Questions & Answers II
by J. Darksong and Gbrn32e
Ignorance is Bliss.
Thomas Gray coined the phrase. He wasn’t the first to speak those words by any means, but he was perhaps the first to fully embrace just how true the phrase actually was. Another phrase comes to mind: Knowledge is Power. And it’s also true. Knowledge gives you the ability to make changes, to do things that those without that knowledge cannot. To a degree, anyway. And there’s the rub. For you see, knowing everything about an object, a person, or an occurrence does not automatically make you it’s master. Just because you know everything about the sun does not necessarily give you the power to move it across the sky. Knowing everything about a person, their history, likes, and dislikes, does not necessarily mean you can manipulate and control them.
And knowing that something dreadful and terrible is going to happen doesn’t necessarily give you the ability to change it, or make it not come to pass.
I suppose something like that might seem a bit contradictory coming from a Goddess, an immortal being whose power is, literally, to alter and change the fate of her charges, guide humanity onto a more righteous and blessed path. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my eons of existence, its that the only constant in the universe is change. Things that once seemed impossible millennia ago are, in these current times, commonplace. Mortal beings, humans, now wield powers that once only the gods themselves held. Indeed, there were even a select few mortals that had powers that even surpassed the powers of the gods.
As I lay, drifting in that sweet space between sleep and wakefulness, my thoughts circling lazily upon such things, I couldn’t help but consider my own situation. I was Skuld, the youngest of the Nornir elders, She Who Governs the Future, and the ending of life. Even as my two sisters had a hand in beginning, and nurturing, that life, it was my job to end it, to rend the life threads of those beings that dwelled within the Great Weave of Life. To be precise, I was not Death Herself, not by any means. Instead, I was, in effect, her Grim Reaper, one of Her many Avatars that regulated and guided those souls whose time had passed on to their final reward. And, as Skuld, the Nornir who governed the future, I was able to see the events that proceeded one’s death and know the time and place in which their life threads severed.
A rather thankless and notably ‘grim’ job, to be sure. Yet it was a necessary part of life. Part of what gave a person’s life meaning was the fact that it did not go on forever, that it did, eventually, end. It is something that every being knows, instinctively, from the very moment of their birth, Even we gods and goddesses, untouched by aging, whose lives are destined to exist for eternity, were not exempt. In ages past, I and many of the others had decided to renounce our unchanging existence in exchange for the chance to grow, to experience life as the mortals do, to live, and age, and die, only to be reborn again, an eternal spirit inhabiting a mortal shell. As Skuld, I’d lived countless lifetimes, lived and died, and lived again.
And yet, it was THIS life, this incarnation that felt so different... so much more intense than all the others that had come before it. It had started as a feeling, a strange dark dread in the pit of my stomach, a kind of nameless terror just barely stroking the edges of your awareness The feeling continued to grow as the week went on, and at first I believed it was anxiety about the upcoming cataclysm Lacie Frasier had been foretold to bring about. But then, three nights ago. I’d received a new vision of the future.
Of my death.
Imagine that for a moment. Being able to see and know exactly when and where you are going to die. Naturally, something like that would end up shaping your choices and decisions. For instance, knowing that you would die in an elevator crash, a smart person would refuse to get into an elevator, taking the stairs whenever possible, to keep from meeting such a dire fate. Except... fate doesn’t work that way. If you’re fated to die in an elevator crash, that is how you will die. Even if you refused to even enter an elevator, you could very well end up dying from an elevator crashing, hitting the lobby just as you’re passing by, and smashing you with the impact. Fate has a way of manipulating the situation so that the more you try to avoid something, the more you end up racing directly toward it.
So. I’d glimpsed the moment of my death. Terrorists had gathered a bunch of innocents, including me, holding us all hostage on the roof of a highrise, awaiting a helicopter. And then Jimmy and the Beautiful Gems arrive to save everyone. And everything seemed to be going okay when one last gunman gets off a shot. I glance up just in time to see death staring down at me. He fires... a bright flash, and moment of pain... and then...
