Disclaimer: I do not own Pendragon.
Author's note: It seems strange to tag my stories as AU when the series isn't finished, so this may or may not be Pilgrims of Rayne compliant. Bear with me.
Late at night, when they lay together and pretend to sleep, the dreams come.
Loor pretends that the nightmares don't leave her shaking uncontrollably, that the next day she isn't any less graceful. Bobby says nothing of the things she drops or the shattered plates that plague each breakfast.
Then again, he doesn't say much of anything these days. The haunted expression he wears like a second face speaks volumes of what he dreams of.
Late at night, when they lay together and pretend to sleep, Bobby turns to look at her.
"I'm afraid," he says. She waits for an elaboration. None follow.
What is he afraid of? The nightmares? The coming fight? Saint Dane? Dying? The proud warrior in her scoffs at these fears, but the cautious Loor, who was born in the flume of Zadaa, understands. She, too, fears.
"Everything will be all right," she says, and they both know she is lying. But the assurance is perhaps what he needs, lie though it is.
"I just… there's so much I still don't understand. Why I'm the leader. Why Saint Dane is doing this. Why it's all happening to begin with. Why my family's gone. And mostly… why me?"
She tries to find his face in the darkness, running her hand over his cheek in what she hopes is a comforting gesture. "These things," she muses, "Are not things I can answer. I am no scholar." She moves her hand to his forehead, brushing fingertips across the furrowed skin in a futile effort to smooth away the creases. "I am only Loor."
"I know," he whispers, and reaches his hand up to cover her own. "I'm glad."
His fingers close around her wrist, pulling it down to his lips. He presses them against the slender bones, marking the curve from hand to arm.
"Everything happens for a reason," she says after a moment. She can feel the way he exhales against her skin, resigned. They don't know how to fight fate.
"No, truly." He is listening, his pause as weighty as words in the dark. "The Bobby of Second Earth only had to worry about saving his teammates in that biscuit ball game."
"That's basketball," he says, amusement coloring his words.
"That game," she continues. "The Pendragon of Halla must worry about saving everyone. Without all those events, Bobby of Second Earth could not have survived so many turning points."
His mouth pauses on its path toward the inside of her elbow. "That's circular logic. You're saying I had to endure those events in order to become who I needed to be to endure those events."
She sighs in defeat. "I am no scholar."
She can feel the way his lips curve against her skin. "You are only Loor."
"And you are only Pendragon."
"The boy you speak of no longer exists. He died on Denduron. I much prefer the man he is becoming."
He contemplates this, then moves her hand down to his chest. There is no small amount of sadness in his words. "I'll always be Bobby, here." She can feel the way his heart thumps against his ribs, slow and relaxed. How long has it been since either of them have truly relaxed?
"There is no room for boys in war." The old adage of the Batu warriors falls familiar from her lips before she can stop the hurtful words.
A long pause. She counts the seconds in his heartbeats as he takes a deep breath. "I'm afraid to change."
A great and terrible epiphany hits her, as do the memories she's tried so hard to bury. The way she'd put off choosing an acolyte after Osa's death, afraid that to do so was to lose the woman forever. The way she'd loved Bokka but pushed him away, hating what, as a Traveler, she had to do. The way she'd avoided anything that reminded her of him after his death, afraid to remember but even more afraid to forget.
He'd lost so much, this leader of Travelers. An entire life, an entire family, an entire future gone as if Bobby Pendragon had never existed. Before Osa had chosen her, she'd been an orphan. She had lost nothing in becoming a Traveler.
He'd lost everything.
And now, though he might resist it with every fiber of his being, he has to lose himself. Bobby of Second Earth is no more, as nonexistent as if he'd never been born. For all that he is Bobby Pendragon, he can no longer pretend he is the same person who left his home all those years ago. He has changed. He must change.
There is nothing she can say. They don't know how to fight fate.
Late at night, when they lay together and pretend to sleep, Bobby leans over Loor in the darkness and kisses her like he's afraid to lose her.
She kisses back because, unlike everything else in his life, she's not going anywhere.