Shiera: Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. A well known line, from a well worn children’s book, gathering dust in the home that I haven’t been back to in weeks. Not because of that book about a boy, and a bear and a wood. That book isn’t the cause of, or reason for, anything at all and yet it still nags at the back of my mind. Needling, distracting, and refusing to go away like the snippet of something heard on the radio or a jingle off the television. There’s no reason why it caught, or why it insists on such a demanding and incessant loop and yet there it is. Over and over. The smallest things… I know where it is, even though I haven’t handled it or thought of it in years. Jumbled in with the veritable treasure trove of flea market finds from around the world.
There’s always been a magic in them. Something I couldn’t resist, and pretty quickly found I shouldn’t. Like the line, and that book, they would nag and nudge to the point of obsession until they’d been acquired. A manic feeling that would build and boil until I’d acquired the source of my infatuation. I used to think that I was crazy. The vivid, irrational images that would come whether I was awake or asleep. The thoughts that weren’t mine, and memories that couldn’t have been. Now I know I’m crazy, but crazy doesn’t always mean mistaken. There’s a rhyme and a reason to the madness and it had been pushing me towards an end point for as long as I can remember. My teachers, no matter what the medium, had always said that I had an old soul behind my eyes, and in my tastes. They just didn’t know how literal that saying might have been. There’s wonders in the world, but no matter how people might fantasize about them, rational thought never allows for them to be present in their reality. Like something intangible guards that line, lets you see over the other side, but view it as nothing more than some… movie. A show that you see, and know, but also can’t know.
Each time you do something, it ought to get easier. You know the ropes, the moves of your dance, you find your partner and then you work through the patterns together. My life, my lives, have all had a pattern. It’s an unfortunate and tragically simple one. Like cosmic magnets that can’t help but be pulled to one another, because that’s where they belong, even though at the end of that journey will be catastrophe. That’s why I know I’m insane. The very definition of it is repeating the same actions over and over, expecting a different result. And I’ve apparently done this an unthinkable number of times already, but there’s a sense of urgency that says that I may not have to again. For good, or ill.
Two months ago, it had been a feeling much like now and the hand-me-down copy of Winnie the Pooh. The nagging, insistent feeling. Glimpses of thoughts and memories that were mine, and yet weren’t mine, that had led to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’d picked up my well worn passport and gone, even though the more important pull was south, and west. In St. Roch. A pull that promised everything I was looking for, and our Doom. He’s always been the passionate, hot headed one. Every time. He’d want to fight, bull through, and scream into the face of anything that was going to come. I know the face my other half wears this time. He knows mine. And yet I’d left anyway, because I’d felt like I had to. He thinks we have everything we need there. That the museum houses our answers, but I felt there were more questions. Why did I feel like there were holes? Why had finding him filled in blanks, and at the same time revealed even more parts of my soul? Redacted and lost to my mind.
I’d found my answer eventually, or at least one of them. It had taken a jaunt into the London Necropolis, and some light grave robbing of a mausoleum labeled Anne St. Claire. She’d been a nurse, and a hero, during the horrors of the last Great War, lost her life like so many others in the region had at the time. As had her soulmate. My soulmate. As the years spun on, the world’s evolved and the weapons of it are greater in scale, less personal in their annihilation. That particular bomb had been loosed with a purpose, though. Anne St. Claire had been a target, and once more the soul and its’ magic had been loosed to…wherever it is that it goes. But not all of it. Some portion of it was still here, I knew I had to find it. The closer I got, the more I could feel it like a vibration in my bones.
Because it turns out, all those knickknacks really were magic. Or had some magic to them. Some are just a great deal more potent than others. And this one, metallic pendant dulled with dust and grime, has more than most. There should probably have been some guilt for disturbing her sleep, shame for stealing from a corpse, but it’s mine. The only regret really had come when I wound the chain around my neck. Then the screaming had begun. Not just for the pain of the jewelry burrowing itself into my skin, wrapping tendrils of itself around my spine, settling into my flesh like the fragments of memories that come with it. Flashes of other heroes, of the battles with beings of great power, and the face of my immortal foe and the satisfaction he had of winning yet again, bittersweet and awful.