And that is the most frightening part. Nothing is all that I see after that moment. As I said, I’ve died before, and returned, reincarnated, my spirit returning to the Great Weave only to emerge again sometime later. And I’ve always seen beyond to the next life. But not this time. Whatever happened this time, it ended my existence completely. No reincarnation. No coming back. Just... nothing. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I was... actually afraid. Afraid for my life.
I’ve had that nightmare every night since. And the fear, the inescapable knowledge that my life may soon end, has begun to weigh heavily upon me. But... what can I do? How can I avoid my fate? And... will trying to do so, running away from this terror, actually result in my running headlong into it?
“Have you Seen anything... er, new?” I asked Ethyria and the other Nornir sisters as I strode over to the well of souls, where the younger sisters had gathered around. “Any new... developments?”
“Sister!” Ethyria greeted me warmly, walking over to hug and kiss me. “Welcome! It’s good to see you again.” She gestured to the well. “Alas, no. We’ve discovered nothing new thus far. The approaching Cataclysm is making it very difficult to See the future clearly, if at all. And the closer it gets, the less we are able to See... well, anything!” She gave me an apologetic shrug. “In truth, besides you, Sister, Nadina was the one with the strongest Sight. But she has left Yggdrasil, gone on her ‘journey’ for what end only she herself knows.”
I nodded at that. I’d been as surprised as everyone else when the youngest Sister suddenly announced that she was leaving Home, that she had foreseen a great change occurring and that she needed to leave to fulfill her part in it. I’d tried keeping tabs on her, but the girl was a power unto herself. Like any of us, if she did not wish to be Seen, then she was perfectly capable of hiding her presence. Still, there was no cause for concern. She’d show up again when she was needed.
“So, uh,” I said again after a moment. “You haven’t foreseen anything... unusual? Or noteworthy? At all?”
“No, nothing more than the usual,” she replied with a shrug. “We are still trying to guide mankind, making subtle changes here and there, protecting those that require it. Why?” she asked, peering into my face. “Have YOU Seen something that concerns you?”
I tried really hard to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t help from averting my eyes. “I... er, no, not really..”
“It’s nothing, really, ’Ria,” I replied, forcing a smile. “It was more a... personal concern. That’s all.”
“You mean... something dealing with your lover, James Frasier?” Ethyria asked, a smirk twisting her soft pink lips. I blinked at that, surprised by the question, but ’Ria took my expression as a confession, and chuckled softly. “I see. Well, considering that he is an Immutable Thread, it is rather difficult to get a read on him and his sister, even at the best of times. But I wouldn’t be worried. He is Verdandi’s son. He is very strong and very tough. And, assuming that we find a way to avert the upcoming Cataclysm, you two will likely share a long and happy life together!”
I nodded at that, woodenly. A long and happy life together. If only that were the case... “Thank you, ’Ria,” I said, hugging her again. “Truly. I guess maybe I just needed the reassurance.” I turned to walk away.
“Oh? Must you leave so soon?” she asked, a slight pout on her face. “You only just arrived. And Akiko will be returning momentarily... and she has been looking forward to trysting with you again since the Arbiter of Fate incident some time ago.” I blushed slightly at that memory.
“Well...” I said, dispersing my robe, rendering myself naked as the well waters began to part, and the young beautiful Asian Nornir made her way up to the surface, “I suppose I could hang around for a little while longer...”
“You may now kiss the bride.”
A loud raucous cheer sounded, as the two lovers turned and kissed one another. I sighed softly, happy for them both as the music began to play, and the newly married couple turned to face the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you, the newly joined Mrs. and Mrs. Clarke-Taylor!” A great cheering and clapping sounded, as the two lovers turned and walked down the aisle. And Jimmy and I were cheering just as loudly as anyway.
