When Soul Meets Soul-Between the Two of Us? Really?
This story is a prequel to my story "More than What Meets the Eyes" and is also a slightly alternative universe story. This veers off of canon a little. You will see that I Dodia's son is a tiny bit younger than what was represented in Barry Blair's "Fire Eyes" just like my other story. Hope you like and let me know either way.
I own nothing. Poop!
My tribe had stopped bothering with recognition for generations. Now I knew why. Soul met soul when eyes met eyes. Rotten fish guts, does that flowery saying make it seems like something sweet and gentle. Curse the fools for saying so! It really felt like your very self had been sucked out to be replaced by someone else. Someone who invaded your heart, your mind, your thoughts. Heart-wrenching. Heart changing. Such pain. Not from me. From him. From Door because of…because of her! Winnowill. My mind forced open to see and feel more than it had ever been opened, I reacted.
"Oh, now I see what Suntop was going on about with all his double-cursed talk of magic," I heard myself utter as eyes stared into mine in frozen shock, "That fish-rotting witch has poisoned you good."
There was no reaction as I grabbed his shirt front as gasps from my companions rang out around me. Then I sent. Not the weakened form that I had fought to develop since arriving in that double-cursed Sun Village, but true sending for probably the first time in my life. The black snake's taint was writhing in his mind. In his very soul and it was pissing me the buck-rot off.
"You muck-eating bitch!" I howled inside his mind, pushing at the taint within the other half of my soul, "Get back, you fish-poking, foul, troll filth! You won't have him!"
-What is…get out of my mind!-
-Shut up, you puffed up, dung-headed, frozen stag chip! Stop fighting me. You need this.-
The sending felt like it was tearing me into pieces, but I corralled the poison and created almost a type of gate or wall to keep the taint back. Cracks formed and I sealed the gate tighter. The poisoning was going to end. This was wrong. No elf should be pushed to not act on their own thoughts and feelings. I had no idea how I knew what to do, but this was needed and so I did what was needed. I turned and saw him flickering within his mind. Such a fragile, confused, little light.
-I know you.-
-Of course you do, Snow-for-Brains. I know you too.-
I came to myself in time to catch Door as he fell into my arms in a dead faint. He had been in pain so long that to be free was too much for him. I ended up sinking to my knees with his added weight.
"Chot?" Jethel demanded as he stooped to stare at me with stunned eyes, "What was…was that…Chot? Recognition?"
I blinked at the youth that I had basically adopted as a brother. Was that? Damn it! I had recognized or bonded to Door of all elves, but at least in my case, there wasn't the drive to make a cub. Glancing about, I cursed at the destruction wrought by stone shaping, but could pick up on a hint of the echoes left over from Door's abilities. Footsteps echoed upon stone.
"Humans," I spat standing as I tossed Door over my shoulder to carry him, "Heard our battle. Dodia, get No-name's hand. Cub, stop fighting your mother. Jethel, lead the way towards the path of Mother moon since we'll have to circle around back to our holt. No-name!"
"Sorry, Chot-pa," the cub whimpered as he finally agreed to take his mother's hand, "Sorry."
Dodia's cub was a sensitive babe. He meant no harm and needed a lot of guidance. It was only for No-name that I showed my gentler side since he was still unsure about the world around him and ran to me when he needed comfort.
"Don't fret, Cub," I offered as we all followed Jethel's lead despite the exhaustion that was pulling at my very core, "When your elders speak, you listen. Understood?"
"Yes, Chot-pa," No-name agreed before grunting in surprise as Dodia swung him up to ride her back, "Mama."
-How does my son listen to you more than his mother, Chot?-
-True, but my cub loves you and listens without question to your words unlike the way he listens to me. I know my son loves me too, but with you, he is different. Door?-
-Is fine for now. Just run. We'll talk later-
The flight was a blur and I barely remembered how we got to our temporary holt, but we were finally safe. I settled Door into my sleep furs and sat heavily.
"Chot?" Jethel questioned as I turned to regard him, "What now?"
"We rest," I voiced with a sigh watching the sun creep over the horizon, "We'll deal with everything after, okay?"
"Is he safe?" Jethel questioned as I glanced to my soul brother.
"He will be," I heard myself soothe before I found myself listing dizzily, "Oh!"
"Come," Dodia pushed coming to pull on one of my hands once Jethel had helped me right myself, "Come share my son's sleep furs. He won't settle without you anyway. I know the confusion that recognition can cause. You are exhausted, Chot."
"Don't tell me what I am," I crabbed even as I allowed her to pull me up and over to her son, "Stop wriggling about, Cub."
"Chot-pa," No-name whined coming to crawl into my arms, "Sleepy."
Sighing, I settled among the furs as the cub cuddled close. I will forever deny that my new title from No-name was heartwarming. I deny it! It is denied! I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the feeling of being in two places at once. Both here and within Door's mind.
