Of Magic and Mayhem Chapter 11

The Walls Begin to Crumble

By CuteLucca and Ghost

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

-         Helen Keller

Lucca moved quickly to Jacious' side, kneeling, and placed a hand on his shoulder.  “Jacious? You okay?”  In response, Jacious’ chest simply rose and fell, breathing softly in unconsciousness.  His body was quite damaged from the battle; he had several burns on his arms and chest, and he shivered from the chill of the ice prison and the air on the cape.  Biting her lip, Lucca commented, mostly to assure herself he would be fine, “Yikes... you're in bad shape.”  She turned to Magus, concern in her voice. “Is there somewhere I can take him to rest?”

Magus’ eyes looked upon Jacious’ battered body with an emotionless gaze.  “Take him to the village. The elder remembers you...”  He turned to leave, “I am through for the moment. When he recovers, have him see me to start his training.”

Lucca nodded in reply, saying nothing, the temptation of leaving Jacious flitting briefly through her mind; being quickly replaced by a new, and frankly disturbing, desire to stay WITH him.  She shook her head angrily and knelt down, bracing Jacious on her shoulder.  She stood slowly to keep her balance, “Thanks, Magus. Where can we find you?”

The mage did not bother to even look over his shoulder as he replied, “You'll know where to look.”  He levitated off the ground a few inches and floated away toward the village.  You're weak, Jacious, but you have within you the potential to be a true mage...if you live long enough.  He grinned slightly at the prospect of the amateur actually going through his training.

Lucca followed, slowly, being careful not to jostle Jacious too much.  “You realize,” she panted, “this is the third time I've had to carry you to safety. You owe me one.  I mean you OWE me a big one.”

Jacious groaned, in a dreamy voice, “Mother...” He went silent again, his dreams retreating into his subconscious, not showing themselves as Lucca carried him through the snow.  The trip was slow, but uneventful, and Lucca managed to work up a sweat even as her breath condensed in the air. Cresting the final hill, she saw the village spread out below.  The tents and blankets of two years ago were replaced by long, low wooden houses, all of which cast warm plumes of fragrant smoke into the chill sky.  With the sunlight and a fresh blanket of snow, it made for a pleasant scene.

A man, looking strong and well built, approached the two from the distance.  He had a pleasant demeanor about him and smiled as if all was right with the world.  It was obvious he was an Earthbound by his non Zealot clothes.  Lucca waved the man over. “Oh, hello... I don't suppose you could help my friend and I?”

The man approached the two directly, giving a small bow when he stopped,
You're Lucca, correct?”  He flashed her a smile.

Lucca blinked, suddenly uncomfortable.  “Uh, yes, I am.  Could I get you to, um, take him?”  She nodded toward Jacious, who was sprawled across her shoulder.

“Ah, good.  The Prophet informed us of your arrival.  The elder sent me to help your friend to one of our extra shelters.”  He took Jacious’ heavy form onto his shoulders easily, “If you would, Miss Lucca, please follow me.”  Smiling, he continued, starting the short trip to the shelter. “The Prophet did not mention you would be very beautiful.”

“The...prophet?”  Magus? Is he the leader here? Lucca blushed from his praise, “Oh, well, I... thanks. Er.”  She walked behind him.

The man nodded, looking over his shoulder slightly to catch a glimpse of the scientist, “That is what the former Zealots call him...he's very mysterious.  No one knows where he came from, but he gives advice to our elder, aiding him.”  The man guided her down the hill to one of the shelters on the outskirts of the small, but growing village.  In Humanity's darkest hour, the people banded together to rebuild and continue living.  He opened the door to the small house and took Jacious immediately to the bedroom.  A small bundle of hay was all that was there as a bed, and the man placed Jacious down upon it carefully and took note of his injuries.  “It seems your friend had himself a time...what caused these injuries?  It doesn't look like an animal did it.”

