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    Svedka -- Year 212


    “He only knows home in his dreams and even those dreams do not mimic large, centuries-old redwoods. Lio doesn't remember the last time he laid his head down and truly felt comfortable.” --Elio, written by Phaetra

    They've come back for her.

    Eight, and Sinder, and yes, Trekk, too. In her dreams. Screaming and thirsty for her nectar-blood. Calling out about this and that, or was it him and her, their children, all the children. And when the screaming stopped, she was forced to watch: watch as they took others as lovers, staring into her eyes as they did so, fucking her, but not.

    Not her body.
    Just her mind.

    It's the worst when it's Trekk, though. It's the worst when every little morsel of her miserable being crumples up and cries, just fucking cries, because oh god is she sorry, so fucking sorry Trekk, that I ever pushed you away - that I ever shared myself with another - that I ever stopped loving you - God Trekk please don't touch her, let me leave first, please Trekk I love you! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?

    She awakens in a cold sweat.
    The sheets cling to her goose-bump body; sticky.

    He's heard her, and not for the first time; she has nightmares like these often. Too often. Often enough that their sleep has become something other than that. And the baby - well he is off and about now, but maybe there's a reason why. Maybe the sound of his mother's screams drove him away.

    There's tears on her face, she doesn't want to be the first one to speak. She's scared that he'll be angry, like in the dream, screaming, ready to fuck the first thing that moves just to spite her, just to say fuck you for everything she did.

    The sheets tremble as she sobs.

    He’s dreaming his own dreams, but they do not cause him to wake up screaming. They are gentle memories spent in the company of Kagerou (the Amazon who cared for him after his mother died in childbirth), curled against her side and feeling her whispers hush softly against his cheeks. They twist dramatically when the screams rise to cross the barrier between sleep and awake.

    The Jungle is shrieking around him, but it is not the everyday calls of the wildlife. It is Noori’s voice, calling his name feverishly. He rises from the shadowy, wispy claws of sleep to twist and hold her tight against his bare chest. It takes her another moment before she wakes up, sweating and heaving and bewildered.

    His wife has had them before, plagued by the memories of her sins, and each night he has consoled her. “Babe, shushhh,” he whispers, pressing his lips close against the curve of her ear. His heart rips at hearing her sobs, as though a crow were flying into the cage of his chest and stabbing at it with its beak and claws. “I’m here, you’re safe, I love you.” He will never know when her heart will find forgiveness and peace, but he hopes it comes soon.

    He pulls her closer, flush against the narrow planes of his chest. Their legs are twined among thin sheets. His hand reaches up to stroke her hair, working through the knots with his slender fingers until it’s all combed through. He sings a little, an ancient Amazonian song Kagerou used to whisper to him to help him fall asleep. Perhaps she will know it, if her own mother was gracious enough to hum lullabies against the melody of the Jungle’s tune.
    He's holding her back from the precipice of insanity before she can even wake up to recognize that that is, indeed, the cliff she stands on the edge of. But the moment her eyes open, the moment she tastes the salt of her tears, she is falling into his arms, turning and maneuvering her small frame until her neck is in the crook between his collar bones and neck, legs tucked and tangled in his, one arm squished to her chest and the other around his. She is quieter now than before, but her little body shakes, sometimes with a larger sob, mostly just with an inconsolable anxiety.

    Babe, shushhhh... I'm here, you're safe, I love you."

    She presses a warm kiss to the hollow of his throat, a wordless prayer of gratitude to the gods, and to him too, for the blessing of his presence and patience. Slowly her tears stop and her body rests, soothed by the tight clutch Trekk holds her in, and the way his fingers seem not only to unravel her knotted hair, but also her unruly thoughts. Her mind slows, and there is only him.

    There has only ever been him, if she thinks about it.
    Her eyelashes tickle his chest as he begins singing, her breath warming his pale skin as she breathes heavily from her mouth. She snuffles and smiles when she recognizes the tune, laughing a little, pulling herself closer to him (though how much closer the two can be is questionable). Sleep is begging to take her again, but she resists; this is better than sleep. She fights to memorize how his skin feels against hers, and the sound of his sleepy voice singing just next to her ear.

