Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chapter 17


XVII


That night Bactine had lots of dreams.

Maybe it was something about sleeping in that forest. Maybe the forest had special powers. She never was sure, but she had all kinds of dreams that night. But there was one that was quite a lot more memorable above all the others, and that’s because it was about him.

She’d just gotten done dreaming about a quixotic unicorn when she was plunged into a dream about sitting in a lecture. It wasn’t particularly exciting, until she saw him there, beside her. The lecture was dull. It was alchemy, which Bactine never cared for, thinking it was mostly for people of inept social ability. She was sitting beside him, he being Sangwine of course, and he was busily taking notes.

He would be that sort of person, she thought to herself wryly, not really even sure what she meant by that, and suddenly realized the lecturer was going to be evaluating her on her notes at the end of the class, which was almost over. She looked down at the blank page in front of her, and felt a surge of panic and shame at her failure.

Looking over at Sangwine, she remembered he’d helped her out countless times. In fact, she’d looked off of his work so many times it should be shameful, although she found no shame in it at all. For one, she enjoyed it, because it gave her a reason to have direct contact with him, and for another, it was endearing, because he always was willing to help her. Thirdly, it gave her the low-spark thrill of doing something only slightly naughty, and getting away with it. And besides, his hard working astute nature was, well… cute.

This time was a little different. Sangwine gave her what she needed, and then, as is the way with dreams, she suddenly recalled another entire facet of the story, and that was chemistry. Namely, it was the chemistry between the two of them.

It was wildly powerful, even though in the dream she wasn’t even remotely aware of it three seconds before, but had been building through a series of lectures for months and months. It had been strung tighter and tighter until there were only two options left; string it even tighter until it twists and breaks, or pluck it and let the sound blissfully resonate at last, completely blind to what might follow after.

In this case the lecturer droned on, the tables and parchments and quills grew dark and distant, and Sangwine was there beside her and their eyes met as she plucked the string; the resonance sounded, probably B-flat; the vibrations and richness of sound echoed through them both as they reached a singularity of understanding between them. It’s following this when two people kiss for the first time, after wanting to for a long time.

So that’s what she did; she kissed him, but it really wasn’t that easy. Firstly, she had all of the thoughts flying through her mind about kissing him, but not believing that she could really kiss him, but knowing she was because he was there, and she was obviously going to kiss him, but she still couldn’t believe it. Her thoughts proved to be very distracting. But when push comes to shove, in the kissing world, those thoughts fall away and the primary language of communication becomes abstract and expressive; an art form full of hues and contrasts and timbre. Especially in dreams, where nothing is tangible, but everything is touchable.

One moment she was moving but suspended in anticipation, and the next blithely tasting the cautious affection of his red mouth. There was something familiar about him; and she moved again, both torn with the want of more of this cool draught of water and the weakness of overwhelmed senses, and as he then moved in tandem with her, she was suddenly struck dumb and lost and breathless with a thousand motes of light.

Strawberries, almost. He tasted like them… almost. This blurred through her thoughts, more as a patch of random color than anything coherent. As he took matters into his own hands kiss-wise, in a divinely passionate way, she was driven to the very cusp of the proverbial losing-it-entirely, but before that could happen she pulled back with an audible gasp.

Her gasp echoed through the night air, and she suddenly realized she was awake, and she suddenly realized shortly after that that the person she had been kissing was Xylic.

“Oh cripes!” she exclaimed, practically leaping away from him. She flew to the nearest tree and pressed her back to it, sitting with her cloak wrapped around her, as if it would create more distance between them. He didn’t move very much, not compared to her. He only brought his hands to his face and let out a sort of slow exhale.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” she found herself saying again and again, feeling a bizarre mixture of excitement, shock, and embarrassment. He sat up, and oddly he let his hood fall to his shoulders as he sat. It was rather dark, and Bactine couldn’t see much, but she found herself thinking for the first time he had hair in a fine color. An unusual color. She supposed she’d never seen anyone with hair that particular gold and sandy shade of blonde before. She wondered if that’s why he always wore the hood; to blend in instead of standing out. She couldn’t see his eyes, but she knew he was looking at her through the darkness. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell if he was so quiet because he was still half asleep, or if he was harboring the so-livid-I’m-calm anger.

“I was dreaming,” she said lamely.

“What were you dreaming about?” he asked somewhat quietly. She didn’t expect that reply, and stole a moment to think about it. She felt, for some reason, guilty about the prospect of telling him that she was dreaming about Sangwine.

“I was dreaming about… I don’t know,” she said, lying poorly. “I always forget my dreams the moment I wake up.”

There was a long pause.

“You’re lying,” he said.

Bactine blinked. Even if he knew she was lying, she didn’t expect to be outright called out for it. She was chagrined, but still a little disoriented from what had just happened between them. Some of those felt-but-not-seen motes of light still hung in the air, clinging stubbornly to the last vestiges of the short-term memory of the senses. If she let herself dwell on it, she would catch her breath, so she forced herself not to dwell on it.

She sighed, and decided she’d cooperate.

“Sangwine,” she said. “I dreamt I kissed Sangwine.”

He sat there for a moment, then stood. He raised his hood, and began to leave.

“Where are you going?” Bactine asked.

He seemed like he was going to say something, but he didn’t. He just left.

Bactine sat the rest of the night and wondered if he would come back.



3 comments:

Kanarthi said...

Woah. Intense chapter, certainly. I just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying how you write from Bactine's point of view. She acts her age. It's enjoyable for me because on one level, I can realize how foolish she's being, and on another level, I can completely relate - I've behaved exactly the same way many times. Thanks for writing; this is so much fun to read.

Anonymous said...

That's strange! I was sure when they were in the dragon cave that Xylic said he hadn't kissed a woman yet - Bactine didn't count? XD

Colby said...

The experience in the cave was one of those times when you blurt out the entirely wrong thing, and then nobody believes you when you try to correct it, and you look like a total loser. :D

Poor Xylic.