FanFic - Other
"Tactical Errors"
Part 1
by WhirlingGirl
Disclaimer: I donít own the characters.
Summary: Tess fights for love, post-ďDestinyĒ.
Category: Other
Rating: R
The heart is an organ of fire.
-Anthony Minghella

Love is dangerous.

You donít believe me, but itís true. Love is like war. It involves strategy, timing, ferocity. It requires you to seek the truth. It demands your absolute presence, or it will take your soul and crush it and leave it bleeding in the dust.

Love takes courage. It will rule your life, if you let it. It has more power than an exploding sun.

Hate and Love are not opposites. They are kin. Love and Fear are opposites.

I love Max Evans.

I fear nothing.

I am as dangerous as they come.

***

You probably think of love as softness and flowers and hugs and cards when there is no occasion. Thatís like comparing a kitten to a panther. Whatís the point of softness if it isnít the restraint of strength? Youíve been domesticated, the passion of wild things bred out of you over the generations.

Liz Parker is like a sheep among wolves. She has no idea what we are. She thinks she loves Max for his soulful eyes, his vulnerability and loneliness, his role as her savior and protector.

She canít even imagine what sleeps inside of him, inside of all of us, or what we will become when it wakes.

I love Max for what he is inside, what he will be. He can already see the changes in himself. He assumed the role of leader so easily, as though he were born to it. He was. His true nature is beginning to emerge out of the loneliness and confusion of his short life. His strength, his power, can fill a room. He speaks quietly but with absolute authority.

I hope that soon his strength will match mine, and then his eyes will light fierce fires and glow in the dark.

***

They know the truth now, and though they each want to resist it in certain ways, it is time to grow up.

I grew up the day I was born, and the other three were gone, and I was alone. On that day, I died from terror and loss, and then I was born again, when Nasedo found me, fighting and screaming and clawing. I havenít stopped.

***

Life and Death are not opposites. They are kin.

I killed for the first time when I was nine years old. Three years after coming out of my shell, so to speak. Ever since I was born, we were running away. They almost caught us several times, and once, Nasedo turned his back at the wrong moment, and I was thrown into a car and taken away.

How dangerous could a small, blond, nine year-old girl be?

The driver never knew what hit him.

I was like a debutante at my coming out party, as Nasedo put it so quaintly. He actually laughed when he said it. I donít understand how a creature without emotions can have a sense of humor.

Actually, I was terrified. I cried for days afterwards. But I knew that I had no choice if I wanted to survive. It was like another birth. Birth hurts.

What would you have done?

***

We meet at the Crashdown, we meet at Michaelís, we meet at the reservoir, we act like ďnormal kidsĒ (there is no such thing, of course) the rest of the time. The four of us are working together now; Iím not the outsider anymore, though things arenít going entirely as they were meant to.

Their powers are growing strong, now that they can practice them, and want to practice them, want to learn what they are capable of, what their limitations are.

Part of power is knowing your limitations.

Iíve even discovered some things I didnít know I could do. Like wait. I wait for Max.

I hate waiting.

***

Michael. Isabel. We are starting to understand each other now.

Michael is my brother. I find that somewhat disconcerting because I have been alone for so long. But I can see the similarities in us: lightning fast reflexes, barely controlled power, mindless ferocity, especially when cornered, which doesnít happen often.

We sleep lightly, and never with our backs to the door.

We like the taste of blood in our mouths.

He is growing more at ease with himself. He has always lived deprived of comfort, and even when it was available to him, he shied away from it except in moments of weakness or self-indulgence. Now he understands that it is his nature to live sparely, aloof, disciplined, self-contained.

He was better prepared for the truth than the others were.

Discipline is what he lacked before; now, it is honing his edges to razor sharpness. He walks through a crowd and people move away, instinctively, without even realizing they are doing it, without awareness of the power that has just brushed past them. He understands the enormity of our task and looks forward to it, licking his lips in anticipation.

Isabel has caught on quickly, but I knew she would. We understand each other well. Though she settled into the human social world better than either Michael or Max, she never let herself get involved. Her defenses were the most sophisticated of them all. Now, as Michael grows into his power, he is a good match for her, they stand eye to eye and neither one backs down, and the sparks fly between them.

I like to watch.

Isabel looks at me sometimes with sympathy in her eyes. I stare back at her, challenging her assumption that I need her pity, that I feel what she thinks I feel. I donít.

I know who I am. I know what I want. I know what I have to do.

***

Max. Max is my problem. Max looks at me and there is fear in his eyes.

Some say that fear is the absence of the self.

In a way, I think he blames me. Like itís my fault that we are here, that we were ever born, that our lives canít be normal human lives. Itís not my fault.

What makes him angry is that I have accepted it. Not passively; thatís not acceptance at all, itís cowardice, lack of commitment. I accepted it with rage and joy and bared teeth. I took it in both hands and shaped it, made it my own.

I tell him, donít shoot the messenger, especially when she is your bride.

I whisper, donít fight it, Max. It was meant to be.

I whisper, be with me, I need you.

I show him what we should be, naked, bodies slick and twined like pythons, mouths feeding on each otherís sweat, marking skin, bruising bone, crying our passion into the desert sky. White hot fusion, creating life from the fire inside us.

I say, silently, please.

He looks at me with fear in his eyes. He lashes out in anger. I donít flinch. I donít even blink. He even tried to hit me once and woke up on the floor an hour later. He hasnít spoken to me since.

