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Aberrant: 200X - Seven Days [Mature]

Jael Carver

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Jael arced down through the sky, the now-familiar scenery below signaling that she needed to drop her altitude. She was on approach to Whistler, getting ready to enjoy a week of Spring Break in the least hip place on the planet. It wasn’t the kind of vacation she’d been looking forward to this time last year, but it only emphasized the changes Sunshine had brought to her life. Sometimes, it made her feel like she was giving her life up for someone else; other times, she didn’t really care. When that someone was Sunshine, it didn’t seem like such a big thing.

The city was zipping by below her, the cars no bigger than decks of cards at this height. Far below her, the baselines went on about their lives, note even noticing her. If she walked among them, they’d notice, but at this distance, she was nothing to them.

A flash of gold in the early evening derailed her thoughts. Jael had become so attuned to that particular hue of gold, with those swirling motes, that her eyes instantly snapped to it. A grin lit up her face as she changed the angle of her descent minutely to meet the comet of gold that was now soaring up to her. The two novas cut their speeds back just enough to not clobber each other. Jael was giggling as his arms wrapped around her; he laughed as she caught him around the neck.

“I’ve missed you!” Sunshine said immediately, his breath warm on her ear.

“And I’ve missed you, too,” Jael confirmed, hugging him a little tighter. She’d not been able to get up to Canada every weekend like she’d hoped and it had been, by her estimation, far too long. “Mmm, I’m so glad I’m here!”

Sunshine pulled back from her, holding her hands gently in his own. “I’m glad you’re here, too,” he told her and she took that moment to study him. He was just the same as before, but there was a maturity to his eyes that hadn’t been there before. His time at school was aging him, just as it did to every other person. It made her a little sad, but she wouldn’t have stopped it for anything. “Hey, Jael, guess what?” he asked her, his expression becoming somber.

“What?” Jael asked, tilting her head a little as a flutter of concern rippled through her.

“BAM! COCK!” he laughed, his expression becoming jovial again.

“I knew it!” Jael laughed in mock-outrage, lightly hitting him on the shoulder. “I knew you were going to say that!”

“It’s still funny!” he giggled, spinning her around him.

“Of course it is!” Jael laughed, letting herself be swung. The motion made her lightheaded, even more so than usual around Sunshine. “It’s BAM! COCK!”

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Sunshine grinned and slowed the spin, deep blue eyes still sparkling as he took in Jael's laughter-flushed face. He'd been waiting above Jason's home for the last half-hour, nova-sharp eyes scanning the sky for miles until he caught his first glimpse of her. For a moment he paused, his expression taking on a tinge of apprehension and his lips parting as though he would speak, but the moment passed and he flashed Jael another solar-wattage smile.

"Come on." he urged as he swung her around to face Jason's penthouse and led the way, tugging gently on her hands as he flew backwards. "Jason's stocked up with food and stuff - we did that this morning - and she's all packed." Sunshine's smile became sheepish. "I think I've been driving her a little nuts since I learned you were coming. I couldn't sleep for a day or two and then I was playing guitar all last night." Naturally, Sunshine looked as fresh as a daisy, but given his extraordinary constitution that was hardly surprising. About the only deprivation that could slow him down was lack of ambient light energy, Jael knew. It was probably a good thing then that his guardian was a woman renowned for similar if not greater stamina, though Jason Bellefleur was very much attached to sleeping as a way to recharge mentally. Jael grinned at the sheepish expression on Sunshine's face and squeezed his hands affectionately.

"I'm sure Jason's not been driven nuts by you. Though reporting on his phone call to Danielle in the chat..." she pursed her lips and tsk'd, then smiled. "You're lucky you can fly, hon." Sunshine laughed as they set down on the balcony and walked into the spacious lounge.

"Jason?" he called, blue eyes searching for his Amazonian big sister figure. "Jael's here!"

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"About time!" Jason teased good naturedly, her rich, velvety soprano reaching them a moment before she exited her room. Her prominent breasts jutted proudly as she moved hands up and behind her head to work her ass-length mane of glistening silver hair into a high ponytail with familiar ease.

Jason looked devastatingly stunning dressed casually in a pair of relaxed-fit jeans hanging from her hips and one of her habitual, snug T-shirts, writing distorted by her spectacular curves. One didn't get used to seeing a woman with Jason's peerless pulchritude - it was just about impossible - but could build up an endurance to it with enough exposure.

"Hey, Jael, glad you could make it up, and I see you are too," Jason said with a friendly smile, nodding in greeting. Then she rolled her faintly glowing, indigo eyes and jerked a thumb at Sunshine. "Since startin' music class and seein' the guitar in the corner of my room, Alex here has developed a new passion. Which is all well and good, but not all the time." Jason snorted in wry amusement. "At least I didn't have a drum set layin' around, eh?"

Jason's smile turned a touch wistful. "I am glad you're havin' such fun learnin' it though, Alex, really. I meant to learn before, but hockey took up too much time and after I erupted, I just... knew how," Jason admitted with subdued understatement.

It was just like how she knew how to act, or sing, how to dress, apply make-up and wear heels (when she bothered to put in the effort), or even speak Russian. It was like her sex-change came with build in girl lessons, though if that was really the case, wouldn't she have been a better cook and been a demon with the washing machine? She still sometimes ruined some of her underwear.

Though she enjoyed acting, she did feel like sometimes she was missing out on the sheer joy experienced in learning something, developing hard earned skills, like she had in playing hockey. She stomped on the thought immediately, she had no right to any self-pity.

Feeling the cool March air blow in from the open balcony door despite Alex's warm glow, Jason pulled on a baggy, comfortable grey hoodie that didn't do much to conceal her remarkable figure. "Anyway, hope your exams went well and your flight was okay, but I have to go catch mine now, because..." She quickly cut both of them off with a raised finger before they could open their mouths. Because, yes, I can't fly without a plane."

"Or a helicopter," Sunshine added helpfully.

"Or a helicopter," Jason agreed with a mock look of martyred patience. She wouldn't admit it, but after losing a younger brother in a car accident years ago, and an older sister a bit later to her own self-destructive Node-chasing desire, Jason was rather enjoying playing the part of big brother... er, sister, again. Jason grinned, fainting a lunge at Sunshine. "Don't make me have to give ya some nuclear noogies."

