I donít own the characters, Jason Katims does. The story is
Summary: Past Lives, Past Loves
Category: Unconventional Couples
|The moment he saw her he knew his life would change.
When he was torn away from the arms of his dam, as she screamed and pled with the guards, he was calm This was, after all, the lot of his people. Engineered eons ago to be peons to the charmed ones of the land, the villagers watched silently as he was crammed into the Ship that sped him silently towards the capital. He looked up at the dark green sky and did not wonder about his fate, or wish for rescue. The ruling class of this planet was benevolent and capricious, and provided peace in the land in return for unquestioned authority. If every so often they felt it was necessary to make an example of his kind, to warn against the very idea of insurrection, what of it? He would live and die, just the same.
The Palace gleamed with crystal, cold and elaborately structured like the royalty of this world. He dared not raise his eyes as he was propelled forward. He could see his eighteen-year old self refracted in the sparkling floor, shifting in shape and colour. A hard shove brought him to his knees.
"Is this ....it?"
He recognised the cool voice of the Planetary Mother. He tried to find the compassion in her voice and ignored the memories of her speeches at the executions of dissident politicians.
"Very well then." She sounded bored.
" Daughter, I make a gift of it to you. Surely you have need of such assistance as it may offer."
He heard footsteps recede into the rooms beyond the hall.
It was the Princess. He lifted his eyes. She was beautiful, certainly, and cold like her mother. She poked at him haughtily with one s lippered foot. She circled him slowly, her long caramel coloured hair curling over one alabaster shoulder. She poked him harder. He remembered his place and stayed still.
"I have no need for more attendants. You may have him, dear friend."
Footsteps scattered across the floor like pearls breaking loose of their chain. Silks rustled and soft hands lifted his head. He met her sparkling blue eyes and impish smile and that was when he knew his life would change.
He followed her everywhere as was his duty. He carried her things, helped her in and out of ships , rode in them with her, held her dresses as she decided on outfits for various functions. He listened to her accounts of parliamentary sessions and her opinions of her various suitors. He hated them all.
And he loved her.
It was hopeless, of course. Not just because she was of the ruling class and the Princessí bosom friend but because biogenetics had ensured that she would never look at him and see someone she could give her heart to. She was blond curls and cascading laughter and he was gray-skinned and opaque-eyed and it could never be. He could not even speak of love. Not just because it would most certainly mean the destruction of his little village but because her eyes softened for someone else. The Prince.
He should be happy for her. The Prince would inherit the entire planet someday and rule it with the same stern and loving hand as His ancestors, because his kind were not fit to choose the course of their own history. The Prince was handsome and gentle and courtly, and his own Second had been elected long ago to wed the Princess. The Four were always together, riding out into the country to receive the fearful tribute of his species or whiling away the day in the many manicured gardens of the Palace. And if the Prince seemed distant and unmoved by her bright hair and smile he was never harsh. And if the Prince seemed to sigh and pine for someone or something else, he was never cruel. Surely he would open his eyes and see the beautiful eighteen year old girl who was his sisterís best friend and love her. The Prince must, because he could not. He had nothing to give her. Not even a name.
In three years, his life changed again. There were rumbles of disquiet up North. A rebel colony of his kind were demanding free and fair elections. The planet was abuzz with the possibility of an evolved future. He thought of leaving, of taking her with him. He knew better. The Planetary Mother announced a happy event, one that would, she sweetly promised, change the lives of all for the better. The Prince was to be wed. It would be a three month celebration, with gifts for all. He knew it was merely a distraction, a sop to the desires of his people for their freedom. And he forced himself to stand by her side as her name was announced as the lucky bride. The Prince kissed her gingerly on the cheek as the guards raised a dutiful hurrah. She skipped back to him, cheeks aglow.
"Isnít it wonderful? Iíve dreamed of this day for so long!"
"Yes, milady," he murmured, his heart constricting," A wonderful thing indeed."
And then it all went to hell.
A month later, in the middle of all the fabric cutting and gem selecting the word spread like fire. The rebels had abandoned their demands for free elections and were shooting their way into the City Centre. His people were throwing off the yoke of oppression and taking back their land. The Planetary Motherís daily speeches veered between outright threats and tearful pleas. The Four spent all their hours behind closed doors.
" You need to stay out here, " she whispered pleadingly," you understand, donít you?"
He stood outside the high, bolted doors, a paragon of outward calm. They were planning to exterminate his people and if he had any integrity at all he would have leapt out the palace window and picked up a gun. But he loved her and he could not leave her and that was why when The Plan was announced, he volunteered to go with the Ship.
Then it all went to hell again.
He scrambled out of the wreckage, his eyes burning. He saw the pods, glowing. He thought of ripping hers open and leaving the rest to die. The Other One grabbed his arm and dragged him away.
"No! We must go back for her- them- "
"It is too dangerous! Later, when it is safe- "
It took him years. Decades, even. He took many forms, despite what it cost him in well-being, and many lives, all in hopes of returning to her. In captivity, in a room as bright and cold as the Palace, he endured humiliations and cruelties with equanimity. What were these hurts compared to his life back home, and his present without her? If he should die- the Other having perished long before- what would she do when she awoke and tore the skin off her eyes? He had to survive, for her sake. He had to.
The sand bit into his skin and the rocks cut his feet. He entered the cave and he knew fear when he came across the empty pods. Cold fury overcame him when he saw her pod. They had left her? He should have destroyed them when heíd had the chance. He pulled her out and smoothed off the life-giving fluids. She was in his arms, a helpless child, and he held her, knowing that he could never allow himself to do so again. She opened her eyes, and he was lost again in her azure blue depths. He gently smoothed back her wet blond hair.
