Jeff hit it in one when he said (as if he was reading my mind along with so many others out there):
No, this isn’t new news. Not really. But I think the reason that it resonates so well and so true is that we often lose focus of how much we can do (and do well) for doing all the things we think we should do. I know I have. And I know that many people I’ve met have, telling me how they had to wait until the kids were grown up or they graduated college or bought a house or…. well, basically any number of things that some societal dictate or overcautious maxim preacher drilled into their minds as stuff that MUST BE DONE before one could “let themselves” explore their passions and talents.
So, yes, I am a writer. I am also an artist (I have posted some of my drawings here before). And I am also a photographer. Amateur all three… however, that is simply a matter of financing.
When we last left Acaria, we had Atyr volunteering herself on ‘Listii as his passenger for his flight back to the capitol despite the fact that neither of them have been able to speak about the disconnect that had broken into their lovemaking last night. Does ‘Listii want to bring her back to husband? And what of Val? Does Alanii know what sort of arrangement the brothers have with his wife?
Atyr arrived at his car just seconds after he did. He’d managed to gather his own papers as well as some from ‘Mara for the Council.
A call to the Complex had settled another concern.
She smiled as he helped her up the steep first step. “Thank you.” With a brief look around, she accepted the seat he offered her. He watched as she fumbled with the harness a moment. Then she dropped the straps in disgust. “Could I be any more inept! What am I doing wrong, ‘Listii? I didn’t have trouble like this in ‘Mara’s car.”
He took the controller’s seat next to her own and smiled. “Military and civilian models of these older cars were designed differently. Here. Watch how I do it.”
It only took one example for her to fix the tangle she’d made and strap herself in. He was glad. There were some things that even a call to his main base couldn’t stop. Touching her again so soon….
For the first few minutes they traveled in silence. She spent the time watching the departing Home out the window with a small, appreciative smile. He could understand the sentiment having starred in awe more times than he could remember at the wild beauty of his brother’s land.
When the island was out of view behind the clouds, she sighed. “I know I’m being intrusive, ‘Listii, but I need to talk with you—about something that happened last night…and this morning too. I was some straight answers.”
He frowned, checked his controls and glared at some bird splatter on the window. He’d just managed to quell last night’s memory under another notch of control, and she wanted to talk about it? And straight answers…. Who did she think she was dealing with? He’d never misled her before this. Why would she even think such a thing of him now? “Some straight answers? About what? Just because I’d rather not risk getting you pregnant, you–“
What?” She whirled from where she’d been staring at the clouds to meet his gaze. Her expression was one of disbelief and confusion. “What are you talking about?”
He blinked, realizing he’d spoken too soon. He adjusted a dial a touch then shrugged. “You said you wanted to talk about last night. I just assumed you meant–“
“Don’t.” She sighed and leaned back in her seat. “I admit. I was curious about that, but that was your business, not mine. And, if that’s why, well, I understand. Who knows how things would happen since Val and I are called and you are so similar to him.”
He nodded. “My thoughts exactly. We know ‘Lir is Val’s son for certain now, Atyr. He’d understand, but Riia wouldn’t have.”
“She may have. But no matter, I’m not ready to risk being pregnant again either.”
“So what did you want to know?” He felt more relaxed than before with that easy acceptance of his feelings. More confused as well. He glanced at her curiously.
She wasn’t smiling. “Last night Val sent to me, ‘Listii.” She paused and started picking at a hangnail. “And the way you held me back after we stopped tearing your bed apart makes me wonder if you are as talented. Alanii says you are.”
He looked away to the window and his controls. Val’d sent to her…. Damn him. And how in Hell did Alanii figure it out? “It’s nothing, Atyr. We’re just sensitives.” Goddess forgive him for the lie. He realized he had no hope that Atyr would forgive him. It was clear she already felt as betrayed as his wife had before she died.
“That’s not what your brother’s priest thinks. And I have to agree with him, considering. No small talent can be hidden the way you and your brother have hidden yours. Nor could someone with a small talent block out a trained priest after three weeks of guastu the way your brother nearly threw that poor fi-Harnii across the room with his shielding. What I want to know is how long you’ve known about your talents.”
He pursed his lips together, uncertain for a moment. She knew the truth already, at least the truth that could hurt him or his kin. What she wanted to know…. It could only hurt her now. “We always have. At least we’ve known since Father told us as children.”
She was silent for several moments, long enough to make him look at her. She’d started sucking on the finger she’d been worrying earlier. Her eyes were moist with tears that hadn’t escaped yet. She noticed his gaze. The first tear fell.
“Why, ‘Listii? He told me how much he wanted to share mindtouch with me, how much he wanted to touch my mind the way I could his. He told me how much he regretted that he couldn’t! He lied to me! He lied to me, ‘Listii. Why?”
She wasn’t really listening for an answer. He knew that. There was no way she’d even hear him through her wails unless he yelled at her. That wouldn’t help anything. He left her to her tears a moment, not sure of what to say anyway.
