Of Mars and Moon
"Over the Sea to Sky"
by Cecily Hawkins
Disclaimer: This is a not-for-profit fanfic containing characters inspired by copyrighted characters. No damage is intended. This story will contain same-sex romantic and sexual relationships. The title is only slightly a Gaiman reference and slightly a reference to what Gaiman was referencing. This is number 17 in the series Of Mars And Moon. Each entry takes place in one day. Love and kisses as always to Shandryl for beta-reading these things (as well as two others who know who they are).
The Queen was seated, not on her throne but on a simple chair in a small, dimly-lit room, a study forgotten by all except those who knew why it must remain hidden. Before her, pulsing with muted potence, was a sphere, as large as a man's head or as small as a child's marble. Even here in the shadows, it shimmered; released into the reflective surfaces of the crystal palace, it might have blinded. It was the Light of the Moon, and it bathed the Queen's silver-white hair in a gentle glow untroubled by the distant sounds of destruction.
"You summoned me, Majesty?"
The Queen turned to take in Luna's plump and greying form. Despite the lines of worry and grief etched into her royal face, she managed a smile. "Please. Just this once, call me by the name I had when we were girls together."
"You are a queen, and I am only a cook, a nursemaid." Her wrinkled fingers fidgeted with the edges of her apron.
"Humor an old woman whose days are numbered," said the Queen, and it was not entirely a request.
"Anahid," she whispered.
The smile fell away. "I had forgotten how beautiful it was to hear you say that."
"Why did you call me?"
The Queen looked away, into the depths of the Moonlight. "You have served me loyally all these many years. I have always been able to depend on you. And now I must trust you with the greatest treasure left to me."
The old cook's eyes widened. "The moonstone...?"
"No. My daughter."
"I don't understand."
The Queen held up a hand for silence. In the distance, even through the palace walls, they could hear the shattering impacts, sense the screams of the dying. "The palace will fall. There is no holding it off any longer. When the Prince died..." She sighed. "Chantrea has never ceased mourning his death. Without his power to complete hers, the destiny was broken. She cannot become Queen now."
"What can I do?"
"Do you renew your oath to guide and protect her, no matter where she may go, no matter what may become of you?"
"Don't you mean," Luna guessed, "whatever becomes of you?"
"Do you swear it?"
She was old, her appearance comfortable, not threatening, but it was inner strength that carried the words. "I swear it, Anahid."
"Then go and call the others to assemble. And I will send them safely away."
"Yes, Majesty." Luna's eyes shimmered with the reflected light of the Moon Crystal.
"Saturday, March sixth, nineteen ninety-nine," the voice from the television said. Shaye glanced over at the screen on her way to the kitchen to make breakfast. It was a woman in a loose purple blouse wearing too much jewelry. Some form of lost hippie fortune teller. "Events have been proceeding through dark and unfamiliar waters. Now the Scorpio Moon opposes the Taurus Saturn. There's something in this wind that is at last less terrifying, different and disorienting. The entire day concerns this new Saturn sensation and the newly emerged situation regarding Soulmate. So, what could this really mean?"
Astrology. Shaye sniffed. So she was a Cancer and Terry was an Aries, it didn't mean anything in particular. She poured herself a bowl of cornflakes and scribbled onto the fridge's notepad that they needed to get more milk.
It had been over a week since the diagnosis and initial treatment of her illness, and nothing remained of it now but a slight shortness of breath if she pushed herself too hard. Of course, there had been little freedom to celebrate that recovery. School work, especially with so many missed classes to make up, had kept her running to the limits of her energy. But as if by magic, whenever she had been most in need, Shannon and Alex had materialised to provide sugary energy boosts, photocopies, extra quarters, transportation, or whatever else could make her life easier. And just as quickly they would be gone again, making the incidents seem just coincidental enough to keep the overprotective Terry from being too suspicious.
