the duel: 2X1 takes a shot
It was all too much for me.
The way your eyes glittered in the firelight like some feral creature—inhuman, but not animal either—a satyr perhaps, or some creature other children, who grew up differently than we did, would have been taught to fear long ago in fairy tales.
I was never taught fairy tales, so I never learned to fear them.
Until that night.
Why did you touch me? Why did I let you?
Why aren't you here, so I can ask you these things, instead of whispering them into the recycled colony air where not even the wind will carry them to you? Was it just the earth? The way it lives and breathes so hard you drown in it, in the very /life/ of it? Or maybe it was the adrenaline of warriors trapped, the way we needed to do /something/ when we were forced to do nothing.
I remember it perfectly—every touch of your skin, every heartbeat felt through the pulse of the world, the way your hair brushed my chest as if it too were alive. Everything was alive. How dizzy I was, how dazzled by your smile and the darkness in your eyes, how entranced by the glow of your skin in the firelight.
You told me there was magic in the woods.
You said it so seriously, so honestly, that I had no choice but to believe you. And though I didn't recognise it til you told me, I could feel it too—its tingle across my skin, its subtle weave through my mind, dulling some senses and heightening others.
I think you had no choice but to kiss me, the same way I could do nothing but kiss you in return. I remember how your silhouette shifted as you stood, the bright crimson of the flame licking at the edges of it—and how that heat was nothing compared to the tender brush of your fingers across my face.
I remember how gracefully you knelt to kiss me, and how I, precognate, knew what you intended and how I would respond to it. I had never been kissed before. I am afraid now that I will never be kissed the same way again.
Sometimes, I am afraid that I was dreaming.
But I wasn't. Not even my wildest fancies could have perfected the image of you, of the ragged syncopation of your breath and the scent of woodsmoke and pine that permeated you. I could never have created the euphoria of that kiss, or the way I clung to you as you bore me down onto the dirt.
We didn't think. We didn't speak. I suppose we should have, or I wouldn't be wrestling now with these doubts. We were drunk on the air, intoxicated by the heady late night in springtime, driven by something so base and primal that not all the training in the world could have quelled it. It was the magic in the woods that you breathed into my ear, and it devoured us alive. I was the stolen child and you were the creature who led me astray—but you were carried along too, even as I was. It was the first time I remember you ever not having words—only moans, whimpers, soft intonations of sound with more meaning than language could ever have given them.
And I was the loud one, crying my desperation to the starlit sky as you drove into me, my voice no longer my own, all my hard-won control surrendered utterly to you. I remember the sting of our frenzied joining—it was my body that hurt, but I thought the whimper of pain was yours. It made no difference. Divisions of flesh were no longer important, or even distinguishable: me from you, you from me, us from the universe and we from the earth, it was all greater than we could ever hope to be.
I remember how you asked me with your eyes, and I answered with a moan, and you made me yours in a way no-one else will ever be able to do again. Did you realise that was what you were doing, Duo? Did you know how these events beyond our feeble mortal control would bind me to you so desperately?
Do you miss me?
I woke up with dirt on my face, and your hair was tangled. It hurt me to walk, and I saw the marks my nails had left in your back.
And we said nothing.
I waited for you to smile at me, to tease me, to say something—I don't know what to do when you won't speak. And maybe you were going to, or maybe I would have found the courage in the end to ask you what had happened between us.
But the war went on, and we went with it.
And now I'm sitting on top of simulated grass breathing artificial air, staring out at the swirled sapphire marble that is the planet I may fight for but never entirely comprehend. And I think I understand a bit of what makes men fight, and what makes the emotions of mortals run so high. It's the earth, pulsing like a heartbeat inside all of us, alive in a way this colony can never be. And maybe that's why we're mortal after all, because no matter what technology we have, we will never be able to create the same magic that consumed us that night when we hid in the woods.
And maybe I'm thinking too hard.
But I want to ask you these things. I want you to tell me that you remember it too. That you are bound the same way I am.
And that someday we might make magic again.