Jason picked up her sunglasses and a piece of paper from a side-table, handing the sheet to Jael. "Here are the numbers Dani and I can be reached at, just, y'know, in case. I'm not planning on answering anybody except you and Alex. There is also a credit card that I co-signed for Alex frozen in ice in the freezer, if there is an accident or emergency money can solve." Full lips bent into a smirk, twilight eyes sparkling. "See you guys in about a week, and try not to burn the place down again, eh?"

Jason chuckled softly at Sunshine's faint blush, then picked up her luggage. And Jael could see that despite the very feminine packaging, there was still some of the guy left behind, for Jason's luggage for a week long trip consisted of a small carry-on and a single suitcase hardly larger.

"Have fun guys. Do svidaniya."

Jason picked up her keys, tossed them in the air with an effortlessly graceful flourish, then sauntered to the private elevator. As she doors closed, she slipped on her shades - she was driving her big pick-up to the airport and the day was sunny and bright and full of promise.

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“A week!” Jael laughed suddenly as the door closed. She was nearly giddy at the thought of spending a week alone with Sunshine. She should probably evaluate why she felt like that, but Jael rarely practiced any form of self-analysis and right now she had better things to do with her time. She tightened her grip on his hand and turned to her Sunshine. “So, what do you wanna do first?”

“I don’t know,” Sunshine answered. There were so many options laid out before them: hiking, fight-practice, movies, food – too many options made choosing difficult. And those were just what they had discussed; there were a ton of other things that they could do.

Jael considered for a moment, tapping her lips with a finger. “When I was little and had trouble making a decision, my mom and I would write all the possibilities on a scrap of paper and then draw one out randomly. That sounds as good a way as any to pick what we’re doing!”

The hiking was removed from consideration, as it was already heading toward evening. They added ‘joyflying’ – Sunshine’s new made-up word – and paint-ball to the list then cut up the pieces of paper and dumped them into a hat. It was silly, but they were both in a silly mood. Each drew out a choice and compared: Sunshine picked paintball while Jael snagged movies. “Well,” she said with a smile, “we’re going out.”

The paintball was a bust; they were reserved through Saturday already. Jael and Sunshine made reservations for Sunday afternoon. Movies were the next option and the two poured over a local listing. After some light back and forth, they decided to choose two of the newest Bollywoods, an action/adventure pirate movie and a comedy cop-buddy flick. There was time before the first movie, so they opted to have dinner. Jael was hungry, since she had the SNA (Standard Nova Appetite). Though Sunshine wasn’t, he was always up to trying something new. They decided to try an Iranian place not far from the theatre.

Throughout the process of deciding what to do, Jael had been struck by how odd it was to be alone with Sunshine. Before, there had always been someone around, pretty much all the time. It had never before been just the two of them. That thought made her stomach curl with a strange delight. She didn’t mind the feeling; it was more exciting than anything else. She wondered if Sunshine felt the same way, but she waited until they were at their table and had placed their order before saying anything.

Sunshine smiled at her as the waitress left; before he could start a new topic, she asked, “So… I realized that until now, there’s always been someone else around when we’ve hung out for any length of time. Even when I came to your school, Jason was around after we came back to the condo. Is it just me or is it weird being alone? I mean, not bad, just odd?”

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"Umm." Sunshine pondered for a few seconds that as he sipped his coke, his lightspeed neural processes weighing, measuring and analysing. The glowing boy reflected that weird wasn't his first thought on the matter of being alone with Jael. Awesome was a suitable adjective. Exciting too, in a way he hadn't really examined until now. It was strange, in that it was an unfamiliar sensation. He shifted a little in his chair, aware of an odd tautness in his lower abdomen as he contemplated the smiling woman across from him. It wasn't like the physical arousal he reflexively felt around Jason and Dani, which was (according to Jason) perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Being who he was, Sunshine took these things in stride, not really having any ingrained sense of shame or neurosis. He knew that Jason knew the effect she had, and they were cool, because Jason had been an adolescent male and knew the score. It was kind of funny, really, and silly.

But this wasn't really like that. It was a warmer feeling, deeper and was all through him rather than just around his 'barge'. He reflected in the long, stretched out second or two that this had significance, but Jael was still looking at him inquisitively, and his mind shifted gears and rejoined the flow of the conversation as lowered the glass from his lips.

"I'd say... yes, it's odd. It's a new feeling, being alone with you like this. It's good to be with you and be able to express myself properly and comprehend you in turn. And to think of the whole week to share with you... it makes me feel warm." he finished simply, smiling at her. "Warm all the way through."

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“That’s not hard,” Jael said, laughing a little. “You’re fueled by solar power – of course you’d be warm.” His words made her smile. Of course, they always did that to her; brought a grin to her face like nothing else could. It was one of the good things about him – that he could make it easy to feel close to him while still feeling like herself.

Charles had forced those feelings on her, without regard to her own person. She remembered how that felt, to have her ego crushed under another’s. She’d never loved anyone like she loved Charles. She couldn’t love anyone like that; her feelings for him hadn’t been natural. He’d bent her to his will and made her be what he wanted. She’d been a doll; his puppet and she’d loved it. She’d never been able to shake that feeling; the delight of being totally, utterly in love. Even when he’d hurt her, it had been okay, because she’d loved him. The truth that hurt the most was that some part of her still did love him. She’d felt so complete when he’d made her feel that way and it had been good. Safe. Wonderful.

“Jael?” His voice jerked her head up and she realized she’d been staring at the table, not saying anything.

“I’m sorry,” she said, looking a little lost. “I didn’t hear what you said.” Sunshine knew something was up; he was way smarter than her and those blue eyes were probing as he looked at her. He opened his mouth and she whispered, “Not right now. You’re going to ask what’s wrong. Not here.” Her grey eyes were troubled and afraid as she said, “Just pick up the conversation again, please.”

“I said, not warm like that.” Sunshine was good at doing what she asked, but she could see how much it bothered him.

“I know,” Jael said with a grin, feeling some of the cold fear in her heart ease. Charles was dead. Let him stay buried – or whatever Kazuo had done with the body. “I’d be making a tasteless joke right now if it were anyone other than you.”

“When will you stop treating me differently?” Sunshine asked. “Like you treat others?”

It was a fair question, if an uncomfortable one. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. She reached over the table and touched his hand, her fingers sliding over his sun-kissed skin. His aura was deliciously warm and invited her to put more than her fingers into it, but she kept in her seat. “I know that I can hurt people without meaning to, and I don’t want to hurt you. So I’m just playing this by ear. I am being overly cautious, maybe too cautious. But I don’t want you hurt.”

