AN: This is a continuation of 'Crossing of Ingo: AU' after the Crossing finishes. I'll let Faro take over story-time now.
Faro sighed as he escorted yet another previous supporter of Ervys to Saldowr to get their 'redemption' from him. Faro found it hard for him to forgive them, after all the damage they had done to Ingo, but Saldowr repeatedly told him to keep calm and carry on. He had laughed after that, as if had been funny. Faro had not understood.
It had been two months since he'd taken Elvira to the North and said goodbye. It hadn't been easy for him, watching her change in front of his eyes the closer to the North they approached. She was more alive than she had ever been and it hurt Faro to acknowledge it. He didn't understand why Elvira wanted to follow her Atka, Sapphire had been terrified by it that night she'd realized she loved him.
He shook his head as yet another person approached. But Faro felt his muscles go stiff as he recognized the face coming closer. Bannerys.
He couldn't take his old friend, old brother to Saldowr. He couldn't do it. He turned tail and fled, as far away as he could. Why wouldn't Sapphire come? She would have faced him and resolved to treat him with a great air of scorn and would forgive him almost instantly. Faro...found himself at a loss of what to do and hoped Sapphire would return soon.
I really hate my life sometimes. Why it had to be my geography project that was about marine ecology, I'm not quite sure but I'm sure it's fate making fun of me. Every dolphin I drew I thought of Seiliko and the flight of dolphins. With every shark I drew, I thought of the Groves of Aleph, Ervys and Saldowr. With every seal, I thought of the North and my Atka and, all of the project inevitably led to thinking about Faro. Because he personified Ingo and the sea to me. My link into that world before I carved my place into myself.
I groaned and threw the pencil to the floor and hit my head on the table. Conor came down the ladder, with a sleepy look on his face, wrapped around by a duvet, with a look of puzzlement on his face. I almost giggled at the splodge of ink across the side of his face.
"What's up, Saph?" he asked, looking worried.
I struggled to keep my laughter in and replied, "GSCE's are a pain in the neck." I was impressed at myself, I was lying and telling the truth at the same time because they were annoying but not for the reasons Conor would assume.
Conor must have taken my shaking voice to mean I was upset about this instead of desperately trying not to laugh. "They are difficult, but you've got to stick to it. You picked subjects you liked and were good at, surely that should help." He gestured wildly and the splodge on his face wobbled.
I couldn't help it, I burst out laughing and Conor looked mightily confused.
"What's wrong with you, Saph?" I struggled to stop laughing like a madwoman and failed, so pointed at my replacement mirror, a simple silver mirror, unlike the sea-decorated one of before.
He sighed when he noticed the large splodge and wiped it away wearily on the duvet cover. He sat on the end of my bed until I had managed to calm down.
"Now you're sane, what's really wrong, Saph?" he asked.
"I don't think I can keep our little pact Conor. You wanted me to leave Ingo behind. I can't. It's easier for you, you feel alive here. I feel more alive when I'm in Ingo. I do belong on Earth but I can't forget Ingo either." I said, letting my bottled-up emotions of two months escape.
Conor looked at me. "What brought this on then?" he queried, his brow furrowed. I pointed at my geography project. He read the title and winced slightly at my pictures of oil covered animals and polluted seas.
"That's just ********." Conor said.
I laughed. "Like to say that when Mum's around?"
"How come fate is such a *****?"
I just looked at Conor. "You've been hanging around Mal's mates, haven't you?" I asked him and he grinned shamelessly.
"You need to try forgetting Ingo. And the people in it." said Conor, overwhelming my protest. Could everyone read my mind now?
"You wouldn't ever leave Rainbow behind, would you? You wouldn't try to forget her and move on when NOTHING had happened! Stop being an ass Conor! I'm going to Ingo now, you can't stop me! Homework can go cover itself in oil and burn!" I yelled. I didn't know where it had all come from and by the shocked look on his face, neither did Conor. I regretted shouting immediately but I couldn't apologize so I walked downstairs.
Sadie immediately bounded up to me and butted her nose into my legs as if to tell me, 'walk time'. I laughed at scratched behind her ears I started walking towards the kitchen and she padded away in front of me. Mum's still in the kitchen, she came back from Australia a month ago and got back to work, but she says she still feels like she's on holiday because of all the work Conor and I help her with. It's more than a normal student would do, but it's a lot less than what I did when she was gone, which is relief-inducing, if it wasn't for GSCE's.