When I’d come back to the world, I’d been curled up in a fetal position, still in that tomb, head clutched in my hands and the necklace was gone. My frantic impulse to hunt for it stopped only because I could hear people coming, guards hunting for the source of the screams most likely, and because the sense of emptiness and missing was less. The pull that I’d felt here gone. I’d found in my hotel that night that the pendant might have vanished, but it had been replaced with glittering, silvery marks across my shoulders and back, vanishing up under my hair. I’d chased more shadows. Ghosts of lives past, but with details infuriatingly missing it had grown more difficult. I think I was also testing myself. My resolve.
Until today, I’d followed that back to St. Roch. Back to where I don’t even need to call to try to find out if Carter’s present or not. If anything, I feel it more strongly. The Nth metal that’s burrowed into me, resonating with what is housed inside this building, and with the soul that resides in Carter Hall. Whatever it is that drives us ever through this cycle of life and death.
“When do you last remember flying, Carter?”
No hello, no sorry I walked out and haven’t said a word to you in weeks, it’s there in my eyes that won’t quite meet his, though.
Carter: The love that Carter and Shiera held was a tale that spun across centuries, a saga of life, death and resurrection. They have been everything, from Wild West heroes to Pinkerton Detectives. Carter was fully aware when Shiera left, he remembered the feeling of her warm body sliding out of their bed and not returning. Instead of wallowing and worrying, Cater buried himself in his work at Stonechant, setting up the exhibitions, he figured Shiera had her reasons for leave. But it’d been nearly two months since she left and Carter didn’t bother go looking for her.
If Shiera wanted him to go, she would have wanted him to go. But she didn’t, so here he was. Working. When she finally came home, she’d find him at the dining room table working on the laptop. Cater wasn’t one to be emotional, though, he often wore his emotions on his sleeve. He didn’t acknowledge her for a long moment. But when she spoke, he looked above the monitor of the computer, his eyes searching hers though they didn’t meet his.
“Sometime during the sixth century. You were Lady Cecilia, and I was Brian Kent, The Silent Knight. You helped me with my wounds when I would come home” offering. Carter missed flying, though, it was only recently he remembered that. Maybe it was the connection he shared with Shiera that made him remember. Slowly coming to a stand, he comes over to her, his steps easy and confident as he stepped up to Shiera. Raising his hand, he cradles her cheek in his palm as he stares down at her.
“I remember how you worried about me. I know you wished that you could come with me. But, you had your own actions. Dealing with the English Court. Something I never had the finesse for.” It was true, Carter was a brute, a barbarian. Though, while he had land and showed compassion, politics was something he never dealt with well. Right now though, there was the giant elephant they needed to address. Licking his lips, he trails his hand down to her chin and lifts it just enough so he could look into her eyes.
“I don’t ask much of you, and in turn, you don’t ask much of me. All I ask of you is to tell me what you are doing. What is inside your head.” the room is dark, illuminated only with the bright screen of the laptop. Carter didn’t worry about her, he knew she could take care of herself. “Is that too much to ask of you?” curious as he leans down and gives her a light kiss. “I believe I have a lead on one our past lives. Brian Kent and Lady Cecilia, of all things.”
Shiera: This isn’t how I expected Carter to react. I’d played out the scenario over and over during the last few weeks that I’d been out of the country. While there aren’t any vivid memories of my abandoning him, and that is what this was, I could take what I knew of his character now and then, and apply it to the situation. We may come back as different people each time, different origins and backgrounds, physical make-ups and nationalities but there are some things that hold true across the endless lifetimes. Personality traits, because at the core of it, Carter and I are both still the same people. Altered slightly by what any particular childhood might have provided, but always with the same base proclivities. He’s a fighter. I’m a healer. Dramatic over simplifications, but those aren’t just occupations. They’re markers of our souls.
