A/N: Old fic, new post! If you're an LJ follower and fellow Animorphs fan, you might have seen this on my LJ. Enjoy!


You're nervous. Nervous, and everywhere in your body there is a drumbeat, drumming, growing louder and louder by the second, until your entire body is pulsating with it. She grabs your sweaty, clammy hand and leads you where your shoes clear the scattered hay across the smooth pavement, and beady eyes inside cages are watching you, and they know. You don't know how, but they know.

She's close, somehow closer than she's ever been, and she's got that knowing smirk on her face – the one that makes shudders ripple across your skin, the one that makes the danger run like ice in your veins, the one that scares you a little more every time you see it, and the one that shoves your heart against your ribcage – over, and over, and over again. It's abuse, pure abuse, and you've thought about telling her this before, telling her exactly what it is she does to you, the sheer terrifying passion – but it won't matter to her. It wouldn't change a thing.

Her voice is mocking, a little husky. The thought of what you're about to do is making your head impossibly cloudy, and all your thoughts are jumbled as if you'd just dropped them all over the floor like marbles, as if the days and weeks of clear mountain air have done you no good, no good at all, and you are no longer able to distinguish which thoughts are which. Like shadows, they scatter and disperse when she's near.

Don't worry, she says. As if you can be preoccupied with such a simple concept of worrying when there are other things happening inside you. Things pounding and swelling and fighting and things that are savage, carnal, hesitant. It's stupid but you're afraid of stripping away her innocence – hers and yours, yours and hers – even though it's long been stripped so long ago. When she grabs your hand, and you swear she can hear your heart pounding in each one of your tiny little vessels, all synchronized and in harmony according to her every whim and breath and kiss and look, you see that dark look in her eyes and know that there is no turning back. None, as if there had ever been that option in the first place.

When she kisses you, you feel it in the soil underneath you. The earth, it moves, and bubbles, and fissures. It's the kind of kiss that can only come from her, Rachel, fighter reckless beautiful dangerous Rachel, supernova cataclysmic magnificent Rachel. The kind that shakes you up and steals your breath, the kind that hurts and soothes at the same time, the kind that burns but steals away the numbness of the uncertain, wide, endless horizon. But this time her kiss is different – desperate, but knowing, and free. This time, her stolen kisses are leading up to something, something that already makes your body thrum with heat and expectation and longing and fear, something that you dream about on lonely sultry Indian nights and find yourself waking up in sweat, feverish and wild and even ashamed.

You forget that you're in a war, but it's funny, funny because it's exactly the kind of kiss bred from war, the kind of kiss that is heated and intense and desperate like a war. Forceful and violent and hungry like a war. Rachel – like a war. A war with death and confusion and blood and loss. Sometimes when you watch her, the dark look that casts over her face, like an eclipse on old funny, beautiful and carefree Rachel, a dark inkblot on a fresh bright page, a stain on a new white dress – you see the transformation, the stark change, the noticeable warp. You try not to think of it, because it makes you worry, and scared, and there is nothing you can do about it. And you know because you remember the first time she kissed you: it was on a hot summer night, with an endless array of lawns of dead grass, and the dry crispy moon like a white porcelain chip in the black sky, the day your feathers had melted back into skin, the day you pushed through the crowd and looked for her with your every ten fingers and every two eyes and every one beating heart. She kissed you, and it had been new, but soft, and thrilling. Sorry, she'd said, a lovely blush of embarrassment creeping across her face. But even then you knew she didn't have a single sorry bone in her body.

You try to say something but your body doesn't let you. It wants this more than your one pillar of flimsy reason can fight. Your conscience, your conscience that has long been plagued by thoughts of imminent death and tragic gloom and darkness, your conscience that fights this war all for you and her, just for you and her and nobody else, it's too busy lulling itself into her trance.

You've never told her, but she's got every bit of you in her hands, in her pockets, in her smile. Every bit of you, it no longer belongs to you, not any single bit at all. You don't know how it happened but you're hers now, every bit as hers as her calloused fingers, her smirking red mouth, her sharp and bitter laugh that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up on end. You're hers, and she's yours, impossibly yours, miraculously, graciously, unfathomably yours, and it's a mystery why or how, a grand troubling mystery that you know you will never get to solve.

Her breath, hot and moist, sweeps against your skin. Her muttered moans cling to your pores. You remember vaguely, very vaguely from a memory you no longer remember ever having, that there are twenty million pores on your body, and she makes sure to fill every one of them in without much effort at all. She has that way about her, the kind that digs herself into every nook and crevice, hiding underneath caverns and crawling into every hole and creeping into every crack; effortlessly, effortlessly thorough. She's intoxicating, and you know that you are not the first or last to know this. The first moment you saw her you knew she was beyond anything you could comprehend, the kind that poets write their poems about, the kind that songs are sang for, and the kind that torments souls living in hollow isolation. She has them thrashing in their sleep, kneeling on their bruised scabbed knees, shouting in guttural tongues and praise.

Rachel, painted in flowers and wrath and blood, in stars and galaxies and teeth and hymns, who loved a boy that just wanted to fly away.

Rachel, she could have had the world. She could have had the entire world at just one syllable hanging from her lips, one inescapable and lofty and lovely word, but she only wants you. She only wants you. And you know that even if you wanted to, even if you were crazed enough to, it would follow you through the canopies and leaves of trees, streaking across the sinking blazing sun.