"Hey mum," I say, as I grab a cup and some orange juice from the cupboard and fridge respectively.
"Hey Sapphy. Did I hear raised voices a moment ago?" she asked as she applied her lipstick to the mirror.
"Yeah, I was shouting at my homework, it's really annoying." I no longer felt the twinge of guilt for lying to my mum, like I used to.
"Well, stick at it sweetie, okay? Love you." She said, kissing my cheeks and pushing a stray stand of hair out of my face. "Oh Sapphy, your hair is horrible. Wash it okay?" she said, and I rolled my eyes. She always said that, no matter what I did to it. Unlike Mum's it wasn't straight and wouldn't stay flat.
I waited till she got in the car and drove out then ran upstairs and quickly changed into my wetsuit, the water was too cold to swim without it in December. I ran downstairs again and grabbed some shoes. Conor came down the stairs too. He looked at me and nodded and I knew my anger was completely dissolved. I hugged him.
"What was that for, Saph?" he asked, looking confused.
"Nothing," I say, "Absolutely nothing!"
He looked confused but shrugged it off. "Come home for lunch, okay? I think Rainbow might be popping over, not sure if Patrick's coming, it's his shift at The Green Room this morning and it's probably going to run over, there's a bunch of tourists with surfboards in St. Pirans. Take your phone too." He said, throwing me it from the counter. I caught it quickly.
"Gosh Conor, you sound like mum or a military officer. I'll be fine! Besides, where am I supposed to put it? I can't take it with me to Ingo!" I said. Sadie whined at the name and I stroked her.
"Keep it hidden by one of the rocks that don't get reached by high tide. Have it just in case you get into trouble."
I was doubtful of it's helpfulness in an emergency, but I didn't want to fight with Conor for any longer so nodded and gingerly accepted it.
Sadie whined as I turned towards the door. I sighed, this was the part about going to Ingo I really didn't like.
"I'm going to Ingo Sadie, you can't come, you'd hurt yourself too much coming down to the cove and you can't breathe underwater." Sadie whined and I ruffled her fur before slipping out the door.
I breathed in the fresh sea air; this was what I loved about living in Senara. It was later in the morning, all the mist had rolled away and the bright sunshine glowed upon the gravel pathway and the small road leading to the cove was only a little distance away. I heard a voice and turned around. Illuminated by sunlight, someone was running towards me. I groaned slightly, this would be another delay in going to Ingo. As the person drew closer, I recognized it as one of my older friends, Katie.
"Well well, look who's out here after a decade of disappearance?" teased Katie and I laughed, I had missed her voice.
"You know, GSCE's taking up time and chores after chores!" I said and she grinned. Lying to my friends had gotten quite routine, it was rather a shame.
"You can't hide forever! Now your mum's back, you can come out sometime! There's a party on Monday to celebrate school at the beach at night. We were going to do it yesterday but Josie and her lot had already thought of it and dominated the beach. Who'd want to party with them?"
I kept quiet and let her talk out all her frustration, Katie was a good friend who'd always stood for me, but she got so worked up about little things. Once upon a time they would have been big to me too, but Ingo changed my perspective of the Air world so much about how different we were.
"Well then?" she asked and I realized I had missed her question.
"Sorry, I didn't catch the last part. What was that?" I asked and Katie rolled her eyes.
"I said, do you want to come to the party? Conor's already coming and bringing a few of his mates so you should bring your friends over too!" beamed Katie.
I thought about Rainbow. Would she want to go to something like this? Rainbow wasn't much for large crowds of people.
"I might bring Rainbow down with me. She's Conor's girlfriend so he might have already invited her but I'll do it anyway. If I suddenly make a new friend in the next 2 days I will bring whoever else with me too." I said with a tired tone. I probably had more friends than Rainbow but now, all I could think about was going back into Ingo and surfing a current and seeing Faro again.
Katie smiled at me tiredly and skipped away without a word of goodbye. I forgot how anti-social she could be after she'd got what she'd wanted.
I slipped down the rocks on my way down to the cove. Halfway down, I tucked my phone and my shoes behind a dry cove between two clumps of red seaweed. The high tide didn't reach this far so I felt it was going to be quite safe in there.