There’s no yelling. No outward anger. Maybe he’d already worked through that since I saw him last. He’s relating information about our pasts, this time one that I only can marginally remember. It isn’t even remembering. Sometimes, my thoughts feel like Swiss cheese or a sieve. Maybe a half-complete jigsaw puzzle is a better analogy. The border is there. Most of the defining parts, but there’s still damnable blankness that keeps you from entirely making out or understanding the picture. Especially when you don’t have the box to reference. The facts that he gives me, his own memories, serve as an anchor point for me to connect to, however. Assigning a name, and a face, to the snippets of things I can recall that seem to fit. Endless tedium in a dreadfully uncomfortable chair, despite the amount of plush cushions there were underneath me.
“And I would have much rather gone with you.”
Eyes focus again, fixing on the here and now instead of where they’d gone as I spaced out into those thoughts and fragments of my soul. And his. But it was not done. Lady Cecilia couldn’t have gone to war, not the physical kind. Hers was one of words and social graces. He’s closer now, I’d almost missed the approach, and the gentle fingers on my chin bring my face up to face his. My eyes don’t follow for a moment, though after a soft breath I force them to. I think I might have handled yelling better.
“No. It’s not.”
But I’ve got a nagging feeling, and that almost frantic need to get our collective ‘shit’ together. Operating on a timer, when you can’t actually see the clock and have no concept if you’ve got minutes, or only a couple seconds. All I know is what memories have shown me. That the closer we get, the more in danger we actually always are. How do you keep someone at arm’s length, when deep down you know they’re home and you shouldn’t be anywhere else? The answer seems to be so far, that you don’t. Not well. The apology is there in my eyes, as I lift my chin that touch higher to return the soft pressure of the kiss.
I want to tell him what I’ve been doing, but my interest is piqued. Especially because this is a life he’s talking about that I only barely remember.
“I… maybe really should have taken you with me then. I was in London.”
Carter: Sliding his hand down from her chin, down to her hand, he gives it a squeeze and pulls her to around the table to the laptop. “Brian Kent’s shield has been uncovered. Though, It’s not in England.” pointing to the map. “It’s in Egypt. I don’t know why, I can’t find any clues connecting the two.” clicking over to an image of the shield with their crest emblazoned on the front of it. “It’s in the hands of a private collector by now. I believe with the shield, it’ll recover my memories of one of our past lives. The full memory.” saying as he turned to her.
“What did you find in London?”
Asking, it was obvious she didn’t just decide to go on vacation in London. She went there for a very specific reason. The shield was just one of their many items that needed to be recollected, but there seemed to be more to it, all the little trinkets they have found seemed to have awoken ancient memories, and now it was only the bigger items they needed to complete the full puzzle. Their gauntlets, their maces, his shield, her pendant and finally, their helmets which was the final piece of the puzzle they needed to connect everything together.
“The private collector is a man named Curtis Knox. Who knows what else he may have…” trailing off as he opened a picture of a man with long black hair and a beard “As far as I can tell with the information that is available, he had made a name for himself in the last few years uncovering ancient artifacts and keeping them for himself.” looking over the picture, Carter shakes his head.
“We’re going to have to take back what rightfully belongs to us.”
Shiera: It’s as easy as that. So simple. So uncomplicated. Just a larger hand taking mine, and leading me over to demonstrate what he’s uncovered. No fight. No harsh words. The feeling of rightness that slides into place when I’m around him, and makes the last few weeks feel like insane, self-imposed torture. I had told myself I was doing it for us, trying to find more hints and clues to what we’d need to protect ourselves. To protect each other. I think the truth is I was trying to see if I could do it at all. If maybe separating myself from him would save Carter from what memory says is in inevitable fate. It wasn’t any way to live. An empty pit in my chest, mixed with an unscratchable itch. The latter had actually only got worse, stronger, after I’d pilfered the relic from that tomb.
Taking my hand back as Carter shows me the coordinates for where he thinks we need to go, I lean in to read the information but after a moment those fingers return to him, resting on his shoulder to support my posture. But the real truth is I just want to touch him, even lightly.
“I think you’re right. There’s something about the metal. Almost like it’s a trap. Or a box. For that part of your memories. More than just the memories.”
I can see the screen perfectly well, but I bring my face closer to it still. As if simple proximity was going to impart the answers we needed to me better than the text alone ever could, but I keep speaking as I do it.
