closer.
The fence post protested, tilting dangerously, then suddenly it gave way. "Jesus, no!" she choked as her anchor pulled loose dropping her beneath the surface again, but before she could even consider relinquishing the post her hand slid up the wet soaked wood. She nearly cried aloud in pain as her fingers wedged between the post and its last surviving strand of wire. Broken on one side by the flooding, that single wire was their sole tenuous contact with the shoreline, and it proved the foundation of a miracle. As the current swept them downstream the wire stretched taunt but remained stubbornly intact and connected to the post forcing the current to swing them in a swift arc toward the shore. In the shallower water she found footing and clambered out straining to drag her burden behind her.
She was nearly exhausted after her brief combat with the river and sank to her knees with her shoulders and arms screaming in agony, but she knew she couldn't rest. "Please, Jesus," she whispered, "don't let him die! Not after all we've been through." She groped back to the man and rolled him over. Immediately the gentle elegance of his features struck her... an angel as pale and wan as alabaster, his face could have graced a work of Renaissance art by Raphael. "Please," she pleaded again as she felt for a pulse then found one faint and fading.
Her First Aid lessons had been taken long ago, but suddenly she recalled them with striking clarity. She began mouth to mouth resuscitation without a second thought. Two large breaths to expand his lungs, then watch his chest fall and feel the warm breath on her cheek. After a count of five one large breath and watch again. Over and over she repeated the sequence, praying as she counted, then he took a sudden shuddering breath of his own and began a fit of violent coughing that wracked his entire body. She rolled him toward her as he coughed the water from his lungs, then both rested in the advancing rain with eyes closed, a quiet prayer of thanks on her lips as she caught her breath. It wasn't until a fleeting touch on her knee brought her back that she stirred.
The man looked no different and she wondered if she imagined it, but as she leaned down she heard a faint whisper of breath form the words, "thank you."
She sighed and squeezed his shoulder gently in acknowledgment. She had managed to save him from the water, but the battle was not over. Although the cold of their swim and the chill breeze was causing her to shiver, she could feel heat radiating from his skin. He was literally burning with fever. He needed help, but she could offer none in a cold wet pasture. She stroked his fevered cheek and leaned close, reluctant to leave him but knowing she must, "I'll be right back, I'm going to get my truck." There was no response, and she knew she had to hurry. She climbed awkwardly to her feet and began stumbling back toward the road.
On the edge of the road ahead of her truck's right fender sat something dark and sodden. She almost ignored it, then she recognized the man's duffel bag lying where it had fallen as its owner literally slipped out from under it. She hastened around taking a moment to snag the soaking bundle, then flung it on the floor of the truck as she climbed into the driver's seat.
It seemed hours before she was able get her truck down where she needed to go, although she knew it was truly closer to minutes. She finally halted the truck a long 10 yards from the fevered man, daring to drive no closer on the soft ground. Already the water logged soil sucked at the tires, and she knew the rancher who owned the pasture was going to be greatly grieved by the deep muddy furrows she was carving. Nature, however, would eventually heal them, and that was more than she could say for her fevered Raphael.
As she knelt at his side once more, she begged for God's blessing over them both but aloud she said "Come on! Let me help you. Time to... Get up!" She slipped an arm behind him and all but dragged him to a sitting position. He was dead weight in her arms, and she was wondering how, but by God's grace, she was going to lift an unconscious man who weighed more than herself into her truck when he moaned softly and a feverish hand reached up to grab her shoulder with more strength than she would have thought possible. She didn't waste time with questions, but repositioned her arm under his shoulder and struggled to help him to his feet. When they finally succeeded he leaned on her heavily, his entire body trembling with the effort. Even his head rested against hers, his eyes closed as if the mere effort of opening them was a task beyond his meager strength. All that lay before them now was 10 yards of treacherous ground.
Every step was a momentous effort but many prayers and encouraging words later found them standing by her truck and she was suddenly faced with the question of where she was taking him. "Do you live near here?" she asked.
The shake of his head was feeble.
"Are you staying with someone?"
"no," his answer was so weak she barely heard it.
At a loss, she continued her efforts and after several more prayers they managed to get his soaking form sitting in the seat of her truck. Hurrying to the driver's side, she climbed in next to him marveling at what they had accomplished - convinced they had not accomplished it alone. From there she pondered what to do with him as she peeled his sopping jacket from him and wrapped him in a blanket from the emergency kit she kept behind the seat. It wasn't much, but it would have to do. She felt strangely reluctant to take him to any authorities or even a hospital and she realized that left her with only one other option. She didn't know who he was, where he was from, or what he was doing out here but he needed help. He needed her. As she shut her door he roused again briefly, "Bennu... my name... is Bennu," he offered weakly, then slumped limp in the seat as consciousness appeared to desert him completely.
Suddenly fearful, she again felt the pale throat seeking signs of life and was rewarded with something stronger than she had felt before. She also knew she had made her decision, for somehow the mere contact of her skin on his had conveyed the need of his situation more clearly than words ever could. She cupped his pale cheek and whispered, "How do you do, Bennu. Now, please, just hang on. I'm taking you home, God help me... God help us both... to my home."
She chose her egress from the pasture as carefully as she had chosen her entrance trying to minimize the damage to the grassland as well as ensure her vehicle didn't founder. She couldn't afford to get stuck, not today, not with Bennu... She shook her head. I'm being stupid. He needs a doctor! But she knew she wouldn't take him to one. She balked at the very thought of it and she had never ignored God's urging before, nor had he ever guided her wrong. God was, after all, the ultimate judge of character and she felt as if Bennu needed to be sheltered. She felt it very strongly, in fact.
She edged her truck over the final embankment and it lurched as it settled on the road. The sudden sway knocked Bennu against her but rather than push him off, she let him ease down until his head rested in her lap. She felt his vulnerability with a strength that was near overwhelming and it roused a fierce protective passion in her. Her arm fell around him possessively not knowing who or what she was protecting him from, but feeling he needed the reassurance. Even so, shortly after she hit the highway he began shifting restlessly and murmuring in a lyrical language she had never heard before. She could feel his burning fever through her wet jeans; so hot it almost felt as if her thigh was being scalded by degrees. She did not doubt now that he was the reason she had been drawn to the country, but he was so very sick. How could she possibly help him?