"I will never leave you again."he whispered, rocking her, "Never."
They travelled across the land. He saw her grow up and the moments were treasures to him. He saw the development of her imperious little chin, the wilfulness of her spirit, the curl of her locks and learned to love her all over again. He fed her her past in jealous spoonfuls, afraid to reveal so much that she could leave him. He named her Tess, as close as he could come in this language to her true name. She regarded him gravely one evening as they drove towards her destiny and his doom.
"Never call me that!" He spat it at her with fury, hating himself. She lifted her chin in that motion that sent his veins singing.
"Well, what else should I call you? The people here think you are my father and it makes se-"
"Call me Nasedo, then."
The Indian had named him, healed him and seen into his heart. He had to leave the reservation, he could not bear the pointless compassion. He did not need it, he needed her and who could understand that? He had been free and yet he could not be, not without her. Never without her. He pulled the car into the driveway.
"Here we are. Get ready, tomorrow will be a big day for you."
He tried not to look over. He knew she would be smoothing over a photograph, with a dreamy smile on her lips.
"Max,", she whispered, "Max."
He hated them. He was sure of it now. Not just because they had forgotten everything they were meant to be but because they had forgotten her as well. She befriended the Princess, after a fashion, and the Princess was much the same as she was before. He was childishly pleased that the Second had eyes only for a human girl who was more his match than the Princess could ever be. As for the Prince, he was as handsome and kind as ever- damn him- but the dreaming in his eyes had been replaced by longing for a dark-eyed human girl who was everything Tess was not. And once again she came to him with tears in her eyes, and whispered of her hurt and pain. "Why doesnít he remember? I look at him and I can feel everything ,everything and he..."
He caressed her hair and thought that he should have left them to die.
He should be happy, he knew. Perhaps the war on his world had been won. Or lost. Certainly a people who were willing to gamble on a bizarre genetic engineering project rather than gracefully make way for democracy deserved destruction. Either way, what would he have to go back to if he could, without her? If he could be sure that he could save her he would have left the Three to their blind dreaming in this life. But in all the years he had been with her, she had never looked at him the way he looked at her, when she slept. He was her right hand and her caretaker, in this world as he was in the other, and nothing had changed between them, even if everything around them had.
He took the form of the Prince. It was strange but appealing. He wondered why he had never thought to do it before. He enjoyed these cruel little games with the Three, the sense of holding all the cards that they had carelessly flicked at him in the Palace. He cannot be cruel to her but he can hurt them, just a little. What did they care for his feelings, or for his people? He kissed the dark-eyed girl, and imagined that blond curls are tickling his chin. He opened his mind to her and felt her pull away, her eyes full of horror. He forced his eyes to become cold and mocking. Was this what she would see, should he ever be so bold? One more reason to push her towards the Prince, one more reason to put her dreams before his own.
He came to, in the cave, surrounded by the Four and the dark-eyed girl. Tess came to him, smiling. He knew that she insisted on his retrieval and revival. The Royal Three hated and feared him, even the Second, who had to be rid of the repulsive notion that he was his father. He was filled with pride at her strength of will. He had taught her well. The Prince commanded him and he automatically did the Royal bidding, shifting into the form of a hated captor. He did it for her, not for the Three. He felt the Princess and the Second wavering in their convictions and he knew that they could bend the Prince to their will. He would leave his dark-eyed dream and learn to love Tess.
He told himself that this was what was meant to be, always and he can love her still.
It is late summer when he softly walks up the stairs. He has been busy, plotting intrigue with the best of them, in his new form. It continues to cost him physically, when he changes, and he has to stay the same for a while. He has much work to do and he has come to enjoy his ironic reversal. He cannot lie to himself, he has become cold and cruel in his years on this blue planet, and the thin sliver of joy he feels when inflicting pain is better than feeling nothing at all, than feeling everything he does when he thinks of her.
It is thinking of her that has brought him back. He only hears from the Prince, and takes his orders with barely banked distaste. What will he do when the "enemy" is upon them, he wonders. Can he choose his own people, fight their righteous cause? Or has he been so ruined by his life with her that he would gladly return to a world where his kind have been hammered into subservience? He is afraid to contemplate that in a truthful manner. He distracts himself by imagining her happy new life, safe in the arms of her bethrothed. And then one day, imagination is not enough. And so he returns.
She is asleep, in the room he decorated for her. She is outgrowing the frills and plush toys he had chosen. She is becoming the woman he first saw, from his lowly position on the Palace floor. The moon glows on her perfect, pale face and his human heart clutches at the sight of her tears. She stirs and sees him.
"Nasedo? You came back...."
" I had to be sure- " his voice cracks and he hopes she cannot hear it- " Ėthat you were ready to be left alone."
She smiles crookedly and sighs, fresh tears running down her cheeks.
" He doesnít love me, " she whispered, " She is gone-gone! And he still looks for her around every corner, and brushes me away like a gnat. I should never have come here, I should have stayed behind to die...."
He reaches out and brushes her hair, in an age-old gesture. He wants to make her smile again, he wants to hear that crystal laughter echo through the Halls, he wants to give her the world she dreams of.
"Look at me, milady," he says and transforms himself as she watches through her tears.
When he is done, her face becomes soft with wonder.
"Max...." she says and reaches out a hand, then pauses, afraid to touch him. " I love you," he says through the haze of pain and it is as though a great burden has been lifted off his shoulders, "Iíve always loved you."
Her eyes are wise- when did they become so wise? - and sad.
" I know, Max."
She grasps his hand in hers and pulls him in towards the bed. He wraps his arms around her, and she leans back against him the way she did when he drove her across states, when he rode in Ships with her from village to village. They look out the window at the falling stars, and wish and dream.
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