Trying to avoid any prying inquiries and not knowing how Magus was involved in all this, she spit out a rapid explanation, as she pushed the man out the door. “Oh, he... he was hurt in an accident.  Thank you so much for your help.  Could you please get some water and clean cloths and bandages?”  She closed the door quickly before he even had time to respond.

The man stood outside in the snow and blinked.  “Must have been something personal…”  He smiles despite the events, “She sure was cute, though.”  He walked off whistling to find that which Lucca asked for.

Turning back to Jacious, she unfastened the cloak clasp from around his neck and spread it out beneath him.  Jacious, in response, let out a groan, his body trying to adjust slightly to the new ‘mattress.’  Then, sighing, “I don't want to do this, but it's for your own good... I hope you don't wake up right now...”  Blushing, and with numb fingers, she began undoing his clothes to uncover the burns and bruises.

Jacious smiled slightly.  His dreams still ran through his head.  “Mom that tickles...do I have to take a bath?”

Several moments later, the man knocked sharply at the door, causing Lucca to jump in surprise. “Lucca!  I have the water, clothes and bandages you requested!”

Blushing, as she had just removed Jacious' pants, she threw her own cloak over him and walked to the door, opening it just far enough to take what she needed.  “Thanks so much.”  She grabbed the items and shut the door again immediately before the man could reply.

The man once again blinked from the strange behavior.  “Umm...that was...unexpected.  Maybe she's just shy.  Yeah, that's it.”  He walked off again, whistling a little tune.

Hearing the man leave, Lucca exhaled in relief.  “He's kinda creepy, isn't he?”  She placed the kettle over the fire to warm and laid out the bandages, kneeling by Jacious' side.

Jacious shifted under the cloak.  “Wish daddy didn't hide from Dalton... he's scary...”

Lucca laughed nervously, “I really hope you don't wake up now; I'd never live this down.”  Pulling the cloak away from his body, she looked at him as if for the first time.  His chest rose and fell, slowly, and his muscles were clearly outlined under his taut golden skin.  With another blush, she realized that he actually was quite attractive, and vaguely toyed with the idea of removing his shorts as well, but the idea was quickly shelved with an even deeper reddening of her face.  Noticing him shiver slightly, Lucca stoked the fire, and it crackled a bit higher.  The pot of water began to steam, so she removed it from the fire, and dipped the first cloth in, wringing it out and folding it into quarters.

Jacious mumbled in his sleep.  “Mmm....mommy...when will Janus come visit again?  Is he staying away because of Dalton?”  Listening to his words, she began to wipe down his wounds with a gentle touch.  First his arms, then his legs, came clean with the cloth, and once the blood and dirt were removed, Lucca realized that his wounds really weren't as bad as they had initially seemed.  Jacious breathed deeply from the contact.  “Am I clean yet....mommy?”

As she began to wash his chest, an observant eye would catch her lingering a bit longer than she should, moving a bit slower than necessary, breathing a bit deeper than required.  But of course, Lucca would never notice these things herself.  “Just a bit more, Jacious.”

Jacious giggled as a child would.  He snuggled into the hay, though not moving too much.  “Okay mommy.”

Sighing, disturbed from her reverie, Lucca wet a second cloth and wiped his face and hair.  Yet again, she quickly seemed to be enjoying herself, and a small mischievous smile crept onto her face.  Jacious leaned his face to her hand as she wiped it lightly; he seemed to be enjoying the contact.  Pushing a stray lock of hair from his eyes, she leaned over his face, eyes narrowed, studying every subtlety in his features.  She was not even going through the motions of using the cloth anymore.  “You're an interesting guy, Jacious...”

He looked peaceful and content, giving a small moan as he felt her breath on his cheek.  Rocking back on her heels, Lucca turned to the bandages and started to wind the first one around the worst of his wounds, a scald on his left bicep.  He flinched slightly from the touch as though the small pain was more than it was.  “That hurts.”

Lucca had the touch of a surgeon, of an artist. Her long, delicate fingers moved quickly and skillfully, but hearing his complaint, she frowned and whispered, “I’m sorry…”  Hesitantly, she continued her work, trying to be even gentler.  Jacious smiled and relaxed again as if the pain was never there.