Later at the reception, as Jimmy and I danced, I commented on how lovely the ceremony had been. “It was really very nice,” I stated as we twirled, somehow managing NOT to trip over my own feet in these heels. “To be honest, I hadn’t expected them to go with a traditional wedding ceremony.”
Jimmy chuckled. “Neither of them are exactly what you’d call ‘traditional minded’, but apparently one of Emily’s longest-held wishes was to one day get married in a wedding chapel, all decked out in a long white wedding dress, veil, the whole nine yards.” He shrugged. “And, so, Amber decided to indulge the woman she loves. But yes... it really was beautiful.”
As the dance ended, and we returned back to the main table of the reception hall, the DJ announced that this would be the final dance of the night. Jimmy turned, extending his hand, offering another go-round on the dance floor, but I shook my head. “Sorry, love, I think I’m about danced out,” I replied ruefully, kicking off my heels, rubbing at my stocking clad feet. “I swear, soon as we get home, I’m tossing these bloody things into the trash, along with all my other high heels!”
Jimmy chuckled again. “C’mon... it’s the last dance, Mary Jane,” he quipped. “You can always dance barefoot. Heck, Julie and Steph discarded their heels a half hour ago.” I glanced over, noting that the two bridesmaids had indeed discarded their footwear; both were dancing with a couple of men, friends of Amber’s if I recalled correctly. But I shook my head. I really was worn out.
“Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll take that dance,” Emily said, stepping forward. She extended a hand towards Jimmy. “Amber is pretty much ‘danced out’ as well, but I can go for one last twirl!”
I smiled at that, as the two went back out onto the dance floor. I glanced over as Amber came to sit down next to me, her own heels clutched in her hand. “Hey, Ambs. You doing okay?” I asked.
“Yeah. Just a bit worn down is all,” she admitted with a sigh. “It’s been a really long and busy day after all, Who knew getting married could be so exhausting!” I giggled at that. “But yeah... this has been wonderful! It’s everything I could have hoped for. And having you and Jimmy, and the Gems... all my closest friends here..” She sighed softly. “It all makes up for the ones that weren’t yanno?”
I nodded solemnly. Amber’s parents had pretty much disowned her when she’d ‘came out’ back in junior high. Ultra-religious, ultra-conservative types, they couldn’t simply accept their daughter for who she was. As far as I knew, Amber hadn’t spoken to them since. In fact, Jimmy had made an effort to reach out to them before the wedding, wanting to at least give them a chance to attend and maybe make up with their daughter. According to Jimmy, the dad had responded with only four words: We have no daughter.
“Well, you’re definitely sounded by people that love and care for you,” I said easily, choosing not to dwell on the negative. “And most importantly, you’re MARRIED! You and Emily are an offical couple now, ’til death do you part’, and all that. That’s about as committed to each other as a two people can get.” Amber laughed, hugging me warmly.
“You know, all those years back, I never would have imagined this,” she admitted softly. “Jimmy Frasier... the guy annoys me sometimes, and other times, he makes me want to kick him in the balls.” I glanced sidelong at her. “But aside from that... I fucking LOVE that annoying crazy guy! If it wasn’t for him, Emily and I would have never admitted out feelings for each other. Granted, he picked the single more embarrassing and humiliating way possible to get us together,” she admitted with a slight edge, “but I can’t deny that without that push, we wouldn’t be here together this way right now.”
As the reception wound down, and the couple prepared to take off to their honeymoon suite, we did the traditional wedding gift presentation. I was particularly excited about this part! There were the usual, traditional wedding gifts, of course... appliances, toasters, microwaves, bedsheets and such. There was even a gag gift—Amanda nearly busted a gut laughing at Emily’s face as she opened her gift, a large box filled with various sex toys and a large jar of lube.
“Hey, it’s your honeymoon after all,” she’d teased them. “What better time to get ‘freaky’ and experimental than now?”
