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Won't Let Me Go

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     She never stayed in one place long when she wasn't sleeping, and since she'd met him, she was awake more than she slept. He was different than the others, never minding that she'd flit off to watch a supernova and not come back for... 'days' or 'weeks'. The others didn't understand, that she could miss his face and miss him being close, but she could never miss him. Basara. Whether she was running roads of cold vacuum between so many stars, or whether she was swimming in the warm lake of a sun's heart or sitting on an asteroid to watch the star-pecked darkness go by, he never felt far away. The pulse of space and time beat to the rhythm of his fingers on the guitar. Even in the nest of stone where she found herself now, tracing phosphorescent patterns in the darkness, the distant sound fed into her blood and hummed in a crossroads of her mind. She could even hear the tune to sing along, and in the thin air deep in the asteroid, her voice echoed on the rocks.

     Then his voice filtered in with hers. She could hear it, too immediate and fresh to be a memory. So sudden, it made her quake. Somewhere, she was hearing him sing as if he were standing there. It wasn't what he called his 'sound' she could hear. The compression of a vocal wave, the give and take of sound, was too fragile to withstand the barren emptiness of space, but she could hear him all the same. His body wasn't close, but he was.

     She raced out of the cavern toward the dark starlight. The glow of the rocks around her confused the trace of him, as thin as it would be if he reached out this far. She sang out, her own voice fading as she left the atmosphere of the craggy moon. There it was. The glow of spiritia, stretching out in translucent tendrils across the star-specked blackness like a new galaxy painted on the cosmos. Like arms reaching out to hold her from a thousand worlds away.

     Lighting off the rocks, she curled up in the touch of his energy. It rang through her, at once a whisper and a rushing tide over her skin.

     As she shot along its trail toward his city, the strange, pale shadow he cast across the void danced along with her. Threads of it seemed to knit over her arms and waist, pulling her faster even though light itself had never once matched her for speed. It had been so long since those days, sleeping in the spaceship's forest, when he'd sung only to her. She'd never been awake before to know how it felt when he reached out and pulled.

     It felt like he was laughing inside, as if to say nothing had changed.

     From a speck of blue, his floating city burst into view, every human's spiritia aglow, but none brighter than his.

     From here, his spiritia looked less like smoke and more like fire, licking up into the metal-fretted sky. She circled once around the shell dome, the one he said his people painted in light every day to make their ship more like the planet they'd left behind. Perhaps she'd seen that planet once. Earth, somewhere in the universe, long past swimming in the spiritia wake this ship left behind. The blues and clouds were a little different everywhere she went. Maybe once she'd been there.

     Slowing, she spiraled down to find him at home on the stage. Thousands crowded around in the stands under the dark skies, roaring for every run of notes from his fingers on the strings. Maybe tens of thousands, but he only had eyes for his guitar. He fretted and plucked, and even though he'd called to her so many parsecs away, he looked surprised to see her light, shifting from green to white to red, floating above the walls.

     Then he smiled, and winked. Leather stretched and shone on his legs as he played to the front row. All the people below, hearing first and feeling second, might never understand why she came. Their senses were so different, feeling a warm glow from someone who felt to her like holding crystal lightning. To be near him was hard. The whole universe faded away under the rush in her mind, the blast of sound.

     She couldn't shift into her body again. Not yet. It had been so long, she'd shake or cry out, and the audience might turn to see. Or turn and run. Either way, the people wouldn't be listening to him, and listening was all he wanted.

     It was always like this at first, as if the hit of his song taking hold of her would tear her apart, reach into her and fill her to bursting with those tongues of flame. It got easier, later. She wished she could stay long enough that custom could turn that jolt to an ache that didn't bleed the stars to dust. Or if the day never came when she could feel him in peace, she wished she could stay away. But having tasted him, she couldn't. Not forever.

     And she couldn't stay still. Circling closer to the stage, this time she was the one reaching out for him. Her light brightening, slipping around him as he played, and the audience screamed and clapped.

     He'd said once, laughing while he stripped off his shirt and dropped it on his bedroom floor, that the 'lighting crew' went crazy every time she showed up like this. Whoever they were, because she glowed so brightly. Then he'd kissed her, and pulled her down on the bed, and there hadn't been much more talking.

     Her arms that weren't arms wove around his chest. Without her solid body, she couldn't smell his hair or brush against the back of his neck when she settled behind him, but this way she could almost be a part of him. Besides, holding him with her body might have stopped him from playing his guitar. She didn't want that. She liked to feel his fingers moving under the curling branches of her glow, forming chords and pulling music out of the strings.

     "We're gonna do your song next, Sivil," he murmured, turned away from the microphone as he played through the break.

     She couldn't nod. She didn't have to.

     Maybe in the morning, he'd teach her more about how to play, cradling her back against his chest as he guided her hands over the strings. Maybe she'd get to show him something instead, before she had to fly away again. Right now, she only wanted to listen to him sing, and let her light melt into his as his voice rang out over the crowds again.