Author’s Disclaimer: These characters belong to ShatterStorm Productions and are the creations of A. Magiluna Stormwriter and Shatterpath. They also belong in the Light, Water, Muses universe, tho’ this is a standalone within the whole of that universe.
Author’s Notes: This story is set in the summer of 2000, after "Reflections," but before "Resurgences." The first and last lines are from the second prompt of round 5 over at even_angels_.
Darya certainly has a way of letting her angst out at the oddest times. But it usually works for the best for everyone involved.
Dedication: To my muses. I’d be nowhere without them.
by A. Magiluna Stormwriter
I whispered my goodbye to the sunset-makers. Time was moving in slow motion as the light faded, leeched off by some amorphous unquenchable nothingness.
Somehow I was loathe to end the moment just yet. I watched as Karen drove off on that hell-beast of a machine she adored so much. Damned thing gave me the creeps like nothing else ever had.
I wasn’t sure what had prompted me to tell her to leave. We’d been enjoying ourselves. Emily had fallen asleep curled up between us, watching Fantasia. She'd been fascinated by the dancing hippos and Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice.
I could see a definite change in her comfort levels around Karen, too. It was as if Karen had always been in her life -- in our lives. Like Em had never existed as far as she was concerned.
That very thought clenched at my heart like a vise. Maybe this was the reason I'd asked Karen to leave. This visceral sensation of faithlessness to Emma's memory. It had barely been two years since she'd been -- since she'd passed away. But hadn't I dealt with this already? Several times since Karen and I'd begun seeing each other, in fact.
The phone in my pocket began to vibrate, startling me out of my reverie. Digging it out, I grinned at the caller ID. "Home already?" I teased lightly.
"You've been doing it again, haven't you?" she replied softly, so softly I almost didn't hear her. I chewed at my lower lip, debating how to answer her. "It's okay, you know. I know you and Em had something very special. I never want you to think you have to give that up for me, okay?"
A soft sigh wafted over the line, and it took a moment for me to realize it was my own. "I know. Thank you, Karen. I just…"
"Sometimes it sneaks up on you and you're caught off-guard. I do understand."
I smiled and ran a hand through my hair. "You're far too patient with me, Karen Taylor. One of these days I'll have to find a way to properly thank you for that."
"Nights like tonight are thanks enough, Dare. But unfortunately, some of us have to work earlier than others, so I should call it a night."
"Sweet dreams, Karen," I murmured softly. "I owe you a massage tonight when you get over here. I'll talk Janet into watching Emily tonight, if you'd like."
"I think I'd like that very much," she purred. "I'll hit up Goldston about Emily, too. By the way? I left you something on your nightstand. G'night, Dare."
And then the line went dead. A secret smile crossed my lips as I locked up the house. I stopped in Emily's room to watch my daughter sleeping. She was sprawled across the mattress, practically sideways, with the covers kicked off. In one hand was the bear from her Gampa George, in the other was a Simba stuffy she'd gotten from Karen. I leaned over to press a kiss to her forehead, pulling up the covers over her.
Moving into my bedroom finally, I saw the envelope resting against my alarm clock. I forced myself to get ready for bed first. Curling up against the headboard, I picked up the sturdy buff colored square of paper and stroked my fingers over Karen's bold lettering.
I know it seems a little strange to be leaving you a letter like this when I've just spent so much time with you. But as I'm not there to wrap around you when you sleep tonight, I want the words in this letter to stand in as substitute.
There are so many things I want to say to you, but sometimes I just don't have the words. Let this letter stand in for those times, would you?
You have been one of the best things to come into my life, Darya. You and Emily both. I don't think I ever expected to find so much enjoyment in stable domestic bliss. But I feel so comfortable around the two of you. Dace is gonna give me such shit for settling down.
Well, I could say more along these lines, but I'd rather say it to your face one day, to see your reactions instead of imagining them.
Hopefully this will help usher you into wonderful dreams of the next time I'm wrapped around you in sleep.
Sweet dreams, Darya.
Flushed with delight and love, I reread the letter before replacing it in its envelope and slipping it under my pillow. I was already anxious for tomorrow night, glancing at the clock to calculate the hours until I'd be able to give Karen my reaction to her letter…and her massage. My earlier melancholy was already fading.
And already it's the day after.