Author's Ramblings: Well, I've written enough for this week and next week...way too much to fit into one post, so I'll cut it in half. The action is a bit delayed, because my brain is caught up between classes and a possible snowstorm. I'll let you know how that turns out. Anyway, Eira is recovering quite nicely, but is still a bit off-kilter from her healing and the DP is working through some issues of his own, while attempting to puzzle through some of Eira's. Enjoy! Happy reading and have a great weekend--thank you all very much for the encouragement and support as I continue to write this. In response to a reader question--yes, the end is in sight, but not quite yet. If you would like to see a break in between installments, please let me know! I'm open to suggestions. ^_^
RECAP: Eira is recovering after a fight with a Rock Titan that nearly killed her. The DP is slowly easing her back into everyday tasks with light therapy and roundabout conversation. The exchange is enlightening for both and Eira discovers a way to work past the incredible, lingering pain of a near-death experience.
“What else can I do?” Eira tried to lift her arm again, focusing all her energy on the little wooden ball in her folded fingers. It was smooth and unmarked, seeming as if it was simply scooped out of a perfectly swirled length of wood.
She tried again, when the first effort did not produce the result she’d been trying for. Her lips curled as the expressions slithering over her face betrayed the mental battle within. A moment passed and a few of the fingers curled tighter around the ball. A smile surfaced.
“Don’t do that.” The Dark Phoenix had turned his attention to the dying fire and now reappeared at her side to swipe the ball from her feeble clutches. “No. That is a no.” There was a touch of emphasis on the word as he plucked it from her grasping fingers. “Please do not push your healing any further than necessary. I know you are impatient to be up and moving about…so am I. I did not plan on staying in…hiding, in these circumstances. I will do what I can to see that you are up by tomorrow and we shall work with some difference exercises-”
“Therapy.” Eira rasped. Her eyes opened wide and shock decorated her expressive face.
“Yes, that is your voice. No, do not strain it by repeating anything. Yes, you can speak. No, it isn’t really therapy and-”
“Therapy.” She repeated, a pleased smirk registering. “Still therapy.”
“You do not listen very well, do you?” He settled on the other side of her, a seemingly routine habit to do so, playing with the wooden ball in his hands. “Speaking right now is taking energy from your body fueling an emotional desire instead of attempting heal the physical side of things.” He reached for her hand. “I’ll give you the same twenty-five ops on this side and then we’re done for today.”
“Only twenty-five?” Eira couldn’t help herself. The raspy tone was surprisingly charming and the thought of annoying him was amusement enough in her present state.
Amusement that quickly faded at the look intended for her alone. “Sorry.” She winced, even as the word edged out. It would have been better to shrug.
Except for her shoulders weren’t quite ready to be shrugging yet.
A loud sigh surfaced instead. She hoped that was allowed.
“I’ll work on a…tea.” He said, finally. “Tonight, if possible, it will help your voice, okay? Blink to answer, do not speak…please?”
Eira blinked once and innocent smile fixed on her lips.
He snorted. “Good. We’re starting.” He propped up her arm as he’d done before on the other side, curling the wooden ball around it.
This time around, there were more explanations, more adjustments and more information. Overall, more of everything. Eira did her best to listen and found when she had no other choice but to puzzle through what he was telling her, eventually she could make sense of some of it. And he really wasn’t speaking in a different language on purpose.
Her efforts were weaker on the left side, appearing as if the energy she’d used to speak had evaporated in terms of a usable support. He frowned, taking her hand again and working the points along her wrist and finger joints. “You have a very strange way of orienting your energy…” He murmured, at least, stretching the hand out beside her. “We’ve done enough of this for today. I want you up and walking by tomorrow.” He tapped her wrist, a spark of energy traveling upwards with a loud crackle.
Eira jerked—or rather—tried to, because her reaction only amounted to a mere twitch, a fraction of the shudder that normally would have come. She opened her mouth to ask what that had been for-but a finger rested on her lips.
“No talking.” He reminded her.
She looked at him, mustering up as much emotion as she could to show in her face. Her nose itched from the effort and her eyes burned.
Exasperation showed plainly in his own features when he noticed the change. “Eira!”
Her lower lip inched out just a tad further than the top.
“Absolutely not.” He rolled to his feet. “I am enjoying the peace and quiet and I intend to keep it that way.”
A sniffle was the reply.
“No.” He said, simply. “I’ll answer whatever questions you wish after you take a nap and I finish my meditations.”
The look that settled on her face must have meant something more to him than Eira intended for a strange shadow flickered across his face, the darkness remaining in his eyes as he turned away.
“Sleep, Eira. I will be right here and I shall wake you if necessary.”
It IS necessary! Eira wanted to say, but of course, did not. It would not do to irritate him when she was unable to defend herself with her own fiery retorts. Her arm tingled, seemingly a side effect from whatever had been in the energy spark he’d given her.
A yawn stalled in her throat as the first wave of sleep hit. Washing over her with gentle seriousness, when the blackness began to tease again, Eira gave in.
There was no need to do otherwise.
How the time passed, Eira was again clueless, she was happy to be awakened from the shadowy images in her mind, to the cool morning breeze and sheltered sunlight. Her lips parted, a happy sigh the first sound to escape and a good-morning not far behind.
“Ah!” He warned. “No talking.”
A mumbled murmur came into existence and Eira quickly shut her eyes.