Lucca took the time to examine Jacious’ body as she wrapped him up, aware she might not have a chance like this again.  After the workout, his muscles were still tense, his frame well defined and attractive by any woman's standards.  She blushed as she wrapped his other arm, enjoying the sight.  Unconsciously, she wet her lips, and her eyes sparkled intensely in the firelight, which cast a warm flickering glow through the room.  Outside, the sun was just beginning to descend over the horizon, and the clouds, rolling in, heralded a snowstorm for the evening.  It had been almost an hour since the battle.

Jacious snuggled closer to her.  “Warm…comfy…”  Lucca jerked away slightly, finally consciously realizing that she was actually attracted to him.  Feeling her sudden movement, he shook his head, opening his eyes slightly.  “Gah...what hit me?  I feel like I've been through the fires of Hell.”  Lucca stared at him with horror.  She hadn't wanted him to wake until she'd finished.  Jacious propped himself up on his elbows and looked down, noticing his half-naked state.  “What the! My clothes!”

“Um, Magus, he... you're... I'm trying to bandage you so please hold still and don't think bad of me and I'm only trying to help and I'll get someone else if you want and...”  She stopped to breathe.

Jacious looked to his arms and then to Lucca, seeing her state. Can she be nervous? Lucca the Great nervous around me?  “Umm...” He blushed a bit at his position.  “Well thanks, Lucca.  I didn't know you cared,” he grinned and continued, “although I didn't know you had a perverted side.  But thanks.”  His smile was sincere as he said this, though he still had a mischievous glint in his eyes.

She frowned, “I'm not perverted.  I just had to, you know... get to the wounds.”

He nodded, “Yea yeah. I know. Not like you were going to make a model of me and make a toy with it or something. You don't buy them but.....”  He found Lucca returning the smile, unprepared when she pushed him back onto the bed playfully.  He grinned despite himself, “Taking advantage of a wounded man, Lucca?”

She pulled back, “What are you implying, there, buster?  I've got guys lined up at my door, remember? I don't need to take advantage of you.”  She stuck out her tongue.

Jacious cocked an eyebrow, “Oh really? Well I'm first in line, right?”

“Take a number.”  She gave a predatorial grin, as if ready to strike.

“Umm...wait, I didn't mean it like...”  He laughed nervously, thinking of the first thing he thought would get her mind off his admission, “you make dildos.”  Continuing to try to divert the subject, “I hope you enjoyed the view.”  I should have slept a bit longer...

She cocked her head to one side, giving him a shifty eyed glare and completely ignoring his statement.  “Ah-hem, then. If you'll hold still.”  She applied the last of the bandages in a businesslike manner, still smiling softly, but with no trace of her previous lingering appreciation.

Breaking the silence and a bit surprised she didn't rough him up, he said, “So...you brought me over here all on your own?”

She shook her head slowly, keeping her eye on her work. “Well, no... some guy gave me a hand for the last few minutes.”

Suddenly more alert, “Some guy?  How did you know he was friendly?”

“He smiled a lot.  Well, he didn't kill us, anyways.”

“True.”  He found himself smiling again.  “Hey Lucca...”

She looked up expectantly, though he was not sure why. “Yes?”

He chuckled, “Did you enjoy stripping me down?  I hope I didn't distract you too much.”  Jacious’ smile died, slightly, suddenly feeling he should have said something else.

Lucca’s eyes narrowed.  That wasn't what she had wanted to hear.  “Distracted me about as much as a burn victim could, I guess.  I know I get all hot and bothered by blistered flesh and oozing sores.”

Jacious looked down, feeling a bit less of...something.  “Err...sorry. But thanks… for your help.”  He put a piece of hay between his fingers and twirled it around.

“You're welcome.”  She picked up her own piece of hay and tore it apart in the uncomfortable silence.  Outside, the sun had set, and as promised, flecks of white drift by the small, thick paned window.

