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Spreading Wings
Sat Dec 9, 2006 14:52 (XFF:

The one composed of two. She fastened on that, a small and dreamy smile touching her lips. Yes, that was an apt description of the way she wanted to feel: she wanted to feel as though she belonged. The golden ring on her finger had done much to demonstrate the kind of parental acceptance she had never known – she had, at last, through that gilded band, a kind of family and a home that would not be refused to her. What it could not do, she had turned to Sora for long ago: he had mopped up tears of pain, rage, and frustration more times than she could remember. Did it matter that now, she wanted to add some new name to the emotion she felt for him? She didn’t think he’d care: how could he spend so much time with her not to love her now?

They’d arrived: she eyed the entrance to one of her smaller bolt-holes, wondering if perhaps it might not be too small now. No matter, anyway: gamely, she tugged on Sora’s arm, leading him into the leaves, the rich scent of soil filling her nose. She had found this place shortly before she had become Accepted: it was a quiet place where no Aes Sedai had come to badger her about using the Power on her own. Ducking low, she emerged in the hollowed center of a giant rhododendron bush: the thin stems had been trained up, and then over, in a raucous cascade of brilliant blossoms. There was nearly enough room for two people underneath, if both were small: the warmth of the sun made it a silent, drowsy sanctuary. She hadn’t been in it for almost a year, but she could see from the thick layer of mulch that no one else had been in here since she last had.

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
Ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads only science apart

She let the silence spread a moment longer, her mind trolling slowly through what he had signed. His expression was curious, his green eyes wondering, but Mia didn’t know what to say now. She was certain she’d asked all the questions she needed to, but still, he sat there. Did he think she was crazy, behind those impassive eyes? She felt a tiny bit crazy, sitting half-hidden in the midst of a giant hedge, crammed up against Soradrelle’s knees, the dim and leafy shadows painting his face with lines that had never been on it before. The urge to ascend, to escape him for just another moment, was suddenly strong, but she sat on it, schooling herself to calm. He’d never hurt her, she knew, and what had passed between them already belonged to the past. History was a good place for that girl she had been.

Tension swam thickly between them, now: it was like sitting in the center of an electrical charge, one polarized to make the fine hairs on her skin sing out with dismay. To punctuate the moment, she leaned forward slightly, resting her arms on his knees. Perhaps if there had been more space, he could have escaped her touch, but the space she’d chosen was tiny, a haven meant for one, or two that had once been far smaller than just one of them now. Her arms were numb to his response, sheathed in the long, banded sleeves of her gown, but she thought he shifted away, like prey with the scent of a predator, preparing to run. For another second, she was tempted to get up and go away, give herself time to think and plot, before she tried this: what if she only got one chance? Her life had been built on single chances, though: the random chance that had let a half-dead creature touch saidar to weave Fire and retribution, the lucky draw of instructors that had eased her transition to the Tower, the single chance she’d needed to walk through the Arches.

One try here, though, and she could lose her best friend: who would speak to her then?

Still, she wanted to know: the desire to simply learn whether this was, or could be, or wasn’t, was so strong that she could feel it as cramps in her stomach. With patient, penitent hands, she reached for his shoulders, twisting her body so that it rested gently against his legs. It wasn’t a posture they often affected: she religiously avoided touching him with more than a hand or a gesture. A lot more than her hands was resting against him now, though, and if he noticed – how could he not notice – then he was sitting still, waiting for her momentary whimsy to pass and leave him with all the answers he was wondering about. Perhaps he thought she meant to tell him a secret: if there were someone else, Mia reasoned, it would have to be a well-kept secret. She spent every moment possible with him – she loved him. It was a sunburst of a revelation: she glowed with it.

Perhaps a hand from his face, she hesitated, uncertain of what came next: if she just kept leaning forward, she was going to kiss his nose, not his mouth. Maybe it would be better if she did. A half-smile touched her lips and died: he wasn’t moving. He had to understand, because she certainly didn’t – this would be her first kiss. She lifted a hand from his shoulder, brought it to his chin – all he had to do was lean his head back, and she’d figure out the rest. He’d been right, though, she decided, love was a lot like lift. And because she loved him, she was going to kiss him until she couldn’t remember anyone else, and maybe until he’d forgotten whoever it was that made him feel as though he was swimming in light! Jealousy fueled her cupping palm, which tried its hardest to bring his chin up – why wouldn’t it move?

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling your puzzles apart

Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me

And I rush to the start

“Sora,” she hissed, unable to sign because her hands were wrestling with his chin, “I want to kiss you.”

One hand rubbed her bottom, more shocked and surprised than hurt from his sudden escape. He'd dove through the bush, leaving the leaves swaying in a frenzy of silent motion. She'd tumbled out of his lap when he'd gone, unable to extricate herself in the brief second before he'd fled. What had she done? She had crossed the line, broken the thread: they might never recover from her fanciful attempt at seduction. A kiss between friends, his body said, was impossible, but a kiss between a brother and sister was grotesque.

She could not take this back, like the hurled books and the angry comments. This was going to hang between them forever, stinking garbage that no Novice could cart away. How had she risked her friendship for this? What kiss could be worth all of this? He had lied. He hadn't known it, but he had lied. A kiss couldn't make up for all the pain in a lifetime, if it never happened.

This would be the poison for the arrow sunk in her heart. She felt shame, hot and thick, clotting in her throat like a scab on some ancient wound. Try as she might to swallow it down, it stayed: it was a hot, hard ball she could not banish. Propelling herself forward out of the hedge, she brought up her fingers, discarded the gesture. Maybe there was a reason she didn’t know how to sign “I love you”: maybe it was that he had never wanted to see that come from her.

And it didn't matter anyway: he was gone. The tears she'd never expected to cry rose from the turgid ball in her throat, and she let them fall, like summer rain. "I love you," she said, accusingly, in low and conversational tones, to the rhododendron bush that wasn't Soradrelle. And I thought you loved me. Now, there would be no one to wipe up tonight's tears, or tomorrow's, or next year's. Had she meant to drive him away? She had always thought love drew people closer.

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

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