Fallen Ch. 25byNephylim©
It's almost eleven o'clock. Where has the day gone? I can't put it off any more. I have to go to Bridge now. I realise with some surprise that I am scared; my stomach is full of ash.
I don't hear any laughter today, when I enter my apartment, although there are voices coming from the bathroom. When I open the door I am surprised to find all three of them in the tub. Little curls of steam are rising from the surface of the water.
"Luma." The light that comes into Bridge's eyes when he sees me makes me feel guilty. How could I have wasted a single moment? Discarding my clothes I slide into the hot water and Bridge puts his arms around me, resting his head on my chest. "Where have you been?" He raises his head and added quickly. "Not that I'm being jealous of your time but..."
I smile and stroke his cheek. "I was with Alex and Sam."
He frowns. "I'm telling you Luma; there's something wrong with Alex, he..."
"I know, Bridge. That's why I have been so long. He's been hurt, very badly hurt and we've been starting to find out just how badly. But don't worry because he is going to be alright now. Between us we are going to make him well and strong again."
Bridge stares into my eyes for a moment then turns his head to the side down casting his eyes. I capture his face and draw it back. "Bridge, I..."
He jerks his head away from me. "Don't, Luma."
"Make love to me, Luma. Make love to me one last time."
"Bridge it isn't going to be..."
"Just in case it is: please."
"You need to preserve your strength, Bridge. I can make this treatment the very last one. By tomorrow..."
"Tomorrow might not come. I want now. I want you. Please."
I can't move. I hadn't expected this. I can't do this. He looks more fragile than ever. His eyes are sunken and shadowed, but so beautiful they break my heart. Even in the dim light they glow brilliant green. I don't know what would have happened if Star had not stepped up behind him and put his arms around him. He leans over Bridge's shoulder and kisses it. Leaning close he whispers something in his ear and it makes him smile.
Letting his head fall back Bridge relaxes and sinks into his arms allowing him to draw him backwards until he is floating. He just floats, his hair fanning out around him in the water, with his eyes closed.
Sacha half walks and half swims to Bridge's side and slides his hands under his buttocks raising him so that his stomach is clear of the water and he can lower his head and lick the moisture out of his belly button. Bridge giggles but the sound is cut off when, with his arms supporting his shoulders and keeping his head clear of the water, Star kisses him deeply.
Completely relaxed, Bridge's body floats gently. His eyes are closed and his breathing deep and easy. Although he responds to Star's kiss and Sacha's touch he does so lazily, almost dreamily.
Both Star and Sacha are looking at me and their eyes hold a clear message. 'You owe it to him. If we can, so can you.' They're right. I can.
Slowly ploughing through the water I part Bridge's legs and rest my hands on his hips. I feel his soft moan reverberate through his body. He is completely relaxed, his head back, on Star's shoulder. He trusts us completely; is completely open to us, all of us. If we let go he will sink and possibly drown, but the thought would never enter his head that we might do it.
I myself am drowning; drowning in the beauty laid out before me; a beauty that has nothing to do with outward appearance; and in sorrow and dread that, like a moth in a candle flame it is likely to be brief. I am no fool and I neither do I hide in false hopes and euphemisms. I know how likely it is that today, when I try to heal Bridge, I will kill him. I know it; he knows it; they all know it. But there is no question of not trying, because then, what is now a probability would become a certainty and I can live with trying and failing but not with simply watching and waiting.
I find my fingers are stroking in circles over his hip bones and he is squirming slightly, arching his back to press against my hands. I smile and lay them flat on his stomach. The temptation to release energy into him is strong but I hold it in with iron reserve. If I allow the slightest drop of venom into his body now it would live up to its name when I try to heal him. I feel helpless for the first time in such a long time. Some things about having no heart, I don't miss.
I want to enter him but I know full well that, with my emotions in such turmoil, even if I was able to raise and maintain an erection I would not be able to stop fluids entering his body. Whilst it would not usually be an issue, this time the slightest thing could push him over the edge and I am not about to risk that merely to satisfy my own desire. And desire him I do. Over and above everything, I desire him with a flame that burns me.
I am becoming a sentimental fool. Fool to wonder whether, in my tumultuous emotion, I could raise an erection. I am giving myself too much credit. Simply looking at him and smelling him is making me hard and I am a creature of impulse and sensuality. Nevertheless I also have some control and the second part of my musings still holds true. It would be far too dangerous to give in to my carnal urges at this point.
Instead, I begin to massage him, feeling him rise under my hands and hearing the soft moans that emanate from lips that are now free of Star's because he no longer has the focus to sustain the kiss. He is lost in a world of pleasure that is as close to the surface in him as it is in me. He loses himself so easily in sensation of all kinds and it makes me smile to think of the many ways it manifests. He can become so absorbed in a moment that he makes it last an hour or sweep away hours with one sweet smile. He can make you hard with one look and satisfy you with the briefest touch. He can be a tempter, a satisfier and a simple child all in the same moment. His is a force of nature, truly a creature of fey but so... so... delicate, so fragile... like a rose.