The biggest surprise for the couple was Diane’s gift—a two-week cruise in the Bahamas. “The ship departs at noon tomorrow,” she’d explained, grinning. “That should give you both enough time to enjoy your honeymoon tonight, but you’ll still want to get enough rest to make it to the dock on time.”
Finally, it was time for our gift. Glancing at each other, Jimmy and I each presented Amber and Emily with a small wooden box. “As you can guess, these are from both of us,” I said, barely restraining the urge to jump up and down in anticipation. “It’s not much, but it is heartfelt.”
Jimmy nodded. “And, well, you know me. I’m nothing if not practical.”
Shrugging, they both opened their boxes to find... a pair of laminated bus schedules. “Ummm...” Amber said, glancing at her wife in confusion. “Thank... you? I think?”
“A bus schedule,” Emily replied listlessly. “And you... laminated it. You... shouldn’t have. Really.”
I couldn’t help but giggle at their reaction. “Well, the gift is symbolic,” Jimmy explained, “considering that you both attend the university and regularly ride the bus to get around town.” His grin turned wicked. “Of course, just like with you girls, and, really, with all of us, there’s more to this gift that meets the eye. Take them out of their boxes.” Shrugging, they did so... only now noticing the thin wire attached to the end. As they lifted the schedules, they both pulled up a large key, hidden underneath the velvet lining of the box. Frowning, they both glanced at the keys, before Amber let out a gasp.
“No way! No fucking way!” she shrieked, shaking her head as she glanced at us. “You didn’t! Tell me you didn’t!”
“We did,” Jimmy replied with a smirk. “Matching ‘Hers and Hers’ BMW Z4 convertibles,” he announced with a bit of pride. “And not just factory models. Remember last week when I went back home to River City for a visit? I picked them both up from my dad. He installed a few special extras, perfect for the woman on the go who also spends time as a costumed heroi-mmmpph!” I laughed gleefully as both women hugged and kissed my boyfriend in delight. Then did the same to me.
All in all, it was a wonderful day, full of joy and happiness, and all around good feelings. We all waved to the pair as they drove off in their new cars, heading to their hotel. But once it was over, while Jimmy and I were heading back to our home, my melancholy returned. The wedding of our two friends had been a wonderful distraction for a while... but now that it was over, it only reinforced my own predicament all the more.
I wanted a wedding! I wanted to walk down the aisle to Jimmy one day, to take his ring, and say ‘I do’. I wanted a huge reception with all my family and friends there! I wanted to spend the night together in the honeymoon suite as man and wife! I wanted it all so much I could taste it. But...that could never be. In a little less than half a year, I was going to die. Permanently. I had Seen it over and over again, countless times. The vision wouldn’t go away. Hell, it was becoming clearer and more solid every day. And no matter what I did, what changes I made to the timeline, everything remained the same.
It was my fate. I couldn’t avoid or run from it. And there was no changing it. I was going to die.
“You’re kind of quiet,” Jimmy remarked, breaking me out of my thoughts.
“Oh... sorry,” I said with a half-shrug. “Just... you know. Thinking.”
“Oh... um... nothing specifically. Just life in general. About... the future...”
Jimmy nodded. “Well, that is your specialty after all.” He paused, frowning, as if considering something, then thought better of it. “Are you hungry? That reception food didn’t do much for my appetite. Want to stop off and grab a bite to eat?”
I grinned at that. “You mean like, McDonald’s? I could go for a Big Mac right about now—”
“Ha ha ha,” Jimmy muttered, rolling his eyes. “You’re just too funny. You know what Lorenzo threatened if he ever received word that Katie or I ever fell so low as to eat McDonald’s.” He shuddered slightly. “The guy’s not even a Super... but damn if I’ll ever cross him.”
“Oh come on. How would he even know?” I asked, teasingly.
“Oh, he’d know,” Jimmy replied firmly. “Believe me, he’d know.” I laughed again. “The Bonefish Grill is still open,” he replied curtly, turning to the left. “I’m taking us there.” I merely chuckled, shaking my head...