"In essence, I don't see going ashore and exploring safe ground as the best solution to the current dilemnas confronting us all. We're in the completely uncharted waters of the psyche, and the natural desire would be to feel solid, dry land under our feet. But the aspects indicate that the time isn't ripe to go ashore. We've really just gotten our sea legs, and there's more progress to be made by trusting to intuition and the unknown. In fact, Saturn square Neptune, under this Scorpio moon, unlocks a new internal voice. It's something deep and resonant and it's not calling from the shoreline, it's calling from the darkness within your chest and guts. It's a kind of personal, primal music coming straight from your heart and soul." The wavy-haired woman on the TV program slammed her hands together, bracelets jangling. "Don't limit yourself to the familiar! The enormous potential of continuing on through these new, previously unseen, rhythmic waves of psyche is a shining pearl that gently and frighteningly beckons."
Shaye seated herself at the table with her cereal. Not that Terry had any legitimate reason to be suspicious. Whatever the other couple's interest in her was, she didn't think it was romantic. And if it were, she wouldn't go along with it. More than likely, Shannon and Alex were just trying, in a strange but helpful way, to make friends. Not that the four of them weren't friendly already, but they were not close. Little more than nodding acquaintances. It was a situation she hoped might change today.
The sound of a door creaking open heralded the entrance of a sleepily tousled Terry wandering forth from her room. The brunette stared blankly at the television. "Whatcha watchin?"
"I'm not. It's some horoscope thing, I'm not even listening to it. You can change it if you want."
"Mmm." Terry staggered to the couch and flopped onto it.
"Mars and Moon conjunct at 10:17 PM, and you may be angry if you followed my advice. This particular part of the voyage is not for the faint-hearted. Some of us just belong ashore. Some of us weren't cut out for the particularly powerful stresses of this incredibly bold incursion into the Unconscious. It's definitely safe enough to row ashore in these waters...but what you'll find there is of somewhat questionable value. Security comes in various forms. Only when you've finally found your own soul do you really know enough. So, continue at your own risk." The astrologer waggled her finger sternly at the camera. "If what you have now is enough for you, then you can stop right here. But you'll never have anything more."
Terry dug the remote out from between the sofa cushions and flipped from channel to channel, landing at last on a dark cartoon. "Hey, it's the new Batman thing," she said, perking up..
"It's this cyberpunk thing in the future. I heard it was good, but I never remember to watch it."
"That's because," Shaye said wisely, "you never remember to wake *up* in the morning."
The blonde chuckled and spooned up the last of her cornflakes. "What time do we have to leave to meet them?"
"Uh... eleven, I guess, to stop on the way."
"You could have picked something up earlier."
"I don't know what she'd like!"
"And I do?"
"Well, you're better at shopping than I am," Terry reasoned. "You like it more."
Shaye giggled, stood, and walked past the couch to drop a kiss on Terry's forehead. "I'm going to go get dressed."
"We have plenty of time..."
"Some of us want to look nice."
It was just as well, Shaye supposed, that Terry hadn't taken any particular care with her appearance that morning, since they had only been at the park for a few minutes before she and Alex felt the need to prove their superiority in a rough and tumble series of physical challenges. Each dressed in jeans and t-shirt, they competed tirelessly in the grass while their partners sat demurely by. The general consensus was that Terry was slightly stronger, but Alex was faster. At the moment, they were slinging high-speed frisbees to each other with enough force to bruise unwary passerby. Shaye suspected Terry might have thrown discus in school, as she appeared intimately comfortable with the hurling of flat round objects.
She envied Shannon, whose Buddha-like composure made even her seat on a picnic blanket seem elegant. Shaye herself, in her skirts, couldn't find a position that would be both ladylike and comfortable for a long period of time. Shifting again, she checked her watch and decided not to wait for the other two to return. "Happy birthday," she said, handing over the gift she and Terry had picked up at the mall before arriving. It was a nature sounds CD mixing classical string music with the soft undercurrent of ocean waves.
The violinist smiled. "Thank you." A moment of silence as they watched Terry trip and spill on the grass. "Would you care for dessert?"
"Yes, thank you." She reached into the basket Shannon and Alex had brought, past the two still-untouched ham sandwiches, locating the plastic-wrapped chocolate cake and then, as an afterthought, a fork.
