Ch. 13.3 – Alex

Alex stretched wearily, sitting up in the large bed. Surprisingly comfortable, he noted, hand probing the mattress. He smiled at Sara’s dark hair sprawled messily across her pillow. She’d pulled the covers up almost over her head. Alex put one hand gently on her shoulder. “Mmf,” she grunted.

Nodding to himself, Alex stood, made short work of biological necessity, pulled on his boxers, and walked to the window. Outside, the early morning light washed over a beautiful mountainside vista. I could get used to this. He chuckled and shook his head. So much for being a city boy for life.

“Wha’re you doin’?” Sara called over hazily. “Come back ‘n snuggle.”

“It’s 9:30, love,” Alex replied.

Sara snorted. “Zac’ly.” She stirred and peered over the covers, then sighed. “You’re surprisingly good at angst for a sunboy.”

Alex blinked. “I’m not – it’s not angst. I’m just thinking.” Sara grunted a wordless refutation and sat up, kicking a few leather toys under the bed. “It’s beautiful out there, you know.”

“Yeah,” Sara replied, standing and stretching. Alex’s tongue froze at the sight. God, she’s beautiful. He watched wistfully as she sauntered to his side. I just wish I could convince her of that. “It is.” She slid an arm around his waist. “You’re still worried about the meet ‘n greet.”

“Of course I am,” Alex half-growled. To his surprise, that only convinced her to snuggle closer. “I wasn’t thinking about it.”

“Not consciously.” She slid behind Alex, wrapping her other arm around him, then resting her cheek on his back. “Mmm. Goddess, you feel good.” Alex waited, enjoying the feel of her. “Talk to me?”

“Oh, now you want to talk,” he quipped. Sara playfully snapped the elastic of his boxers in response. “Heh. Seriously, there’s not much to say. I’m nervous as hell, but I’m also as ready as I’m going to be. It’s just, I’ve heard about all these major players, but I’ve never been part of any of it, except through Molly.”

The shift was almost too subtle, but Alex felt Sara’s arms tighten slightly, and her cheek pressed against him a touch harder. “Why do you love me?” she whispered.

Alex swallowed a laugh. “What?” he asked, incredulous. Don’t laugh, she’ll take it the wrong way. “Not to be saccharine, but I could be here all day answering that.” He tried to turn.

She gripped him fiercely. “No,” she insisted. “Like this. If I look into those storm-eyes of yours now, I’ll fall apart. Please.”

“Okay,” Alex breathed. “I’m going to cop out with the easy opening, then. You’re the most giving person I’ve ever known.” Sara grunted again, not accusing, but clearly denying. “Sara, you spend several hours every day making the world better. You immerse yourself in the pain of a whole world, Weaving to make it less. You face all the good and evil humanity has to offer, and side with one over the other.” He found himself trembling, fists clenched. “You could Weave yourself rich, or safe, or free, and never have to worry again. It would be easy to compromise with one of the ‘control freak’ bunches and walk away. With one arm in a sling, you stand and fight. I wish I had a tenth of your courage.”

“I don’t believe in good and evil,” Sara whispered back. “There’s just people. We’re all raised with different values and ideals. Some of us have more of a clue than others. Most of it’s dumb luck.”

Alex smiled and closed his eyes, gently wrapping his arms around hers. “Evil: wicked, harmful, plundering. Good: honorable, kind, generous. You and Travis are perfect examples of the extremes.”

“I’m judgmental,” Sara retorted, trembling a touch herself. “I’m a cynical, withdrawn freak.”

“We’re both freaks,” Alex replied gently, gently squeezing her hand. “The only difference is our color choices.” He chuckled and glanced over his shoulder. “After you handed yourself to the vilest excuse for a human I’ve ever seen to rescue a complete stranger, I don’t want to hear you talk about cynicism.” Sara gasped. Check and mate, love. He looked out the window again. “And after that speech about good and evil, I don’t want to hear about judging, either.”

The shudder he felt from Sara was somehow distinct from her earlier trembling. “Goddess, I want you,” she breathed huskily.

Alex gasped. “Now? Again?” His body had a different response. Oh, come on, the Prime groused at himself. This is not the time. He tried turning again, and this time, Sara let him, but once he was facing her she pressed her cheek against his shoulder, eyes squeezed shut. He held her shoulders. “Sara, what is this about?”

“I dragged you into this,” the Weaver muttered. “I needed a rescue, twitched my fingers, and turned your life upside-down.”

Alex couldn’t help it. He laughed. “You made my every dream come true.” He shrugged. “Well, except the ones even a goddess couldn’t. My art is my responsibility.” With a wicked hint of a grin, he let a silky trickle of force ripple down her back. Sara gasped, eyes exploding open, and her grip tightened reflexively. “I can do things I only dreamed of. I’m dating a sexy heroic witch who wants to live out fantasies I never knew I had. My life has meaning I never dared hope for.” Alex wrapped his arms around Sara and held her implacably. “What part of this isn’t perfect?”

“You haven’t met the Councillors,” Sara shot back dryly, eyes squeezing shut again. “Alex, you’re probably going to be in charge of the biggest game-changer in the Majestic world since World War II. If the Bastion Knights happen, no one who matters is going to argue the ‘Alliance of Wonder’ label. Our whole world is going to change forever. There’s no going back.”

Alex stroked her hair gently. “Are you saying you don’t want to do this?”

“I’m saying I don’t want you to have to do this,” Sara replied. Alex felt a damp spot form on his shoulder. “This is stupid. You talk about how great I am, but you’re a freaking cosmic hero. You’ve protected everyone I love from Vortex horrors, Quadrum invaders, the original fairy tale dragon, the Skeptic, and Travis fucking West. I couldn’t talk you out of it if I tried.” She kissed his arm, still not daring to look him in the eyes. “I just wish I had the right to.”

“It’s not about having the right. It’s about doing what’s right.” He touched her chin with his fingertips, and somehow that guided her to meet his gaze at last. “You already knew that. You always knew that.”

She kissed him.

Alex groaned, his body refusing to be denied again, and kissed her back ferociously. When their eyes met again, she grinned mischievously at him. “Get the toys back out. You can give me the rest of that list later.”

“Yes ma’am,” Alex laughed.

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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