Title: Under a blue-grey sky
Today is the tenth day we've been travelling together, and we're finally far enough away from the Fortress to relax a little. So we've set up camp earlier than usual, and Eryk and Brook have gone off hunting together. It's a rare chance for me to be alone with Cray.
So I've decided... today is the day.
I'm nervous and jumpy, and I'm humming to try to calm myself down, only I can't think of any tunes except one. It isn't the best choice for the occasion, but it'll just have to do.
The sky is grey, the sky is blue,
In my eyes, love, there's only you;
The sky is blue, the sky is red,
For always, love, our lives are shared.
Cray would laugh at me for humming this song, or she might get annoyed – I don't think she likes it very much. But for now, she isn't saying anything – she's dozed off in the heat of the afternoon, which gives me some time to complete my preparations. So I go on humming mindlessly while I try to carry water from the nearby stream – quietly, so as not to wake Cray.
The sky is red, the sky is grey,
By your side I'd ever stay;
To me be true, as I'll be to you,
Forever one our beating hearts.
Now that I've gotten the water I can get on with the rest of my plan. That takes some time, what with my nerves and the task I've set myself – 'difficult' is definitely not enough to describe it. And of course, I have to keep an eye on her all the time, in case she wakes up and starts asking what I'm up to. But I keep at it, and finally manage to make all the pieces fit together.
I check again, to make sure everything is just right. Perfect.
I sit down beside her. She looks like a boy again, limbs sprawled out untidily, brown hair straying every which way. I'm still humming while I work up the courage to wake her.
The sky is grey, the sky is yellow
I will love you today and tomorrow
The sky is yellow, the sky is black
I will love you 'til death us takes.
Her clothes have given up the fight for dignity and are all askew. I studiously ignore the bewitching peeks of skin that are teasing my eyes. Instead, I lightly trace the faded scar on her forehead with a fingertip. That always works, and sure enough, she stirs.
"Wake up, lazy," I try to use a playful tone, despite how my heart is pounding. I don't want her to suspect anything yet.
She squints at me and pokes me in the nose. "Go away, nosey."
I move aside. I can barely contain my excitement as she sits up and stretches. And then she blinks, and rubs her eyes, and blinks again at the sight that's presented before her.
It's a sight to behold, even if I do say so myself.
A thin sheet of water shimmers in the air in front of us and forms a mirror. I'm really pleased with how it perfectly reflects the image of her face. She scrambles to her feet and approaches it, with so much amazement on her face it looks as if her eyes are going to pop out. For a while, she just stands stock-still in front of the water mirror.
It makes me nervous, this silent staring – perhaps I should say something.
Do you like it?
See what I made!
This is the best I could do.
While I'm trying to put the right words together, she reaches out, one finger extended gingerly. At her tentative touch, a small hole appears, but as soon as she removes her finger the surface becomes whole again. When she wipes the finger on her shirt, it leaves a wet mark, proving that this is no mere illusion.
"It's... beautiful," she breathes.
I'm glad she approves, because I've been practising with Brook for days to get it right. This much Bending isn't easy when you don't have much ability to begin with. I think I can be more than a little proud of what I've accomplished.
She frowns. Immediately, my stomach lurches. What if there's something wrong with my gift to her? But she's only frowning at her own appearance – she's started to make war on her tangled hair with her fingers. As she busies herself, I come up behind and hug her around the waist. She giggles and wriggles a little. I go red – I can see this in my reflection. It still makes me a little uneasy when she does things like that, because I'm expecting her to scowl and smack me instead.
To disguise my confusion, I hold her tighter and lean forward into her, nestling my chin against her temple. She surprises me again, because she goes a little red as well. Neither of us say anything. We just look at our reflections in the water-mirror, the way we'd looked at ourselves in the pond the first time we'd met.
After a while, she cocks her head to one side to squint at my reflection. "Did you grow taller?"
"I'm just standing up straighter," I joke, even though my heart is in my mouth. I've held her before, but never quite this way. There was always some kind of threat hanging over us, or one of us was upset and needed comforting. To hold her like this is something new to me. It seems that my senses are suddenly sharper, because I find myself noticing things about her that I never paid attention to.
Her hair has grown lighter with all the time we spend in the sun. It's almost the colour of honey.
She smells of hay and clean earth, and something sweet and intoxicating that I can't identify.
There are three moles on the back of her neck, all in a row. I wonder fleetingly how it would feel to trace those moles with a finger... or a tongue.
She laughs, breaking my unseemly train of thought. With the help of the reflected image, she reaches behind her to pretend-slap me.
I catch her hand and press it to my lips. She freezes. I'd be laughing at the incredulous look she's wearing if I weren't a ball of tangled nerves myself. When I release her hand, she nurses it with her other hand as if it's been scalded. The flush in her cheeks has begun spreading from her face to her neck. I return my hand to her waist, and hold her tightly against myself.
"Remember that time we were up in that tree?" I ask her reflection.
The Cray in the water mirror nods uncertainly, her own hands clasped nervously. Granted, we've been up in more than one tree, but I'm quite sure she knows which occasion I'm referring to.
"You said you'd wait for me," my reflection says.
The mirror shows me another nod, less tentative this time.
The me in the mirror smiles a watery smile. "I just want to tell you... you don't have to wait anymore."
Her eyes widen. She whirls around. But she has no chance to say anything, because I've claimed her lips with mine.
I think I'm doing a good job of it, considering that this is the first time that I'm the one doing the kissing, but just in case, I try to make up what I lack in skill with enthusiasm. I don't think I have anything to worry about, judging from her reaction. Her fervour leaves me in no doubt that my message has been clearly and unmistakably understood.
The water-mirror collapses quietly, no longer needed in the honesty of the passion between us.
Whatever I am– Bender, human, or something else altogether—I finally believe that it doesn't matter to this amazing girl who has chosen to love me just as I am.
I'm not afraid anymore.
The sky is black, the sky is blue,
I belong with no other but you
To me be true, as I'll be to you,
Forever one our beating hearts.