Finally she began to calm. He waited a bit longer then spoke.
“He didn’t lie to you, Atyr.”
“He said he couldn’t do it!” The tears started again.
Clearly he hadn’t waited long enough. He shook his head. “He couldn’t.”
“Bullcrap! He has ability enough to do so without even thinking about it. He lied to me.” She sniffed heartily. ” I’m over that, I guess. But I’d hoped for better from you, ‘Listii.”
He looked at her after flicking down the speed to a hover and switched on the autopilot. “Why expect better from me than him, Atyr? Val would never have hurt you like–“
“No, he didn’t. He said he couldn’t. That wasn’t a lie. Having an ability doesn’t mean one can do something.” He resisted the urge to get up and comfort her. A silent prayer of thanks was in order for his office. Seldom did they adjust his levels so well. Normally he wouldn’t be able to resist the pheromone drive to her when she started crying.
Likely he’d have to have them cut him back when he reached Yiira. At least he would survive this trip moderately unscathed.
She was silent, watching him carefully out of the corner of her eye. “What’s gotten into you, ‘Listii?” she muttered more to her chair and hands than him.
“What do you mean?”
“You were never so distant before. I thought I could talk with you about anything. You always said I could. I thought we were friends.”
“We are, and you can.” He resumed the car’s acceleration.
Forcing himself to not snap at her, he still decided to cut off her insinuations before they grew more fanciful. “Just because I’m not over there coddling you, Atyr, don’t mean I care any less than before. I’m trying to fly the car and avoid a collision with those peaks over there.” He motioned toward the Estanes. “And I don’t need you damning my brother or myself for something we didn’t do wrong. Val never lied to you about his talent. He said he couldn’t do things. He couldn’t. Our father swore us to secrecy about it long before he met you. We could only use it with kin–bloodkin, Atyr. Father, our children, not even cousins. Our father’s father had done the same to him. Val and I did the same with our sons.” He sighed. “Why he sent to you is anyone’s guess, but he shouldn’t have. I’m sorry you are hurt, but Val never lied to you.”
She was staring at her fingernail again. It was bleeding. “And just when was I supposed to find out?”
She looked up to meet his gaze this time. “Never?”
“Never, Atyr.” He sighed. “Look, it’s done, for good or not. I’ll deal with it from here. Enjoy the knowledge you if you want now with him. Maybe Val was saying he accepted you fully as one of us. Congratulations, Atyr. You’re fully Hastor.”
She turned to the window. “Take me to Katsdaniis, ‘Listii. I think I need to be by myself for a while.”
Something about her tone made him cringe, a finality that said he’d handled this situation no better than he’d handled things with Riia during those last days.
All his levels set, every adjustment fine tuned…. It didn’t matter. He felt a burst of panic that broke through his caution. He reset the autopilot, tossing away the the thought that he shouldn’t rely on that sketchy programming job Kariin had done for him last month. If he’d cursed himself to an experience with her like he’d suffered after his wife’s death, it didn’t matter if all the damned machines worked right or threw them into the blasted sun. Then, disengaging his harness, he moved over to crouch next to her. Even with all the controls on him at maximum, this close he could feel the press of her, the quickening of his own body to hers.
Strange how easy it was to notice the chemistry between them when his own was being so carefully adjusted by the office. He added to his own personal barriers and reached over to touch her hands gently.
“Atyr, I’m sorry. I should have known better, but…. Well, it’s not something I’m used to talking about.”
She moved her hands away. “No doubt.”
He tried again. She squirmed from his touch. He sighed and undid her harness despite her attempts to stop him. When she was freed, he grasped her arms to her sides and drew her up to him. Then, because she held her head turned away from him, he blew her hair gently from her ear. Leaning in till his lips touched her earlobe, he began murmuring gentle reassurances, while he nipped softly at her flesh. Giving a small leash to his own talent, he teased her mind’s brittleness with ghostlike touches till she began to relax, soft coos of pleasure escaping her lips.
She turned to kiss him.
It was electric even with his controls in place. He loosened his mental checks just a touch more. He owed her that much.
Suddenly she froze again, the brittleness returning tenfold and pressed him back with a strength that her small frame belied.
He regained his balance just before he landed against the console. “What was that about?”
Her expression was stern. “What are you, Valistii Mirniia? Does sex solve everything for you?”
He blinked. “Who mentioned sex?”
“That wasn’t a fond brother to sister hug.”
“You seemed to be enjoying yourself enough, Atyr. If it works–“
He realized he’d misspoken again only second before her hand rose. He didn’t try to block the swing. Too little effort, too late, spent on the wrong thing. His vision spun as she contacted, the sharp burst of pain suggesting that he check his jaw later.
“You asshole.” She sat down and buckled herself in, crossing her legs defensively despite the venom in her tone. “Bring me to Katsdaniis before I have Alanii shoot this damned car out of the sky.”
This time he didn’t fight it. He took her to Katsdaniis.