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All you say is so overrated
Holding on to yesterday
Along the way, it can get too complicated to say

I know why the heart gets lonely
Every time you give your love away
And if you think that you are only
A shadow in the wind
You better think again

Kiera looked up as she strummed the last notes to the song, smiling. It was a song that she had found in an old archive, a lovely song with wonderful lyrics. Setting down her guitar, she plumped the pillows behind her and then settled against them happily. With a sigh, she picked up the instrument again, stroking the satin finish on its beautiful wood before picking out a few more notes. She had regained her talent with the guitar, her fingers remembering old skills in the weeks since Joshua had bought it for her. Her fingers idled on the strings as she strummed randomly a few moments, letting her mind wander, and then abruptly they caught fire as she lit into an old flamenco tune. Grinning, she rolled through the notes, closing her eyes as she leaned back into the pillows, the chords and notes making her almost laugh. It was a wonderful gift that Joshua had given her, she reflected as she played, a truly kind thing that she hadn’t expected.

As she slowed into a softer, more melodic song albeit in the same genre, she finally guiltily realized that he too might enjoy her little impromptu concert. He had mentioned wanting music on board and so far, she hadn’t found time to share it with him. But this had been the first time in a while that she had had this kind of time; much of her time had been taken up with Arden and trying to help with his recovery. A bit of fury burned through her at the memory of his ruined face and she stopped playing.

That the disfigured gnomish guard had taken advantage of his kindness, his generous and selfless need to help people in distress. . .her jaw clenched angry and vengeful. If Arden hadn’t been so hurt, there’d a been a lot more lead pumped into that woman, pitiful and broken as she was. She had spared her with her first shot, intent on trying to save all the ravaged and broken people in that room, even the gnomish, twisted guard. After the woman feigned breathing difficulty as Arden helped her, after she sprayed Arden in the face with acid from the fake inhaler, well, bleeding to death was just good enough for her.

You didn’t even check to see where you shot her, Kieracat, she realized, reliving the memory. She inhaled, scowling. “Well, truth is, I didn’t give a damn,” she muttered under her breath to answer herself. There were more reconstructive surgeries that they would have to do to Arden’s face, all thanks to the wickedness of a bitter witch. She flexed her fingers, aware that her particular skills were serving her well now, momentarily proud of her artistry. She just didn’t know whether or not she could make Arden look like Arden again. Too much damage had been done. Nor could she figure out how to tell the crew that either. Arden, well, she had brought it up using doctor speak, talking around the problem. She figured that he understood,but neither of them wanted to talk about it yet.

But at least he was stable and healthy enough for the reconstructions to begin. She’d make him handsome, as handsome as she could. Arden deserved the best of her efforts; they had just started to become friends and although she’d never admit it to him, she desperately wanted to impress him. Another sigh escaped her along with a curse in Chinese.

I didn’t come in here to reflect on the bad stuff, she thought fiercely and strummed her fingers to warm up again. After a rolling chord, she pulled another flamenco tune from her memory, fierce and fiery, the speed both challenging and cathartic. “Fuego,” it was called. Fire. It burned the anger from her, made her feel alive with its passion.

Joshua sat comfortably in his bed, the door to his and Rina's room open and a book resting in his lap. It felt like it had been a very long time since he had truly been able to relax on board the Equinox. With Ah Toy no longer out of the reach of justice and the situation with all the girls starting to be set right, he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. No more ghosts.

As he started to drift off to sleep for a nice nap, he heard the strains of music floating down the hallway and his eyes popped open again. Was Kiera actually playing her guitar? He knew she had been, or at least it was likely she had been, but any playing hadn't been done where he could hear it. He pulled himself fully upright and put his book down as he stood up.

When he got close to her room, he walked cautiously, not wanting to disturb her. He stood there in the doorway, just listening to the passion of her music. When the song finished, he said, "I'm glad you're playing."

She had been so absorbed in her playing that she did not notice him until he spoke and she half-started off the pillows before realizing who it was. "Lord," she stated with a grin, "you took a few years off my life there." Wiggling her butt, she made herself more upright on the bed, and gestured with the neck of the guitar towards the chair at her desk. "Make yourself at home and suggest some tunes for you to sing. You said you liked singing and I'm a bit bored of soloing right now." To be truthful, she was glad that Joshua had come by. Music was a solitary pleasure but it was much better shared.