    Somewhere along the way, Noori adds her voice to the melody. They finish the song together, harmonizing under their breaths, a love ballad that they know as intimately as each other's bodies.

    She raises her head, causing his hand to fall to her shoulder. The hand that had been around her husband's waist raises up to cup his angular face, a smile stretching the girl's freckled cheeks. For a while, she just looks at him, stroking the lines by his eyes and the dimples next to his lips. Though her eyes wander and study him, they always return to his.

    "I love you too... Thank you for being patient with me."

    "I... I don't know where I'd be if you hadn't found me, Trekk."

    "I don't know if I would be at all..."
    They are history repeating itself over and over again.

    As he comforts her through the hungry, frothing waters of deep sadness, he reflects on the first time they had met. His own mind had been tortured (those barbed-wire thoughts still show themselves at the worst times, but he is finally learning to tame them) in those fresh-skin days of the Jungle. She had promised him of greater things amid his dark thoughts and shameless tears.

    She had saved his life that day. The least he could do was repay her for it. He does so now, pulling her closer though they are skin to skin. He allows her tears to soak his bare chest and strokes the soft of her hair until her shaking sobs slow. They are history in the sense that their parenting styles leave them absent of their children’s lives (much as their own parents had been for them).

    They finish their Jungle lullaby in harmony, thickly sweet against the chill of their silent bed. She is confiding in him, calling him her savior, and he chuckles despite the severity of their situation. His face leans down to kiss the splatter of freckles under her eyes. “You saved me first, babe.” Does she remember the first time they met (in the wilderness of the Jungle, in the stillness of each other’s bodies, in their roughness of each other’s hearts)?

    “How could I not be patient, when you have been my goddess all along?”
    She had saved his life that first day, but from there on out she had only ever pushed him closer to the edge with her impulsive and thoughtless actions. Too much like her mother, she supposes, abrasive and foolhardy - testing those she loves for no reason besides her own childish desires. But oh, how she's glad she saved him - for having him here, now, holding her and kissing her sweetly, makes up for the time they've spent in agony over the loss of one another. For there remains no loss anymore. Together, they are complete.

    He pets her auburn hair to the rhythm of their melody, causing Noori's eyelashes to flutter against her lover's porcelain chest, running through the tears she had placed there before. They may not be the best parents, may take on the worst quality of their own when it comes to that area, but they are good lovers. Better. Cosmic, and undeniable. Existing in a way that separated them from those who come in their wake - casting them in a light that is neither bright nor dim, but simply ethereal. Enchanting, though perhaps only to them.

    The lovely sound of his chuckle has a euphoric effect on Noori, causing her lips to split in a blushing, girlish manner - still in love with the sound of his laugh all these years later. Her hands ball into small fists, her body contracting and squirming closer to Trekk's, cherishing the way his ribs reverberate with each little guffaw. Out of place, maybe, but never will there be a place where Noori doesn't love them regardless. They could be on death's doorstep, and a laugh of his would banish any sadness from her tormented little soul.

    She props herself up on an elbow, hair falling from his palm messily. Her green eyes are still puffy from crying, but the smile on her lips reassures him that she is no longer distraught. "I loved you from the moment I saw you." She's laughing too, quietly, raising a hand to gently stroke the angular planes of Trekk's darling face. "Funny though, that we've switched rolls so seamlessly. Maybe one day we can be happy together at the same time." She's joking, of course, and it's clear by the tone of her voice: no nightmare could impede the happiness that has overtaken her life since that day by the river, when he'd scooped her into his arms after only a moment's hesitation. A moment that, due to her sins, should have been a lifetime.

    But... you have been my goddess all along.

    Her gaze drops, smile diminishing, but not in happiness: she simply felt more in awe of his words, as opposed to cheeky and silly. He loves her, and still, all these years later, it's hard to understand why. It's hard to understand why the gods have blessed her so; why he has blessed her so.

    Her eyes flash back up to his.

