Conversation Upon The Shore

[03.09.00] » by Marybeth Mareski



She held her medium-length green hair behind her head as she sat, frowning

slightly. "Sometimes --" she began, stopped abruptly when she heard the

hoarseness of her own voice. She coughed roughly before making another attempt,

voice soft and contemplative. "Sometimes I feel as though I'm falling, like --"

She stopped again, this time because she was unable to go on. Her throat tensed

uncomfortably, and she knew in that moment that it was very likely she was going

to cry. She bit her lip viciously, concentrating on the pain until the lump in

her throat subsided. Her delicate fingers loosened to slowly release locks of

her hair, before the cool sea breeze took them into its embrace.

"Like after the Tower?" her companion suggested quietly. They refused to

say his name, lest the image conjured recalled memories of sweat, tears, blood,

death. Her companion especially.

The green-haired woman looked ahead resolutely, at the churning seas and

misty brine that assaulted her nostrils in a pleasant sort of way. Slowly, she

nodded her head, one time. "I'm sorry ... to mention it. It must be harder on

you than me, even."

The blonde shrugged. "I don't think about it too often."

"But when you do ... ?"

A crooked smile twitched at the side of the taller woman's mouth. "When I

do, I think about before, when he was not the insane carnival spectacle, but the

passionate young man. It's bittersweet, the memory, but it holds more sweetness

than it can, I think, for any of you ..." She paused abruptly. "I'm not sure

you could understand. I barely understand ... how I can think about him as two

different people. But when I think about it for too long, the lines begin to

blur ... so I don't think about it."

"Would that I had your self control."

"Would that you be content that you don't, for the pain that affords it is

not nearly worth the skill."

The green-haired woman smiled, just slightly. "The road that the past

paves is convoluted and corrupted. Better that we concentrate on the roads that

lie ahead."

The blonde left her reverie and joined her companion in a smile. "With

such wisdom I should be amazed that you ever feel lost at all, sensei," she said


The shorter woman returned to playing with her green tresses anxiously.

"But ... I do, often. I feel ... sometimes ... do you recall those last hours

on the airship, after I tumbled through the sky? I can barely remember the

details now, just the emotion ... the warmth of your arms. Sometimes ... I

think you were the only one who cared for me at all."

The blonde had no reply.

The green-haired woman tried on a sheepish smile, turned to look at the

taller woman. "I did not mean to silence you, Celes."

The blonde looked at her companion seriously. "The children love you like

no one else ever could. Theirs is a purer love than any adult could ever feel."

She looked as though she was going to continue, but smothered the sentiment.

"Please ... say what you're thinking," Terra implored, almost nervously.

The former General turned away. "Their love ... purer than any adult's

... especially mine. I'm an emotional degenerate, you know. Yours was a

storybook childhood compared to mine. I was raised by the very people who

seized your mind like some sort of trinket and used it to their ends. I

wouldn't hold my care as any prize."

"You shouldn't say such things ..."

"Why not?" the blonde demanded. "They're true."

"They're not," Terra said firmly. "The very fact that you can care is

testimony to the wonder of your character. That you can care so much -- that

thoughts occur to you that occur to no one else."

Celes smiled weakly. "I thought we were talking about you. You shouldn't

have to try to hold me up."

"But --"

"Shh. I'm fine."

Were the words simply the echo of a lifetime of military treatment? Terra

did not know, did not have time to think. The blonde stared deep into Terra's

eyes. "Are you?"

The words echoed in Terra's ears as the surf slammed against the shore,

resting upon it for a few precious seconds before sliding back into the sweet

embrace of its watery kin. The scene was not silent. It could never be silent.

Silence did not exist.

"I feel as though your eyes are touching my soul."

Taking the sensation to be unpleasant, Celes began to turn her head away.

"No," Terra whispered. "Don't turn away ... let me get lost inside you."

"It's not a very pleasant place to be," Celes answered quietly.

"No, please ... I'm falling. I need you to catch me ..."

The gentle crashes of the water gave music to the moment without words as

they breathed in shallow breaths that tasted of brine. Abruptly, their liquid

companion interrupted with a less-than-gentle crash, splashing shockingly cold

drops of salt-water upon their persons.

The two jumped, stiffening. And then the humor of the situation occured.

Celes grinned while Terra chuckled, laughter like bells playing across the

other's spine.

The blonde shifted towards the shorter woman, her grin fading slowly.

"There's a drop on your cheek," she noted softly, and without thinking about it,

reached out a hand to brush it away.

Terra leaned into the inadvertant caress, closing her eyes. Her voice was

a whisper. "Catch me," she pleaded softly.

Celes obediently drew the green-haired woman into the circle of her arms,

marveling at their closeness. The sweet scent of the woman in her arms mingled

with that of the ocean. Her eyes closed of their own volition and she felt a

tear run down her cheek.

"You're crying," Terra noted in astonishment, caring in her voice that the

blonde was not sure she had ever heard before. "Why?"

Celes opened her eyes, a small smile gracing her face. "I'm not sure,"

she answered softly, as though amazed.

Terra drew her arms around the other's waist and pushed against her,

pressing her cheek against the blonde's. She inhaled deeply, savoring the

sensation of being so near. Blinking, she felt tears running down her own

cheeks. She recalled how earlier she had been afraid of letting tears free

before pulling back slightly, wanting to see the woman's face.

"You're crying too," Celes accused with a weak smile, before pulling the

green-haired woman closer to her. Terra closed her eyes as Celes slowly leaned

forward, gently touching her lips to the other's cheeks and kissing the tears

away. She pulled away languidly as Terra opened her eyes. Before Celes could

fully pull away, the shorter woman leaned closer, running her hands up the

woman's back before pressing her lips against the other's, urging her mouth open

with the gentle prod of a tongue. The two played quiet, tender games against

each other before the taller gently pulled away, biting gently upon the other's

lips to extend the sensation.

"I should go," she whispered softly.

"I know," the green-haired woman replied, now crying in earnest.

"Because we're both needed ..."

"... and it's not meant to be like this," the shorter finished, her voice

not betraying her tears.

Neither moved as they sobbed, tears dripping upon the sand, rolling down

the shore to join the sea in its ephemeral embrace.


Author's Notes: Well, this was a bit of inspiration. It occurred to me while I

was attempting sleep. I quickly stopped in this attempt and wrote until

completion, then fell quickly into bed and woke up tired the next day. I think

it was worth it though. Now e-mail me with feedback or else I'll be unable to

write anymore weird stories.

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