I reached the beach after what seemed like a lifetime and felt the soft sand squeezing its way into my toes. The sea rolled its way in and I could almost hear the whisper of the waves. I ran into the water as fast as I could and submerged myself into Ingo with a thought. It felt all so easy and the salt water ebbed inside of me.
I searched with my thoughts to see if I could find any living creature of Ingo close to me. A shoal of fish were the only ones I could sense. I swam close towards them and asked in full Mer, "Where are the Groves of Aleph?"
They all pointed to a current that was south of us and to come out when the water turned clearer. I thanked them and swam southwards lazily. I found the current easily; it was hard to miss it. It glowed and rippled with the cold winter light coming from above. I plunged into the current immediately and didn't bother to swim and let it take me closer to the Groves of Aleph where Faro was.
I let my mind wander, from where I lay, out into my future. I had promised Conor I wouldn't leave Mum and him the way Dad had, but I belonged here and I had no idea what to do. I made up my mind to start swimming, Faro would know what to do.
When I finally arrived at the part of the current that the water started turning clear; I broke through the current and floated in the fresh water, feeling the sun on my skin. Despite it being winter, it was still surprisingly warm. The amount of creatures in the vicinity had improved greatly, the closest being the starfish cloistered on the rock. I was about to ask them for directions to the Groves of Aleph when I felt Faro's mind enter what I like to call my 'Ingo-radar'. I grinned, and swam as fast as I could towards his presence.
"FARO!" I called, as loud as I could. He turned around and the look of surprise and delight felt amazing. He had missed me just as much as I had missed him. He kicked his way towards me and I threw myself into a huge hug around him. He gripped me tightly and all I could think of was how long I'd imagined this moment.
I loosened my grip and looked up at his face. He looked different, older and more tensed.
"Sapphire..." he breathed and he kissed me. I had forgotten how much I'd loved this intoxication with him.
"How have you been?" I asked him after he'd stopped kissing me.
"How have you been?" he asked in reply, slyly redirecting the question like I remembered him doing.
"I've been better. You?"
"I've been better too." He said, looking tormented. I wondered what he'd been doing these past two months. Whatever it was, it must have been stressful because the look on his face was something I hadn't seen before.
"I guess this is the part of growing up no one ever tells you about, huh?" I said, feeling slightly bitter, "Now answer my question properly, because I asked first, what have you been doing?"
Faro ran a hand through his dark brown hair. "We've been rebuilding. There were more skirmishes while we were completing the Crossing. People's lives and homes were destroyed. We're not only helping rebuild physical things but people's opinions. No one's quite sure what to do or think anymore. It's my job to talk to them and if they want more, to Saldowr. It's—" He cut off his sentence and looked away.
"Difficult?" I asked him and he reluctantly nodded. I smiled. "You don't have to hide that from me, no one's infallible. Everyone needs some downtime," I said. I suppressed a bout of laughter at Faro's puzzled look.
"It's like chilling out." I said. He still looked confused. "Like give-me-five." His face cleared and he raised his hand. I know what he wanted but I kissed him instead and he pouted afterwards.
"Come on," I said, "Let's go see Saldowr."
"...Conor isn't coming back to Ingo then." Faro said flatly as I related my reasons and responsibilities for not coming to Ingo as we neared the Groves.
"He's second-best in Ingo. He feels more at home on earth. And he has a girlfriend there. Rainbow. She's very friendly." I said, projecting an image of her on Kylie Newton's horse, Treacle to Faro.
"What is the brown creature?" asked Faro, looking confused. I laughed.
"That's a horse Faro. They're quite common on Earth."
"So that's what a horse looks like!" he said, looked astounded. "I did not imagine them that way." He said to me, his white teeth showing as he grinned at me.
"And I couldn't ever leave Sadie alone for too long!" I said again, an image of Sadie barking coming up in my mind as I said her name.
"The golden thing?" asked Faro. I felt affronted.
"She's not a thing! She's my dog and she's beautiful!" I snapped at him, "Imagine me saying that dolphins were things!" I shuddered.
Faro looked confused. "But dolphins are beautiful." I shook my head as we reached Saldowr's cave.
"Saldowr?" Faro asked hesitantly.
"Come in, Faro," came his deep, confident voice, "Bring Sapphire with you too." Despite both Granny Carne and Saldowr having the ability to always tell when people are around, it still shocks me they can sense us. Though perhaps it was easier in Ingo.
