Drowning in Deep Waters

Disclaimer: All characters, Terya, Lan and the Phyrea, in this are copyrighted to me. I created them and this world that they are in. Please do not take anything from this without asking me first.

" Oh!" Lan turned to see the speaker and was glad that it was none other than his traveling companion, but also a bit miffed that she had broken in on his bath time. " I didn't know that you were going to be naked!"
Lan sighed and turned his back to her, surmising that if he couldn't hide his dignity- and other things- then he could at least save her the trouble of going into vapors. " Well, do you usually bathe with your clothes on?" He asked acidly, strangely angry that she had seen him in his weakest moment, with nothing but his charm and the water to clothe him, and neither of the two were doing very well at the moment.
" No, actually." Terya said loftily and Lan heard the splash of water, felt the ripples in the deep pond. " Father didn't believe in modesty. My sisters and I had to bathe at the communal bath house with all the other people." She giggled softly. " Don't worry, I shan't peek."
Lan kept his laugh to himself and thought that it wasn't herself that she had to worry about with the peeking, but himself. Slowly, he turned around, keeping his eyes closed until he had turned the whole way to face her and opened them. Terya was not to be seen! Suddenly, soft hands came up on his shoulders and pushed him down, heaving his head under the water. He came up sputtering and thrashing around, creating graceful arcs of water as he spun around, looking for her.
Her crystalline giggles sounded behind him and he turned around. She floated there, her head in the water up to her nose and her big blue eyes staring up at him from the water's depth. She slowly rose until her shoulders were bared, but her hands were shielding her chest. " I knew you couldn't swim." She said, looking at him doubtfully from her place in the water.
True, she was in the deeper part, where he had stayed to the shallows. The pond did a steep drop off until about a few inches to where he was standing, where Terya was floating. He merely looked down at her, her dark brown hair floating in tendrils and strands around her. Her skin looked even paler under the water, and her cheeks were flushed from the exertions she had put herself through in dunking him. Her breathing made her chest heave, and she was slowly letting her hands drop from her chest. She trailed them out on the surface, lithe like little water snakes. He couldn't believe this was happening.

Terya screamed at herself. She didn't know what she was doing, and would probably end up making a fool out of herself. And yet.
Ever since she had gotten Lan to agree to letting her come with him on his journey, to take her away from her kingdom and castle and her family, she had dreamed about him, had dreamed about a moment like this. For once she knew something out in the wilderness that Lan didn't: She loved him.
Lan was everything that she thought she'd never want. About her height, a strong body kept thin and lithe by years of continuous walking and moving about the world. His black hair was usually kept back by that horrible tatty blue bandana that he wore, but now she saw that it hung to his shoulders and was slightly shaggy, but would have looked wonderful simply tied back in a tail. His face was lean and strong, his sun darkened skin glowing brazenly and lending a sense of depth to his shining green eyes. She drew her eyes down his body and felt a blush come up in her cheeks as she fought to keep her vision from straying much past where the water hit him at his hips. She didn't know how many nights she had dreamed of stripping him of his shirt and gently trapping his hips with her hands as she leaned down and kissed him.
Her hands glided out from her of their own accord, moving deftly towards Lan's hips. His tongue darted out and wet his lips, full and thin at the same time, another feature of him that drove her crazy. His eyes were feverish as he opened his mouth like a landed fish.
" What are you doing?" He asked hoarsely, his own hands twitching at his sides as if wanting to do something, but unsure of what Terya was going to do.
She swam a little closer until she could grip the edge of the drop off with her toes and slid her hands up his arms to wrap her fingers around his shoulder. She drew herself level with him, having to tip her head up to look at his face from the steep angle they were at. He parted his lips and she caught his line of thought, as if she couldn't already with their bodies nearly pressed together.
' Oh no you don't!' She thought, then looked at the heated passion in his eyes. ' At least, not yet.'
She opened her mouth also. " I'm going to teach you how to swim." She whispered huskily, and let herself fall back, sweeping a foot under his and causing Lan to fall with her into the depths.