He cleared his throat when he was standing just above her and she opened one eye, attempting to judge the expression on his shadowy silhouette. “Cute.” He offered two hands. “I shall give your voice back once we’re through here…you should be able to stand and I need to check your timing and reflexes.” The fingers attached to the hands wiggled, temptingly. “Come on apprentice, up!”
Raising her hands took more effort than she’d been expecting, but somehow her body managed to cooperate with the request and she found herself standing, unsteadily, braced against his shoulder.
Two fingers snapped directly in front of her face, startling her backwards.
The yelp that escaped was more from walking into the tree behind, than the action that had caused it.
“You can talk now.” He announced, cheerful. “And I’m glad to see your reflexes are working just fine.”
“And how did I know that would be your first word?” He shook his head. “The ends of the trance finished a few hours ago, I let you sleep on so your energy rhythms would reset themselves. It appears that they did.”
Eira stared at him for a moment longer, silently processing the information while her body began to reorient itself with standing straight up. “I’m standing.”
“Yes.” His voice was patient. “Try walking now.”
“A-are you sure?”
“Trust me.” He waved a hand at the bundle of blankets and dishes that had taken residence near the bedroll she’d occupied moments before. They miraculously packed and folded themselves, settling to a corner. A clear path was now visible from Eira and her tree-brace, to the other side of the clearing where the Dark Phoenix beckoned. “Slow steps, do not look at your feet.”
“My feet?” Eira’s head swiveled downward and the ground seemed to shift. She wobbled
Her head jerked upwards, unsteady to see the clearing perfectly level. He was waiting, one hand outstretched. Shuffling forward, her feet worked perfectly until her hand was within his and he lead her to the tree beside him. “Brace…sit.”
Sitting on the solid ground helped a little, in terms of things staying straight. “What’s happening to me?”
“Lack of exercise. Reorientation. Tainted healing traces. You will be fine in a few hours.”
“I don’t wanna wait a few…hours.” Eira hiccupped. “Ow.”
“Eira.” There was a slight touch of knowing in his voice.
“My head…a little. My feet.”
“All right, what else? How are you feeling? Vision…breathing?”
“I don’t know.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Am I in trouble?”
“I just got up!”
“Okay, okay…I can see…fine. I guess I’m breathing, because I’m talking and ow…my head hurts!”
The trademark cool fingers caught hold of her chin, tilting the head backwards. “Good. I think I can fix that now. Hold still.”
“As if I can do anything el-”
The familiar coolness trickled into her head, starting at the base of her neck and rising upwards. The fiery pain immediately fizzled out as the cool wave spread throughout until Eira was nearly certain she was floating along an icy river, as the shivering began.
When the shaking started, one painfully freezing bar settled heavily on her shoulders. White, blue and black danced before her eyes in bright flashes of light, punctuated with pricks of pain.
And then it was over.
Breathing was harder and vision was blurry.
Her mouth refused to cooperate in communicating these changes, settling instead for a moan.
The cold bar that had settled around her shoulders now showed itself to be an arm, attached to the Dark Phoenix as his face now appeared in the corner of her gaze. “How is your head?”
She moaned, plaintively.
“That sounds…about right.” A blanket was found and spread over her, a moment later, he settled beside her, comfortably, with a pile of fruit pits and a knife.
“Wait…those are real?” The vision cleared, somewhat. Eira stared at them in confusion. “I thought those were in my…head.”
“If you do not want them-”
“I want ‘em!” Eira answered, quickly. “Them.” She corrected herself a moment later. Things were slowly returning to normal. “What time is it and those are mine?”
“Morning.” He began to whittle, slowly guiding the knife around the irregular shape. “Yes, they are yours.”
“Is that my knife?”
“What kind of morning?”
“A few hours before noon.”
His mouth twitched. “Breakfast will be after meditations.”
There was a moment of silence. “Am I in trouble?” She ventured.
“Why you are not in trouble or why you should be? I do not know the answer to either of those, but perhaps I am simply becoming accustomed to your habits.” He squinted at something beside him and a moment later, speared a fruit and handed it over. “I shall assume you are hungry as an excuse for your lack of coherence. Snack on this.”
Eira obediently took the proffered fruit, amazed to find her motor functions in perfect condition as she held it up and proceeded to take a bite. Time passed and the light shifted in the clearing.
The Dark Phoenix continued with his task of carving and whittling, while a pleasant silence settled over the clearing. For awhile, it was good. Eira ate slowly, and sucked her fingers one after another when the fruit was finished.
Not a word was exchanged between Her curiosity argued with her sanity and a moment later, she asked the question he was waiting for.
“What’s happening to me?”
“At this particular moment, nothing.” He carved a swirl onto the surface of the now round fruit pit. “You should be fine now.”
“Are you sure?”
“No, I am not sure." The sarcasm was plain. "Eira, if I was not sure, would I have said so?"
"Exactly what do you want me to tell you?”
“If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking.”
“Of course it’s a good point!”
He merely nodded, continuing with the carving.
“Are you done yet?”
“How much longer?”
“A little longer.”
"How long is that?"
"Longer than just plain long." His mouth twitched.
Eira tried a different track, she'd attempted this sort of conversation once before. The last time had left her with a definite choice--apprentice or student. She was not about to repeat it to the point where another decision would have to be made. “What about lunch?”
“What about it?”
“Ready for meditations?”
Eira shut her mouth.
© Sara Harricharan