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"I think I understand." Sunshine nodded, sky-blue eyes soft as he turned his hand over and gently returned the touch, his fingers brushing against her palm. He smiled. "It'd be kind of stupid of me to resent you caring about me, wouldn't it?"

"A little, perhaps." Jael replied, trying not to think too much about hoow good the brush of his fingers felt. "Teenagers do that a lot, though." She grinned. "You're due some adolescent rebellion any day now: Jason and I live in fear of it. Although..." she narrowed her eyes at him "Taking orbital flights outside the atmosphere is pretty rebellious. I could practically see Jason laying an egg when she read that."

"It was just the once." he protested mildly, a blush suffusing his tanned skin. "Jason wasn't that mad, just worried that Utopia would blame her. Which, by the way, would be stupid. It's not like Jason has me on a leash and collar." He rolled his eyes, smiling. "Every time the Utopia rep comes on home visits we can practically see him looking around for the empty bottles, depravity dungeon and homemade drug factory. It's like the door has an inscription above it saying 'Here there be LESBIANS. Abandon all virtue, ye who enter here.'" Sunshine feigned horror and pantomimed shying away.

"Sunshine!" Jael was laughing.

"But it's true! He does act like that." he said, a sparkle of mischief in his clear blue eyes. "Now that kind of protectiveness I can do without. It's a sham anyway." he said dismissively, eyes darkening as he frowned and shook his head. A lock of his tumbling mane of golden hair fell over his brow as his jaw took on a firm set. "They just want to take me away. I know Dr Jia wants me to live at the facility."

"Well, she's just one person in Utopia. Professor Dowlson likes you and wants you to be happy. He recommended that you live with people you know and trust." Jael reminded him gently. "Don't worry too much about them spiriting you away, Sunshine. You're not exactly easy to make disappear." Privately, Jael reflected that the whole world had been watching since the Crush. Sunshine had become a local mascot of sorts, a symbol of the tragedy and those who survived. And then there was that Bahrain fight last October, when Pax got his ass handed him by Divis Mal on international news. Utopia didn't look good there, and a lot of people were watching them for more mistakes. One gorgeous glowing boy wasn't going to be on their sinister agenda. Reflexively, she reached across the table and brushed the stray lock away from his face, smiling as she felt it's texture and wondering what it would feel like to tangle her fingers in his angel's mane.

Sunshine smiled back at her, the cloud chased from his expression as her touch restored his usual good humor. He liked it when she did that: it was one reason he wore his hair loose when she was around. His usual approach to grooming was to wash it, comb it, and let it dry in the heat of his aura, then run a brush through it now and then and leave it loose. A little wild-looking, it complemented his features rather than detracting from them. Sometimes he would loosely tie it back, for gym class or guitar practice for instance.

"Anyway," Jael said, sitting back as the waitress came over with two large bowls of a soup made from pomegranate juice and seeds, yellow split peas, ground beef, mint leaves and spices, along with a bowl of fresh fruit and a platter of flatbreads. "Back to your space adventures." She narrowed her eyes again in mock annoyance, but her smile was warm. Sunshine grinned back and nibbled some flatbread.

"It was awesome." he enthused. "I could hear the stars singing, Jael, and this rush of energy filling me up was like... like..." he sought for an accurate comparison, then shrugged. "I don't know what it was like." he admitted, snagging a date from the fruit bowl and sampling it. "Mmm. These are good. Anyway, I won't do that again until I'm legally responsible for myself. I saw an N! report about the Daedalus League and how they explore space, and I think that's cool. I think I'm going to need to fly faster though. The Moon is 356,400 kilometers away. That would take me..." - he paused for a second as he did the calculation - "237 hours to reach. Nearly 10 days at full speed. Wow." His eyes went wide. "That puts it in perspective. Maybe I won't go to the Moon then. There's still plenty to see and do down here, after all." He grinned and took a spoonful of his soup, tasting it.

"Hey, this is nice." he smiled at Jael, dipping his flatbread in the soup before taking a bite.

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"It is," Jael agreed after taking her own taste. She wasn't sure if she was really talking about the soup, but she didn't care to analyze that either. Time enough for all that bullshit later, when she wasn't spending time with Sunshine.

They kept the mood light during dinner, enjoying their food and catching up on their lives. Their conversations were different now; Sunshine had the vocabulary and maturity to really talk with her. When Jael mentioned her classwork and what she was studying, he not only understood it, he knew enough to ask questions about it. He could tell her not only what he was studying but what conjectures he’d drawn from it or what he’d learned on the side. It was like he’d advanced a decade in the few weeks their contact had been limited.

After dinner, they left the restaurant and took to the air, heading for the theatre they’d chosen. They had some time to kill, so they settled down on a roof to wait. Sunshine had his hand in hers, but when a chilly burst of wind crossed her skin, Jael let go of his hand and cuddled under his arm. She did it because he was even warmer than her eufiber, but she also did it because she wanted to be that close to him.

What did that mean? Jael was somewhat sure she knew at least partially what it meant, but she wasn’t sure what that meant for her. She was comfortable with her relationship with Shelly and knew its limits, bounds and protocols. As she rested her head on his shoulder, she reflected that she didn’t know any of that with Sunshine. This was a strange new world for her and she was more than a little lost. Normally, she’d just tackle and grind down any man’s resistance to her if she wanted to be close to him. But not Sunshine.

His arm settled over her shoulder and she relaxed as his warmth enclosed her. She could hear his heart, strong and steady and heard him inhale. Her eyes drifted shut as he said her name, his voice soft. “Yes?” she replied softly.

“What was it, in the restaurant?” His arm tightened gently as she stiffened, not expecting this so soon.

“Sunshine, please, it’s not something I want to talk about,” she murmured, turning her head into his warmed, clothed shoulder.

“You don’t want to cause me to come to harm,” Sunshine said, his voice soft but firm. She felt his breath blow over her hair as he spoke. “Whatever this is, it hurts you, and I don’t want to see it hurt you anymore.”

“It’s something in the past, Sunshine, just a bad memory,” Jael said. “He can’t hurt me anymore.”

“But it still hurts you,” Sunshine pointed out. “I see it. You say it’s only a memory, but it’s more. Tell me, so I can help you.”

Jael was quiet. No one had ever exorcized Charles’s ghost from her mind. “I don’t know that there’s anything to help,” she said softly.

“If I said that to you, what would you tell me?” Sunshine asked her.

Startled, Jael looked up into his eyes, blinking rapidly. She saw a fierce determination there as well as the affection she always saw in his gaze. “I’d tell you I’d want to know anyway, so that when it hurts, I can at least help you through it,” she answered honestly.