"Is Chot asleep?" I heard Jethel whisper a bit of time later.
"I think so," Dodia whispered back, "What do you think?"
"I don't know, Dodia," Jethel groaned, "All the fight went out of Door. Did you notice? He just choked up."
"You forget that I have quite a connection to Door, Jethel," Dodia reminded, "Chot did something. He did something to Door's mind that has given that elf some clarity and then when Chot sent to me while we were on the run…never has his sending been so strong. I was overwhelmed."
"Do you think that Chot is okay?" Jethel's worried voice sounded from beside me as I felt his hand feel my forehead and cheeks even as I was too tired and worn to respond to the touch, "He is paler than usual, but his temperature seems fine."
"Recognition is hard," Dodia soothed as I heard Jethel sigh, "I think Chot's advice is sound. Let us rest and deal with everything on the morrow. Door is completely out of it and Chot, or I, will feel if he wakes."
I must have fallen asleep then because the next I awoke, the sun was high in the sky and Door was sitting beside me. He was still and gazing at me very intensely. It was his pull at me that had woken me early.
-I know you.-
-Of course you do, Door.-
-You have my son.-
-I don't have your son. Your son chooses where he wants to be. I won't allow you or Dodia to take that choice away from him, understood? I'll gut any who try to do that.-
-You love my son.-
-I have affection for the cub. His life had been harder than it should have been for one so young.-
-No. You love him. You are proud of him and protect him as if yours. I can feel it. What have you done to me? Why is the pain gone?-
-I forced the pain away. I am allowing you to make your own choices too. Just like your son.-
-I…I don't want to be alone anymore.-
-Then don't be alone. Settle yourself and be calm.-
Door breathed in a shaky breath as he gazed down at me before curling up against my side. He was warm and as exhausted as I.
I sent him calming thoughts as he drifted to sleep. Winnowill's taint pushed at my barriers and I re-forged them stronger. I don't think so, Black Snake. Hours later, I woke to eyes watching me again. Jethel.
"I don't believe it," Jethel whispered as I sat up carefully and deposited No-name beside his sleeping mother.
"Believe what?" I yawned out before looking down at where Jethel pointed, "Oh. Door."
"He's sleeping next to you," Jethel breathed in wonder, "He's not…um…"
"Trying to spear us with stone spikes?" I drily stated as Jethel nodded sheepishly, "He's…"
I trailed off looking down upon the Glider than had become a bane to the small tribe of mine that had come to the forevergreen to find Windkin so long ago. I had felt the agony in his mind and the confusion. He had not always been like this. I could glimpse bits of his earlier life. As ancient as he was to my fewer years, he was so lost right now.
"Door will be different from here on, Jethel," I insisted standing as Jethel followed after me, "He's little more than a newborn cub now. He doesn't understand how to live. I feel that. He'll learn. I'll teach him."
"Easy as that?" Jethel inquired as I paused in my search for food.
"Not easy," I denied finding a basket of fruit, "But doable. He needs help. I'll help him. Simple as that. He belongs to me now. I care for what is mine like any Go-Back."
"Like you care for me?" Jethel snickered as I scowled at him, "You're mine too."
"Snot-nosed brat," I snapped turning my back in embarrassment, "Whelp. Don't make such judgments when you are still wet behind the ears, Little Chieftain."
I sighed as Jethel leaned against my back with a chuckle of amusement. I guess he was my snot-nosed, whelp of a wet-behind the ears chieftain. How did that happen? Grumbling, I munched on my fruit as Jethel snorted from behind me. Dodia woke as her cub threw himself at me with a whoop of delight.
"Chot-pa! Sweet reds! Want!" No-name giggled snatching my half-eaten fruit from my hands as he settled in my lap, "Hungry, Chot-pa!"
"When are you not?" I chuckled as the cub gobbled hungrily while his mother shook her head in amusement, "Rivals me in eating and that is saying a snows-worth lot, Dodia. Chew or you'll choke, Cub."
"Um," No-name murmured around his food as I rolled my eyes not knowing if he was agreeing or telling me that he liked his breakfast.
"You taught him that," Dodia pointed out in good humor handing me another sweet red even as she selected her own, "Look who is awake."
I glanced over at Door automatically. The cub must have woken the Glider. He was wide-eyed, watching his son eat before glancing at me.
"Come on," I instructed as the Glider blinked at me, "Come eat. The fruit won't last long with the little, boar piglet here. Come get your share, Door."
Door stood and hesitantly came to sit beside me. I could feel his bemusement as his child threw him a sweet red.
"Yummy," No-name chirped stealing my second fruit as I sighed, "Is good, right, Chot-pa?"
