finally; more than a month late, but I absolutely needed to get this one right, especially when I realised; soon after I started typing this (as I was writing it in my head), not too long before midnight here, that it would need more than one story in it's telling,
This is a month late because it was intended for the birthday of red_satin_doll, which was back on the fourteenth of February. I gave her a hint of what was in my mind. Some characters and motivations have changed since that first image, but none that I hinted at back then.
Anyway, here is the first part of the birthday present, much-belated, that I wish to present to red_satin_doll. Apologies for not even having a clue as to when the conclusion will be ready, but I have no intention of rushing that either.
Hope you like.
TITLE: Black is the Colour of my True Love's Hair
Characters / Pairings: Gazaleh bint Moghamedi; Chao-Ahn; Marcie Ross. Satsu/Gazaleh.
Gazaleh stared, blinking into the chill distance.
It was a bright, spring day.
Cold; chill; she felt... what?
The darkness was, after the light and heat of the arena, something of a shock to her system; though the sting of the chill air; nor the chill of the cold metal of the trophy she carried under her arm, slipping so that she had to release her bags to stop it falling to the street.
There was a footfall that caught her attention; something she might not have heard if she hadn't done her own hunting when she was growing up; something she might also not have heard if she didn't know the streets of Istanbul so well.
Not that it would have mattered if she couldn't find her keys; she'd left them in her rooms often enough over the years, and she was hardly unrecognizable; even if she wasn't a champion.
She studied it, a slight smile on her face. The figure portrayed was female; powerfully muscular, if slight in aspect. Her face was taught, with concentration; contemplating the weights at her feet.
Gazaleh bint Mohamedi could her mind focussing on them; knew the power of that focus needed to defeat the frailities of her mind and body.
There was no sense of triumph about her, but then she was only the reward for a third place finish.
After she'd torn herself away from the beauty of the young woman's smile; though Gazaleh could never; would never, forget the sleekness of that gloriously hair of Jet ~ she named her such on occasion in the throes of their passions ~ it was something other than either that caused her cautionary pause.
No sense of defeat flickered over her features as Gazaleh studied the figure of the trophy she'd been awarded for her third place; she knew the Kurd and the Bengali who'd finished ahead of her had not triumphed by fair means. Instead their fear and ambition had defeated their good honour; she believed they'd no know joy from this.
She was satisfied that she had the better of them; not only because she had beaten her own champion's performance from the previous year, but also because she had earned her result from all the hard days of training and discipline she had put in. If it had not been for the fact that that performance had been in qualifying for the final; not that final itself, she would still have been the champion of all western Asia.
No sense of defeat pervaded her appearance at all.
A sense of being hunted, and the equally strong surety that, though the smile had been meant for her, the eyes of that young Japanese had been focussed behind her, made Gazaleh turn slowly to face, what turned out to be, three would be killers.
They had none of the warm glow that Satsu had in her voice.
There was a woman in front of hair, but though her hair was black; was similar in many ways to Satsu, she was not Japanese, but Chinese; did not seem prone to smiling, even though she had not the cause; seemed adapted to similar climes as both she and Satsu were, but seemed not to be dressed as appropriately as Satsu would have been.
"I asked if you were Gazaleh, " the Slayer asked; repeated.
Their faces were distorted; like the angry Djinn from the Hindu lands, or Demons of European terror. They weren't only of that visage because of their blood lust though; Gazaleh was only half-turned and could see that the - that Satsu, as she had introduced herself, after inquiring; confirming Gazaleh's identity, was not as she had appeared to be.
"You're a Slayer, " she asked rhetorically, in a tone replete with the dullest of dreads; one hidden so deep she had not even realised it was in her. "Something has happened to Satsu. "
Chao-Ahn nodded; her face grim but, and here Gazaleh was praying to Al-Khabir, The Most Gentle, the Gracious. The One who is Kind, that she was not mistaken, did not seem to be hopeless; nor presenting Gazaleh with false hope, or expectations.
"Our children? " This time there was a query in her words, but Chao-Ahn's face softened as she took Gazaleh's, shaking she was shocked to note, hand.
"Faith has brought Vi; Rona and Qu ~ Latifah and, " she hesitated, as if weighing consequences in her mind. She said nothing more; other than adding a quiet, "Come, let's go. Buffy has arranged a flight in two hours, "
Gazaleh halted; such that even a Slayer could not easily uproot her. There was something in this Slayer's voice that told of secrets openly known, but little discussed.
"She has been at your wife's side constantly since, "
It happened, she was going to say, but Gazaleh nodded briskly; not yet wanting to hear what had transpired. For fear of; for fear. She did not give in to that state of mind; not easily; not ever.
But it did not mean she had never felt it, and she had the smell of it in her nostrils now.
"Pardon? I'm sorry, I ~ " Chao-Ahn cut off her attempted apology. She pointed towards what seemed to be a vehicle capable of great rapidity; specially suited to like terrain as that Gazaleh was comfortable around.
"She has spared nothing to bring you to Satsu's side. " She turned and faced Gazaleh directly. "She is convinced that only her wife's presence will bring Satsu out of the sleep into which her mind and body have taken her in defence of her life. "
Gazaleh sensed that Chao-Ahn's desire to speed their departure was not in fear of being too late in getting Gazaleh to Satsu's bedside, but instead from a desire to return to her side herself; to the vigil that Gazaleh felt all Satsu's fellow Slayers, and comrades wanted to be participating in; giving all their strength to the cause of her recovery.
And suddenly she knew that was where she needed to be. She knew that their children would be safe with the three Slayers that she knew would guard them with their lives if needs be; they would also be safe with the presence of those that Chao-Ahn had chosen not to name.
With that; not even the most vicious of desert storms could have prevented them leaving, and Gazaleh did not glance back; though Chao-Ahn did. She nodded; seemingly at an invisible presence that Gazaleh had sensed, but not paid attention to.
Someone was already guarding her home; their home.
"maʿšūq, I am coming; with the speed of the tsunami. "
Goddess watch over us all,
'tis ok to be Takei,