Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Fenix Rising...opening scene?

Author's Note: Hey everyone, I'm sorry about the lack of audio at the moment. The process is currently being refined and I didn't want to postpone updating while I figured out how to best record and edit my readings... Speaking of which, I'm honestly unsure where this scene fits in the Fenix storyline. Or rather, I'm not sure if it'll wind up being the opening scene or something closer to the end. Please feel free to question and comment, I appreciate the feedback.  UPDATE: I tried using my phone to record the audio and was happy with the quality, but the process of reducing the background noise gives the sound a tin like quality I'm not particularly fond of. So I added both and want people to tell me which they prefer.

Rough

[audio wav="http://cfbarron.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/rough_gold.wav"][/audio]

 

Edited

[audio wav="http://cfbarron.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/polished_tin.wav"][/audio]

 

Her gauntleted fist touched the center of the stone and like always the hidden runes lit up, responding to the door, and unlocking it. Her responsibility as a Shield came with the benefit of always having access. She never wanted for keys. There wasn't a door in all the world that she could not open with her armor, not a lock with secrets she couldn't claim. Vaults. Safes. Fortresses. Prisons. Palaces. They all opened themselves up for her, laid their innards bare, and welcomed her in. After so long, it felt strange to fill this role again. To open the world around her and protect it, even from itself.

“I brought it.” Julie said, laying the long parcel down on the table while Fenix continued tying the straps on his arm guards. Julie couldn't help but admire the rugged look his armor gave him.

“ Are you sure about this?" Julie asked, half pleading." I just don't think it's wise.”

But Fenix continued adjusting the straps on his armor and buckling his sword belt. When he was done he paused, briefly, and wrapped his arms around her, his warmth enveloping her. Despite the many fantasies she had had of him doing such a thing, despite the longing in the hollow of her chest for this kind of attention, and the fact that he was at his most desirable in that suit of armor, she could think of nothing- nothing at all that she could do to dissuade him from going through with his suicidal assault on Cygnus. She could open anything with her armor. But try as she might she could not crack his stubbornness nor pry apart the iron casings around his heart. Or perhaps it was her own heart she could not manage to open, and pour out for him. Perhaps, she was such a remarkable Shield that she knew, instinctively, it was best practice to protect herself by never entertaining the notion of risk, by never exposing herself in the first place. Julie was no fool. Her years as Head of the Guard had taught her that if you wanted to be safe, you stayed home. If she wanted to avoid heartache, she would have to remain quiet.

She sighed in his arms despite knowing the embrace was not meant to comfort her, or assuage her fears. It wasn't meant to express the emotions she had hoped he too possessed but had tucked away in hidden depths where no key or Shield could reach. No, this was simply him saying good-bye. All along Julie had been completely unaware of how quickly time passes, of how precious little of it is allotted to humanity, and that it was meant to be spent in love; not wasted in quiet longing for someone else who very well could have returned the feelings.

Julie pitied herself. She had loved Fenix since she had first met him and the world over knew it except for him. The two of them had been brought up by The Seven for fifteen years, and for fifteen years their mentors had watched her be in love with the star pupil of the Eagle's Pass. Had it not been for the panther, perhaps she would never have noticed the man clutching her tight now, smelling of pipe smoke and almonds. They were ten when it happened, she had gone exploring and unknowingly stepped into the predator's territory. Even she knew the jungle shadow was toying with her, playing with its food. But in her moment of most dire need, as the panther was to make a meal of her, Fenix had been there, in all his splendor, wielding a freshly abjured blade and commanding the powers of fire and lightning. Not a moment passed by since then that she didn't believe that she would one day marry him. The time they spent together afterwards only cemented this. She remembered that the harsh bruises and blisters from her days training under Talon never lasted long; not with Fenix sneaking in to see her and applying a healing salve to them. She remembered laughing at him when she pointed out he always telegraphed his ridgehands, and then panicking when he told her it was a form of misdirection. She remembered the stunned look on his face when she had shown off her mastery of the Thunderclap and how it paled in comparison to the look he made when he saw her in a dress. She remembered roasting skewers of rabbit over fires he had willed into existence and the two of them staring out into the moonless sky. No, not a moment had passed by since they were ten that she didn't believe she would one day marry him- and yet, here they were.

“This is goodbye, isn't it?”

“Maybe. But a farewell is necessary before you can meet again, Julietta. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

She had to squeeze him tight. She had to bury her face into his chest and scream her declaration into his heart. Surely there was a way for him to stay, a place for them to run. Surely she could open his mind to the idea of fleeing or find a way to open her own heart for him. Surely... Surely...Pulling away, she reached behind her neck and unclasped the charm Umo had given her, let the chain slide through her fingertips until she heard the piece of jadeite clack and shatter onto the floor. And, at first, she thought he looked glad, like he had been waiting for her to open the door. Like he had wondered how long it would take for her to figure out that she really could open anything. She had to make him understand, she had to make him feel everything she had felt so strongly and for so long. The world melted around them. There was only fuzzy grayness and Fenix in her eyes as she stood there, her heartbeats confessing for her. His eyes widened slightly before he fell to his knees, feeling everything she felt. With his Empathy no longer nullified by the small green dragon laying broken on the floor he weathered the tsunami of emotions as she laid her heart bare for him. He brunted the pain she had felt every time he had left, bore the aching that came from going beneath his notice, savored the highs of every lingering touch and he understood- that she had had no other choice, that she had to make him stay.

Yes, she had to make him stay, but she couldn't, so she didn't. The doors remained closed because he had a job to do, and so did she. Instead, she savored his embrace while she could. Then, he let her go, opened the parcel she had brought him, and removed the cursed weapon from its contents. Fenix slipped it into his belt, looked at Julie one last time, and then ported away before he heard her say three, tiny, words.