– 2309 [two days after "Initiation #1"]
didn't know your gift was like this."...
not my powers I feel sorry about."...
lines wandered restlessly through her mind. Again and again.
Growing louder now that she tried to gain sleep. Niko threw
herself around, her legs intertwined with the cotton sheets, now
soaked in sweat. Sweat-soaked green cotton sheets, feeling
damp on her bare skin that was no longer covered by bandages
after the wound in her shoulder had been healed. The
soreness was gone after two days. The memories were not.
the same went for the knowledge...
the tingling adulterating whisper like susurrant breathing
resonating in her mind.
She pushed herself up
into a sitting position.
me time to adjust to it."...
sorry, Shane, she thought sadly. I can't do that. I'm not
looked around, scanned the huge hall a second time. No, he wasn't
here. And, concentrating on the vague direction provided in the
whisper, she'd been so sure about that. She started when
something splashed beside her, sprinkling her in a rain of salty
=He's in the
backward tanks. No lights.= The dolphin chittered into the
earnestly. "Thank you."
Icarus surfaced beside her. (((.Goose begged us not to tell where
to find him. You said yourself he looked as if he needed the
Winter had a pitying
look for her partner. (((.Sometimes, silence's just not
slid slowly into the huge tank that connected with the other
tanks deeper inside the rocks and suppressed a shiver regarding
the gaping dark opening of the wide tube with the gentle current
in front of her. She knew that not all of the tanks were visible
from within the LSL rooms. Some of them could only be reached
through the water. Through the tubes. They were the dolphins'
She was a guest here. Not
invited but allowed.
She grabbed the tiny,
pen-like oxygen device with her teeth, took a first careful
breath to test it, and ignored the tiny prickle caused by her
memories of being trapped under water. Together with him. And he
had belonged where she could never be a part of. Did he belong
She pushed herself
off the tank's wall and dove for the tube. She was going to find
desires and feelings aren't logical,
got to wait, Shane. These are things that just can't be explained
at the moment."...
the time for waiting was over.
floated in the dark water – dark enough even for his eyes
to rest – and held his position and depth of about two
meters sub only with minor movements of the webbing between his
fingers and toes.
am I supposed to do when it comes to these
are not supposed to do anything in that direction,
supposed to' – translation: 'do it anyway and you get
really big trouble.'
to that, they just bluntly had broken the rules.
was the reason they'd spent the ten hours flight home with
creating a report bypassing the night in question
Some quick flaps of
his gills chased the tiny cleaner wrasse away from his face. His
mouth twitched when his eyes followed the harmless colorful fish
scurrying scared out of sight. Good. It wouldn't find any
ectoparasites on him anyway.
long as Zozo kept silent.
assured him that she'd taken care of it. He just hoped it worked.
If not... but there was nothing he could do about
mention a word to anyone about this!"...
don't like people talking about my private life.
better with words than he, better in finding the reasons that
made people wish to do what she needed them doing.
Sometimes he wished he could...
we've got to talk."...
me finish this first."...
He hit the word at himself and ground his teeth on
happened last night?"...
been the truth at that moment.
smelled blood in the morning, too fresh and not mixed with
antiseptic as to come from the wound in her shoulder. But it
hadn't been his.
The scents of
two persons' sweat had mixed with something else. Something more
salty, more... animal. Not all his.
was the blood that disquieted him.
received her memories about it. And there'd been nothing to
Still, he had
smelled it. Clearly. As clearly as he'd always smelled the scent
that was only hers. As clearly as he smelled
gills flapped hastily in the water. His eyes, adapted in reflex,
penetrated the darkness with ease. Hers could not. She nearly
bumped her head at one of the vertical tubes and afterwards got
tangled in the long strands of seaweed.
scents reaching him through the streaming water changed slightly
during her struggling, carried a stitch of fear, but she came
straight towards him, as if following an invisible line. He felt
his muscles tighten. Not a comforting thought.
first bubbles from her oxygen device carried ahead by the current
touched his gills, causing the unwelcome sensation of having to
sneeze under water. She had nearly reached him. Too late he
remembered her poor eyesight in the dark and reached for her to
prevent her from swimming into him.
surfaced with a splash. "Shane," she gasped. "You
gave me the shock of my life."
noticed," he said dryly. "You should have brought a
cold light. You're not me."
in the golden glow of his bio defenses' activation she spotted
the bloody tear her scared strike had accidentally torn into his
gills. "I'm sorry," she whispered. Gods, were they
destined to hurt each other? He was done. The darkness returned.
"You sought darkness. Light seemed impolite."
stupid to risk one's head for politeness."
someone who doesn't dare to ask her about something she'd
obviously survived, his mind commented ironically. "How
about some light of yours now?" he asked instead.
expanded a forcefield, glowing slightly in the purple-violet of
her gifts. Just enough for her to recognize contours. And fell
Still gills. Still
He didn't make it easy
for her this time.
for silence," he corrected her assumption. "There
aren't many places silent to my senses within allowed
none for mine." She breathed in return. "Not any
That stopped him.
Wary eyes, of a lighter green than usual here in their aquatic
adaption, searched her face. "What's wrong?"
feel you." His eyes narrowed at that. "I–"
I wound you?" he asked suddenly.
ruptured your gills, you didn't even touch–"
She knew it was nearly an outcry, was aware it shouldn't have
been one, certainly not carrying the hints of fury and despair
he'd surely noticed. No, her thoughts added with the
appropriate carefulness. No, you didn't wound me. Scarecrow
wounded me. In the widest range of definition I wounded me. You
didn't... And in a painful moment of realization: You'd
never touched me if I hadn't...
she didn't say that. What she said was a repetition: "I feel
you." Her fingertips touched her temple. "In my mind. A
whisper. A... foreign breath. A presence." She avoided his
eyes, groped for the words. "You begged for time. I'm sorry.
I can't... I– I think it's a lasting resonance between us
after what we did with each other."
Caution. The whisper in her mind changed its tone, grew cold,
then was suddenly almost gone. Her eyes widened, she hadn't
expected him capable of controlling his thoughts that much.
Silence. Loneliness. She drew a deep breath. That was how
it was going to be...
you read my mind?"
she hurried to explain. "No. It's just... a feeling that you
exist." A feeling of truly not being alone, that one became
aware of only if it was lost.
to help me. Otherwise I will hurt you."
no telepath, Niko."
she stopped. Right. Gods, what should she do?
been hurt before. Do it."
thought of the loneliness. Not like that. But she couldn't
beg him to keep it. 'One's mind belongs to oneself...' The
predominant law of her world. A violation was never tolerated. If
she, being the taught one among them, asked for it...
will hurt you, too, right?" he asked faintly.
nodded. That was true, she'd be mentally wounded, too. She could
shield herself from the pain till it mended. She wouldn't suffer.
But... she bit her lip on the search for words to express
"I don't want to hurt
you again," he said into her lasting silence.
eyes widened. Was that what it sounded alike? Did– Did he
He seemed to
recognize her expression of disbelief. "Keep it." After
a moment, seemingly at the end of his tether: "Just never
I said,))) Winter told Icarus, watching through the glass as the
two rangers left. (((.Sometimes, silence's just not enough.)))
faint smile played around Niko's lips.
silence was everything.