Author's note: This story is inspired and based off of Shayenne's gorgeous "What We Can Be", which is highly recommended and you can read here at her site: [www DOT koffeeklub DOT net/shayenne/whatwecanbe DOT htm]. My thanks to Shayenne for her graciousness in allowing me to write this scenario from a different angle! :) Also written for the following prompts at Caesar's Palace: bronze (Color Challenge), create, inspire (Nova Challenge), precious (Panem Challenge) and rain drops (Caesar's, Level One).
Many thanks: to Elorie Alton for beta services rendered and also to Wes for info on metalworks.
In the Rainlight
The sharp poke in my arm distracts me from my concentration and I recognize Brizyi's touch without looking up from my work; only she could manage to get my attention yet not disrupt my rhythm with a single jab of her finger. Switching off my welding torch, I push up my eye shields with my free hand and the reason for Brizyi's interruption strikes me in the face almost immediately. Far more than the absence of heat my torch tends to produce, the cool wind is the kind that always heralds the arrival of an afternoon stormburst. The wind also carries the flapping-snap of drapes from all around me and the hurried motions of my fellow vendors as they quickly move to secure their stalls before the stormburst hits. I thank Brizyi for the warning even as I hasten to cover up my latest work and the supply containers. She laughs at me, waves, then dashes down the street towards her abode.
I manage to shelter my stall before the first rain drops fall from the sky, drawing tight the drapes and securing them before heading down the block at a swift walk. The wind both helps and hinders, alternating between pushing me along like a hand on my back and gusting around the edges of my skirts, almost tripping me up. My hope to reach my own abode in time to remain dry myself is in vain; the heavens above split open the minute my foot touches the doorstep, and I duck into the atrium thoroughly waterlogged. I sigh in both amusement and exasperation as I wring the water from my hair and then strip off my soaked garments, shivering at the cold rivulets that escape to run down my neck and back.
Five minutes later, I am settled in my favorite chair by the main window, warmed by both dry garments and a bowl of steaming vetor tea. The rain has increased to a sheeting downpour, half-obscuring the surrounding buildings but some scant visibility is provided due to the silvery light of the twin moons that pierce the cloud cover in the places where it had thinned. Only a few times each decade did this unusual phenomenon occur; its rarity became the inspiration for art and song and, over the centuries, it has become virtually mythic due to the imagery that the artisans and poets employed. I myself have often longed to capture its splendor in one of my own designs. None of my attempts thus far have been to my satisfaction. But I could afford to be patient, however, and I allow my mind and eyes to wander, watching the patterns made by the falling rain on the pavement. It was all about waiting for just the right kind of inspiration.
And then, in the rainlight, I saw them.
I recognize them instantly from their strange garments and light-toned skin; aliens from the visiting ship traveling to some far-distant sector they called home had arrived two days before, negotiating for supplies and taking the opportunity to spend downtime with their feet on solid ground. The storm has obviously caught them unawares, as they are huddled in the futile shelter provided by the arch of the meeting hall directly across the way.
Despite the deluge, I could see them well enough; Movarran eyes are made for seeing through all but the worst of weather. The woman is the alien ship's leader; her companion, her right hand. Both had toured the marketplace the previous morning along with others of their crew. Both had complimented my wares and my creative abilities. They are a study in contrasts to my artistic eye—in height, build and coloring, yet they communicate and interact with an almost tangible connection that speaks of far more than militaristic rank and file. In the marketplace, it was subdued, subtle.
But now as I watch them, huddling in the futile shelter provided by the arch of the meeting hall, that formality no longer seemed to be present. I lean forward, squinting to make out their expressions through the shifting curtain of sheeting rain. The leader appears to be holding herself rigidly, resisting her companion's attempt at protection from the weather. He pays this no heed, holding her flush against his body, his cheek resting against hers. As the minutes slide by, I can see her relax in infinitesimal measures and he pulls her closer still. If I'm not mistaken, she is allowing herself to feel the magic of the situation, to do something she normally would never consider. The anticipation I feel is that of watching a finely crafted drama, when you are left to wonder if the lead couple will leave their feelings unspoken or at long last fulfill the undeclared emotion that lies between them.
The rain slackens enough for me to see them clearly once again and, like the faithful audience member, I am rewarded. One moment, he appears to be whispering to her—the next, he has enveloped her fully in a lover's hold, mouths melded, breathing each other in. She hesitates for but a moment before returning his ardor, her hands sliding along his back to pull him closer. It is beyond improper to openly stare at a couple engaging in a private moment—and yet I cannot tear my eyes away; their passion is a sight to behold, made more beautiful by the rain, now falling lightly, and the moonlight streaming down to illuminate them.
As the last of the rain shifts into a gentle mist and the moons' light fully kisses the land, they slowly separate from one another, and he lays a caressing hand against her cheek. An eternal minute seems to pass in their impassioned stare. They are too far away for me to hear their murmured conversation, but her tender smile in return as she places her hand over his for a moment before taking it in her grasp reveals all that needs to be said. They move from their shelter beneath the meeting hall arch out into the center of the lane, both eyeing the heavens in an obvious manner before smiling at one another. She then reaches up to tap at the badge on his chest, and their smiles linger as a shimmering blue beam enveloped them both and they vanish.
Long after they had disappeared, I continue to stare out the window at the moonlit mist, pondering what I had seen. Were they now engaging fully in the precious new bond they had found? Would they allow their love to sustain one another for the remainder of their journey to their far distant home? I hoped so.
A touch on my arm startles me out of my reverie and I turn to face my beloved. Her dark eyes are studying my face in mild concern. "You were nichurs away. Are you feeling well?" Her tone shifts to a teasing one and her eyes gleam. "Or were you daydreaming yet again?"
I smile both at her concern and her teasing. "You caught me, Avani. You know how I get—lost in thought."
"Yes, I know." Her fingers play gently in my hair. "So what thought has enchanted your mind tonight?"
"Nothing of great import." Part of me yearns to tell Avani what I had witnessed and, yet, I find myself resisting. "It is just something beautiful that I saw."
"If you say so." Avani's tone remains teasing, and she tilts my face up with a hand so that she can lean down and kiss me before adjourning to the kitchen to prepare our supper.
I smile after her retreating figure before my gaze returns out the window. I know now what my next creation will entail. I would need only a single sheet of bronzed metal for my canvas. The scenery would be traced first with brushed liquid solutions, followed by careful application of the flame to bring about the silvery gleam of our moons peeking through the shadowed gray of the rain-filled clouds.
And, in the center, the silhouettes of two figures embracing in the rainlight.