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[Back Log] - JL | Lt. Evan Merlin & Xue' Daio Nox | "Time Is A River" Pt. 3/3

Posted on Wed Aug 22nd, 2018 @ 4:03pm by Xue' Daio Nox

Mission: Lacuna

The truth of it was that she hadn't been sure of him when they first met. He'd come, fluttering like some brightly jeweled moth, to her light and instantly pushed buttons and pulled levers that few dared to even think of. She'd left him there, barely saying goodbye - but when they changed upon one another again she knew that there was something more there... Something dear and complex, wild and unruly. She knew he held the stars, keeping them safe from harm within hands so tender it almost pained her to think of them. Her head shook as she glanced down to the way her cradled her and the shine of her bracelet as rain water ran across the delicate bands, "I love you, Evan Merlin or whatever your name truly is. I want you to know that and never forget." She had to yell it to try and overpower the storm and the sea, her face lifting and tilting to be able to catch his with her eyes, "I love you and your awkwardness and your heart and your soul. I love every fiber of your being."

"Black and white and all the colours in between, not just the shades of gray," he replied, his voice carrying over the sound of thunder and rain. His eyes were the same colour of the storm-tossed sea, wide and alive. "And you contain all those colours, for those who have the eyes to see. All the different layers inside of you, all those colours… People could spend a lifetime with you and still be surprised." He touched her again, and it seemed that her glow changed colour at his touch.

"As for names…" He laughed and tossed his head back, his wild hair tousled by the wind. "I came with no name. Names are irrelevant, a handle to use because 'hey you!' becomes so tedious after awhile, something to shout for those who cannot call by other means. I can be whatever you want, whomever you want. I can have a special name, for you alone." He grinned widely for a moment, then the expression softened to a somewhat melancholy smile. From manic to melancholic in less than a second.

Her own dimmed in brightness as if sensing the thoughts passing through his head. "No," her head shook and she stood on tip toe as the surf tugged at the soundness of her footing, and her hands reached to cradle his rain slicked face, "No, you're not allowed to be sad. Not now." Her thumbs stroked his cheeks. "I know you as Evan, it's the name I taste on my lips when we're together. It's the name I remember last before I sleep." In retrospect it would all seem corny and maudlin - but every word was the truth. "We don't get to be sad right now." She soothed, "Not now. Not when we're here, together, alive and well."

The smile grew radiant again, sun bursting through clouds on his face, though his eyes retained its dark, storm-tossed demeanor. "Then for you I shall be Evan Merlin, mage to your Highness, to be summoned and dismissed at your will and whim," he said with a laugh, and for a moment the glass ball made an appearance, danced a quick dance on his hand and arm before disappearing again. He held her close once more. "We are here. This is now. This moment is forever."

"No." She started, her head shaking and fingers stilling against his sodden skin, "You will be Evan Merlin, nothing more and nothing less, free to come and go as you will. That's what I want for you, for us." Held close to him she was afforded the chance to rise on tip toe, shining like liquid silver in the rain swept gales, to bring her lips to his. She didn't care that they were both soaked through or dangerously close to being chilled - she only cared that they had that moment to savor and remember for what it was.

"Then that shall be," he said once their lips decided to let go. He felt light – as if he could float away any moment, even though the gravity in the arboretum was standard. The wind danced around them, whipped the sea into a frenzy. It suddenly occurred to him that he had seen her in a bath, and walking on the station, and floating in the air one time, but never in what really was a natural environment for a Stenellis. He grinned again as the wind tugged at his curls and played with them. "Would you like to take a swim?"

Without a word, though with a moment of slight hesitation, the Empress separated from the wild-eyed man long enough to discover that wriggling free of soaked jeans was a near impossibility. It was frustrating, but they slid from her pallid legs in a heavy heap upon the sand in affirmation that the dense cloth would have become a hindrance in the water for even the most skilled swimmer. The blouse, however, remained. Not out of necessity, but out of a shot at propriety and saving him the need to explain what he was doing with her should anyone catch them - unlikely though it was.

