The Longest Battle – Ch 52 – Together

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Way woke to fine Jin nestled quietly beside her. The dark haired dreamlord had more than her share of the covers wrapped around her and the most contented of smiles on her sleeping face. Outside the window of their warm and spacious room, the sun was minutes away from cresting the horizon and bringing with it a new day. Outside the buzz and hum of the day’s activities had already begun, cooks preparing for the breakfast crowds, gardeners enjoying the cool morning hours as they worked their craft. Inside though, everything was quiet and still.

Way breathed in slowly, marveling at the woman who lay beside her. It was tempting to think of Jin as perfect, as everything Way had ever wanted but she knew that wasn’t true. Neither of them were perfect. Both of them had their weaknesses and their foibles.

But those didn’t matter.

Holding onto her wife and knowing that she didn’t ever have to let her go again, Way felt a wave of happiness run from her shoulders to her toes.

It was a rare thing to find a dreamlord truly sleeping. They only indulged in it rarely. Normally while one body slept, a dreamlord would walk in one or more others and get up to whatever hijinks or trouble caught their fancy. After the reception though, the two brides had retired to their room and, eventually, slept, dream walking only inside themselves, and carrying the memories of the day to be engraved on their hearts forever.

After so many years apart, the simple pleasure of being together, wholly and completely, was the best wedding present either could think of to give the other.

Jin stirred as the sun crept further towards breaking the horizon. With a half-conscious purr, she felt Way’s warmth and snuggled backwards to be closer to it. A moment passed, during which Way was terribly tempted to nibble on her wife’s ear, before Jin spoke.

“Mmm, I could get used to this.”

Way hugged her in closer, no longer concerned about waking her up.

“You’re fun to watch while you’re sleeping,” she said.

Jin rolled around to bring them face to face. Given their height differences, that only tended to happen in bed.

“Was I making funny faces?” she asked.

“Nope,” Way said. “Just drooling a little bit.”

Jin wiped at her mouth.

“I must have been thinking of you,” she said and kissed her best friend, her lover and her bride all at once.

By the time they were out of bed and showered and ready to face the members of the reception party who’d hung on for the “next day brunch” it was well past sunrise and within a reasonable distance of noon.

“So this will be our first official day together,” Way said.

“Well, at least the first that we’re letting everyone know about,” Jin said. “I feel like we’ve been together since the first time I laid eyes on you.”

“Back in the park?” Way asked.

“You remember that too?” Jin asked.

“It’s the first time in this life I was ever confused,” she said.

“I must have looked a little weird back then right?” Jin asked. “I had no idea what was going on, no idea what I could do, and no idea what was happening with you.”

“You were terrifying,” Way said.

“Me?” Jin asked. “But you had Belle with you and your scythe and you knew how to do everything.”

“Not true,” Way said. “I had no idea how to handle you. Do you remember the first time you looked at me? What you saw?”

“I do actually,” Jin said. “I saw this beautiful girl and I didn’t want her to get hurt.”

“You were the first one who ever saw that,” Way said. “And I had no idea how to respond to it. I tried to kill you because I had no other options that I could come up with.”

“Except you didn’t,” Jin said. “Try to kill me I mean. With what you could do then, you could have squashed me like a bug, but you held back. You tried to push me away but you let me keep running and tried to follow after me. It was scary at the time, but it was like your actions were screaming how unhappy you were, rather than really threatening me.”

“That’s what was terrifying,” Way said. “You made me face that. I still can’t believe you freed me in the Shadow Court’s prison.”

“It made sense at the time,” Jin said. “But I think by that point I was already kind of falling for you.”

“We hadn’t even talked much at that point though,” Way said.

“Yeah, but you were dark and dangerous and beautiful and powerful and underneath it all I thought you might need the kind of love I could offer.”

“Like I said, you were terrifying. To be able to see that me clearly and be so right about so many thing that I wasn’t ready to face? So many things I needed so much? I stop and wonder sometimes if I didn’t just dream you up.”

“I’ve wondered the same thing,” Jin said. “But I’ve tried making dream versions of you, when we’ve been apart, and its just not the same. I can’t pretend to be you well enough, and there’s no one who comes close to the real you.”

“My dream-Jins are just as lacking,” Way said. “It’s nice to be able to see images of you, but none of them are a match for the girl who wouldn’t let me go, not even when I was burning in Oblivion fire or too nervous to tell her how I felt openly.”

“I will point out that you were the one who was brave enough to propose to me,” Jin said.

“Sometimes desperation can substitute for bravery,” Way said.

“I was just as desperate, let me assure you,” Jin said. “I think I was just more adept at tying myself in knots.”

“We’re supposed to be wiser and more all-knowing than that aren’t we?” Way asked with a smile.

“Nah, like Pen says, we know just enough to be annoying and dangerous. Anything beyond that is either a blessing, a trap or our own magnificent cleverness.”

“So where do you think our magnificent cleverness will lead us from here?” Way asked.

“To brunch?” Jin said.

“And after that?” Way asked. “I like the idea of our honeymoon, and spending some time helping Kari with the Last Island.”

“Our assignments after that are pretty open ended aren’t they though?” Jin said.

“Yeah, a whole swath of worlds and it’s up to us to protect them from ‘any and all existential threats’,” Way said.

“From what Professor Haffrun said, it’s basically like we’ve been given a garden,” Jin said. “We need to tend it and encourage it to flourish using the lessons we’ve learned over the last eight years.”

“And they’ll keep grading us on it.” Way said.

“And if we ‘fail’, the world’s get interdicted until someone else can straighten them out,” Jin said.

“So the question is what do we want our garden to be like?” Way asked.

“I’d like it to be a reflection of you,” Jin said. “Fierce and caring and powerful and gentle.”

“Only if it can also be clever, and inspiring and loving and kind, to reflect you as well,” Way said.

“I think you see things in me that I’m striving for but haven’t come close to reaching yet,” Jin said.

“And I think that watching you strive for those qualities is one of the best parts of being with you,” Way said.

“So the question is, how do we make a bazillion different worlds, some with nothing in common, not even the basic laws of physics, change to become like that?” Jin asked.

“By being ourselves I think,” Way said. “We’ve got the chance to live in these worlds and experience everything they have to offer. I know some of the people in the Parliament like to stay hands off, but I think they’re missing out when they do that. I think, for us, we do a lot better when we connect with people. You especially, you’ve inspired more people than I think you’ll ever know.”

“I think if anything about me inspired anyone, it came from what I feel for you,” Jin said. “I could have been lost so easily, so many times, but you always found me and even when I had nothing else to believe in, I knew I could always believe in you.”

“If we keep this up, we’re never going to make it to brunch you know,” Way said with a smile.

“The bed does look pretty tempting doesn’t it?” Jin said, her delight matching Way’s.

“Always,” Way said. “But it’d be a shame to miss all the guests who stayed on to see us.”

“That is true,” Jin said. “And we do have a few weeks of honeymoon starting tonight.”

“It won’t be enough time, but it’ll be a start,” Way agreed.

“So shall we go greet everyone?” Jin asked.

“Yeah, let’s get a start on things,” Way said. “There’s a whole lot of people out there waiting for us.”

Hand in hand, they took the first step across the threshold of their little room and out into the new lives that awaited them. Together.

The Beginning

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