“And that is why I want you to tell me,” Sunshine said. “So I can hug you when you get that look, and know what to say to drive it away.”

Jael bit her lip, unsure. She’d never told anyone after the initial explanations to her mother and Shelly. She tried to not even think about it, as much as she was able. “When I was growing up, my psychologist – you know what that is, right? Ok, mine was a closet nova. He could affect people mentally. Given enough time, he could literally rearrange minds.

“The way I am, the ease with which I hook up with people for the short-term, comes from the way I was built,” Jael continued. She was delving into everything, because it was Sunshine, and of all the people in the world, he wouldn’t look at her differently afterwards. “I was born with a difficulty to make emotional connections with ease. I should have been a social outcast, but Charles taught me how to appear normal. How to blend in.

“In the process, he became possessive of me.” Jael paused and swallowed, but only for a moment. “He made me love him, something that’s hard for me to do. He made it happen. I don’t even remember when, now. There are… pieces of my memory that are gone, that he took away and replaced with what he wanted.

“That’s why I don’t like telepaths or people in my head. It reminds me of being under his thumb.” Jael was quiet for another beat before adding, “He’s dead now. Another nova found out what was happening and killed him.” The blonde nova was sure she’d expressed everything and so she added with a soft hitch in her voice, “It’s being someone puppet but liking that. I was okay with being his puppet because he told me to be okay with it. You don’t even realize that it isn’t your life, your choices, until someone rips you out of it and shakes you until your head clears.” Her face was wet and she rubbed at the tears as subtly as she could.

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"That's horrible." Sunshine said quietly as he looked out over the city, his eyes distant and unfocused as he tried to imagine being forced to like, to love someone, and not even knowing it. He couldn't imagine it. He couldn't even conceive of someone doing it. He thought it through, tried to understand. Maybe this Charles guy was lonely? Sad? Perhaps, being a telepath, he found it hard to be friends with people. And then Jael came along, and she was young and beautiful and needed to be fixed, by what she said. And the urge to help became the desire to shape a person which became the obsession with owning them? Was that it? He considered how lucky he was that Jael had found him, had stayed with and helped him. She had taught him without trying to shape him, and so had Jason and the Professor, and even Doctor Randalls had tried to be impartial in her teaching. Charles must have been broken inside to do those things to Jael. Mingled with the dark anger was sadness, most of it for the girl snuggled under his arm but a small piece reserved for the sad, twisted man who'd done so much harm to her. He turned his head to look down and saw Jael surreptitiously wiping at the tears on her cheeks.

For a moment he was startled almost to the point of panic. Jael was crying! Jael never cried! She was always so centered and in charge of herself. It was almost surreal to the young man, as though the universe had shifted five feet to the left and down and he was still trying to find his footing with his heart in his throat. His immediate impulse was to cling to her and beg her not to cry, to express his own fear and distress at seeing her upset.

"Let me." he said quietly instead, lifting a surprisingly (to him) steady hand to her face and gently wiping away the tears with sun-warm fingers. For a moment Jael looked as though she would protest, would sit up and collect herself, but as she opened her mouth to speak, with her muscles already tensing to pull away, her reddened eyes met his. Whatever she saw there caused her to relax against him quietly, letting his gentle touch dry her face then stroke through her hair, his usually, well, sunny expression one of mature compassion as he tended to her.

"Thank you." he said quietly, hugging her close. "Thank you for telling me, Jael."

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“You’re my friend,” Jael said, her voice still a little thick with tears but sounding a little better. She sniffed and took a deep breath, getting her emotions under control. That breath filled her with his scent, warmth and summer together. She leaned into him a little more, soaking up his concern and tenderness. “This is something I’ve only told my closest friends.”

There was a delighted look in his eyes at that statement. But there was a welling of apprehension as well. It was slight enough that Jael let it go, right now. She wanted to address it, but right now, she couldn’t handle another emotional issue. She made a note to pursue it later, at a better time. For now, she leaned against him and merely said, “When I came back from the Crush, I was upset then, as well. That was because – and this you can’t tell anyone – was because we’d found the body of someone who had been manipulated like that. That’s what was wrong with me. I was broken up by that.” She smiled. “You helped me without even knowing what was wrong.”

The tall blonde shifted, putting her legs over Sunshine’s legs so that she could sit straight instead of curved. “You are a good friend,” she said, smiling at him. “You know, everyone thought that you were the one being rescued when I found you in the Crush. But I’m starting to think that I was the one that actually benefited the most from that. You have no idea how hard it is for me to make real friends, people I actually trust and care about. But you made it easy to be your friend. You make it very easy for people to like you; it’s one of your many gifts.”

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"Thanks." he said, a trifle shy all of a sudden, blushing and grinning goofily as he turned to gaze at a distant new helicopter for a moment, making sure that the eye-in-the-sky wasn't seeking them. It gave him a little time to compose himself before turning back to meet Jael's eyes. "Do you think it's because I'm... well, not really like everyone else? I mean, people have histories, and those histories shape them and what they expect and how they see the world. You never know what people have hidden in their pasts unless you were there."

He was pleasantly aware of Jael's legs over his and her arms around him, and was relieved that she wasn't sitting on his lap. Though it might be a normal reaction, he imagined that it probably wasn't exactly the act of a comforting friend to... well... 'prod', for want of a better word.

"That might be part of it." Jael replied softly, her eyes on his face. "But not all of it." She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, feeling the sunlight on her face like a hot day in the tropics. Sunshine fought the urge to press his cheek against hers, to kiss her back. It wouldn't be right... would it? She trusted him, cared about him, and he didn't want that to change. Was that why was he frightened to tell Jael how much he liked her? If they 'hooked up'... would he still be her Sunshine? Or would it ruin everything?

"I know what the rest of it is." he said soberly, looking soulful. Jael looked back at him, faint apprehension in her eyes. Sunshine slid his free arm under her legs as, with a pulse of quantum, he lifted off the roof's edge, carrying Jael in his arms. He looked down at her and grinned widely.


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Jael laughed with delight, her head tipping back as she was lofted into the air. She put her arms around his neck-

-slid her hand down his body, to show him what BAM! COCK! could really be like-

With an effort, Jael stopped the fantasy. She wasn’t going down that road with Sunshine. He didn’t deserve to walk the same path as Paul; he deserved a long, fulfilling relationship – with great sex – instead of a glorious fuck with a nova-ho. He wasn’t Kazuo or Ein; Sunshine had never had the life-hardening events that had made positive relations with women like Jael possible. Sadly, a relationship with Jael could sour him enough toward women to make him like Ein and Kazuo, but Jael wasn’t going to be responsible for that.