"I wouldn't poking know," I growled as No-name giggled while I snatched another fruit from the basket, "Maybe I would know if a certain little dung-head wouldn't eat my share."
The cub laughed as he leaned back in my lap to look at me backwards. Little brat had me wrapped around his finger and he knew it.
"Eat, Door," I sighed returning to my meal, "There is hunting and gathering that needs to be done so you'll need your strength. You join this pack, you pull your weight."
Door glanced at his fruit before hesitantly taking a nibble. The shields in his mind were beginning to splinter again so I reinforced the barriers once more.
"I…I don't deserve this," Door stuttered looking up at me, "All I've done…all I've caused…I should leave."
I saw Jethel and Dodia glance at one another before looking to me. They were clearly leaving this to me to deal with.
"Can you leave?" I demanded as Door's eyes locked on my own while we each felt the draw that kept us from straying far from one another, "You can't and I can't either. You've made mistakes. Terrible ones. I have too. Can't look behind you forever or you miss looking forward. Make up for yesterday by what you do today and stop poking disturbing my breakfast or the brat will eat it all. Eat, Door."
Door sighed as he ate, but he ate. No-name kept the chatter going before growing curious about the new elf.
"Who, Chot-pa?" No-name asked turning to look up at me with innocent eyes as he pointed at Door.
"A friend," I answered as Door glanced up in shock, "Your mama will tell you more about him. His name is Door."
"Door?" No-name echoed looking to his mother, "Mama, Door is father?"
Dodia choked on her fruit as we all startled at the cub's words. No-name heard and saw more than we gave him credit for. I watched as Dodia stared at her cub before looking to Door thoughtfully.
-This is my child, Glider. You will not take him from me.-
-I have no right to raise any child. The shame within is choking me alive, Dodia. You never have to tell the little one that I am his sire. I will keep that secret.-
I frowned at the open sending that was being kept from the cub. I again felt my soul brother's pain. There was true remorse there.
-Curse it! The secret is out. No-name isn't a fool. Dodia, you also made mistakes in raising the cub. Make your decision wisely. No-name wants to know his father. Look how excited the child is. Door, stop with the guilt. Focus on today and make things right by being there for your son and supporting his mother. He might not have your ability to glide, but he may develop stone-moving skills. The cub will need his sire's training then.-
"Mama?" No-name called as Dodia broke out of her surprise at my sending.
"This is Door and he is your father," Dodia admitted as the cub looked eagerly at Door, "He's been sick for a long time, but he is starting to get better now."
"Sick?" No-name questioned hopping over to Door, "Is that why you yelled and made stone move and Chot-pa and Jethel-Brother got all mad and Mama ran so fast with me on her back and I was all scared? Is it?"
"Yes, Little One," Door sighed looking down, "I am sorry that I frightened you. I am sorry for a lot of things."
"It's all okay now," No-name declared, "Jethel-Brother and Chot-pa take care of you too and we all be good. You have to listen to your elders. Chot-pa tell me so."
"Um…I see," Door stammered seeming to be overwhelmed, "I will try to listen too."
"Is good," No-name declared coming to crawl back into my lap, "Take care of Father like you do for me, Chot-pa. Promise?"
Growling, I regarded No-name as he looked back at me with pleading eyes. Wrapped. Around. The cub's. Finger. When did I fall so low?
"Puffed-up, little, fluff-head. Fine! I promise," I snorted as the cub beamed, "Go help your mother fold the sleep furs before I skin you. Get!"
No-name tore off giggling while I half-heartedly swung at his backside as Dodia gave chase. I missed the brat by a mile. Jethel snickered at the cub's antics before looking at Door intensely.
"You have one chance to prove yourself, Door," Jethel declared as I nodded at my chief in understanding, "I will allow you this chance for Chot, but do not take this chance lightly. I know Chot will not hesitate to keep our tribe safe and neither will I."
"I will not betray your trust," Door offered looking at me rather than Jethel, "I cannot betray that trust. I…"
I heard his thoughts. He couldn't betray the other half of his soul. He couldn't lose me. The unexpected warmth of this left me winded and…and confused.
"I need to scout," I declared standing as Door reached for me in desperation, "I will be back. Stay here, Door. I am just checking the perimeters for humans. Finish your breakfast."
"Okay," Door agreed sinking down as I felt his tumbling emotions and fears.
"Jethel will scout with me. Be at ease," I sighed as I stooped so Door could look into my eyes, "I have confusion within me too. A lot has changed, but the danger of humans has not. I'll be back soon and then you and I will have a long talk, okay?"
Dart gazed at me in surprise before nodding eagerly. Just as I thought. He was no more than a new cubling trying to figure out the world. How did I keep getting twice-cursed strays attached to me? I left with Jethel, feeling Door's eyes on my back as I disappeared into the forevergreen.
To be continued…