Slowly I ease him into a state of arousal and gently tease him, making sure he remains as calm and relaxed as possible without using any of my venom to achieve it. I don't need to. He passes easily into a state of ecstasy simply from the touch of my hand; the caress of Sacha's lips and fingers, which I can feel roving beneath the surface; Star's breath on his cheek, and the gentle stimulation of the water all around him.
He is spread out, his arms floating outwards from his sides and his hair like pondweed; tendrils radiating out from his head which Star has now moved from his shoulder to rest entirely in the water, supported by his hands under his shoulders. Star stands slightly to one side and is bending forwards to kiss his lips, cheeks, and eyelids with soft feathery kisses. He is completely relaxed; completely content, completely at peace; so why am I not?
Toying with him, I lean forward and join Sacha in kissing his belly. He shudders but doesn't make a sound; he rarely does. I run my hands over his body from chest to hip and feel it tremble under my fingers. I can't do this anymore. One way or another this pressure has to end. Standing up I give Star a very direct look and he knows exactly what I mean, what I want.
I take Bridge into my mouth and work hard to bring him close, very close then I stand and Star raises Bridge so that he stands too. He opens his eyes to look at me, half dazed and half puzzled. Before he has time to think too much I put my arms around him and draw his head down onto my shoulder. I feel Sacha and Star under the water but I don't care what they are doing I am too focussed on what I am doing.
I am as gentle as I can possibly be and when Bridge gasps and convulses in my arms I resist the temptation to allow his orgasm to flow into my mouth, instead I remain completely controlled taking only what I absolutely need to draw out the cancer and ease in my healing. He is so weak and I am making him weaker. His head is growing very heavy on my shoulder.
I would have gone further, I had intended to. I had intended to finish it, to keep going until the sickness was gone from him but before I get near that point I feel the uncontrollable trembling of his body and sense the rhythm of his heart change, falter. I have to stop and I have to stop now or there will be no hope. But if I do stop now there is no hope anyway because I know his body won't stand another treatment. But it will give us another day, another day to find answers, another day to enjoy him.
I raise my head, unconscious of the blood that stains the water pink. I draw away the long wet hair and look down into his face. I am surprised that his eyes are open. He smiles at me, a brief sweet smile. "Thank you," he whispers.
His eyes flicker and reflexively I pull him closer. I realise he is totally limp. He has no strength at all. He is not bearing his own weight and what is not being supported by me is dangling limply from my embrace.
"Luma; please." In a daze I pull my eyes away from Bridge and stare at Star. I realise he is pulling at my arm. "Stop. For God's sake, stop. Can't you see? You're going to kill him."
Yes I can see. What is he saying? Of course I can see it; but what does he expect me to do. I turn back to Bridge but his eyes are closed.
"Bridge... Bridge..." Sacha and Star are calling him but I know he can't hear them and he couldn't respond even if he did. If we're lucky, we'll have a day of watching him sleep.
I don't even notice there are tears in my eyes until Sacha raises a shaking hand and touches me. "Luma," he whispers as if he's afraid to speak and to hear. "Is he...?"
I stare at him for a long moment; completely numb.
I turn my head to look at Star and then back to Bridge who looks so peacefully and gently asleep. I have my arm around his shoulders. His head is tilted, resting on my upper arm, his hair floating round behind him in the water and the rest of him, completely lifeless, is dangling from my arm. His lips are parted and his eyes are closed.
Even to me he looks dead but I can feel the flutter of his heart; the struggling lurch as it sluggishly pumps the blood around his body.
They are both really frightened. They think I've killed him.
"He's completely exhausted. There is no strength left."
"Oh thank God. Thank God. He's so still I thought he was dead." Sacha is weeping tears of relief but Star is silent; he knows better.
"Perhaps you had better get him out of the bath, Luma, he's cold."
Not from the water, I think, but nod at Star. There is no weight to him at all as I carry him from the pool. He is like smoke; his bones as light as a bird. Sacha spreads a huge fluffy towel on the bed and I lay Bridge on it, rubbing his limbs vigorously, trying to warm him, but it was always a futile occupation.
Making sure he is completely dry I lift him again while Sacha strips back the covers and then I tuck them around him, making him comfortable on the pillows; not that he would have known if I had laid him on smashed glass.
I stand, looking down at him with Sacha on one side and Star on the other, doing the same. It is Star who voices the unspeakable. "He's dying isn't he?" I can't bring myself to speak and so I simply nod.
"I knew this would happen," Star says quietly, "we all did but..."
