Characters: Katia Santiago, Dunstan Kordieh
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer
Katia walked into Dunstan’s room without ceremony, her carefully placed calm beginning to crack. It had taken all her focus to stay calm until now. Seeing him reminded her of everything they had seen in the future, and now it struck her as some kind of evil joke. Her daughters were lost to her. Maybe he was, as well.
Kordieh’s eyes went wide as he rose from his chair, taking it all in — the shorn hair and sunken eyes, the air of despair that he needed no telepathy to read. His question seemed redundant the moment it left his mouth. “Katia? Mon Dieu, what happened to you?”
She looked at him, and suddenly the tears formed anew in her eyes. She couldn’t move, couldn’t force even one word past the anger and pain that had enveloped her all over again. As he slipped across the room and offered his arms, she grabbed them and sobbed uncontrollably into his chest. For what felt like an eternity, she finally allowed herself to grieve, to feel the loss of again losing Kayla and Kira to Nathan.
Slowly, he guided her to his chair, helping her to sit and kneeling on the floor in front of her, as she continued sobbing into his shoulder. He had plenty of questions, but the state she was in had already answered most of them.
Katia finally forced herself into some semblance of control. She sat up, still gripping his shirt, and took a deep breath to steady herself. Finally, she looked at him through the haze of the fading tears and just shook her head.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“No,” she replied, looking away and biting at her lower lip. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him any more, though she couldn’t say why.
“Do you want to tell me about it?”
She leaned back a bit, finally releasing his soaked shirt and relaxing slightly into the back of the chair. “I wouldn’t have come tonight if I didn’t.” He got up long enough to fetch a cloth and a glass of water, handed them to her, then resumed his seat on the floor at her feet.
“How I thought I could undo ten years of conditioning in just ten minutes is beyond me,” she said.
“If you want to question the power of delusion, you’re talking to the wrong man,” he said with a dark chuckle.
Katia was so busy berating herself that his irony went right past. “They are my daughters, Dunstan. I thought there would be some kind of bond… some recognition… but there was nothing. Except fear. I never meant to traumatize them like that!”
“Of course not,” he said softly.
“They were terrified, Dunstan. And, then Nathan arrived. Oh, God… it was horrible!” Her voice dropped off to almost a whisper.
He leaned back, clenching his teeth and making sure he was clear of Katia. Rage and frustration were flooding out all other feelings, but he was damned if he was going to let her suffer with them too.
Despite Kordieh’s efforts, she felt the anger — her barriers were too sketchy to prevent it. She reached out and lightly brushed his cheek with her fingers as she looked at him sadly. “Oh, Dunstan. I’m so sorry, I never meant to upset you like this!”
“It’s not your fault,” he said, even as he spun away out of her reach. “I should have been there. You are the only person who truly trusts me and I wasn’t there when you needed me!”
“Dunstan, that isn’t your fault! There is nothing you could have done had you been there. No way I would have let you, with no way of defending yourself! Nathan’s killed people using just his mind; there is no way in hell I would have allowed you to come anywhere near him! I can’t lose you too…”
He lowered his head and turned away, but not before she saw the bright flush blossoming over his face. After a moment, he turned back toward her, hesitating to come closer. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be, Dunstan,” she replied as she moved forward in her seat, stretching to clasp his hand.
“Did he hurt you?”
“Physically?” She shook her head before continuing, “No. Not physically. Emotionally? Mentally? Well, I’ll probably be recovering from the encounter for quite a while.”
“What can I do?” he asked, so softly as to be barely audible.
She squeezed his hand and whispered back, “Promise me you’ll be here. It seems as if what we saw isn’t going to happen… but I don’t think I could bear it if I were to lose…” She choked, fighting tears yet again.
Kordieh’s rage had already gone. As he looked at Katia, helpless in the grip of despair, he suddenly felt … rage’s mirror, burning its way through his soul like a PPG blast. Before he could even think of what to do with it, he caught the back of Katia’s head with one hand, and covered her lips with his own.
Katia sat there dumbfounded as her mind finally caught up with the sudden contact. Before she consciously realized what was happening, she lifted her hands to the side of his face and returned the kiss softly, tentatively.
After a moment, he lifted his face away, but not far. “I can taste your tears,” he said softly.
She smiled into his eyes, caressed his face with one gentle hand. “I was so afraid that our future was going to unwind around us.”
“Not if I have anything to do about it.”
“How did we wind up here?” she asked, still smiling. “I wish I had seen this earlier. Maybe I could have helped you then as you are helping me now.”
“No point in worrying about what’s already done,” he said. “Question is, what do we do now?”
“Grab on to one another and never let go.” She leaned in to kiss him again, intending to do just that.
He didn’t even bother to reply in words.
(c) 1999 Tamara Friese and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.