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Ch. 5.3 – Sara

“So.” Sara slid into the chair next to Alex, taking his hand in hers. “Alone at last.”

“Yeah,” Alex quipped, his voice shaking a touch, “except for the three people inside and the public land just over the hill.”

“We’re not very public here,” Sara insisted. Come on, do this right, she thought fervently. “You know, I haven’t thanked you properly for the rescue.” She chuckled wryly. “Of which there are two.” She blinked. “Plus Max and Alice. Ooo.”

“Um, you rescued me in that part, the way I remember it,” Alex said, rubbing his forehead with his free hand.

Sara laughed. “What, the part where I help you not fry me, and give you a bad idea just before you get a good one on your own?”

“That wasn’t just on my own,” Alex said gently.

She squeezed his hand and slid closer, letting her foot touch his lightly. Alex shivered. “Look, I promised myself a long time ago that if I ever really was rescued by a knight in shining armor, I wasn’t going to ‘reward’ him with just a peck on the cheek.” Sara gazed into his eyes, and saw something warring inside him. “You saved me from Hell, from gray emptiness and a lifetime of slavery. I doubt you can even imagine a fantasy I’d say no to.”

It was hard not to laugh at his jaw twitching, but Sara was sure that he’d been like her once, a freak and a loner. I’m not going to do that to him. For one split second, doubt suddenly shot through her. Maybe he’s not interested. The stupid skinny goth girl – or maybe just ‘women,’ full stop – “Look, Sara,” he said suddenly, and her heart seemed to skip a beat, “I’m not saying no.” He took a deep, ragged breath. “God, am I not saying no.”

Sara couldn’t help it. She laughed. “It’s – I’m not laughing at you, I swear!” she gasped, and he chuckled too. The relief was palpable in both of them. “For a second, I thought you were. Saying no, I mean.”

Alex put his other hand on hers. “Sara, we just met. I want to get to know you. I want you to get to know me.” He swallowed. “Yes, I helped you. And you gave me Empowerment, made impossible dreams real. This can’t be about, about debt, or gratitude.” He looked away. “Somewhere out there is a man who wants to turn you into an object, a possession, a – a thing.” Alex looked back up, eyes alight with intensity. “I never want to be anything like him.”

“Don’t worry,” Sara said with a laugh. “The only thing you have in common is a Y chromosome.” She met his fierce gaze gleefully. “I don’t play games, Alex. Sure, the four-color thing isn’t what I was expecting to go for, but I like you, a lot. I want to find out where that goes. So, tell me what you want to know.”

Alex blinked. “Just like that?”

“Yeah,” Sara said, leaning closer. “Just like that.”

Alex scratched his head. “Okay.” His eyes danced away for a few seconds. “What’s your favorite setting? Movies, TV, books, doesn’t matter.”

“Addams Family,” Sara said, feeling a bit sheepish. “I know, I know. Your turn.”

He shrugged. “DC Animated Universe. And I don’t think it’s that obvious. The Addamses are a really cool bunch.” Sara brightened. “Hm. Favorite hobby, and if it’s clubbing, second-favorite?”

Sara chuckled. “Actually, clubbing is a bonus. I dance.” She swayed a little in her chair. “It’s exercise, art and flirtation all at once, and only the most suicidal of tyrannies crack down on dancing. You?”

“Gaming,” Alex said, his chuckle seeming self-deprecating. “I mean role-playing, not gambling.” He glanced at the cabin, the smile fading. “I guess when you’re the real-life magic super-resistance, acting out fantasies gets kind of passe.”

“Hey, I went through my live-action phase,” Sara replied, making a fist over her head. “I decided I liked tabletop better, but…” she shrugged, letting her hand drop back to the table. “Being an Adept does tend to run roughshod over a life.”

That made Alex pause, looking down again. Great. Way to kill the mood, Taylor, Sara thought acerbically. Then he looked up again, smiling. “Best part of being Majestic.”

“Oh, score one for the new guy,” she said, giving his hand another squeeze. “Even before the Skeptic, I loved Weaving. Feeling the subtle, liquid threads flowing through the universe, binding us together. Being able to strum a chord, stitch some time, and turn a life around. Making the world better with a little nudge in the right place.” She traced a finger through the air, swirling Weaves flowing in its wake. “A lot of us don’t like the ‘M’ word, but for me, this is as close as it gets to magic. What about you?”

“It’s all so new for me,” Alex said, shaking his head, though still smiling. “The Blaze is, well, just feeling it is enough, but I want to do so much more. I know I can do more.” Sara nodded back, but her eyes danced away. “Are you okay?”

“I’ve never been Molly Dunn, Warrior Princess,” Sara quipped. “Yeah, I was pretty awesome before, but I could also be pretty full of myself.” She sighed. “I won’t lie to you. Yeah, I miss my other talents, but I still have this.” She finished the Weave, and it flowed around Alex, bolstering his Arts.

Alex gasped, gaping for a moment. Then his jaw tightened. “There’s nothing anyone can do? About the rest?”

“Normal wonders are hard for me to use,” Sara said resignedly. “Majestech would work, but it’s hard to come by. You need someone smart enough to combine a permanent Weave and the right equipment, plus enough Blaze to jump-start it.” She shrugged. “People with that combination of talents are pretty rare.”

“Can you get more than one person to combine their efforts?” Alex asked.

“You never give up,” Sara said, grinning broadly. “Sure, but you’re basically asking a Majestic to turn their power completely over to someone else. That’s almost harder to find than a mad genius with Weaving and Blaze.”

Alex smiled back, pulling one of his hands back and holding it up. “Does Alice know how to make Majestech?” Lightning shot between his thumb and forefinger for an instant.

For a long moment, Sara stared, afraid to believe what she was seeing. Is he offering…holy Goddess, he is. Then she threw her free arm around his shoulders and kissed him with every ounce of passion she had. When she came up for air, Alex’s eyes were still unfocused. “You’re crazy, you know that?” she said fondly. “Completely out of your mind.”

With a quick shake of his head, Alex focused back on her, grinning again. “That’s why it’s going to work. Assuming that was a ‘yes.'”

Sara fired her best smoldering gaze at him. “Honey, that was a lot of yes.”

Written by Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in the Bronx, New York, giving him the right to root for the Yankees while making less than six figures. After a long, largely pleasant interregnum in suburban Connecticut, he moved to the Inland Empire, California to be with his wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, his other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of his fiction.

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