She contented herself with hugging him tight, putting her head on his shoulder. “Bam! Cock! Indeed,” she agreed with him, inhaling his scent as she nosed lightly against his shoulder. Stop that.

Hey, I managed not to grope him. I’m not made of stone! Cut me a break!

“I don’t really feel like a movie anymore,” she told him, lifting her head so she could talk. “Would you mind if we skipped the show and did something else?”

“Like?” His blue eyes fastened on her as he tilted his head to look at her. It put his lips so close, and Jael had a second where her libido was wondering if sexing him up was really that bad of a thing.

“I could teach you some moves,” Jael offered, keeping her mind firmly out of the gutter. “I’m kinda in a bad mood, so I could go for blowing off some steam.” Normally, talk like that would mean something other than sparring but this was her Sunshine. She wasn’t going to hurt him like that. “Whadda say? Wanna pound on me for a while?”

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The phantom sensation where Jael had laid her head against his t-shirt clad shoulder and nuzzled lightly was still haunting Sunshine's hormonally-overactive mind. He found himself watching Jael's mouth as she spoke, wondering what it felt like to kiss: really kiss. More to the point, what it felt like to kiss Jael. There were plenty of guys who wanted to, that was for certain - she must be good at it. He was sure that she liked him. Hadn't she said last night in the chatroom about how, if a girl was always touching and stuff, she was into you? But what if she'd meant other girls...?

"Whadda say? Wanna pound on me for awhile?"

He blinked and stared at her for a moment, unable to prevent a faint rush of colour darkening his face. The universe has no sense of comedic timing, the abstract part of Sunshine's brain supplied. Ideally, that question should have come when he had a mouthful of something, so he could choke and spit-take. The non-abstract areas of Sunshine's brain had no comment on this: they were too busy going 'Fwaaaaah...?!'

Did she just...? She's talking about FIGHTING practice. But she said... So it was a poor choice of words? Nothing to get excited about. Why was it that he could take the blatant sensuality of Bombshell relatively in his stride, but Jael seemed to be able to hotwire his nerves to his brain like this?

"Sounds like fun." he managed, his voice sounding a little strangled to his own ears as, still carrying her, he gained altitude and turned a little. He grinned weakly. "I think you'll have to show me how before we can get down to any serious pounding, though." Oh crap, it gets worse! I did NOT just say that!!! He was so aware of the warmth of her body against him, her face close to his... The glowing youth laughed nervously. "I mean, um, well, you know what I mean. So... Where do we go to do this? Home, or did you have somewhere else in mind" he asked, deciding to move on swiftly rather than try to salvage any sort of poise from his stumble.

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His awkwardness was a harsh reminder that he wasn’t the same Sunshine he’d been last time she’d been to Whistler. Moreover, it was a reminder that he understood innuendo, too. He really was a teenaged boy now, not just in mind but on socialization. Talking about sex with their peers was easy; talking about it with adults impossible. Jael’s smile faltered for a second as she felt a hundred years old.

Jael knew that she should probably apologize for upsetting him, but decided to blow past it and be more careful about what she said. Part of her was a little sad; she didn’t want him to grow up. She didn’t want to have to watch what she said around him. “We probably shouldn’t do this in Jason’s house, just in case,” she said, nibbling on a lip as she considered the options. “Do you know somewhere secluded where possible property damage could be limited? A park would be best, but one where we can’t be seen.”

Sunshine thought for a moment then nodded. “Yes, Lost Lake is like that.” Without further prompting, he turned and headed for that park. The lake wasn’t really lost; it wasn’t even that far from buildings. But it was isolated and thick with trees and empty at this time of night. “Is this good?”

“Yeah, great,” Jael nodded as Sunshine set her down. Her jeans and shirt morphed into a black body suit as she stepped away from him. “Alright, let’s start with a punch. Make a fist.” Sunshine did and Jael made some changes, moving his thumb and pressing to make sure his fingers were all the way closed. “The rule with punching is that you want to hit with your knuckles and keep your wrist stiff.” She walked him through the motion of the punch slowly several times, then stepped in front of him and held up her hands. “Now, hit my hands, slowly. Only use about half-strength.”

As always, Sunshine was a rapid learner, soaking up the instruction like a sponge. Jael had thought they’d work on punches and kicks all night but soon decided to keep going. “Since you want this for defense rather than offensive, how about we focus on grapples and holds. You want to fight off baselines without killing them, right?” The gorgeous youth gave her a somber nod. “Then nothing says ‘self-defense’ like a good hold. You get it on them right and you can hold them forever.”

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"Okay." Sunshine was feeling more centered now. The lesson was enough to distract him from the earlier dose of awkward, and it was fun just mock-fighting with Jael, trying to just tag her lightly as she showed him blocks and counters, pulling a new one out every five minutes or so to keep him on his toes. It was playing, even if it was for a serious purpose, and he felt once more that closeness to Jael that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with perfect trust and friendship. He smiled at her and waited for her next instruction.

"Right." Jael beckoned him towards her. "Most untrained or part-trained people will try to grab like this-" she demonstrated by grabbing Sunshine's t-shirt with one hand "-so they can hit with the free hand or this-" she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him in a clumsy bear-hug "-so they can try to wrestle you down. The problem is that while you might have hold of someone, they can still hurt you with their arms, legs, even their head or teeth if you're careless." She stepped back, conscious of his warmth on her hands and arms as they slid away from his body.

"Grappling can be divided into takedowns and holds. The takedowns are there to stop someone being an immediate threat. Locking their wrist, taking away any weapons, and bringing them to the ground so that they can't attack you effectively is the objective of a takedown. After that you shift into a hold, which does just that." she explained, liking the intent listening expression in his blue eyes as they rested on her face. "We'll start with the takedowns. Any good takedown will use momentum - yours and theirs - and leverage to do the deed. Even if you're stronger than them, it's better to use skill rather than brute force, especially since that helps prevent them from being hurt too much."

She showed him then, having him come at her and attempt to strike or grab her in slow-motion then demonstrating where to grab the wrist and arm, how to keep the other's body in motion so that they couldn't help but end up face down with an arm bound behind their back.

