Winter: 16 years at the Monastery, Second morning after snow ski bet.
Feet forward into a modified mule kick, wings back for support. Level flight. Barrel roll in place, GAH! too far. Correct, come out facing the sky. Negative-dive, pearl-on-water, NO! that was three movements ago, Rasp-On-Pine, Level, facing the ground, glide.FOCUS. Sunar glanced at the ground, at the cause of his distraction. Meesha stood by the Gazeebo, watching attentively. He stayed in the glide a few extra moments to gather himself. No doubt she caught my errors, probably thinks nerves at her presence is the cause.
Not true, exactly. Indecision about her, about us, is the cause. I do enjoy her company, and want to play this thing between us out, but I know she intends to make her life here, and I don’t know yet if I will. I wish my meditations this morning had provided me with a better answer. We will just have to discuss it.
He glanced at her again, and she made two quick gestures in rapid succession. First came ‘Have No Fear’, and for the second she pointed to herself; then she gave a coy smile. He felt a weight lift from between his wings, and felt as light as the air around him. I do not know whether she meant that I should not fear her, or should not fear for her. Doesn’t matter at this moment. When in katas, keep the mind with the body.
He launched himself into the rest of the routine, making the adjustments they had discussed the day before. Each adjustment brought a moment of memory from their conversation; her hair, her smile, her almost-pointed ears. A smile came unbidden as he moved through the air.
When he came to a landing, Meesha gave him a few soft claps and a smile. She moved to him, silently took his hand, and led him to the bench they had shared the previous morning. Her touch still sent a shock through him, and his heart raced for a moment, but his embarrassment was swallowed by the blush in her cheeks at the contact.
They sat together, and he wrapped a wing around her as he tried to come to grips with his conflicting desires. She broke the silence after a few minutes, “We owe Gensher for this, you know.”
Warmth spread in his chest in gratitude for the safe topic. He looked at her, and saw in her eyes that she knew. He gave a soft chuckle, “Oh, I don’t know, I’d say we both beat him fair and square.”
She thumped him just under the ribs, hard enough for him to feel it through his scales, but not enough to hurt. Her eyes flashed anger, but her grin teased. He smiled back at her, then sighed, “Yes, I know. He took that fall deliberately, after setting the whole thing up. He has always been more perceptive about people than I have.”
“Oh, no he has not Sunar.” A look of actual displeasure had settled on her countenance. He found himself reacting to it as strongly as he had to similar looks from his mother when he was a little boy. “You are better with people in a lot of ways. You sensed, for all those years, that I was deliberately keeping my distance, and so you kept yourself and your fellow ‘Titans’ at a polite distance. Gensher kept trying to close with me, despite all my attempts to stop him.
“Gensher has always been friendlier than you, and desired the company –and approval- of others more than you, so you think him more aware of others. It is that desire to connect with people, his stronger outward focus, however, that let him see what you missed, that I had developed feelings for you just as you had for me.” She sighed then, and laid her head on his chest to look out over the valley, “In truth, my feelings came first, despite all of my attempts to prevent them.”
Her last words struck his heart, and he found himself at a loss for words as his heart rate sped up. She lifted her heart from his chest, and turned her face back to him. “Have no fear for me, my Sunar.” Those words still made him feel ten feet tall and bullet proof, “I tried to keep away because I wish to live my life here, in this temple, and have no desire to leave. I know, however, that your path will take you from us. Whether you will return, though, I don’t think even Master Ikthan nor your mother knows.”
Sunar let a little of his irritation into his voice, “You seem so sure, Meesha. So does Master Ikthan, yet I still haven’t decided any such thing. I like it here. I like the quiet, the contemplation, my family and my friends. And, now, you. Yet you are so sure I will go.”
She reached up to touch his face, and he felt both humor and sadness in her smile, “Would it surprise you that the other Titans know as well? Gensher has no desire to leave, and has begun to eye the other Silk Roses for a mate. Lenar thinks he wishes to go, and will probably do so. He probably won’t go any farther than the town in the valley, at least to live. I give it three years before he moves back here, five at the most.”
The revelations washed over him like a wave. So many questions, where to start? Some part of his hind-brain pushed out the safest, if embarrassingly mundane, question, “Silk Roses?”
Meesha’s smile took on an odd cast, and her eyes a glint of mischief, “Brillia and I started it, shortly after you boys started calling yourselves ‘Titans’. And, yes, part of it was to laugh at you boys and your silly chest thumping. We girls have made certain promises to each other, though, including that we would, when we needed to, remind you boys that roses are pretty, and soft, but we also …” he stuck a finger under one of his scales and lifted it in a sharp motion. Not enough to tear at it, but just enough to make him yelp in surprise “have thorns!”
Sunar shook his head and laughed slightly, “I will have to remember that, my Meesha.” He allowed himself some pleasure at her blush, “I have wondered why you two… no, the five of you now, isn’t it? Why the five of you stitched roses into so many of your clothes.
“Wait a minute. Sierra has taken a sudden liking to roses, and often puts them into her hair…”
Meesha rewarded his deduction with a wide grin, “We are talking about letting her in, despite the age difference. She has become quite mature for her age, no doubt thanks to her brother’s influence.
“But, you are trying to steer the conversation away from the difficult topic, and I want you to be easy. You will go from here, one day. This place is not big enough for you. Your desire to know is too strong, as is your desire to test yourself and help others. Sooner or later those needs will drive you out into the world, to find those things within yourself you can’t find here.
“I will not promise not to cry when that day comes, if we are still together. But, I will promise not to wail, nor to weep, nor to try to hold you. When I chose to stop fighting my feelings, I knew what I was getting myself into.
“I will not promise I will wait for you to return when you go, but I won’t promise I will move on either. Only time will tell how this rose will take root.”
She pulled his head closer to hers, and he could feel her breath on his face as she spoke softly, “I am not asking you for the world, or for a life together, just for a little time, while you are still here, unless we grow different ways. No more.”
Warmth suffused his body, and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. So much worry, so much wasted energy, and she already knew. No wonder I like her so much.”
His worries put to rest, he leaned and lost himself in his first kiss.