Heartbeat *

I wish that sometimes, I could be wrong about someone. At least, I wish that part of me that is jaded and cynical could be wrong about someone. Ideally, I would like for the jaded and cynical part of me to be so tiny as to be imperceptible, but I have lived too long and seen too much for that. There is no satisfaction in being right, and now, all I can do is help to deal with the consequences. On the plus side, I think I may have learned a new skill, but how useful it is, I have yet to find out.

I woke up in the Seelie Sithen. Of places to wake up in, I think it counts as one of the nicest. The only thing that could have made it nicer would have been waking up with Gwyn beside me, rather than just her scent on the pillow. Even without her, the energy of this place seems to agree with me. I felt more refreshed than I had for a long time, however, the energy does make my scar itch a little. Maybe that would be because it was made with Unseelie energies. I was alone, save for the glint of Royce’s eyes watching from the undergrowth.

I made my way back to the gazebo thing, the one with the bookshelves, where I had seen Gwyn the night before. Something was clearly wrong because Gwyn rushed to my arms, crying hard. Eventually, I coaxed the story out of her. Rachel had attacked Aoibheann, and then tried to kill Royce. This confused me for a moment, as I had seen Royce just a few moments before and I had been under the impression that the binding prevented Rachel from doing any of us harm.  The story unfolded some more – she had tried to kick Aoibheann and then tried to drown the kittens. I had never seen Gwyn so angry, and I had to quell my own anger for her sake, much as I wanted, at that moment, to impale Rachel on my sword. Rhys and Ianto were the only two young Cait I had seen, either at Val’s throne room or elsewhere, and I knew how precious they were to Val.  Valene had witnessed this and was ready to kill Rachel for it and even if she didn’t Gwyn was so angry, she wanted to kill Rachel herself. I gathered that Blaise had cast Rachel out of the sithen, as he would not allow any demon blood to be shed there and that Val had followed, with revenge on her mind.

I held her close, comforting her. I told her that Royce was fine and could see that the kittens were fine, and that Rachel would get what was coming to her.  My concern was for Gwyn, though. I did not know how deep the binding was between them, much less how anything that happened to Rachel would affect her.  I did suggest that she might have to release her, but that clearly was not an option – Rachel knew too much about things in the sithen now, plus she would not be bound and thus free to do harm. Oddly, somewhere in there, Gwyn was concerned that Rachel knew what she looked like naked. All I could do was to hold her and tell her that there was nothing wrong in somebody knowing how beautiful she was. I speculated whether or not we could make some binding that would be effective after release, or somehow order Rachel to forget everything.  Gwyn suggested asking Prince Blaise, but he was rather busy being shouted and punched at by Aislyn, who had been asleep when I arrived. Apparently, she has some connection with the land, which was causing her pain and Blaise was somehow helping with that. From the look of things, I didn’t really want to know what was involved. I assured her that wanting Rachel to be torn to pieces didn’t make her a bad person, just human… well, sort of human anyway.

After a while, she calmed down and took me to show me a bathing pool in the sithen and suggested we take advantage of it. It was heated by a natural spring, so was much more comfortable than the one in that other place. I felt a little awkward, as it wasn’t exactly private, but she insisted that nobody in here cared.  Curiously, as we were undressing, I noticed that she smelled minty and jokingly asked if she had been cuddling with Valene, adding that I didn’t mind if she had been, after all Val and I are not exactly shy with each other.  She hadn’t, she told me, but she had been experimenting with scents.  We got in the pool, which felt wonderful. She told me that people inside the sithen were less inhibited and nobody took any notice of nudity. Apparently, back in her London, she had been teased a lot for being too small or too pale and such like, but here, nobody said anything like that. I told her that such people were stupid but, that I was glad they were, because that meant she hadn’t been attached when I met her. Sometimes I wonder about myself – talking like some enamoured poet in a bad romance novel. She laughed and said that she hadn’t because she had been waiting for me.  So, she is just as bad. Even worse, the reason that nobody has stolen her heart was that I hadn’t been there.  This much, I knew was true. I had been in that part of London occasionally, but not since 1880 or so, and that purely on company business.

“True, at least, not in your time,” I said.” I may well have been in that part of London 100 or more years before that. Who knows, I might have even encountered your ancestors, adoptive or real, and not known it. But, I’m glad you waited.”

She giggled. “Don’t try to tell me you fucked my granny,” she said. “That would be creepy.”  I pretended to think about that, saying that it would have had to at least been her great-grandmother and jokingly asked her name.  She didn’t know the name anyway, but was quite impressed that I could name mine. I told her about my brief foray into researching the family history back as far as Benjamin James Ballard in the early 1700s. I felt a little bad knowing that, since she didn’t know much about her adoptive family beyond the grandparents, and nothing at all about her real family.  I hoped that at least that might change.

Conversation petered out after that. The combination of the heat of the water, the fae energies, and possibly the fact that we were naked together acted upon us both, and soon neither of us cared about the lack of privacy. The need and hunger in us both was deep and urgent and nothing else mattered for a while.  After, as we clung to each other, her cheek resting against my chest, she suddenly sat up, looking surprised. When I asked what was up, she guided my hand to the base of my neck, saying that my heart was pounding and asked if that was normal.  I placed the tips of my fingers at the appropriate place and, to my extreme astonishment, found that I had a pulse, and now that it had been pointed out, I could feel it, hear it in my ears, something so familiar that I hadn’t at first noticed it again after an absence of eight or nine years. I did not know what to make of that. I knew I could emulate breathing and drinking, and to some extent, eating, but I had never managed to simulate a heartbeat before, though I had heard that it was possible. I had no explanation for her, other than perhaps the combination of our passion and the energies in the sithen had somehow combined to give me the ability. I had not been conscious of trying to do so, but I wasn’t complaining.

We retired to the sleeping quarters and, by the morning, that marvellous heartbeat was gone again. Try as I might, I could not reproduce anything other than a rather feeble and irregular pulse. Perhaps I need more stimulation, but it would be nice to be able to achieve that again. It might come in handy if I ever have to pass for human again.

 

The late great Buddy Holly…

 

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