"You can do a hold on someone while they're standing, but it's not as safe for you or them. Only do that if you mean to let them go soon, or need them as a shield against their friends. Most times, it's best you take them down to the ground hard enough that they're a little rattled, so then you can leave them there and deal with the next guy while they recover." Jael explained as she helped Sunshine up from his latest lay-down. "Now when you're fighting someone who knows what they're doing, you need to wait for an opening. Every punch or kick you make might be an opportunity for the bad guy to grab you, and the same goes for him. We'll practice that now." She raised her hands in a guard position and nodded to him, with a smile. "C'mon. Let's spar and see how you're learning."

They danced back and forth for a bit, feinting and grinning at each other over their hands. Sunshine's radiance lit up the clearing with a soft glow that shifted and flickered as his body moved this way and that. Both of them were moving faster and with greater agility than a baseline, even an experienced one, could match. Jael was enjoying this, teaching her Sunshine, watching him catch and store everything she was saying as well as everything she was showing him. Sunshine was likewise enjoying the sparring, eager to show how well he had learned and watching every motion of Jael's hands and feet intently. A newbie's mistake, she knew from her own training and experience. You focused on the torso, not the hands or feet, and let your peripheral vision take care of studying the face and limbs. A person could feint or jab with a limb, but to really attack they would have to bring their body into line.

That lesson could wait, though. It took experience and confidence to break some habits, and so Jael committed to an attack with an inner smile, wondering if Sunshine would block it or see it as the opportunity she meant it to be.

He almost passed it up, his hand coming up and slapping her fist aside as he started to shift his weight backwards away from her in a straightforward evasion. At the last split-second, however, he changed his plans and tried to go for a classic armbar takedown. Jael saw it in his face as he made that decision, felt his hand grab her wrist and pull it forwards and down...

Sunshine fluffed it. His weight already on the back foot, he wasn't skilled enough to shift it round to act as the fulcrum for Jael's own momentum. Rather than directing her around him and bringing her to the floor in an armlock, he stepped into the other nova whilst still leaning backwards, his grasping hand still on her wrist and his left hand, meant for her elbow, arcing around behind her back uselessly as he went over backwards, pulling Jael with him as she gave a little shriek of surprised laughter.

He blinked in surprise and looked up to see Jael grinning down at him. She was laying on top of him, her hair falling loose around his face and one hand on the grass beside his head. Her other hand was trapped between their bodies, the main reason for which being that both of Sunshine's arms were around her, the glowing youth having grabbed hold of her in unconscious protectiveness as they toppled. With a start, Sunshine realised that whilst one hand was firmly clasping her in the small of her back, the other one was resting on Jael's ass. Not that this was a bad thing, per se. At least, the rest of Sunshine's body didn't seem to think so once it realised the situation. He wondered whether he should move that hand. Jael didn't seem to have noticed: she was chuckling - at his mistake, he figured.

"Uh... I think I messed that up." he said with a sheepish grin. Time to let go now, hand. The hand reluctantly slid up to join the other on Jael's back, bidding a fond farewell to paradise.

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Jael laughed, not cruelly, as she freed the hand trapped between them and pushed her hair back from her face. She shoved it across her shoulders and neck so that her long, golden tresses hung down the right side of her face. “No, that wasn’t quite the way to do that,” she agreed, and found herself reluctant to get up. Instead, she remained where she was and asked, “Do you know what you did wrong?”

“I threw myself down,” he said, smiling at her.

When he smiles, there is nothing wrong. A second later, she realized what sappy crap she’d just thought and her face went red. Hoping that he’d take it as good humor or anything other than her getting soft for him, she giggled and said, “That is true enough. But how?”

“I think my balance was messed up,” Sunshine said.

Jael sat up – and stopped when she felt his arousal. A while ago, Jason had told her that she was going to treat these issues with Sunshine in a manner that wouldn’t cause him shame. Jael swallowed he initial impulse, then another and then the next ten – all of which had very little to do with shame but were otherwise not allowed. Instead, she inched forward enough that she wasn’t making contact with anything inappropriate and said, “Think back. I know you can do this – you learn so fast that I’m sure part of that is analyzing where you go wrong at first.”

It was a good distraction. Sunshine applied his massive intellect to the problem and soon said, “I was too far back when I tried to pull you down.”

“Yep,” Jael agreed, looking down at him from her perch on his stomach. “Next time, you’ll want to use your weight to snap me around. You had decent control of me, though you’ll want to go for the elbow next time. Or just don’t step into me until you’re ready to throw me.”

“Are we going to try that?” he asked. Had he asked ‘can we’ Jael would have let him up. But she didn’t want to leave the warmth of his embrace yet; she didn’t want to stop being this close to him.

“I think this is a great time to explore pins and holds,” Jael said. “I’ve shown you how to get someone down; let me show you what comes next.” You were supposed to vary training programs so that the student didn’t get bored. But Jael could be honest with herself; she just wanted to grapple the hot young man currently under her.

Her smile became wicked, reflecting her true desires. Jael planted her right hand back on the ground and kicked into the air. For a second, she was doing a one-armed handstand over him; then she dropped into place. Her legs twisted to the left as she came down, spreading into a wide ‘V’. She leaned across Sunshine’s upper torso and snaked her right arm around his neck. Her left arm caught his closer arm and tucked it up under hers, her hand grabbing him above his elbow and preventing him from curling it back out. With her legs braced wide, she was able to prevent him from sitting up or bucking her off. It also put his face practically in her cleavage. “This is the scarf hold,” Jael instructed. “If they pull on your hair – go on, do it – then you can do this.” She shift his arm to between her legs, trapping it straight out from his body. “That frees up your hand to hit them.” Jael curled her fist shut, but rather than hitting him, she opened her hand and merely tapped his nose with her index finger. “Whadda think?”

In the pause that followed, Jael wondered if this had been such a good idea. He had a slightly dazed expression on his face and Jael feared she’d pushed too far. Her grip relaxed and she asked with a hint of worry, “Are you alright? Sunshine?”

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A smile curved his lips as he blinked and looked up into her eyes, then Sunshine answered "I'm fine. I..." love you! Or think I do. I think about you all the time and I miss you when you're not there and right now I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing than being close like this and I know it's not a crush because... because... He pondered for a split second, looking up at the face so close to his. I know because I don't mind if you don't love me the same way. I mean yeah, I'd be sad but I don't mind. I could handle it. I don't mind that you're... well, Jael. I love you for it. And it makes me mad when people say mean things about you, not because it's not true but because they just don't see all of you. You're funny and gentle and fierce and sexy and you're the best friend anyone could have, if they just knew it. And I wish I could tell you all of this but I think it'd ruin our friendship or at least upset you and I don't want to do that.