He sat down on the chair, twisting it around so he was leaning over the back of it facing Kiera. "Anything by the Down Homes, or Around the Verse. And of course, I have a fondness for Gareth Lin." Which wasn't really surprising, since Gareth Lin was the only major singer he ever had a chance to borrow. When you get a chance to sing in front of thousands of people, it tends to make you show a little favoritism. "But your guitar, your lead, so pick what you want to play and I'll just follow along."

Her eyes crinkled as she nodded. "Well enough then," she said with a happy smile and tuned the guitar a little. "How is "I Lost My Lady to the Underground" then, Mr Gareth Lin fan?" she asked and then began the opening chords. Watching him intently for a moment, she smiled as he began to sing and then joined in harmony to back him, weaving the countertune as her fingers danced on the strings.

Joshua's foot was tapping and his hands were slapping the back of the chair, serving as the drums that weren't there. As he sang, the music was moving in him, around him, through him and he loved every minute of it. Kiera's guitar playing was fantastic and he lost himself in the harmony between the two of them. He could picture himself up on stage again and for a brief moment, he had a genuine moment of regret for having walked away from Blue Sun. But then it passed and he fell back into the song, concentrating his tenor on hitting every note.

When the song ended, he smiled. "That was nice," he said simply.

She had leaned forward to watch him as the song progressed, her eyes dancing. Nodding with a grin, she rifted skillfully into the bright and cheery "Blue Skies" and then into the more somber "View from the Other Side" not speaking until the last note faded. Letting out a deep sigh of satisfaction, she favored him with an uncharacteristically soft smile. "Your turn to pick, Joshua. You don't have to stay on Lin. I just thought that I'd stay in the groove for a song or two."

"Do you mind one more?" And then without waiting for accompaniment, Joshua started in on the slow, sad opening to "The Ones Who Are Lost Still Wait." The last time he had sang it, it had been on the Gift, and he had been in a mourning of sort. And then, he was reacting more than acting, still letting the Verse bounce him, one new discovery at a time. Now, he was working very hard at choosing to act rather than waiting on things to happen. He wanted to claim this song for his own again.

Joshua turned his head to the ceiling as he closed his eyes and let the words pour out, each one a single piece of pure emotion floating on the airbound notes of the song. Control the song, don't let it control you.

Her lips parted for a moment, but the affirmation was lost as he began to sing without the strings. She laid the guitar down beside her and then joined him in the chorus, wrapping her voice into his as she sang the countermelody, letting the pure sound of their voices carry the song through the air and then letting him sing the body of the song alone. He wrapped each note with care, sending it outward with a depth of emotion that waspowerful and simple. She countered with gentle support on the chorus, mesmerized by his talent and the simple beauty ofthe song. She was sorry when it ended, but only watched his face, his eyes closed as the last note whispered to an end.

Joshua sat there for a moment, head lowered, eyes still closed. Then he opened them back and looked at Kiera. "Thank you," he said sincerely. "The last time I sang that song, I had just found out that I had a brother or a sister out there somewhere," he paused for a moment, letting the lump in his throat die, "and that my real dad had been sent to Miranda by Blue Sun." He rested his chin on his folded hands on the back of the chair. Joshua sometimes wondered if his sibling thought about him or even knew that he existed.

Her brow creased as she took a breath to re-center herself. The music had been more than moving; she had been drawn into the song, soaring and falling with the beauty of the melody and words. His emotions, poured into his singing and amplified by his talent, had run through and over her, leaving her giddy and disoriented. She sighed again and then shook her head. "I'm sorry," she said with genuine sympathy. "I wish. . ." She let the thought trail off, not knowing what else to say. Picking up her guitar to fidget with it, she strummed lightly before looking at him again. He was clearly upset.

"I might could test the power of fatherly love and see if Father could send us something about the division that raised and trained you," she stated. The chords that followed quickly after those words were disjointed and tentative. "I don't know if he even knows anything, but if he knew a name . . . maybe. . ." Her limp shrug ended the music as she waited for his answer, a bemused frown on her face.