This was for the best. I just had to hold onto that thought.
Knocking on the door, I stood anxiously, glancing around at the neighborhood as I waited. The Albinns lived in a rather nice upscale house, nothing too fancy, or overstated, but certainly large enough for their ‘extended’ family. I couldn’t help but shake my head at that, ruefully. I had nothing against Parker and Veronica. Frankly, I thought they were great. But I really struggled with the concept of sharing the person I loved with another woman. I mean, it was obviously possible. The Albinns were making it work, as were Eugene and Lacie Frasier. And the Grimaldes had been managing it for several years now.
It’s kind of a hard thing to suddenly realize your selfish. That all this time you’ve been putting your own self-interests above those of everyone else, including those you love. I’d reached something of an epiphany that night after Emerald and Amber’s wedding. Jimmy was the most important person in my life, in BOTH my lives, as Skuld and as Devon. And all this time, in my mad race to try and subvert my impending death, to try and change my fate, I’d forgotten something very important. I’d forgotten Jimmy himself.
Just then the door opened, and a familiar face stepped into view.
“Hello, Albinn resi—DEVON! Hi!” Rose, er, Rosella, greeted me, hugging me warmly. “Wow! Come in, come in,” she said, beckoning me inside. “It’s so good to see you again! It’s been ages!” She sighed softly, chagrined. “Oh, um, it’s me, Rose,” she said with a slight blush. “I probably look a little different from the last time we hung out...”
I chuckled, nodding. “A bit, yes, but its a good look. Very nice. And... you seem really happy. Peaceful. Really calm, and composed.”
Rosella laughed, pleasantly. “Yeah, you could say that. There have been quite a few changes in my life since we hooked up to save your boyfriend down in Austin. For one thing, I gave up the cigarettes. Kicked the habit cold turkey.” I grinned at that. “And, I also... retired from the mercenary business. I accomplished what I needed to, and decided to quit.” She sighed softly. “But mostly... I’ve found peace and fulfillment. I’m not angry all the time anymore.”
I nodded again, biting my lip. I knew pretty much the reason for all the changes, even if I hadn’t witnessed them personally myself. I was well aware of her interactions with Venus Satore. And yes, I’d had my reservations, at least at first, about her retaining Rose and Chloe as her devoted slaves again. Even with the huge amount she’d changed over the past several months, she was still, at heart, the same person I’d known for millennia. But I couldn’t argue against the results right in front of my eyes. Jennifer Rose Contreras had been a hurt and fractured soul when I knew her as Devon... but the girl before me now was healed, happy, healthy and full of life.
A part of me felt like confiding in her how much I knew, and how, but Grandma Vurda’s edict about keeping the existence of the Nornir a secret to those not already in the know was in effect. And yet... Tawnya had pretty much outed me back in Texas anyway when she’d reacted to seeing me the very first time...
“So,” she said, regaining my focus, “I’m guessing you didn’t come all this way for just a friendly visit. Is something up?”
I shook my head. “No... not really. Well, sorta,” I amended, considering. “I’m actually here to see a friend of yours, Venus—”
Just then, the aforementioned woman walked by, pausing as she heard her name called. We both blinked, eyes meeting. I blinked in surprise, noting that she was carrying a newborn baby in her arms...baby... John was it? Wow... had nine months really passed by so quickly. Venus nodded her head at me. “Miss McKinley,” she said.
“Miss Satore,” I responded in kind.
Rosella frowned slightly, glancing from face to face. “Um... I take it you two... know each other?”
I winced slightly. “It’s complicated.”
Venus chuckled. “That’s putting it lightly. Rosella, sweetie, can you take the little one for me?” she asked, holding out the infant.
“Of course, Goddess,” Rosella answered eagerly, taking the baby. “Oooh... think he needs a change,” she stated, taking him down the hallway, cooing at him softly. “Who’s a stinky boy? Who’s a stinky boy? Hehehe... yes, you are...”