"... I think I like this hold." he broke into a dazzling grin as he gazed at Jael over the swell of her breasts. "Do I get to try it now?" His grin was mischievous, bordering a little on wicked: an unknowingly teasing, charming invitation to shenanigans of a non-specific but probably R-rated variety. He plainly didn't know what that smile was capable of, or he probably wouldn't have thrown it around in close quarters.

"I dunno." Jael pretended to squint suspiciously. "After all, I've got you where I want you now." She shifted a little, emphasising that fact, then relented and rolled off the glowing young man. After all, him grappling her was almost as much fun, right?

Deftly he copied her example, swinging himself over her and settling into the scarf hold. There was a moment's confusion about where his arms should go, but he adjusted quickly under her direction and had her pinioned the same way she'd held him. The one difference was the lack of cleavage to shove under her nose, but Jael reflected with a smile that there was something to be said for her view, too.

Sunshine grinned down at her, pleased at having gotten the technique right, his angel's mane falling down around his face as he trapped her arm between his legs as she'd shown him.

"Gotcha!" he laughed. "Though it's probably a whole lot harder if someone's fighting back."

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“Yeah, you’ve got me. You did fine for your first time,” Jael told him, then realized how she’d said it. For a moment, they were quiet; then she said, “Sunshine? You going to let me up or keep me trapped?”

Despite all of his feelings for her, the word ‘trapped’ propelled him to not entertain the thought, even in jest. He unwound himself and moved away, letting her up. Jael signed as she rolled to her feet, regretting saying anything. But just because he stopped doesn’t mean it’s over…

“And you’re right – it is harder when you’re trying to get the pin, rather than the person letting you pin. So let’s combine those,” Jael said, shaking out her hands. “Come at me again. This time, try to take me down and get the hold on me at the same time.” She pulled on her suit’s collar; the fabric there reformed into a cap. Jael tucked her hair up under the eufiber; if Sunshine was going to be trying to paw at her shoulder, she didn’t want him to pull her hair.

Sunshine nodded and gathered himself, coming at her again. Jael smiled and leaned back, making it harder rather than easier. She made him work to catch her, twisting away from him with an easy sway of her body. It was almost a dance; his move was matched by her countermove – until she saw improvement. Then she let him catch her and put her down; was patient as he coded the motions of pinning her into his muscles. As he got better, faster, she made the pins a little harder, wiggling against him more. Jael really enjoyed those parts, making him squirm to try to get his grip on her.

“Hey!” The shout came when Sunshine was over her, one arm wrapped around her while the other was trying to get control of her arm. Both novas turned to see Whistler cops walking toward them, a flashlight bouncing in the right one’s hand. “What’s going on out here?”

“Uh, hi!” Jael said as Sunshine released her. Her friend immediately offered her a hand and she took it to show that there were no hard feelings here. “We were just… goofing around.”

“Jael was teaching me to fight,” Sunshine explained further.

“To fight?” one officer asked; Jael still hadn’t gotten good looks at them thanks to being on the wrong end of the flashlight. She hadn’t liked the tone of that question.

“In case CoMA attacks me,” Sunshine said, having no reason to dissemble to police officers. “This way, I won’t hurt anyone.”

“Ms. Carver, you know how to fight?” the other officer asked, sounding more than a little surprised.

“I’m not just cute,” she said, smiling charmingly. “After all, a girl has to be able to defend herself.”

“We’ll take care of you,” Officer Number One said, then verbally backstepped, “I mean… that’s our job. To serve and protect.”

“Right now, the park is closed, though, so you’ll have to practice elsewhere,” Number Two replied.

“You guys wanna ride somewhere?” One was striving for casual and playing it cool, and wasn’t doing it well.

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"That's okay." Sunshine smiled at them a little contritely. "We can get home no problem. Sorry for causing bother."

"Well... alright." Cop One stated, again with a strange note in his voice. "Just remember to pay attention to opening and closing times with parks, okay? Even if you can fly over the gate."

"Sure thing officers." Jael said, trying hard to keep the waspish tone out of her voice for Sunshine's sake, if no other reason. She didn't want to start him thinking it was alright to mouth off to cops. "C'mon, Sunshine."

The two novas soared upwards, the radiance of Sunshine's aura marking their progress clearly to the cops, who turned to make their way out of the park whilst discussing the pair.

High up, Jael shivered and drifted a little closer to Sunshine as they hovered above the city. The wind was biting cold up here, not enough to be painful for her nova constitution, but uncomfortable to be sure. Sunshine looked up at the stars and drifted aimlessly for a moment, hearing the strange music he spoke about now and then when exposed to natural light sources. Then he looked at Jael and smiled widely.

"Did you see their faces?" he asked her with a smile. "I bet they thought I was attacking you." He laughed at that, looping an arm around her waist companionably.

"They might have thought I was attacking you." Jael smiled back, poking him in the ribs.

"That makes no sense." Sunshine grinned as he squirmed under the poke. "Why would you attack me?"

I can think of a couple reasons. 'Bad' Jael thought as she looked at the laughing angel floating next to her, his very nearness enough to drive away the cold.

"I don't know." she said with a shrug. "But then, I don't know why you'd attack me."

"Nor do I." Sunshine shrugged. "But I think that most people assume that if a girl and boy are fighting, then the boy's the attacker. It's a type of prejudice, I think."

"It is." Jael agreed, putting her arm around him as they flew sedately homeward. "And one that girls are very happy for. That way, no one realises how evil we all are."

"Pssh. I knew that ages ago." Sunshine pantomimed rolling his eyes, then smiled at her warmly. "So what do you want to do now?"

"Honestly? Rest a bit." Jael told him with a smile. "Not all of us are walking suns. I'm a little tired." She saw him nod soberly, then added without thinking. "But you can keep me company, if you like?"

"Sure!" he enthused, then recovered some aplomb. "I mean, I'd like to. I can play guitar for you if you like, until you fall asleep?"

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“Well, I was thinking you could hold my hand or maybe lay next to me,” Jael said with a smile that was only a little wicked, “but your way sounds good, too.”

His blue eyes widened in equal parts surprise and dismay; he hadn’t been expecting her want what she wanted and he was feeling a touch of consternation that he’d missed a chance to be that close to her. “We can do what you prefer,” he told her, earning him a smile.