Two steps backwards, her fingers encircling his in a gentle guide, and she could feel the artificial sea coiling its grip about her ankles and hear the foam hissing about the interruption and new obstacle in its path. It was cool, far different from the temperate summer seas back on Apsha, but it would do. The salinity was soothing, encompassing her body as she steadily retreated into the frenzied surf. In the dark water, she could have been the crest of a wave, nothing more than foam herself - oddly camouflaged in spite of her vivid coloration. The brightly colored blouse, however, stuck out like a sore thumb. Xue paid it no mind. She was busy concentrating on the man in front of her, letting her fingers slide up his wrists and along his forearms.

"I'll take that as a yes," the Lieutenant said to the wind and the sea at large, as Xue slid out of the jeans and into the water. Amazingly, they were still holding on to each other, and they kept up doing so as the water embraced them both. It was a far cry from the waters of San Francisco, where he had attended Starfleet Academy, or Risa, where he had spent one somewhat boring LOA. But he found he actually enjoyed the cool temperature, it lifted him up and refreshed him. He delighted in the contrast between the foamy bubbles around him and Xue's warm fingers on his arms. He curled his own fingers around her arms and once again they moved closer.

It was cold. He was warm. By the time she could no longer touch bottom without fully submerging, he was chest deep and well anchored to the sandy bottom even with the heavy chop. A wave would come and she'd flick her feet to ride it out, letting it crest over his shoulders. He'd released her into her element, giving her a unique view of him. "Why wouldn't I?" Xue asked, reaching to wipe away a wet lock of hair from her face.

"Oh, I don't know… You might've thought it'd be too wet…" the Lieutenant said with a mischieveous grin. He took a deep breath and pushed her gently away. "Tag," he added and dove.

"Oh, I don't know… You might've thought it'd be too wet…" the Lieutenant said with a mischieveous grin. He took a deep breath and pushed her gently away. "Tag," he added and dove. He had found some time ago that he could stay under water longer than most people, though he suspected that his abilities wouldn't hold a candle to that of a Stenellis. Still long enough to make it a bit of a challenge for Xue, he gathered.

The Empress' nose wrinkled as she was forced to glide away - but the sound of tag, a child's game, pushed her further. Her correction of course was more interesting that a simple paddle back. Instead she allowed the momentum of the push to create a follow through, sending her beneath the waves over backwards with very little issue. There the atmosphere shifted to near total darkness and the light of her skin seemed - even to her - otherworldly. It did little to illuminate the general area, but it brought the stars to the sea and camouflaged her against whatever may be lurking, and looking up, from the black fathoms below. Extra cones in her eyes gave her a bit better advantage than most, and the sleek, supple shape of her body created very little drag and resistance - even with the shocking billow of hair and fabric of her blouse to contend with. Great hunters of old would have gone naked, their hair braided and pinned it with shells. Xue had no such foresight or need, and the hindrance was altogether mostly forgotten as she cut through the water in his general direction.

Finding him wasn't hard - this wasn't hide and seek - and a couple slow, almost lazy, clicks of echolocation served her purpose well when it came to navigating unseen hazards such as artificial rocks and walls. What she hadn't been prepared for was the feed back those walls gave. The signal bounced almost endlessly, creating friction and 'white noise' that left her happy she hadn't used anything faster or stronger to try and find him... And more or less culled any future attempts. All of it was proof positive that holding the Stenellis captive in artificial pools was a poor idea - but it had happened and it had failed and the Stenellis people had grown far stronger for it. Her fingers slid along his arms, gathering in the fabric of his shirt to anchor herself for a brief second. Eye to eye, nose to nose, the dark gray-teal of the water washed away so much of the color of his skin, leaving his brows and lashes shockingly dark against his face. She reached to stroke his jaw, her thumb brushing over his lower lip. Her tag came by way of a quick kiss before her body twisted away from him, arcing and spiraling with an easy, fluid, burst of speed to disappear back into the darkness.

He grinned again, his eyes filled with the magnificent sight of her under water, the way she lit up the sea. Yes, this was definitely her element, and he suddenly regretted he couldn't see her in the seas of her home waters. Well, maybe, one day, when time and – yes – tides permitted.