"Too many people have already gotten hurt for me, Kiera. I'm not going to have you stretch your relationship with your father and potentially get him hurt for a trail that is already decades cold." He stood up and walked over to the bed and sat down next to Kiera. "But thank you for asking." And he rubbed her arm just to show her how much appreciated the thoughtfulness.

The shudder went through her like a bolt of lightning before she could sidle away. Wiggling, she moved over as the skin at the back of her neck tingled. Ok, Kieracat. . .see what singing can do? "Here, let me make some room for you," she offered with a bright but all too tight smile. His voice was beautiful and that last song had been moving. The giddiness of their a capella harmony still lingered and she looked up at him with a bit less guard than she usually held. To break her mood, she rolled her eyes at him. "Father ain't gonna be in no danger and you can't stretch something that is all worn out. But just say the word and I'll call him."

A frown passed over her face. Thinking of her father, she abruptly missed him. He was always so certain, even when he was wrong. And that was sometimes so strangely comforting. Her eyes found Joshua again and she tilted her head. "So what song do you want me to sing for your wedding?" she asked, blinking at him with gentle bemusement.

"I am a wise potential husband," Joshua said with a smile. "The correct answer is: 'Whatever my fiancé and I come to anagreement about.'" He looked at her and shrugged apologetically. "Seriously, I hadn't really thought about it yet. Wedding is a long way away still." Sometimes he secretly wondered if it ever would happen, that Rina was still holding hope for Mike's return. He knew that wasn't fair to her. Or to him, even. Rina had chosen Joshua, not Mike. But that didn't keep that little evil thought from popping up from time to time.

She couldn't stop the laugh that escaped her. "But not so wise the rest of the time?" she retorted with a wry grin. Biting her lower lip as her eyes danced, she managed to look contrite. "I'm sorry, that wasn't nice." She waited a beat and then said, "I'll have to ask Rina then. So, what song are you going to have your first dance to then?"

We are each other's secret
You share with me andI share with you
Other people fade
With everything we do.

Joshua finished singing the first verse of the love song, letting the words speak for him at first and then, smiling at Kiera, he said, "You know that one? ‘The Secret of Us?’ It's by Carrie Ann Scott."

She was forced to shake her head. "No. It's lovely though. Sing it through." She put a hand on his knee, patting it fondly before absently giving it a rub with her thumb. "Who knew you were such a romantic?" she asked, gathering her guitar more tightly so that she could start to pick out the tune. Releasing his knee, she put her fingers to the strings and closed her eyes, angling her right ear towards him. "Go on, sing the rest. I'd love to learn this one." One eye popped open for a second and the emerald orb found his face. "I'll bug you to distraction until I learn it, so be prepared to sing it few times so that I can get the tune and words," came the warning before she relaxed completely into listening mode.

Once, before I met you
I hid it all away
Secrets were stashed from view
Sanity my cost to pay
But now that you'rewith me
All the secrets stop
My storm of worries washed away
With the last falling raindrop

We are each other's secret
You share with me and I with you
Other people fade
With everything that we do.
Our code was deciphered
I found your message for me
"Together there are no locks
Because we create the key."

I searched half my lifetime
For a place I neverfound
Somewhere secret and hidden
Where world'd never come 'round
But then I found you
And *you* were my place
All my pursuers fly away
When I look into your face

We are each other's secret
You share with me and I with you
Other people fade
With everything that we do.
Our code was deciphered
I found your message for me
"Together there are no locks
Because we create the key."

We snuck into each other's hearts
Cupid's unknowing spies
Only one more secret left to us
That there's only truth...no more lies.
No more lies...
No more lies...

That song called to him in a way that he couldn't resist. Even now, after singing it, Joshua felt drained, all his energy having been poured into the music. He opened his eyes, having kept them closed while hesang so he could visualize the music and the words. He looked at Kiera as she sat next to him, guitar in hand. "How'd I do?"

Kiera just continued playing, her fingers picking up the notes halfway through the first chorus. Nodding gently, her eyes still closed, she whispered "Again, Joshua." His voice was transporting her, drawing pictures in her mind and a tiny sigh escaped her as he began to sing again.

Joshua sang it again for a second time and then for a third time after that. By the end of it, he felt worn, as if he had no more emotion to put into the song. "Kiera?" She had her eyes closed next to him and he didn't think she had realized that she had rested her head on his shoulders as she had fallen completely into listening to the song.