“I found Anne St. Clair’s tomb. Who I was the last time I remember flying. I found my wings. And as soon as I had them, it wasn’t just…snippets. Infuriating fragments anymore. At least for that little pitstop on this…journey of ours.”
Straightening, I remove my fingers from his strong shoulder but only to shrug out of the thin cotton jacket I was wearing. It’s still too warm in St. Roch for anything else. Especially compared to the weather in England. Turning, and pulling red hair to the side, I expose the metal. An almost alien arrangement of glinting, glittering design that’s visible in part under the straps of the tank top I’m wearing. If it weren’t for the shine they could almost be a set of tattoos, except closer inspection shows that they’re raised ever so slightly.
“I picked up the amulet I found there. Put it on, and it… attached is the word I suppose. It was like this when I woke up. And I could remember so much more. I think we have to. Like you said. I don’t think we’ ve got any other option if we want things to be different this time.”
Even…if that means a little robbery.
Carter: When she exposes the back of her neck and along her back.
“Interesting.” saying as he slides his fingers along her slightly bared skin. “This never happened before, has it?” pulling his hand back, he presses his lips together. “I wonder if the same thing is going to happen when I get the shield.” questioning, more to himself to the both of them. Slowly, he sits back down and navigates to a site to buy their plane tickets. “I can reach out to the Cairo Museum if you want to ship anything to them that we may not be able to take on the plane.” such as weapons and equipment to break into Mr. Knox’s home, along with luggage. It wasn’t the first time they’d done this, and most certainly not the last.
“Mr. Knox’s place of residence is on the Nile near Luxor.” turning in his seat, he leans back to look up at her. It was like a piece of his soul had come back, perhaps tonight he would sleep well. Slowly coming up to a stand, he snakes his hand up the back of her neck and through her hair. “I’ve missed you.” whispering softly as he presses a kiss to her, then pulls her in, wrapping his other hand around her waist. “Please don’t ever leave me.” the confession is honest, and only for her.
The house they stayed in belonged to one of their past lives. But it wasn’t something that belonged inside them. It wasn’t a piece of equipment that started this cycle. Maybe with the armor now infusing into them, they can fight back against the very resurrection cycle that they have been in for so many centuries. Always losing each other, and then finding each other again. It wasn’t impossible to think they wanted to settle down, have children and have .. well, a ‘normal’ life.
“I will have the Stonechant set up everything else. I think we may be able to get a flight out tomorrow, or early the next day.”
Shiera; The touch of fingers along my skin raises goosebumps, despite the warmth in the room, and I smother the soft laugh quickly. It’s not really a funny moment, my unconscious reaction was though. At least to me. Releasing my hair to slide into place again over my back and shoulders, I turn around to face Carter once more, arms folding across my chest, painted nails tapping away absently on opposite forearm as I consider what he’s asked, compared to what I know. And maybe more importantly what I don’t know.
“It was when I was Anne. It’s like the metal, the wings, changed themselves to protect her, or hide her better. Hide themselves maybe.”
A notion that’s both… really intriguing and more than a little alarming when I start to really think about it. It’s not a thought I share with Carter, despite his plea to know my mind minutes ago. If the metal could change its form, and its purpose, if it really is trapping and tearing away at the parts of our soul that made us up before, and should be ours to remember again now… what if the metal is just as much Curse as it can be Blessing? What if it was never Hath-Set’s wicked magic that set us on this course, but our relation to the metal itself?
Pulled in to Carter, the sigh I let out is quiet regret, and an admission of the ache that had been living in my chest, and skull, the last two months. Maybe its relief. After the kiss, I lower my face, pressing it into his chest and letting my weight settle there against him.
“I missed you. And I will do my best not to.”
Because it happens. Every time. Except it’s not voluntarily getting up and removing ourselves, it’s awful and traumatic, and the part of all of those lives of mine that I remember more vividly than any other portion. The blood. The death. Over and over as the curse loops us through time and ages.
“The earlier the better. I don’t want to let this thread go now that we’ve maybe actually got it.”