    "I'll never make you wait again sweetheart, I swear it." Her hand runs along his face again, and then back through his hair, down his sleep-warm back and then brushing up his stomach. Tracing the lines of his body that she committed to memory long, long ago. "I'll be your goddess until the end of time, right here, just an arm's length away." She leans in, smiling perhaps a little more coyly now as her love grows into a passion. "Just a lips' kiss away."
    Although she looks just as tortured as if she were in labor (swollen and puffy eyes, collarbones slick with sweat, long auburn hair sticking to her shoulders, lips pressed together in a firm line) he cannot stop himself from thinking she is the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen. No long-legged doe or sweet-song whale or starburst-colored aviary could ever compare to her, even in this heart-wrenching moment in time.

    He’s distracted by her beauty (caught up in the list of things that would never do her justice) so when his brown eyes move to search her face as she touches his cheeks they must refocus, coming back from some corner of his mind. Another rolling chuckle vibrates through his ribcage. Although their hearts might nestle close as lovebirds are wont to do, their souls rub harshly and demand to be patched endlessly. While they are happy — finally happy, after all this time — they still receive those startlingly dark pieces of life (her screams in the night, his attention unwaveringly drawn to the knife on the counter).

    Her hands move across the slopes of his body and it’s a delicious feeling. It’s one that coaxes a heavy sigh (it lingers on the edge of a groan, so enthralled in her touch as he is) from his throat. “Baby, if you ever leave me again I don’t think I’d be able to handle it.” And it’s true. His heart has been shattered too many times. Not just from her hands (her freckled, pale hands cocooning the banaded, scarred, chipped glass of his heart) but from the hands of many — Kagerou with her motherly love but ultimate death, Pisto with his warrior cry silenced, Echion with her dramatic abandonment.

    Noori might be the repeating culprit of his demise, but she is not the only one.

    His mouth snatches at her, wiping that coy smile off her lips. She’s bringing about a rise in the depths of his gut, looking so perfectly fuckable against his chest. His lips pluck at hers gently at first, but then his teeth are tugging lightly at her lower lip. “I love you,” he whispers against her rosy mouth. It’s true — it’s always been true and it always will be true.

    Their minds drift in unison along the same well-worn paths as they always have. From making sure they're both okay, to hushing reassurance, to restatements of an eternal love, to darting eyes and sinfully curling lips, to - well, read on to find out. As timeless lovers always shall, their minds drift in unison - their going is unplanned, but even in the depths of an eternal darkness, they could walk side by side without ever needing to reach out in wonder of where the other stood.

    Her vivid green eyes drop shamefully as he told her the truth of his life, that she held it in the palm of her hands like a half-hatched egg. To drop him would mean his death. A former Noori might have resented him this admittance, and dropped him out of spite - but what they are most now is honest with each other, brutally, for the dishonesty had been what tore them apart at the first. So although his words make her tear up again, she squeezes him to her all the more strongly, whispering her oath to him. "I exist in your embrace alone, Trekk. I will never leave you again. Not unless it is to death - and if that is so, then I pray that it is you and I dying together of old age." Her rosebud lips pressed to the sleek skin of his neck, sealing her promise there with a kiss.

    But as she pulls back, her husband catches the more needy look in her eyes with a kiss that takes her breath away. The expression vanishes from her face as their intentions grow less innocent; the muscles of her mouth work only to melt into his as sensually as possible, no thoughts given to smiling or flirting. Despite the serious topics at hand this night, with his tongue between her teeth and her lips between his, Noori loses all knowledge besides his body and hers.

    The muscles between her legs clench and unclench with desire, and she flinches when his words are muttered against her mouth. "I love you too," she whimpers, drawing him to her until her breasts are pressed flat to his chest, her legs maneuvering themselves subtly until it is quite clear what she wants from him.

    (As if it had never been clear before; as if they'd not known from that moment in the Jungle as he stood contemplating suicide that they would be each other's safety net. As if they'd never been able to see that the beauty of them together as one would always be more wondrous in nature than they ever could be on their own. As if they'd thought that the cure to their diseases came from another besides each other. As if the love they possessed weren't powerful enough to overcome all things - to bear all things - to hope all things - to believe all things - to endure all things.)

    "You are the blood in my veins, sweetheart."
    "And I am the beating of your heart."


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