You know you don't deserve her, you shouldn't pollute your dreams with fancies of her, but everything about her is inescapable. You used to dream about dipping your hand into every curve of her body, about how she would feel writhing underneath your weight, about how it would feel to get lost, so utterly and unfathomably and incomprehensibly lost in her. Maybe, you'd thought once before, you could go in so deep you would never have to get burned by war ever again, and you would never have to worry about her, or watch as you let her succumb deeper and deeper into something you know she will never come out of unscathed. You wished you could go in so deep you would forget how she changed, and how you let her.

When you close your eyes the backs of your eyelids are painted red. A screaming, violent red, the kind of red that boils up your insides, and twists and tangles up your stomach. You never want to close your eyes, you only want to look at her, and look, and look, and absorb every single part of her. . . but as her hands slip off your clothes, clothes that you've slept in for months and weeks and years, clothes that reek of crusted blood and dried sweat and trampled soil and misery and fear, you find it difficult to keep them open. Your mouth opens, letting out wordless noises you have never heard yourself make, burying them deep inside her hair so that nobody else will find them, and your eyes shut so tightly you see stars, exploding into diamond dust, splitting in two, and getting reborn.

Fearless, brave Rachel. . . for the first time you feel her body quiver. The air is thick around the two of you, palpable and hot and sticky, and you don't mind. Blood is roaring everywhere, loud and dominant, and in every single battle you've ever been you can't remember feeling this alive and electric.

She's scalding hot when you touch her. You're so hypnotized by the smoldering heat that your nervousness, it has fled free from you like a thief in the night, because there is no longer any drop of hesitation in your system, and as you run your hands up and down her skin, around, under you make sure to graze your fingers across every single inch of her skin, marking her, even though you know you'd never have to, marking her eternally yours. You used to think that she would be rough, bruised, and scabbed, but every bit of her is soft, so soft in fact, that as your fingertips sink into her skin, you're afraid you might be hurting her.

If she heard your thoughts she would laugh at you, you think. She would laugh and laugh and touch your face and tell you that you couldn't hurt her even if you tried, no, not in that way.

Your innocence was lost. Yours and hers, hers and yours. It was lost a long time ago, but all this flees from your mind as you hear her labored breaths against your ear, moaning your name, burning this memory into your brain. So this is what war has done to you both, you almost think. This is what war has done to you, and now there is nothing that can be salvaged or saved, except that it makes you fearless in passion. It's a frenzy, uninhabited by conscience or thought, pure swiveling action, pure dizzying rapt motion, like ripples across a black sea, and crashing into a million tiny pieces, the thunderous crashing of waves on a silent waiting shore.

If it hurts, she never tells you. It scares you to think that it may not even matter. Tonight, with her back scratching against dry, dead bales of hay, the soft heels of her feet turning pink and raw from friction across your back, she lets you in where nobody has ever been in before, and no, you think, this is not a part of war. This is not a consequence of it. This is just you and her, a boy and a girl, and it just so happens that you are in a war, that's all. That's all. Around you, there is death and destruction and uncertainty and fear, and darkness and exploding galaxies and evil creeping in the shadows, but you forget. For a mere moment, you forget all there is to your sordid reality, and all there is – is her.

For once, you know how it is to be unafraid. Maybe you are simply just borrowing this from her, absorbing her fearlessness and dangerous thirst from wherever your mouth lingers on her body, but every touch and shift and plunge is heavy with throbbing intention, with crazed thoughtlessness, with the essence of the dark but illuminated wilderness of your heart.

When you're finished, her feet softly land back on the ground. You pick out the straws of hay in her hair, hopelessly snagged in her blond locks, and she smirks up at you. Her brave, fearless, terrifying smile, it haunts you in your dreams, and it makes your heart beat with love and terror, in quick tapping beats, from inside out, kissing the back of your ribcage to the front. As you look down at her then, you want to tell her you love her, but the words are lodged somewhere in the middle of your throat, hiding and afraid and pathetic. Poor Tobias, you think bitterly, you've always been one of very few words.

You are both slick and sore, yet light and free. There's a comforting laziness that rests on your shoulders, and for once, for the first time in a very long time, you feel the tingling effects of contentment. For once you can stand in front of each other, unashamed, unabashed, and unembarrassed, because you are just a boy, and she is just a girl. Free from war, free from death and tireless expectation. No, you are just a boy and a girl, unbound and alight, in love.

She laughs. Her sardonic, mocking chuckles fill your ears, and a fleeting cold breeze passes. It makes you reach out for her again, to hold her close. I know, she tells you. You don't have to tell me, because I already know.

Because she is no longer afraid of anything, anything at all, not even when she speaks for you. It doesn't matter to her that there's a chance she might be wrong, only that she knows sooner or later, down the road, that she'll be right.


The next day, she's gone.


Jez"e*bel\, n. [From Jezebel, Heb. Izebel, the wife of Ahab king of Israel.] A bold, vicious woman.

2. In a Feminist reading of the Bible and of later Jewish and Christian traditions, Jezebel can be seen as a strong and assertive woman, who was attacked and finally murdered by the fanatic male representatives of a male-dominated religion, and whose memory was continually vilified for thousands of years for the same reason - i.e. "because she was a strong and independent woman who did not let men dominate her, and who continued to defy the aggressive males to her last breath"