Jacious looked out through the window with a soft smile, enjoying the gentle snowfall.  “So....it seems we're stuck here for the night.”

“Seems so.”

He laughed lightly, a realization hitting him.  “You know, we're pretty pathetic for adults...we broke a pact in a matter of minutes.  We agreed not to cause each other trouble but we did just that. What’s wrong with us?”

Lucca was silent, studying her hands and looking everywhere but at him.  “We're both... difficult.”

He set himself up on his knee and tried to stand, but found his legs just didn’t have the strength. He opted to stay on the hay where it was at least warm.  “I guess...that's what we get for staying away from other people.  We don’t know how to handle things now that we're in a situation.”

She glanced up, confused. “Situation?”

Jacious looked into the dancing fire.  “Well...we're both at each other's throats because we don't have experience enough to deal with things properly.  We're both prideful and stubborn, and we won't show a bit of weakness to the other.  Therefore, we keep our distance in the hopes of not being hurt.”  He shook his head slowly. “Nevermind...I'm ranting like a madman. Just forget it.  I don't think I even understand myself.”

Lucca nodded slowly, conceding the point.  “No, no.  You're right. I just...don't really analyze myself much.  Other people are so much more difficult to understand than robots, chemical theory, math.”

He smirked, fully understanding.  “I understand Abstract Data Structures in computers better than I understand people.  I'm just speaking on stuff I learned in philosophy and a bit of psychology.  I guess it's strange for us now having to understand a person... so similar to ourselves.”  Lucca nodded, but said nothing.  She still sat on her knees next to Jacious, tearing apart her eighth piece of hay.  Jacious looked down, noticing the shreds piling up in front of her.  “Hey... something... on your mind?”

Lucca dropped the hay, realizing she had been revealing her nervousness.  “Um. Nothing, really...it's nothing.”

He met her eyes, his voice calm and cool as it had been while he was explaining psychology.  “That's a bunch of BS and you know it.  I've had my share of stress and anxiety in college to see it in others…unless you're just too scared to tell me...if you think I'll hurt you with what you say.”

“I don't really know what it is, okay? I just... it's weird.”  She fell silent and looked down again.

“Alright.”  He turned away, unsure where to go.  The atmosphere was uncomfortable, oppressive, with unsaid words hanging in the air.  “You did a good job bandaging me up....where'd you learn to do that?”

“Marle taught me.  She was always the healer. Glenn knew a lot too.”  She smiled softly.

Jacious allowed himself to smile as well. “It figures...they're water mages. All we do is destroy and hurt those around us... of course, that's just me talking.”  He shrugged, his tone changing as if it didn't matter to begin with. He was hiding behind his own lie.  “I don't know much about this stuff so I can't really say anything on the subject.”

Lucca looked up, eyebrow raised, taking note of his 'hurt' comment, but not mentioning it.  “Well... Fire magic is good for cooking... and stuff.”

He shook his head, “And Shadow?  Just shows something about me...my soul, whatever it is. At least we know fire is part of the cycle of nature. From ashes come new life.  You know...that works for you Lucca. You're a scientist. You're an inventor, a creator. Though many things you have built blow up, you'll have something that works.  What comes from that?  Perfection?  I don't know. Maybe Magus whooped me harder than I thought.”

“Shadow doesn't mean you're evil... I mean... Schala used shadow magic.”

Jacious looked very much surprised, words he was about to say about Shadow instantly dying on his tongue.  “She did?”  He blinked, “I never saw her use it. It didn't seem...shadowy.”

Lucca gave a small nod. “She didn't use it much. But the spell that transported us away from our first encounter with Lavos was a shadow spell.”

“Interesting...just shows my lineage I guess. I wonder if I even met the royal family as a kid...probably spent a lot of time in the walls of Zeal.”

Lucca bit her lip.  “I... you did, I think.  You were talking in your sleep. A little.”

Jacious kept quiet for a moment.  His voice was a whisper.  “What did I say?”