I couldn’t help but smile, trying to reconcile the lovely soft-spoken girl gibbering baby talk, with the hard-nosed no-nonsense mercenary I’d spent six weeks with traveling across the country trying to rescue Jimmy from Serpentina. For that matter, I’d never really imagined Venus herself showing motherly instincts. Heck, her son, Eros, had been raised mostly by the other gods and attendants back in the day.
“So, they have you looking after the baby?” I asked, moving to join her on the sofa.
“Just giving mother and father a bit of a breather,” she replied with a shrug. “Newborns can be quite a hassle, even when you’ve done the MOM thing before. And even if they do look like a couple in their thirties, both Parker and Roni are in their fifties.”
I nodded. “You know, I was a bit surprised to see Rose—”
“It’s ‘Rosella’,” she corrected me. I chuckled, rolling my eyes.
“Fine, fine. It was a surprise to see Rosella when I arrived. And, she was actually happy to see me.” I glanced at Venus sidelong. “I take it she doesn’t know about my Nornir side. If anything, I’m more surprised that she didn’t sense your animosity towards me through your link and immediately bite my head off.”
“She and Chloe aren’t actually enthralled to me at the moment,” Venus replied casually, causing me to do a double-take. “What? They chose to submit to me voluntarily, after all. I have no problem unhitching us from time to time.” She sighed softly. “Besides, both of them will likely outlive my current incarnation. I just figured it would be easier for them to just... get used to not being so tightly bound to me, so... why not start getting them used to it now while I can?”
I nodded softly. It was along the same thoughts I had myself. “You, um... you seem to be doing quite well,” I said with forced lightness. “Being with the Albinns... it suits you. Just like Rosella, I’ve never known you to be so... calm. Peaceful. And happy. And I NEVER would have pictured you babysitting.”
Venus laughed good-naturedly. “Honestly, I never thought I would have enjoyed it as much as I do. But yes... both Lucy and Baby John are a delight.” She sighed softly. “I wouldn’t mind having one of my own someday.”
“How do the Albinns feel about that?” I asked. “Have you talked to them about—”
“Yes, indeed,” Venus cut in with a smirk. “They’re actually all on board. Veronica loves the idea of increasing the family, and having the pitter-patter of more little feet around. The problem is that Parker is pretty much bound and determined NOT to be the father.” She sighed softly. “He doesn’t want to put Lucy and John through all the weirdness of having step-siblings that way. And, I suppose I can understand his point.” She shrugged. “Our living situation is strange enough as it is. I’m actually dreading the day when Lucy thinks to ask just how exactly she’s related to ‘Auntie Venus’, ‘Auntie Chloe’, and ‘Auntie Rose’...”
I giggled at that softly. “Yeah. Jimmy told me about the whole incident between Parker and Nigel, over her asking what a sex slave was.”
“So... um... will I?” Venus asked after a moment.
“Will you... what?”
“You know... find someone to have a child with,” she asked, blushing heavily. “C’mon, All-Seeing One. As much as you’ve been meddling in my life lately, surely you can look ahead and see if I ever have any children in this life.”
I grinned. My own future was pretty much off limits, but that at least I could See clearly. “As a matter of fact, you do,” I told her, choosing to hold back on the details a bit. After all, why ruin the surprise? “Assuming, of course, that the Cataclysm can be avoided, and the world doesn’t end sometime next year... then yes. I can say that it will take a lot of patience and perseverance... but the end result will be more than worth it.”
“Thank you for that,” she said sincerely. Taking a moment, she sighed. “So... what is it that you want?”
“As enjoyable as this has been,” Satore remarked, “whatever this is... I’m pretty sure you didn’t travel all this way for just a friendly chat. And you certainly wouldn’t have knocked and come inside. Usually, when you show up, you’re doing the whole ‘Mysterious Soothsayer’ bit, teleporting just behind me, saying something enigmatic and confusing. So, again, I ask—what do you want?”
