Title: What Never Was and Never Will Be

Author: TJ Dragonblade
Rated: PG
Summary: One among our little band of travelers is haunted by memories of Tenkai...
Characters: ...That would be telling. ^_^

It is a cruel irony that I am the only one on this journey west to remember who we used to be. Yet even that memory is imperfect, still shrouding whatever events transpired to bind us into the cycle of death and rebirth. All I can say for certain is that we used to be so much more. We used to reside in Heaven, in service to the Jade Emporer himself. While I know not how much time has lapsed between now and then, I can say with relative certainty that this is the first lifetime wherein all of us have been brought back together. For what reason, I have yet to fully comprehend; but there is bound to be one. Karma works in mysterious ways, after all, directly alongside her sister Fate.

Fate...she is a frightfully cold-hearted mistress at times. Evidentiary to this sentiment is the fact that I am now regularly sharing a bed with the man I once pined for, and yet I still cannot have him the way that I wanted for so long.

He is undeniably different from the man I remember; yet he is so much the same that on occasion simply looking at him will bring a brief flare of old longings to the surface and I must take pause to let them subside. I know that these moments are fleeting, and were fruitless long before this life. I know that he is an entirely different person now, as am I--as are we all, in truth. But the memories of lifetimes long ago are remarkably difficult to dismiss.

He still has the same lovely countenance, and his smile has barely changed at all. It still brightens my spirits, and he smiles at me far more often in this life than he did then, far more even than he smiles at the others.

In that, I am blessed.

I have been his companion for so long, now; he thinks nothing of it when I bed down beside him. Indeed, many are the mornings that I awake to discover that I have found my way into his arms during the course of the night. These mornings I will linger, drowsing, curled in his embrace against the warmth of his breast until he wakes as well, indulging the fleeting echoed shadows of long-ago fancies and content simply in being so close to him.

He is never surprised to find me there; he simply smiles that smile and asks me how I slept and runs the tips of his fingers down the back of my neck and then shoos us both from the bed or the bedroll that we might be fully prepared for departure and have breakfast waiting when the others wake.

And for all my grumbling at the workings of Fate, I find that I am in the end quite content with this lot. He is not precisely the same man, and my affections for him are not precisely what they were then, and that is just as well. For while turning his head in the way that I once wanted was only improbable in those long ago days, by now it is a distinct impossibility.

I have come to accept that. And I am, when all is said and done, quite happy.

And while I have lain here on his pillow this morning, ruminating on lifetimes gone and basking in the rising sun, he has finally come awake. It is only a brief instant from my sensing this before he rolls over languidly to face me, sleep fading quickly from those lovely green eyes. "Good morning," he greets, smiling brightly, head still resting on his folded elbow. "I trust you slept well?" And he touches one finger gently to the tip of my nose, a gesture of warmth and affection that I cherish for precisely its intended value.

I yawn, and blink at him softly, and quietly give him the only answer that I can.

Written: 12/14/04

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