“You said stuff about Janus coming over to play... and Dalton.”

At the mention of Dalton’s name, Jacious cringed. “I never liked him for some reason. I'm blank on that though.  I don't remember anything about Janus or Dalton...but I guess it's up there somewhere.”

“Somewhere,” Lucca said softly.

Jacious lay down on his back, switching the topic.  “You know...we're pretty deep people... say, did you and Crono ever really hook up when you were younger? I mean I think I asked the question before, but I'm not sure.”

She looked at him sharply, but deflated a moment later, sinking back to lay on the floor, pulling her cloak up to cushion her head against the hard wood.  “Only once.”

He turned his head to her. “Once? I guess it was those teenage times of joy and bliss?”

Lucca didn’t smile. “It was sort of a... spur of the moment hormone crazed thing, and neither of us really talked about it afterwards.”

“Hormone crazed? With the way you phrased that...sounds like you had a one night stand or something.”  Lucca flinched.

“Pretty much.  It was really awkward and stupid and drove us apart for a month or two.” She rolled to face the wall.

Jacious nodded and began to rant, for some reason, on that topic. “Sex does that...it's an intimate part of our lives...it's a coupling of body and soul in an act so pure that only evil could pervert it.”  He looked up to the ceiling.  “To be one with a person... to fill that void in our souls… that is the ultimate desire we have in our lives. Fulfillment... purpose. That's what love is about.  The result of that love is a joy that represents the love of the two, and those two are allowed to raise the new one...as their own.  Thus, the cycle repeats forever...so we pray.”  He had a far-off look and a contented smile on his face.

Confused, Lucca turned back to look at him, “Well that's one way to look at it, I guess.”

Seeing an opening, Jacious seized it.  “Oh come on...how do you look at it?  The best experience in the world.”

“Potentially,” she said softly.

“I guess you don't look at it so....spiritually?”  He allowed a smile. “Because when you're with someone that's exactly what happens.”

“To be honest, I don't think about it much at all. I mean, the one ...experience... I've had was kind of disappointing, so the glorious reputation has been tainted.”  She gave a tired sigh, “Besides. I've always looked more for... I dunno.”  Lucca pushed her glasses up, “Just someone to touch and kiss and... hold.  I think there's more value in that than the sexual act itself.”

Jacious kept his smile, thinking of what his first kiss might be like. “I hear ya. I've been by myself a lot, but unlike Magus...I do want to hold someone. And you're right about the closeness.  Take dancing for example.  When you dance with that person...especially dances in which you're actually in synch with the person, such as ballroom dances, then the two of you become one. The man leads the woman.  Therefore, the act becomes something close or maybe beyond the level of sex.”

 “I haven't spent enough time dancing to confirm that, but I can see how you'd be right.”

Jacious laughed, “I spend too much time thinking about it. Honestly, I long for that day when I can hold someone... to be with them… to become one.”  He shook his head, with a soft laugh, “Don't know why I'm saying this.  People thought I was some lone wolf...but truth is that wolves mate for life.  That's exactly what I want to do.  The silly thing is...I hope she mates with me just as strongly.”

Lucca placed a slender finger to her lower lip.  “Interesting. You don't usually hear sentiment like that from guys.  I always thought they were pretty much universal about the 'quantity over quality' theory.”

He turned his head on the floor to eye her, “You mean score as many girls as possible while I live and breathe?  That sort of thing?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, like all the other bastards I've had the displeasure of dealing with.”  She was quick to add, “Not to say that you're a bastard, or anything...just... “

He raised an eyebrow, “Just?”

“Guys are jerks.” She said simply.

“Women are moody and make us do everything for 'em.” He countered.  After a pause, Jacious sat up slightly. “Hey, Fire Eyes, am I dreaming by any chance?”

Fire Eyes? That's kinda cute…  She hesitated before replying, “I don't think so, why?”