Lan gasped as Terya tripped him under the water and held onto him, making him fall with her. He would have gloried in the tender body against him, made hard by weeks of traveling, but he was too busy pushing her off him and scrambling to the surface for air. He broke surface and treaded water, going under every few minutes or so and then coming up. Tears streamed down his face and he very nearly hated Terya in that moment, but at the same time forgiving her. She could never have known about his fear of water, seeing as he hadn't really felt the need to open up and tell her anything about his past.
Suddenly, he was under again and something was wrapped around his ankle. He looked down under water, having the new experience of taking a breath before going under. There was a small woman, as blue skinned as the water around her and black eyed, her long silver hair flowing around her as she pulled herself up his body. Her mouth was open and he was vaguely aware of a lulling song in the back of his head.
He smiled and reached out to her, letting his breath out as she reached his waist and pulled him down farther so they were on eye level. She kissed him, her tongue searching his mouth dangerously. He kept on smiling, even when he felt his lungs screaming for air and opened his eyes to see the water going dark.

Terya leapt back into the water with the knife in her teeth, the way she had seen a fisherman do when one of the little children got tangled in a patch of seaweed. She thought that Lan had been caught by one of the tendrils of clingweed at the bottom, but as she dove under the water, she was wrong. Lan was held in the arms of a blue-skinned, silver haired minx. Her eyes sparkled blackly as she released him from her kiss, but not from her arms. It was a phyrea, a water undine gone wrong for some reason. Evil made their bodies blossom into a beautiful being and their minds turn to constant thoughts of sex and the lovers that they could trap in their watery realms.
Terya took the knife in her hand and screamed a challenge through the water, catching the phyrea's attention. The woman let go of his waist with one arm and motioned a finger towards her. Phyrea weren't picky what gender they captured. ' It's your lucky day, you little bitch.' Terya thought as she mimed being caught in her song and swam towards the monster.
But as soon as the phyrea touched her shoulder, she slashed out with her knife and caught the monster in the shoulder. Undines have delicate bones, and it seemed that the change from undine to phyrea hadn't done anything to strengthen them. The knife sliced right through to her little fishy guts and the phyrea let go of Lan, backpedaling with a scream of hurt and confusion. Terya caught Lan in a one armed hold, forgetting about the knife as she used all her strength and reserved air to swim swiftly up to the bank. Hauling him up onto the sands, she laid him out and pounded on his chest until he coughed up water and moaned, but didn't start breathing again.
" Dammit Lan! Don't you dare leave me stranded here!" She slapped him and then covered his mouth with hers like she had been shown by the kingdom's fishermen.
She had to straddle him to get the right angle and then put her hands on his chest, pushing breath out after she breathed it into him. After a few minutes, he still wasn't breathing and she gave up, laying her head on his chest and covering it with her arms, letting out the hysterical sobs that had been building in her ever since she had reached the shore.
" You can't leave me like this, Lan! You promised that you would take me to your family's lands and show me how to live like a gypsy! You can't leave me now." Her voice shrank down to a whisper when she felt him groan and move under her.
" And why can't I?" He whispered, not yet having full control over his voice after the attack.
" Because," She strained her voice to keep the tears out. " I love you, Lan."