I almost gasp as I look at Saldowr. When I had last seen him; he had looked like he was getting well. I had been wrong. The grey in his hair was back with a vengeance and his skin was paler and more drawn against his face than ever. He looked very ill and he looked at me with a wry look. How did Faro not tell me about this?
'He refuses to accept that I am dying Sapphire' echoed Saldowr's voice in my head. I looked him at him with a sense of shock and hurt but I understood too. How do you tell someone you love and who isn't willing to see it that you're dying?
"Saldowr, may I—" Faro was cut off by Saldowr who smiled.
"Yes my son, you are free to go. Take some time off. You have been working hard for so long. And remember—when you put your heart to it, you can do anything." Saldowr said with a smile. I didn't understand what he meant but obviously Faro did as he looked at me with a curious expression on his face before he embraced Saldowr and grabbed me by wrist and swam us away.
"That was awkward," I murmured to myself and Faro looked uncomfortable. I was about to send him the equivalent of an instant message in Ingo when I noticed he was effectively invisible.
"Faro, why are you blocking me from your mind?" I asked, with some considerable confusion.
"Were you not the one who said privacy is good?" he asked, with a single eyebrow raised, which I had yet to ask him to teach me how to achieve such a magnificent feat.
"Yes I was and you were the one to tell me that there is 'no yours and mine between us'." I said, feeling very confused. Faro almost never closed his mind. It had only ever happened once and that was when others were trying to read his mind too.
"Faro, are there others trying to read our thoughts here?" I asked, "Are we still surrounded by spies?"
"No," he said, sounding horrified, "I would have told you from the beginning if there were."
"Then what's wrong Faro?" I asked him, knowing I was now echoing Conor from this morning. Hopefully, Faro wouldn't act the same way I did.
"Nothing," he said, biting his lip. Now I knew there was something wrong.
"You can tell me Faro. I won't ever doubt you." I said, meaning every word. After all we'd done together, how could I?
"That's the problem. You will. Remember a long time back I told you I had a bit of human blood in me. More than Elvira. More than a lot of Mer. Saldowr says I have more human blood than ever known to be had by a Mer born. This means..." His voice failed him and he looked very pale for his complexion. I placed a hand on his arm, to try and reassure him to continue. I was curious as to what Faro seemed to be hiding.
"Sapphire, have you ever wondered how you managed to survive here?" he asked. I shrugged. I hadn't really found the time to stop and wonder why Ingo was in my life, just grateful it was.
"Well, just like you can survive here...I can survive in the air. Not just on a rock. I could blend in. If I wanted to. I was always too scared to try. Then you came along and you showed me just how brave you were in an unknown world and—I can't talk to you."
I felt hurt. "Faro..." I said. He shook his head.
"No, not that way. I'd trust with my life. I have done in the past. It's just; this kind of thing can't be talked about. I have to show you." He said and he took my hand and I looked at him, just for one moment.
His face had a range of emotions from excited to apprehensive. He was really scared by whatever he was about to do and I couldn't leave him to do it alone. I squeezed his hand and his perfect teeth formed a nervous grin.
"Come on!" he said and pulled me into a very fast-moving current. I should have been feeling the adrenaline that usually occupied my body when I pushed myself through one of these, but all I could feel was worried about why Faro was so freaked out.
We soon ended up back in our cove again. I didn't know why, but I supposed it would be a good thing because I would be able to tear myself away from Ingo easier when it was lunchtime. He gently swam up towards the sunwater and I followed him, slightly annoyed and confused at what was happening.
"Sapphire," Faro said and he gripped my wrists and looked me in the eye. I kept silent, a feeling inside told me to.
In full Mer, Faro started murmuring words under his breath. I caught only snatches such as, 'Of free will and spirit; I accept' and 'Human I'll be, yet only temporarily'. It seemed rather like—
BANG! A flash of blinding light shone and I covered my eyes. I looked down and I felt astonished. Faro...had legs. And was turning blue. I then realize something. If he's human...he can't breathe underwater. No wonder we were in the sunwater. I pulled him to the surface and harshly dragged him out of the cold water. He started panting and breathing shallowly. I knew I couldn't dip back into Ingo to get us to the cove. Painstakingly, I made myself pull Faro across the surface of the water. I felt more protective of him than ever. He had looked after me so much inside Ingo, I would do the same for him on Earth. Luckily there was no one at the cove when I dragged him across the sand and dumped him down upon the ground.