Chagrined, I broke down and told her. About my vision. About how I’d tried for days, weeks now, to alter my fate, to change things, all to no avail. And then, I told her about my epiphany, about my realization about how selfish I’d been. “In the end, I feel the same way about Jimmy that you do about Rosella and Chloe,” I admitted. “That’s why... I’m calling in every favor you owe me, every single one right now.” I bit my lip, the words nearly choking in my throat, but I forced them out. “Venus... I need you to break the bond between me and Jimmy.”
Venus blinked, then again, saying nothing. Then she stood up, looking around, peering behind the couch and lamp. “Um... what are you doing?” I asked, scowling.
“Looking for the hidden cameras,” she replied, scowling. “I know they are here somewhere because this HAS to be some kind of prank!” I sighed deeply as she sat back down. “Really, Skuld? REALLY? Of all the idiotic, stupid, chickenshit... no. You know what? Just... no!”
“Why not?!?” I yelled, upset, starting to tear up. Outside, clouds were starting to gather, but I didn’t care. “You owe me this, V! You HAVE to do this!”
“No, I fucking DON’T!” she seethed. “And I refuse to! Hell, how long ago was it that I tried to break the bond between you and make Jimmy my own... and what did you threaten my acolyte with? Ah yes... ‘you’ll spend the rest of eternity in torment so great being allowed to die and go to the lowest circle of Hell would seem like a blessing’...”
“Okay! Fine! I admit it, I flew off the handle back then,” I admitted heatedly, a loud crash of thunder sounding somewhere outside. “But this is different!” I shook my head in frustration, hands clenched. Why the fuck was she making this so hard? “You don’t think this is HARD for me?!? You think I WANT this? Jimmy is my entire LIFE! He’s my soulmate—”
“EXACTLY!” Venus fired back, another loud rumble sounding outside. Lighting was striking the area pretty regularly, but neither of us cared. “What the two of you have is a blessing! A bond that transcends time and space, to be connected from the very moment you both first drew breath... and you want me to destroy that? No! FUCK NO!!” She sighed heavily, looking down at her feet. “Look. I get it, okay? I understand you wanting to spare Jimmy the heartbreak and pain of losing you if you die.”
“It’s not an ‘if’ anymore, Venus,” I said wearily. “It’s when. Dammit, it’s going to happen. I’d tried everything I can to change it.” I sniffed, wiping my eyes. “You already know what happened when Katie Frasier lost the one she loved. How it broke something inside her. She nearly destroyed the world, Venus... nearly unraveled reality itself! And Jimmy is even stronger than she was!”
“Exactly,” Venus replied, surprising me. “He is stronger than his sister. And I’m not just talking physically.” She placed a hand on my shoulder. “I know what you’re feeling. Believe me. But even if everything else around you falls to pieces, love is the one thing you have to hold onto. Love... and hope.” She sighed softly. “You can’t let go of either one. What’s the saying? ’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?’ Trying to spare Jimmy’s feelings will only hurt you both in the end.”
“Now! Cum now, slave!” Jimmy roared, thrusting up deep within me.
“Ohhhh gaaawwwdd Master YEESS!” I screamed, obeying, cumming, screaming my pleasure. “Nhhhn... hnnnnn... aaaahhhh... ohhhnnn... nnnnnmmm...” I gasped, shuddering, clenching tightly as I came one last time before collapsing, utterly spent. Jimmy held me gently, caressing my face as we kissed, then lay down, snuggling together. “Mmmmm... oh goddess bless,” I muttered sleepily. “I never get tired of this. If we would ever bottle this feeling right now and sell it, we’d be richer than your dad.”
Jimmy laughed, rubbing idly against me again. “I feel the same way, love.” He sighed softly. “Did you have a good day today?” he asked me gently, rousing me slightly. “You went out earlier. Something come up?”