She ate in silence as the frisbee whirred back and forth, then watched as Shannon casually plucked a small purple wildflower, rolled it about in her fingers, and then cast it aside. "Don't do that," she frowned.
Shannon's hands stilled. "What should I not do?"
"Don't pick at the flowers like that. You're killing them for no reason."
"Would it be different if I had a reason?" she asked, watching Shaye's eyes intently.
"Well, yes. I mean, if you were picking them to keep or to wear, then at least you'd be using them for something. But that's just waste."
"Does it matter to the flower why I'm picking it?"
"It matters to me."
"But there are so many flowers. One more or less won't make a difference."
Shaye frowned, wondering how this had turned into such a serious discussion. "The number of flowers doesn't have anything to do with what's right or wrong to do with one of them. Just because you have more doesn't mean you should waste what you have."
Shannon brushed her hand through the blades of grass. "A warrior once instructed his young archers to be sure that they never missed, for an arrow that strayed from its target might as well have been thrown away. A waste. But when the attack came, they waited too long for their targets to reach the perfect range, so that they could not miss, and were overwhelmed by the charge. They would have done better to shoot sooner and accept a few lost arrows for the hope of turning the tide." Again her hand swept through the grass. "In a war, you cannot afford to think that your forces are infinite and that all losses can be easily replaced, but neither can you balk at losing a few if that's what it takes."
She shivered. "Why are we talking about war? I don't like war."
Shannon pointed to the fallen violet. "Do people know, when they die, if the hand that plucked them had a reason or not? Does it matter to them? Does the reason why change the meaning of that life?"
"It matters to the people they leave behind!"
"But should it? If someone dies in an accident, do you love them less than if they died as a hero, saving someone else?"
"Stop talking about people dying! Life is precious. No one should have to die."
"Life is precious regardless of how short or long, regardless of any "reason" why someone lived or died, and no life is wasted regardless of how it ends. Don't think about the "tragedy" of the death. Rejoice in the life that was. Remember that some losses cannot be avoided."
Shaye shook her head furiously. "I don't understand what you're talking about, and I don't want to."
Shannon's eyes glittered. "I apologise for upsetting you, Hime. I only wished to engage you in a thoughtful discussion."
She frowned. "You used that word before. What does that mean?"
"Hime?" Shannon blinked. "It means a young woman of noble birth. A gentle lady."
"A princess," she said suspiciously.
"Yes, that as well," Shannon agreed.
Shaye pondered. "I have these dreams..."
But she was cut off as Alex and Terry, sweaty and panting but apparently satisfied, flopped onto the picnic blanket. "When do we eat?" they said in chorus.
The spray of the water almost drowned out Terry's humming, and the touch of the cool liquid was invigorating. She hadn't needed Shaye's upturned nose to tell her she needed a shower. But what was a little dirt and stink in exchange for a good workout? Alex was a great partner for a rough-and-tumble, and even now the image of her sprawled on the grass after missing a shot made Terry grin. Not, of course, that she would trade Shaye for Alex, or anyone else. But Shaye wasn't really someone you could brawl and play football with, or even take to a hockey game.
She turned the temperature up and tipped her head back, letting the water course through her short dark hair. With that rush past her ears, she almost didn't hear the bathroom door being opened. She startled, sending water spraying across her face. "Who's there?" she called, wiping her eyes.
"Who do you think?" came the amused reply.
Terry clutched the curtain to herself before sticking her head out. "I'll be done in a few - gack!"
"What?" Shaye said innocently. "It's not like you haven't seen it before." She was standing there completely nude, long blond hair waving softly around her bare skin.
"What are you doing?" Terry spluttered.
"Joining you," she said casually, her hips swaying as she walked up to the shower. She pulled the plastic curtain away from Terry's nakedness. "Haven't you ever heard of showering with a friend?"
Terry's reply was stifled by a soft, fleeting kiss - and the softer brush of breast against breast that followed it. But Shaye just as swiftly pulled away, leaving only a mutant hybrid of whimper and moan on Terry's lips. She slipped around to the other side, standing between Terry and the source of the water. "Don't mind me," she said. "You get your shampoo while I get wet, and then we'll switch off."