Love also requires conceding defeat, but Iím not ready to do that yet.

*** Practice time is over. Now itís for real.

Weíve been found.

The others are shocked, silent, bleeding, after their first encounter with the other alien race on this planet. But we won our first fight, and though I am quiet like them, inside I am howling in triumph, I am whirling naked in circles around the fire, my body painted with blood.

Michael stands and walks away, leans his hands against the wall, drops his head wearily. Max silently heals a gash in Isabelís shoulder. He doesnít see Isabel as she stares at me, and slowly, ever so slowly, she smiles.

That night, as I pull a blanket over me, lying on Michaelís couch, I hear Isabel come into the apartment. She walks to his room and closes the door.

In the morning, they are together, merged into one fierce creature. When Max walks in, he takes one look at them, turns around, and leaves. He doesnít come back for days. When he does, he isnít speaking to any of us.

I know then that I have lost. I know that somewhere along the way, I must have made a tactical error.

*** Love makes you adapt.

I have become a singular force, savage, irresistible, alone.

The four of us together stand unchallenged, and now the distance from our true home calls to us and we look up at the stars at night.

I stay awake after the others have gone to sleep. I walk out into the desert and I stare at the night sky, feeling the body I am in, reveling in its taut strength, its clean lines, its power, like a well-honed edge. I want to go home. I want to finish what we have started.

Suddenly I realize Iím not alone.

He comes out of the darkness and stands next to me. I wait. Iím good at waiting now. But he doesnít say anything, just looks at the stars.

I always know where he is, always. I wonder how he knew I was here.

He says, Iím leaving. I want to be with Liz.

He says, Iím making my own destiny. Why canít I do that?

I think, because you arenít anything like you were before, she wonít recognize you, she will be afraid of your fierce touch, she will resent your strength.

I donít answer. I let him answer. I try to forget he is standing there. I wait for him to leave.

He doesnít leave.

He says, I donít understand you.

I say, you donít understand yourself.

He says, you canít love me. You donít even know me.

I turn and look at him, capture his eyes, and let him see what I feel. He flinches. He blinks. He looks away.

He says, Tess, what was it like when you were born?

There is something new in his voice, a guarded curiosity that I have never heard before. He really wants to know.

So I let myself remember. Slowly, I reach out and take his hand in mine, both of us still looking at the sky, and I tentatively open myself to him. I have nothing more to lose.

I let him see a blond child, angelic, delicate, slowly climbing from her warm haven and into the cold darkness. I let him see her first terrifying moments, the trauma of her growing awareness that she is completely alone. I let him feel her soft, innocent, fearful gaze, the tears that begin to roll down her cheeks and splash onto her naked skin. I let him experience the awful realization when she finds the other pods, knows that she should be with three others, knows that they have left her, knows that she is all alone.

He holds my hand tightly, and suddenly, before I can stop it, a rush of images pours through me. My first view of him, and what my heart did at that moment; my first realization that I loved him without question, without option, and that he thought he loved someone else; my first of many times when I begged, I pleaded with him, first without pride, then without hope.

We were made for each other. We have loved each other since before we were born. This truth sings through me and out into the universe. It meets nothing but silence.

Suddenly my tears are real, they are sliding down my cheeks, and I sink to my knees and I donít understand why. I think faintly that this is real pain; anything else I have ever experienced was nothing compared to this. I canít breathe, my skin hurts to have the air touch it. I donít even have the strength to hold my head up. Sobs wrack my body and then Iím on my hands and knees, heaving, dry tearing spasms that feel like Iím ripping myself apart inside.

Death hurts.

I am almost relieved when everything disappears and the world is silent.

*** I wake briefly and struggle instinctively when I feel myself restrained.

Shhhh, itís just me, he says. Iím taking you home.

I sink back into oblivion, thinking, this is the only time that Max will ever hold me in his arms.

*** Vague images stir, half-shadows moving, silent. Iím shivering uncontrollably under a weight too heavy to lift, and vaguely I realize itís just blankets. Iím soaked in sweat and cold as ice. Michael and Isabel are talking in hushed tones nearby.

I ask for water.

I ask for Max.

I ask for my mother.

A hand touches my forehead, blessedly warm, a warmth that spreads through my body.

I slip back into darkness.

*** In my dreams, I step back into consciousness, surefooted and light. I take a long, deep breath and stretch like a cat, back arched, shaking off the last vestiges of a long, long sleep. I have no idea what time it is, but when I smell the air coming in from the open window, and listen to the silence, I guess that it is an hour or so before dawn.

Suddenly the covers are too warm, so I push them off, stretch out again, naked, flinging my arms wide, feeling the pleasure all the way to my toes.

There is someone else is in the room, leaning against the far wall, watching me.

His eyes glow faintly, fiercely, in the dark. How did I not know he was there? I always know where he is, always.

The sun rises on our bodies, sleek, tangled, panting.

He says, welcome back.

He whispers, you scared me. I thought you were dying.

Whispers, donít leave me again.

But it was just a dream.

***

I wake briefly, I donít know where I am, I donít care.

I remember the desert, letting Max inside me, feeling the pain tear through me like a white hot knife.

I concede defeat. But I still love him. I always will. And at least I tried, with everything I had, I tried.

I fall back asleep, wondering what will happen now that he is gone. I donít want to wake up until Iím ready to face the world without him.

Index
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