He looked toward the ceiling, “It's just that...I'm actually having a decent conversation with you. I'm really enjoying it, but for all I know I'm just dreaming and when I wake up, this would never have happened.  That would really suck.”

“I'm enjoying it too, although we’re setting a precedent which means we may have to actually start being decent to each other.”  Lucca gave a mischievous grin. “Are you up for the challenge?”

Jacious returned her smile. “What challenge?”

“Of being decent.  To me.  The Bitch.”

He shrugged offhandedly.  “Well if you can be decent to a chauvinist pig, then I can be decent to a bitch.”  He sighed, “I won't be able to be as much of a tease though. What a shame.”

Lucca put her hands behind her head. “And I'll have to stop threatening to show you my breasts…”

Damn…He snapped his fingers. “I wanted to take pictures too.  I could make so much money off those melons too... sorry.”  Lucca didn’t even try to hold down her laugh as she stared at the low ceiling.  “I guess we'll see then. Man...I feel we need to seal this  somehow.”

Lucca thought about it for a moment, suggesting, “Pinky swear?”

Jacious blinked, his tongue getting the better of him. “Hmm... I was actually thinking about a long hour of wild passionate sex, but I guess a pinky swear will do... Damn, I guess we’re going to have to stop with that.”

“Wild passionate sex, eh?  I’m in!  You’re already almost naked.”  She looked, meaningfully, at his boxers.

Hmm… this sounds familiar... I was teasing her back after my first battle... she did something similar when I wasn't able to do something. I wonder... Figuring he would experiment, Jacious made sure to sound excited. “Wow. Well feel free, Lucca. I won't stop you.”  Yeah. She's not serious... so she'll just clam up thinking I wouldn't fall for it. Hah. I'm a genius!

The mischievous grin turned evil, and with an amazingly quick roll, she stopped at the foot of the 'bed' and grabbed the legs of his shorts, ready to pull.  Jacious’ eyes bugged out.  Oh crap!  He chuckled, “Right... very funny Lucca.  I know you're teasing me... though I bet you were ogling my body while I was out.”  She's a sly one... man that's a hot trait... wait, did I just call her hot?

Lucca yanked Jacious’ shorts down an inch.  “Ogle? Oh no, I was ALL OVER you.  Soon as you look in a mirror you'll see the six hickeys I left on your neck.”  She pulled them down another inch.  Wonder how much further he'll let me go?

His eyes widened a bit more. “You're pulling my shorts… leg!”  Crap... is she serious? Uhh... baseball baseball... umm... Larry King... Madonna... no crap she's kissing Britney in that scene!

Having way too much fun to be innocent, she pulled his boxers down another inch, dangerously close to revealing the last few secrets he had left.  Jacious leaned his head back, surrendering.  “Lucca... look, personally, you're very tempting. You're smart. You're hot. You're sexy. Hell, you're a sneaky woman, and I find that a major turn on.”

She stopped and listened intently, taking in each word as he continued.  “But while I'd probably have the time of my life if we were to give in to hormones, I'm afraid that'd bring things to a totally different level than we're ready for, and history would repeat itself... I think I'd like to wait and at least get to know you... and take things one step at a time because... in the end it would be much better that way.”

“Hey! Who says I was going to do that?”  Insulted, she leaned back.  “I was just tormenting you and you get all weird on me.”

“No one said anything...you did the same thing back in Prehistory.  I just wanted to let you know where I stood.”  He smirked and confessed aloud, “Damn I feel a bit better.”

“Well I stand in the same place. Hell, we're not even in a relationship... I couldn't... whatever.”  She moved off of him, sitting next to him and crossing her arms.

Jacious sat up. “I'm sorry, I just  didn't know how far you were going to try to go.”

She shrugged, “I was about to stop anyway. Admittedly, I didn't expect you to stop me yourself... most guys would have begged for it after that.”

Jacious wagged his finger, “Haven't you figured it out? I'm not most guys.  You have much to learn.”

“As do you,” was her quick reply.

Jacious held up his hands defensively. “Fair enough. I didn't weird you out did I?”