That night, Lan lay by the fire while Terya fed more wood to it and poured the willowbark tea for him. She settled herself down and rewrapped herself in her blanket, handing the cup to Lan, who sat against the pile of their packs and a few rocks.
" Drink it." She said sternly. " It will bring down the fever and you'll fell much better in the morning, trust me."
" I won't ever have a problem with that again." He said, half serious, and half to be lightening up her mood.
She looked at him darkly and he sipped his tea obediently, grimacing at the bitter taste. When at last the whole cup was gone, which seemed like forever to Lan, he set it down and cleared his throat, catching Terya's attention.
" When you said what you did, at the lake-?" Lan started, but Terya stopped him with an eloquent gesture, the raising of an open hand, fingers spread and palm flat in the air.
" I meant it." She said flatly, as if she meant it, but regretted saying it. " I don't suppose you believe me though, seeing as you probably have twenty different towns with girls that tell you that every time you visit."
Lan fumed, though kept his thoughts behind a careful mask. Dammit, this was why he hadn't wanted to let her go in the first place! She was moody, unreliable, untrained, too young to be out on the road with her pampered background. but as he looked at her he realized that she was all of those things and more. Over the past few months that they had been traveling together, he had come to care for her, if only because caring about her would make her easier to bear, but slowly, without him noticing, that caring feeling had turned into something altogether. It was more than an animalistic need, it was more than just wanting a young, warm body underneath him, it went beyond desire. He had come to love her.
He wouldn't not admit that he hadn't thought about her in the ways that men usually did of girls and women, but he had imagined it in a way that they wouldn't just part in the morning after falling asleep. That he would wake up and still have her in his arms and watch her sleep until she herself woke and he could see her in all her morning glory, mussed hair and sleep crusted eyes and all.
" I... used to. But then something happened to me and I stopped caring about what they said to me when I came to visit them." He said, picking up the cup and rolling it in his hands softly to distract him.
" What happened?" She asked, her voice losing some of its sting.
" You did." Now he looked up into her eyes, across the fire. The flames were echoed in her blue depths, like a kinder version of a stormy ocean. " You ran away from your home and the only friends and family that you had, all to see the world and be with me. You left everything that made you happy to go with a ragtag, wandering, thieving, homeless fool of a gypsy boy."
Terya's lips were in a surprised little 'o', her eyes wide and shining. But as soon as he smiled and reached for her, she let her face drop into neutrality and she turned away, going to lay down on her bedroll. She had laid it out over by the huge oak tree that was sheltering them, and she knew full well that he could not get up and walk over there. He dropped his arms and fell back onto his bed. Tipping his head back and letting the small breeze play with his air dried curls, he let it dry the tears that slipped down his cheeks and pooled around his collarbone. He opened his mouth to let out a keening wail of pain, but nothing came out.

Terya tremblingly made her way over to her bed. Her whole body shaking with sobs not yet let out, she laid down and sniffled into her makeshift pillow of a shirt stuffed with grasses and straw. It was Lan's shirt, or one that he had worn to near rags and was only good enough to make into a pillow. Once it had smelled like him, warm and musky and fiery, but now that she had had it for so long, it smelled of nothing but the grasses she used to stuff it.
She knew she was headed for pain the moment that he had thought she was going kiss him in the pool, and then she'd tripped him. She could have just followed through with what her body wanted, with what Lan had evidently wanted, but her mind had told her not to, and she couldn't remember a time where she had followed her heart instead of her mind.
No, she could. When she was running to save Lan. Her head had been screaming that he was dead and she should just forget him, but her heart had said that she could save him. And she had saved him.
But now she needed someone to save her, she was drowning in her sorrow and her fear. She loved Lan, and she was perfectly okay with saying so, but acting on her words would be hard. She'd nearly lost him, and now he knew and he had confessed his feelings for her, that they were the same as hers. But would that make it any easier?
' No,' Her mind whispered to her.
She agreed with it again and turned over in her bed, watching Lan from her place. The wind made the firelight flicker over his face and she was shocked to see that he was crying. Lan, who was so strong and had never made a sound when she'd set his broken finger, who hunted small cute furry animals with a ruthless ease, who she had seen kill a man, was crying.
It made her ache inside, made her want to go and comfort her, but she knew that that would only lead to things that she wasn't ready to deal with. So she brushed away her own tears and turned over to face the oak tree.

In the morning Lan awoke to the smell of smoke. He opened his eyes and found that the fire had burned itself out, something that Terya had never let happen before. But as he looked around, it became apparent that Terya was not there. She had taken her things and left. Even the small cup that he had drank out of the night before was gone, and in its place a note, written on a piece of parchment that had been ripped off of something. Terya's neat, precise handwriting scrolled a few lines, and he was glad that she had taught him enough Common to understand. She'd even repeated it in his own language in case he couldn't understand the Common.
" My dear Lan, I have gone, and I think that you are smart enough to know why." He read aloud, letting the flowing syllables of the Common tangle his tongue. " I have set out on my own, for traveling with you would only bring more strife and pain for us both. Please do not come looking for me. When the time is right, we will meet each other again, just like the teachings of Carva the Eternally Reincarnated. ' Souls that have loved in one life will love again in another.' I shall miss you with every part of myself, but this is for the best and you will come to see that."
She had signed her name, but he felt his throat close painfully as he tried to say it. She had left him, and from the looks of her note, she did not intend of meeting up again until they had died and been reborn.
'She might believe in that kind of rubbish.' He thought furiously as he threw the note onto the still glowing embers of the fire, and watched it burst into flames and dry up just as quickly. ' But I was not raised to believe such. I will find her again.'