"Hmmm?" she murmured, playing with the last chords. She had embellished the tune, adding harmony as they went along, picking out areas where the fullness of the beauty of the tune could shine for the singer to take a breath.

Opening her eyes, she started, realizing where she was, but the genuine innocence of her surprise was rapidly replaced with a wry smile. "Hell, 'bout made me swoon with yer singing, mister," she stated, moving to look up at him coquettishly through her eyelashes. If the norm prevailed, he'd shoot away from her like a greased pig, blushing hard. Which would give her a bit to stop the warm and fuzzy inside her. His shoulder was too damn comfortable by far.

"Good song, isn't it?" He knew he ought to move or have her move, but Joshua found her presence nice on his shoulder. If he was honest, he had to admit he found Kiera quite attractive...when she wasn't poking fun at him. Like while he was singing, for example. She could stay for a little while, he supposed. It couldn't hurt anything.

"Um, yeah." He wasn't moving. Her eyes widened a bit before a bemused frown crossed her face. 'Hells bells, she thought. What to do now?

Yielding to her worser instincts, she gave a soft sigh and squirmed harder against him so that she could use him for support as she began to play, "Waiting on the Sea."

I've waited on the sea
To bring you home to me
Rolling waters calling
Keeping you away.
And yet I wait on some sign
That she'll give you up some time.
I'm waiting on the deep rolling sea.

It was dangerously comfortable, she found herself thinking. And also, this is how problems start and uncertainty begins. She sat up abruptly, the song faltering, and looked him deeply in the eyes.

Without thinking, she whispered "Fuego" and her heart skip a beat.

Fuego. Kiera certainly was like fire and not just that red hair of hers. She was dangerous and playing with her could get you burned. But he couldn't make himself look away from those green eyes. He felt caught up in the moment - when Kiera let her guard down, that small flame of attraction that he had managed to bury just exploded into a bonfire. Fuego, indeed.

He had never really kissed a woman other than Rina, at least as far as he could remember. And as that thought crossed his mind, he impulsively leaned in to kiss her, half hoping she'd slap him and break the mood....and half hoping she wouldn't.

Her breath had suddenly become all too quick and the feel of him all to warm. The world was shifting suddenly, whether from the emotions of the music or a dormant desire reawakened like fire, she did not know. In the back of her mind alarms were screaming, but the flame had kindled and she wasn't certain anymore what she wanted.

His gaze was notmoving off hers. His expression shifted and she let the guitar slide off her lap as he began to move towards her. Her lips parted to protest but only one thing came forth as her hand came up of its own volition to cup his cheek.

"Joshua?" she whispered, closing her eyes as she felt the warmth of him near her lips.

Joshua's lips pressed up against hers and his tongue slipped into her mouth. She tasted like fire and the warmth from her lips spread across his face, infusing him with a white hot desire. The kiss kept going, til it almost felt like he was trying to take her fire in him by way of the kiss. It was certainly different from the electric feeling that he had when he kissed Rina. When he kissed Rina....oh hell,what was he doing?

He pulled away abruptly, the taste of Kiera still on his lips, but it suddenly tasted bitter. Is this what guilt tastes like?, he wondered. Joshua sat there next to her, biting his lip nervously (the lip that had just been touching hers) as he stared at her, wondering what Kiera was thinking.

A tiny whimper escaped her as his lips pressed hard into hers, a soft cry against what she so suddenly wanted and yet so wanted to refuse. As his tongue reached hers, she pushed harder into him, suckling it gently, her fingers sliding into the dark tangle of his hair. All coherent thought burned away as the feel of him consumed her. She fought for breath as he stiffened against her, almost grateful that he stopped and then he was abruptly sitting away from her, his face frozen in shock. She could only stare, trying to breathe as the heat burned its way onto her face, watching as he bit the lips that had so recently been on hers.

"I won't say that anymore," she breathed. My God Kieracat! yelled her mind. What the hell? Her nerves still sang, her body almost on fire with the heat of the kiss. Her gaze went again to his eyes, suddenly filled with the pain of guilt.

She fought the urge to touch him to comfort him, aware that the air was still too electric between them. "It was a moment," she stated simply and smiled weakly. "Rina is a lucky girl."