“Only slightly, with the assumption I was about to jump you.” She grinned, “But hey, I guess I was giving that impression, so you're excused. Was I weirding you out?”

He nodded slightly, “At first yes...especially back in the cave. I sort of put two and two together and figured it out. I was in no real position to fight so you played your hand.  Though even after I knew, I was a bit tense.  He leaned closer to her, his nose almost touching hers.  “But then you knew that, didn't you Fire Eyes?”

Lucca’s heart leapt into her throat, her eyes widening, but she didn’t back down.  She would later blame one of several reasons: pride, testing him, but possibly it was something more…  “I can be... manipulative.”

He continued, staring into her eyes, “So I have seen... but yet you can also be manipulated.  …I guess we've done a number on each other.”

Lucca didn’t move.  “So since we're both manipulative liars, have we been honest with each other, or have we both been keeping our true thoughts and feelings inside?”

“Who knows...maybe somewhere we're trying to gain something from the other...or maybe for once we're being truthful with the other. There is no way to tell just by looking.”  His lips, smiling, were mere inches from her own.

Seizing the challenge, she maintained both the gaze and the distance.  “And we both know talking gets us into even more trouble.”

Jacious felt his heartbeat rise and it was difficult to keep his complexion.  What the hell's wrong with me?  “True...they say action speaks louder than words...but will action solve our problems or only make them worse?”

A slight rise in the corner of her mouth was her only movement, and her eyes flickered in the red warmth of the fire, which had burned down to brightly glowing embers.  What the hell am I doing?  She replied softly, “I imagine we'll find problems no matter where we go.”

What's going on here. Why can't I think straight?  Nodding his head, matching the tone, Jacious said, “You're right...I have a feeling we'll have problems no matter what path we choose...”  His eyes reflected a soft glow, a gentleness.  His thoughts stumbled through the fog, trying to figure out what was going on. His body refused to pull away though, no matter how scared his mind became.

Lucca’s heart was hammering in her chest, her breathing becoming low and measured.  Her gaze, for once, was hiding nothing, and he could see her entire being in her eyes.  “Then which way should we go, Jacious?”  Despite her soft tone and complete stillness, her thoughts were flying a mile a minute.  Why do I feel like this? I don't get this way over other people...

His eyes widened slightly with the question.  It was a question he knew she would ask, yet he was unprepared for it.  He was scared....should he risk something... or go a safe route?  Would she hurt him in the end?  Dammit... give her an answer!  For the love that is good, you shouldn't be afraid... dammit, think... Before he could stall any longer, he said suddenly, “I don't know... I'm afraid.”  He realized too late what he had said, and gulped, waiting for her reply.

Lucca was rather taken aback by his answer.  “You're afraid? Of me... or of yourself?”

Trying to keep his breathing collected, “I'm... afraid... of both... I don't want to get hurt.”  He blurted, “But I know that's not a reason... it's a pitiful excuse, but I'm still just afraid.  I never…”  He smiled lightly, “You're the first person to ask me that.”

Lucca leaned back slightly, so she could clearly see his face. Then, dryly, she said, “Life is pain.”  More gently, she added, “But if you never take risks, you'll never know either true loss... or true joy.”

He thought this over a moment and looked back to her, “What do you want to do?”

She smiled almost apologetically, “I... want to go to bed. And you... you need to think about yourself for a while.”

Jacious bit his lower lip and nodded in agreement, “I see... alright. I understand, Lucca.” He sighed, leaning back onto the hay, which rustled under his weight.  “I guess I'll see you tomorrow then.”

With a smile, she pulled away from him, unlocking their eyes, and laid back onto the hard wooden floor.  With her back to him, she said, quietly, “Good night Jacious. Sweet dreams.”

He didn’t reply immediately, his mind and heart still running full steam.  Do I want to take the chance? Is it worth it...  “Sweet dreams Lu....Fire Eyes.”

Lucca chuckled softly at her new nickname before sleep took her away.

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