“Oh, no, not really,” I said with a yawn. “Just... took a little trip. Spoke to Venus Satore earlier...yawn and had a nice little chat.” I stretched, pointing my toes as my legs lifted slightly, before wrapping them around his. “Did you know that Parker Albinn installed a lightning rod in his front yard?”
Jimmy frowned. “Huh? Really? Why’d he do that?”
I giggled. “Apparently when goddesses get overly emotional or pissed off, lightning tends to strike. A lot. And he was tired of having to redo his lawn every few days.” Jimmy chuckled as well.
After a moment of silence, I let out a soft sigh. “Master... I... um... can I ask you a serious question?”
“Would you be okay if anything happened to me?” He turned over to glanced at me, a frown on his face.
“I seriously doubt I’d be ‘okay’,” he said slowly, “probably the complete opposite of okay, actually. But if you’re wondering if I’d go off the deep end the way Katie did when she lost Jessica, then no. No need to worry about that.” He gave me a sad smile. “I’m more the type to internalize my pain and quietly self-destruct, not take the entire world down with me.” He leaned over and kissed me again. “But that’s not really a problem, is it? You’re not going to die anytime soon, love. I won’t let that happen.” He squeezed my hand gently, before turning back over and closing his eyes.
I nodded softly, staring at my lover, my Master, the love of my life, as he drifted off into slumber. Once he was fully and truly asleep, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes briefly. When they opened again, Devon had given way to Skuld, my full goddess aspect. Staring down at my love again, I smiled sadly. I lifted a glowing hand, hovering just above his head. Satore refused to help me, refused to break the bond of love between us. But there were other ways. With a simple touch, I could erase his memory of me. Of our time together. And, through a further extension of my power, erase my presence from the memories of all our friends as well—the Gems, Katie, Tawyna, Rosella... everyone that knew we had ever been together.
It would be difficult. It wasn’t strictly taboo, using my powers this way, though I knew Verdandi and Urdr would both disapprove. And,... it would be hard on me too. It would kill me inside, to be able to See him, watch him from afar, and not be a part of his life. It would... it would...
But no. I had to do this. I needed to be strong. For him. For Jimmy.
It wasn’t selfishness to do this. It was saving him from future pain and heartbreak. It was... it was a good thing. A noble thing. I... should feel good... about this. And yet... my hand was shaking like a leaf. It was so hard. All I had to do was touch his forehead. Just a single touch!
So... why couldn’t I do it?
I gasped softly, looking down to see him staring up at me. “J-jimmy? I thought... thought you were asleep...”
“You know I can’t sleep unless you’re sleeping beside me,” he chided lightly. “So... what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I lied, unconvincingly. Jimmy wasn’t even slightly fooled.
“Are you lying to your Master?” he asked gently, even as the rebuke stung me to my core. “Dev... if something is wrong, you know you can talk to me about it. Either of you, that is.” I blinked in surprise at that. He knew I was Skuld right now? No... of course he did. Of course he could tell.
He lifted my chin, staring into my eyes. “Is it about what you asked me earlier? Are you really that scared of what I’d do if something happened to you?” Unable to speak, I nodded. “Baby... it’s going to be okay. I promise you.” He pulled me into him then. “Nothing is going to happen to you. I would move Heaven and Earth to make sure of it. We’re both going to grow old together, and be cool, gray-haired old fogeys, surrounded by grandkids talking about crap that we won’t understand. Okay?” he asked, expectantly. “I know the future is your thing. But sometimes, you can’t go by what you think. Sometimes you have to go with what you feel. And just have a little hope and faith.”
Hope. That word again. “All right,” I said softly, finally slipping under the covers next to him. I wasn’t sure if my fate was indeed set or not. But the man I loved and trusted more than anything asked me to have faith in him, and hope for our future together. And as my goddess aspect faded once more and I slid into slumber, I decided to do just that. Have faith... and hope.