dreams of blue
dolphin

It's the blue light that catches his eye first. The street is splashed with it, dancing patches of it, sparkling almost teasingly across the grainy black surface of the street to touch his skin with its strange entrancingly beautiful glow. He smiles slowly, watching the bright electric color of it through the glass doors as it trails across the faces of the people dancing inside the building, skittering in tiny, wild sparks over their twisting bodies.

"Like something, beautiful?"

The voice startles him; his eyes flicker frantically through the shadows, ashamed and suddenly frightened that his senses have failed him so, leaving him open to possible attack. He's been in this city for almost a year now, and he knows that letting go of reality is not an option if he wants to still live-still, the lights were so beautiful! For a moment, he can almost remember why.

He feels better when his gaze finds the girl standing in the shadows, but still eyes her uncertainly, unsure whether she wants to hurt him or not. Best to be sure before he relaxes. He doesn't reply to the question.

She smiles, presumably at his silence, and her scarlet lips draw his gaze. He frowns, trying to recall what the redness reminds him of so tenuously, but her voice draws him back before the fleeting knowledge can connect to his surface thoughts.

"The silent type, huh?" She straightens from her slouched position against the building's outer wall, blowing a thin stream of smoke from between those painted red lips, dropping the finished cigarette to the ground and grinding it under a spiked heel with an aim of one long practiced in the art. If an art it can be called. The soft-looking crimson cloth of her tight, short dress stretches and shifts over the round curves of her full breasts as she walks towards him, hips moving blithely, like a prowling cat's, and he comes all of a sudden to the realization that she is beautiful. Not because of the tight dress, certainly, and not because of the flamboyant paint: she is pretty in the grace of her walk, the soft, almost innocent curls of her hair. The predatory, yet somehow teasing look in her blue eyes.

Blue.

He almost gasps as a face flares before his inner eyes-a beloved face, a face almost forgotten, buried with the pain it brought before its memory could steal the last shards of his sanity. But with the face comes that pain again, so quickly, he shoves the glorious face away, hiding it back in the deepest sacred places of his heart and locking the doors behind it.

The pain ebbs. He fastens his eyes on the girl's red breasts-one feature that the face's owner most definitely did not have-to distract himself and remove all chance of memory's return.

The girl's smile deepens. Her chest is thrust ever so slightly forward as she finishes her approach.

"Going in?"

He swallows unconsciously, finding his voice. "N-no."

"Want some company for a while, then?"

Oh, now she's coming to her point. He knows what she wants from him; he isn't stupid. Other girls have wanted this from him, too, since he came to this city, and he's gotten used to passing it off by now. The face made it easy... so easy.

But now the face is making it oh so hard. It trembles on the edge of memory, despite his attempts to make it return to the sanctuary he built for it. It superimposes itself over the girl's face, calling, calling. And he wants it. He wants it so badly he could cry.

"Thyme, oh, I love you..."

"Thyme, look! He has your eyes and my hair! Isn't he adorable?"

"It won't hurt me, beloved. You'll see. We'll have another beautiful cub..."

And it will be fine. If death is fine, that is. Red; red blood on white sheets. But he *needs* the face, he'll die without it. He *did* die without it. So...

"Yes," he says to the girl with his mate's blue eyes, his mate's sleek, short golden curls. And when she gives him that teasing, flirting smile, it is not her smile that he sees.



She takes him to her house, a small, shabby place that smells of cigarette smoke and stale, city water, and watches her move through the shadows of her bedroom like a sweet yellow-headed ghost. Shivers. The dress, he can't stand it. It recalls to him that his beloved, *his* yellow-head, is gone. The pain will only leave him if he can forget altogether or remember his love in life, and he can do neither while she stands here in that dress.

"Take it off," he whispers hoarsely. Slowly, seductively, she complies, and he draws close enough to her that he can't see the twinned hills that mark her as a woman, pushing her gently back onto the mattress and wiping away the thick layer of crimson lipstick on the sheet's edge. Satisfied, he sheds his shirt then buries his nose in her soft curls and inhales, his mind supplying him with the scent of his mate, his skin giving him the silken touch of a loved body against his own.

He comes up smiling, and kisses his husband for the first time in over a year.



Their lovemaking is quick and heated at first, a reunion of lost souls; then it turns slow and drawn out, as he saturates himself in the sight of his beautiful mate, filling his heart and mind with the vision of the much longed for face. Hours go by, but he doesn't feel the time passing at all. Still, as with everything, there comes a time when they cannot go on, and it all has to end.

They lie together then, side by side, content and silent. His golden-haired mate tries at one point to rise, but one gentle tug, one soft look brings the straying beauty back into his arms and he watches the emotions play shyly across that expressive face. Bewilderment; a continuous flickering from love to playfulness to stoic denial and back to open love. It confuses him. Surely his mate knows already that his love is shared, that he doesn't need to hide it like this. Surely he cannot be afraid of the feeling, not after all this time, after the birth of their cub and all they have been to one another.

And then, out of nowhere, he remembers-this is not his Meadow. This is not his mate.

All the comfort goes out of the silence and he closes his eyes against the ache that begins between his eyes and in his throat. Next to him, the girl seems to straighten her emotions, beginning a coquettish tracing of his bare hip with two fingers as her tone flirts in his ear, her breath stirring the free tendrils of his hair and tickling it.

"Why the pout, pretty? Not satisfied?"

"I liked it," he tells her, but still has to bury his nose in the side of her throat to hide his misery enough to make the motion even half believable.

She doesn't believe him, but lets it pass with a smile, and he stays like that for a few moments, just breathing into her skin, and all of a sudden he hears himself asking, "What's your name?"

Her head shakes above him. "You're a strange one." But the sting of the comment is put out with a long, skilled kiss, and she answers anyway, when she's done.

"Elaura. Elaura Brady." She hesitates; he can hear something vibrating on the tip of her tongue, and gives an answer just to make her feel better.

"Mine is... James," he says slowly, digging far back into memories of partly heard conversations on the street. Her ever-present smile softens as she repeats it.

"James."

They fall back into silence, and slowly, carefully, he allows himself to fall back into memories of his husband. Somehow, it hurts less to think about those things while someone is holding him, anchoring him to this world of reality, keeping him from falling headlong into his pain and drowning. In this quiet, no one asking a thing of him, he can remember in peace-let his guilt and his loneliness tear at his trapped heart until he can finally see past it, past the things he should have said or done, past the loss of one love to the need of another. The world comes slowly back into focus, like a dreamer awakening from sleep.

Lupin. He may not have a husband any longer, but he has his cub-his and his beloved's. He'll go back home and take care of what he has left.

Suddenly blue seems like a lot happier colour.



When she thinks back on the incident, even years later, all she can think of it is that if there is a heaven for girls like her, it's like that. He was so young, and so old at the same time: the little one had something about him that drew her heart to him, rather than just her body. But love doesn't pay money, and her place is not that of a wife. She's just a prostitute, and this is the only way for her to live.

Still, even if that night didn't give her a husband's love, it gave her something just as good...

"Mummy!"

The squeal draws her back from thoughts, and she smiles.

"Don't yell in my ear, Sineult."

"Sow'y," comes the repentant murmur. "'S tha' bet'r?"

"Yes, lovie. Did you finish your braid?"

"Uh-huh!" He shoves it cheerfully over her shoulder, the ribbon bright blue against her dress. She smiles, thinking again of Sineult's father, standing enraptured in front of the club that night. Bathed in blue light.

"Well, let's see then. Oh, it's beautiful!..."