Terry could almost hear her heart pounding over the thrum of the shower. But she dutifully squeezed a puddle of apple-scented shampoo onto her palm. Her wet backside missed the warmth of the water - and Shaye. Her fingers massaged her scalp, working suds through her hair... and then another pair of hands crept past her ticklish sides to cup her breasts. "What do you think you're doing?" she murmured.
The gap between their bodies closed again as warm, wet flesh pressed into her back. "Helping you get clean, of course," Shaye breathed. She squeezed the breasts gently and then released them to run her hands down Terry's sides, buttocks and thighs, smirking at the groaned reaction. Her increasingly erotic dreams of Arete and Chantrea had left her with all sorts of ideas, and now, finally, she had a chance to put some into action. "Turn around," she commanded. Terry obediently turned to her, face flushed. Again Shaye leaned in for a quick kiss, this time keeping hands on the other's hips for support on the slippery surface of the bathtub, hot water running around and between their bodies. "Switch."
Pressed together, they shuffled in a careful half-circle, bringing Terry back to the water and a giggling Shaye to the shampoo bottle. The blonde lathered herself up and used the excess soapy foam to paint patterns on Terry's breasts and stomach, which would be swiftly washed away by the water that was rinsing her hair. Terry pulled her head up long enough to say, "You are being very distracting, you know."
Shaye only grinned. "Switch?"
Again their bodies slid past each other. Terry watched Shaye's long wet hair cascade from her head as if poured from a fountain nymph's golden pitcher. Cautious, greatly daring, she let her hands come to rest on Shaye's slender waist, then teased them upwards through the falling water to caress her breasts, coated with the shower's heat. She heard a faintly appreciative "Mmm..." from the blonde.
There was a thunk, and the water shut off. Terry blinked in question. Shaye smiled. "I'm ready. Are you?" Terry reached for a towel, but found her hand blocked. "No need."
"We'll get cold."
"I'll keep you warm."
Terry found herself taken by the hand and led to the bedroom - not that she had any complaints about that. Trust and love, these were the first and best reasons to let Shaye take the reins if she wanted them. She lay back and waited, water beading on her skin.
Shaye looked down at the naked body before her like a little girl faced with a giant birthday cake. She explored the wet skin with her lips and hands, in no great hurry, experimenting to discover which touches brought ticklish squirming, which faint moans, and which only a frustrated shifting that informed her to move her attentions elsewhere. Drifting down to the thighs, she grinned at the readiness with which they pulled apart, begging her to seek within. She ran her fingers through the dark wet hair that curled between Terry's legs.
"Please," Terry whispered.
What would Chantrea do next? Shaye cautiously ran her tongue along the edges of Terry's lower lips, finding the taste pleasant and the shuddered reaction more so. She dipped between them, licking upwards until she found the swollen nub at the top. At that most intimate touch, Terry gasped, her legs twitching beyond her control. Shaye continued her efforts, sucking lightly at the sensitive flesh while her fingers moved between the wet folds and inside, penetrating her lover with slow, gentle movements.
Terry groaned. "More..."
Feeling the body beneath her shaking with need, Shaye quickened the pace, driving two, then three, fingers in and out. Terry moaned loudly, her body meeting each thrust, but something was still missing. With a flash of inspiration, Shaye pulled away, then brought her own wet body down to lie on her partner's, the slippery desire between their legs mingling and merging. When their slick pearls met, a charge stronger than lightning pulsed through their bodies, and they cried out as one, clutching each other as the ripples spread.
Moments passed before either could speak. "Gods," Terry managed hoarsely. "I've never felt anything like *that*."
"Then, I did it right?" Shaye's voice was small and hopeful, all the careful confidence of the seductress slipping away.
"You can say that again." Terry took a deep breath. "Anyway. My turn."
It was going to be a long and pleasurable night.
[ --- End Season One --- ]
Author's note: This is not the end of the line! This is merely the end of the first major story arc. To see where we go from here, and to find out the truth behind those dreams, visit the Of Mars and Moon webpage at http://hammer.prohosting.com/~mudlick/
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