Still grinning, he swam up again, following the glow which was Xue through the murky water, and came up again, gasping for breath. He shook the water from his hair and swam towards her with strong, sure strokes. Her light was radiant in the artificial dusk of the arboretum, and now more than ever she resembled a fallen star.

"Light and shadow," he whispered once he was close enough for her to hear.

Allowing herself to simply float well within his grasp, the rose eyed sea-creature peered over at him. "Is that what we are?" She asked, the rain having slowed to nothing more than a steady mist. It did little to keep her warm as she sprawled freely within the water, her silvery hair spreading out like snowy kelp against the growing darkness. "I've been wondering, really."

"About what we are?" That was something the Lieutenant rarely questioned. Who he was, sure. What? Only in the terms of 'to which species did he belong'. In relation with Xue? That, to him, was a gift, something special, and maybe a part of him shied away from trying to analyse it too much for fear it would shrink in a rational light to something mundane, or worse. His plan was to enjoy it to the fullest while it lasted. He knew nothing would last forever, and once Xue had left things would never be the same again.

"About what we are to become." She corrected gently, watching emotions color his eyes as they whirled within his beautiful mind. The pretty rose of her own sombered and ambered with the threat of sadness choosing to rise. Leaving him would be the far most painful thing she'd ever had to endure - but leave him she must if the galaxy was to remain balanced and her empire to flourish.

No. I refuse to think about it. Those words, however, he kept to himself. "I think that would be a fair description," he said, lazily kicking his feet to keep in position. "You're already light, even when you're not shining." He smiled. "You would eclipse anyone." One of those stray thoughts, appearing andbeing waved off like so many before them. The smile disappeared and he continued. "And in your position you are a light as well. A shining beacon for your people to follow. This, you already are."

Hey eyebrows rose gently, allowing him the chance to see the outward features of her thought process as she decided to accept his rationale without argument. It made sense, but what didn't - at least not yet - was how someone so enlightened could ever be considered a shadow. "And you're supposed to be darkness?" She asked, skimming her fingers across the surface of the water before letting them sink beneath the surface, "I'm having trouble seeing you as a shadow." He was too bright, too radiant, too precious - at least to her. Would she still think that when he was light years away? That remained to be seen, but she was stubborn and determined in the opinion that she would.

"I'm not sure." He managed to shrug even floating in the water. "For some I seem to be. As intangible, as fleeting as one, for sure." A gentle kick of one leg brought him closer to her. "Maybe I'm something in between, standing between the darkness and the light." Another shrug, a flick of fingers. "You're getting cold," he commented.

He approached, she remained. The game of tag was over and her mind far from folly and fun as she considered those words. They didn't feel quite right, but then again life was often filled with more gray than black or white and he, certainly, fit into those grey areas almost a little too well. "You remain an enigma." Xue nodded gently, "And yes... I'm cold." Cold could kill if she was left to prolonged exposure or the extreme points of it - but spending time in the chilled water of the artificial sea was well worth it. She'd have risked it again and again and again if it meant spending time with him. The fingers that sunk beneath the waves returned to anchor her to him and she smiled a small smile, "You're very perceptive."

"Shall we get you warm and dry, then? Or at least, warm…" He didn't want to think any more, didn't want to use any words. He suddenly felt… not tired exactly, but drained, as if something had leaked out of him at some point and left him empty. Maybe, he thought, part of him had already said goodbye to Xue and was withdrawing, even though she was still here.
That, too, was a thought he thrusted away. It would return later, but by then he would really be alone.

"Warm would be good." Xue agreed, choosing not to touch on the resignation she saw tainting the pretty depths of his irises. She knew, without asking, what weighed on his mind and chose to ignore it for a chance to live and love for a little while longer. Time simply couldn't stop - not when there was so much left to accomplish for both of them.




Lieutenant Evan Merlin
Executive Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


Empress Xue'Daio Nox
Queen of Apsha
Ruler of Aleine
Stenellian Ascendancy


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