"Why did you have to do it? Why couldn't you have let him be, just for one more day? I look at Sacha. I'm not angry with him because I know he is not angry with me. There is no accusation in his voice, only pain.
"He didn't have another day, Sacha."
"I... How long?" he whispers.
"Hours. His heart is failing. Soon it will stop."
"No! We can't just stand here and wait. We can't just watch him die."
"Then don't watch." I growl, as I storm from the room.
Star catches me in the hall. At the touch of his hand I spin and prepare to verbally rip his head off, but the look in his eyes makes me pause and then fold. I hold him and we weep.
"Is there nothing we can do, Luma; nothing at all?"
"Nothing. I can't give him the energy he needs to fight. I can't. His body recognises my energy. If I put venom into him it will stimulate the cancer too, and not just that... there are other things... I have been drawing it out, accelerating the degeneration. To reverse that... it would spread out of control and it would kill him as quickly as I try to heal him."
"What about someone else's energy? If there was someone else like you-- could they give him energy while you heal him; sustain him while you drain him?"
"Yes but..." Hope flies through my mind and for a moment... a moment... But no; Serif's energy would be far too powerful for Bridge. No matter how careful he was he is simply too powerful and any attempt to help would leave Bridge a burned out shell. And as for Taz, not only is he incapable of restraint he has not yet woken to who he is and what he can do. We could trigger it but it isn't like the Change, it takes time. "There is no one."
"But there could be."
"No Star there is..." Finally, my addled brain catches the tone in his voice and I realise what he is talking about. "No, Star. No, I won't do it."
"This is what she meant, Luma; what Astaria meant. I do have to do it straight away. I do have to do it now."
"No. I won't let you. I won't take you through the Change just to save Bridge. What if I lose you both?"
"What if you don't? What if it saves him?"
"Well... it might but... Star, you don't understand. Even if I took you though the Change and you survived you'd be too... It's not an easy thing, to change. Even if you came through you would be weak and ill. It takes time to learn how to use your new skills, to get used to a new body. You couldn't just..."
"But it's possible."
"It's... possible," I admit, "but you couldn't..."
"I have to try."
"No Star. I won't do it."
"But don't you see that this is what..."
"I don't care. I am not going to risk losing you or it would all be for nothing. No, Star, I'm sorry, I can't."
I disengage his arms and stride out of the door, out of the house. I turn and he hasn't moved. He is standing in the hall, just inside the door staring at me with a sad expression on his face. "Please Luma." I shake my head, swamped with pain, and turn away. As I do, I see something out of the corner of my eye, a butterfly? A pink butterfly? "No!"
"You're making a monumental mistake, Lumin'el." A voice speaks close to my ear, but there is no one there, no one around at all; no one standing in the window. I freeze; my heart breaking. Although I fight a little longer there really isn't any fight left in me and I know he's won.
Slowly I turn and walk back. I take Star's face between my hands and stare into his eyes. "You really want to do this?"
"Yes, I do."
"And you know the risks? You know this could kill you?"
He blanches but is resolute. "I know."
"Are you really sure? I don't like the fact you have been forced into this."
"No one forced me, Luma. Astaria is a clever lady. No one forced me or even suggested it to me but enough has been said about it to make me think deeply about it. I've been thinking about it pretty constantly and when the time came it was there... the idea already planted in my mind."
"But you're not prepared, Star."
"I'm as prepared as I will ever be."
"No, I mean your body, your mind. Do you have any idea how dangerous it is? Star... it hurts."
He pales a little but squares his shoulders. "I've made up my mind, Luma. You HAVE to do it: you just have to."
"I'll do it. I won't like it. I'll hate it; but I'll do it... IF you swear to me that you have thought about this and that you know what it will mean to you; to your life."
"How can I possibly do that? I've no idea what it will mean to my life? I have nothing to compare with; nothing to grasp on to; no yardstick to measure it by. But I do promise I've thought about it; I've thought about it all the time, from the minute it was first raised. Okay, all my thoughts were negative; along the lines of-- there's no way anyone is ever going to make me do that-- but you're not making me do it, quite the reverse and it's for Bridge. I'd do anything for Bridge - for Bridge and for you."
"Star, you can't do this for Bridge or for me. It's too big. You can only do this for you."
"I am. I am doing it for me. I'm doing it because I can't sit back and let Bridge die; because I won't. I'm doing it because it's the only way to give someone I love very much their life back. I'm doing it because... because I can't not do it; and because I trust you to bring me through it. Please don't stand in my way, Luma; don't stop me."
I let my hand rest on the side of his face. I think my heart is about to burst. "Alright, I'll do it. Come." I take his hand and lead him back through the hall Instead of climbing the stairs or diverting to the kitchen or the stable I lead the way to a small door, hidden behind a wall hanging.