Carter: There was a bit of excitement and dread coming. But, they were going to do their best to make this their last cycle. To end it once and for all. Every minute they spend together is sacred, every second apart is like an eternity. Carter would always miss Shiera, or whatever her name happened to be this time. Kissing the top of her head, he keeps her close to his heart. Not wanting to ever let her go.
Because letting go may be the last time he would see her.
Carter would take her upstairs to the bedroom they shared. The air in the room itself was stale, as if it hadn’t been used much in the last couple months. But, it all didn’t matter now that she was here to share his bed with him. The love they shared between each other was eternal, and what was shared beneath their sheets was even more soul baring that most couples experienced. There could be several theories if they ever spoke to anyone about it. Mostly though, it was they never knew when it would be the last time they held each other in such an intimate embrace.
The next morning would come, Carter would be the first up. Getting things ready for them to go to Cairo first. The trip the Luxor would be long, they could take a plane. But, the trip by car was much easier and allowed them to plot out their robbery. It wasn’t going to be as easy as smashing in a window or sneaking into a tomb. Being apart from one another for the last two months made it easier to slide back into both of their respective roles.
When she began to stir, he’d smile over his shoulder before getting back to packing up his suitcase. “I’ve already called the museum. We have a flight this afternoon. From New Orleans to London, then London to Cairo. From Cairo we drive to Luxor. It’ll give us a chance to reconnect with our homeland.” offering as he turns to lean against the dresser, watching her. “I think it’ll take a few days, not to mention recover from jet lag. By the time we hit the man’s house. We’ll be ready to go in without a problem.”
Shiera: A real ending. It’s a terrifying prospect, as much as it’s one that we both want. Have wanted forever. It all hinges on the method, doesn’t it? If this is it, if this is our last time together. Or maybe the second to last. And we get to finish it as two people who love each other ought to? Together, growing old with one another. Building a legacy that’s not just the same events spun out again and again with different names and faces on them. There’s also every possibility that this time might end the same way it always does. With watching one another die, having that hole ripped open inside of you. Maybe even worse… if one of us were to be killed and not the other. With the knowledge that this time, your other half is really never, ever coming back. No more second chances. No more trying again. Those thoughts make me shiver again, but this time it’s not from a tickling touch. It’s fear.
I think it’s only Carter’s presence that keeps those thoughts from turning into the nightmares I’ve been contending with every night since I left. Horrific memories, mixed with a dreadfully vivid imagination of what might be in store for us. And once I’m asleep it’s dreamless. Blissfully blank and empty. It makes it hard to want to wake, because it feels like leaving peace for an unknown. At least opening my eyes gives me a nice view. At least once I emerge from the burrow of my pillows, shading my eyes from the light with my arm.
“If any of it is really the same as it used to be. It’s been… a very, very long time. Coming back the same way, I assume? If we have to ship anything, I’m asusming it will be under a lot more scrutiny than what we’ll deal with going in.”
And we’ll be criminals.
Carter: “The Museum is handling the shipping. We’ll need to give them our things. But, other than that, shipping Museum to Museum is pretty easy, actually.” a shrug “They deal with all the red tape. All we need to do is be on hand when the shipment arrives in Cairo. Should be there about a few hours before we arrive.” moving over to the bed, he sits on her side and leans down to kiss her softly.
“Mmm, we’ve got time if you want to make up for lost time..” grinning down at her, his hand gently sliding along her forearm as he leans in for a kiss. The two Hawks were very passionate, it rang in how they handled each other, how they spoke to one another. There was no other person in the world for them, except for each other.
A few hours later, they’d get ‘caught up’ on lost time as Carter slides out of bed to finish his packing and to get dressed. The next few days would be a whirlwind. From packing, to shipping their things with the tools they needed to break into a house. Arriving in London, leaving London, arriving in Cairo. Getting their things, then driving down to Luxor. They flew across several time zones, and then took an even longer trip down to Luxor.
By the time they arrive into Luxor, it’d be well into the night, approaching early morning. The town was quiet, and the ruins off in the distance gave a kind of eerie presence to the area.
“I forgot how beautiful the sand can be at night.” offering as he glanced to Shiera. She had fallen asleep some time ago on the long drive, not that he could blame her. It’d been a long couple days and sleeping on a plan was not very comfortable in the least.