He nodded tensely. Just a moment. A moment that had to be kept secret. The irony of gaining a secret after singing that song did not escape him. "I'm the one who's lucky," he said quietly.

It didn't have to be anything more than a mistake in the moment, he reminded himself. But why did he keep feeling like it was more than that?

She could almost feel the pain rolling off him, black and suffocating, and despite the foolishness of it, took his unwilling hand. "Stop." Cool and calm, she fixed him with her eyes, demanding that he pay attention to her. "You still love her. It was a moment in time and will be a pleasant memory. Right?"

But despite her control of her voice and face, her nerves still vibrated with a volcanic inferno of desire and confusion. She shook her head, her face softening as she continued to watch him. "Fuego. Sometimes it takes you before you can fight it. But that is all that it is."

But she didn't believe it even as she said it.

Joshua nodded again. A pleasant memory, the way the fire of her mouth....Stop, stop. "I had never kissed anyone other than Rina before. Probably a lot of this is just my inexperience." It made sense. But he didn't believe it as he said it.

Despite her best efforts, she just couldn't bring up the sneer that she so badly needed to have to force him away. "How sweet," she stated softly. She licked her lips and closed her eyes a moment as the taste of him made her whimper soundlessly. What had they released? Oh Kieracat! came the mournful voice in her head.

Realizing that she still held his hand, she let it go, abruptly aware that she caressed it with her thumb with absent-minded care. He had never kissed another, at least as this incarnation. Oh Lord, help us, she found herself praying.

"Well," she found herself saying, "now you know you ain't missin' nothing.”

“Don't be that way," Joshua blurted out, more sharply than he intended. As they had sang, he had seen a side of Kiera he hadn't seen since early on the Gift. A kind, emotional woman. He didn't want her to bury that because he (they?) had screwed up. And he had discovered there was some part of him that treasured that kiss. And Joshua didn't want her to ruin that.

"It was a good kiss. A mistake, but a good kiss. Even inexperienced me could tell that, Kiera." He stood up, knowing that if he didn't get himself out of the room, something else might happen. And that something else he wouldn't be able to explain away as being part of the moment.

She looked away at the wall with a shy smile that she finally fully gave him. "Thanks. I think," she countered, her voice soft and her eyes softer. She pushed away a lock of hair that had fallen over one eye, watching as he backed towards the door, a bittersweet frown marring the line of her face. "Guess we need to practice in the kitchen or the lounge from now on, eh?"

"Unless you think we have the willpower to avoid this again." Knowing it was there lurking, he might be able to. But why risk it? But he smiled as he realized the full import of what she had said. He had enjoyed getting to sing. Joshua hadn't known it, but he had been afraid that he wouldn't get any more chances, that she wouldn't want to anymore.

"But we need to sing again, even if it is out in the lounge. I really enjoyed it, regardless of whether you think what came after was good or bad." Joshua paused at the doorframe. "Sometime soon?" He let the invitation serve as his kind of apology for screwing up the delicate balance of their friendship. Again.

She was off the bed in a flash and wrapping her arms around him with the grace of a cat. "It was good, Joshua," she stated firmly. "Too good." She released him to kiss her fingers and press them to his lips. "No fear that we will sing again. But it will be in the lounge or kitchen. I ain't been spaced before and I don't wanna find out what it's like now. Now git before we do something else we will spend sleepless nights regretin' and wantin' again."

With that she pushed him out into the hall and then shut the door behind him. Sinking into it, sh eslid bonelessly to the floor with a deep sigh, her eyes wide. At length, she got up off the floor and picked up the guitar again. Without thinking, she began to play the slow, seductive melody of the tango.

"Aw hell," she muttered after a moment and blushing fiercely, began to giggle. As if things weren't finally settling down between she and Joshua, then they had to heat up to this?

Life is funny, Kieracat, came her head. And Rina's gonna kill you.

Yeah, but at least I got a great goodbye kiss, she countered and strummed lightly into another song.

Joshua shook his head as he stood outside the door. Now there was the Kiera he knew well. Pushy and sure she was right. Of course, it didn't help that this time she was completely right. Now to head back to his room and figure out how he was going to manage to keep this secret. And he walked off, with the taste of fire still lingering on his lips.

Go to Joshua's Crew Page or Kiera's Crew Page
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