I then realized three things. One, Faro's legs were bleeding and looked like they'd gone through a shredder. Two, according to the sunlight, it was close to lunchtime. Three...Faro had no clothes on.
I eeped and covered my eyes quickly.
"Sapphire?" he wheezed and I peeked slightly through, focusing on his face. He looked paler than usual and very tired. "Why are you covering your face?" he asked, looking confused.
"Ummm..." I had no words and I could feel my cheeks turning a furious red. How could I explain human culture to Faro? I had no idea what to do. What to say. I needed help. Faro was losing blood too fast. I then remembered the phone. Conor! Good old Conor! OF course the phone would come in handy.
"Stay here!" I told him and ran up the rocks to where I'd hid the phone.
"Does it look like I'm going anywhere?" he yelled after me. I winced, I felt so guilty for leaving him there but I had no idea what to do. I grabbed the phone and pressed 1. Conor was on speed-dial. He picked up on the third ring.
"What is it Saph?" he asked lazily.
"I'm with Faro." I said, the first thing that popped into my mind.
"We're at the cove." I told him, the second thing that popped into my head
"This concerns me how?" he asked, sounding annoyed.
"He's hurt." I garbled
"So? How is it my problem, get him to a healer." He said. I could almost see him rolling his eyes.
"He has legs, he's naked and he's bleeding all over the cove." I said.
There was a pause. I could almost hear Conor's head whirring and thinking about the sensible thing to do.
"I'll get some bandages and bring them down. I'll bring some clothes too, shall I?"
I nodded before realizing he couldn't see me. "Please do." I said breathlessly and snapped the phone shut. All of me ached and I couldn't imagine how much pain Faro was in.
"It's okay, Faro, Conor's coming. He'll help fix you up," I called down to him. Conor then bolted down behind me with a bunch of supplies in his hands. He wasn't even holding onto the rocks as he climbed, but Conor had always been good at climbing, so I wasn't too worried.
A few moments passed and I could hear the two boys conversing quietly. I breathed and let the panic flow from my mind. How were we going to explain Faro to everybody? It was a small neighbourhood, everyone would know soon. We were lucky the cove area was deserted for now, but later? When Mum and Roger came back? I didn't know the answers and I wasn't sure how we could lie enough to make all of this fit.
"He's clothed! Help me carry him to the house, the wound has gotten really bad," called Conor and I hurriedly made my way down the rocks, my phone tucked into my pocket and my shoes on.
I winced at all the blood-stained sand that surrounded us but ignored it and quickly looped Faro's arms around my neck.
"Hold on, okay?" I told him quietly, "Don't leave me now! Don't you dare, Faro!"
How we managed to get him up the rocks to the cottage was a blur but the next thing I knew; we were laying him across the kitchen table and Conor was washing Faro's wounds with saltwater while I searched under the sink for the antiseptic.
"Hurry up Saph!" said Conor, with what sounded like gritted teeth. I quickly grabbed the bottle I finally recognized as antiseptic and pulled some cotton from the kitchen drawer. I filled it with antiseptic and perched on a chair near his legs, soaked in what was fast looking like a mixture with more blood than water in it.
"Faro, this is going to hurt a lot, okay? Please don't scream." I said and passed the cotton buds to Conor who dabbed to Faro's shredded legs.
Faro hissed with pain and screwed up his eyes. I gripped his hand tightly and kissed him gently, hoping that Conor would be quick. I didn't want Faro to feel any more pain than he already had.
Suddenly the doorbell rang. Conor's face brightened.
"Get the door Sapphy, I'll keep dabbing." He said.
"Please tell me that isn't Rainbow..." I muttered as I hurriedly walked to the door, determined to get rid of whoever it was.
I opened the door a little bit to see who was outside before opening it wider at seeing the wrinkled hands and amber eyes. It was Granny Carne. She looked worried along with another unfathomable emotion.
"What have you done now, child?" she said, her rich voice, suddenly sharp.
AN: Thought I'd leave it there. What did you think? Any good? I'm not sure whether I personified everybody correctly, but I sure as heck tried. I always got the impression from Faro in the books that he could go into the Air much more than he actually did. There were always parts where he was going to tell Sapphire something and they get interrupted by another emergency.
Next chapter will be shorter, talking about their 'plan' with what to do about Faro. Review if you liked it, review if you didn't. Constructive criticism is always welcome!