Dangerous offer, she thought, because it was exceptionally tempting to tell him exactly what she wanted from him. She knew that he liked her enough to do whatever she wanted, regardless whether it was good for him or not. And for the first time in her life, what her partner wanted or needed from sex was important.

God damn it… I find someone like him, and then I get a bunch of morals about sexing him up, she sighed to herself as she considered that irony. For the first time, she realized that she might be testing her patience and not in a good way. She’d never denied herself like this before and wasn’t sure how safe it was. Charles had always warned her about her self-control; he’d practiced it for her and she’d had little need of it since his death. If she wanted, she took; if she was hungry, she ate; if she was horny, she fucked. Those were the rules she lived by – except around Sunshine.

The foxy blonde realized she’d been musing and silent while her only Sunshine had waited for her. She smiled at him, grateful that he’d been patient enough to let her just be, to let her think without pressing for an answer. “I’d like to hear your music,” she said, “and I think this is as good a time as any. And if you get tired of playing before I’m asleep, we can figure something else out.”

“Okay,” he said happily. As they landed on Jason’s balcony, Jael reflected that he’d probably have been happy with almost anything she suggested. She executed a mock bow for him when he held the door for her. While Sunshine was getting his guitar, she brushed her teeth, washed her face and changed her eufiber into the least-scandalous sleep wear she could manage: a pair of comfortable flannel pants and a tank top.

“Which room am I in?” she asked as she came out of the guest bedroom, clean and ready for bed.

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  • 1 month later...

"The guest room next to mine." Sunshine was outside with his guitar in hand, having changed into white sleep shorts and baggy white t-shirt while waiting. Jael detected the subtle hand of Katya in the sleepwear choice - while the fabric wasn't too thin or sheer, the white meant that Sunshine kind of... glowed through, in silhouette at least. She followed him down the hall, wondering whether she should thank Katya or scold her for it.

Sunshine sat on the foot of the large bed Indian style as Jael slipped between the covers, controlling his slight nervousness by quickly tuning and running through some scales while she got comfortable. The guitar was a nice one, a gift from Jason when she'd realised Sunshine was serious about learning. Jael blinked at him sleepily and smiled, and Sunshine smiled back, nervousness abating.

"Uh, this is the last thing I learned. It was last night while I was browsing the OpNet for stuff you might like." he said with a bashful grin, strumming a few chords softly before looking down at the guitar in concentration as his hands started to move over the strings with quick, delicate movements. The tune was gentle and rippling, and the glowing fingers picked at the notes in elegant sequence. He was, Jael noted sleepily, amazing.

It wasn't really fair - Sunshine was a nova, so of course he was capable of greater delicacy when brushing the strings, of greater deftness than even the most accomplished human guitarist. Quantum couldn't take all the credit, though, because the way that he played it to her, the way the soothing cascade of notes seemed to carry his gentleness - that was Sunshine on the inside. The music was like his glow: warm and life-affirming. Jael peered at him half-lidded, smiling, before fully closing her eyes and relaxing.

Sunshine watched her as he played, watched the way her hair fell around her face and the way she wriggled slightly under the covers as she got comfortable. He wished he could tell Jael how he felt about her. He wished that she could love him that way. But she didn't. Maybe she couldn't, he mused as he continued to play. She did love him in her way, of that he was sure. But Jael was Jael, and she would be upset and saddened if he told her, because it would complicate her life more than she wanted. It wasn't really fair on either of them, was it? Sunshine mused that he didn't ask to have these feelings, and Jael certainly wouldn't want him to feel this way - 'bittersweet', he believed it was called, and he understood why.

He reached the end of the piece he was playing and, lost in thought, began to play what he privately thought of as "Jael's song". He knew it by heart - hell, Jason probably knew it by heart now, and was probably getting sick of it too. Sunshine always played this at least once when he was practicing: ever since Tom had introduced him to 3 Doors Down and he'd first heard it, Your Arms Feel Like Home was "Jael's song". He'd not come across another song that better expressed how he felt about her, though he planned to write one someday.

I think I've walked too close to love

And now I'm falling in

Theres so many things this weary soul can't take

Maybe you just caught me by surprise

The first time that I looked into your eyes.

He sang the first verse softly, his voice barely rising above the sound of the guitar, then recalled that he wasn't alone here. Sky-blue eyes darted up and looked at Jael, but her eyes were still closed, the same half-smile on her lips. Sunshine relaxed - she must be asleep. He continued, singing the chorus to her now, letting his young voice carry his emotion while being careful not to disturb her. With just his voice and the guitar, the rock ballad became an acoustic lullaby.

There's a life inside of me

That I can feel again

It's the only thing that takes me

Where I've never been

I don't care if I lost everything that I have known

It don't matter where I lay my head tonight

Your arms feel like home

Feel like home.

It was true. He didn't care what he'd lost, who he'd been before. All that mattered was that he was alive, here and now, with friends like Jason, Katya... and Jael. I love you. he thought as he watched her laying there, before lowering his gaze to watch his playing. His mane of golden hair fell about his face unheeded as he sang.

This life aint the fairy tale we both thought it would be

But I can see your smiling face as it's staring back at me

I know we both see these changes now

I know we both understand somehow.

There's a life inside of me

That I can feel again

It's the only thing that takes me

Where I've never been

I don't care if I lost everything that I have known

It don't matter where I lay my head tonight

Your arms feel like home

They feel like home

There's a life inside of me

That I can feel again

It's the only thing that takes me

Where I've never been

I don't care if I lost everything that I have known

It don't matter where I lay my head tonight

Your arms feel like home

They feel like home...

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Jael slipped into slumber, listening to Sunshine’s soft voice singing about being home in her arms. A part of her regretted that it wasn’t true; her arms would be many things but never something as comfortable as home. She wasn’t born for that. There was no refuge to be found in her.

Her thoughts must have twisted her dreams, for she dreamt that she was wandering the streets of a massive city, looking for her home. She was utterly lost, wandering the streets of a tidy suburb, trying to recognize a landmark. She was desperate to get safely home; she couldn’t have said why but she needed to get home. Fear, such a strange emotion for her, curled in her gut as she wandered.

The empty streets gave her no clues and on she walked, looking and hunting as the sun rose in the sky. The blonde nova turned, curious about where everyone was. It looked like the scene of an apocalyptic movie, but that didn’t bother her. She’d be fine once she found home.

“Jael.” The voice made her jump and spin, her eyes widening in fear. Charles beckoned for her but Jael burst into flight, rising into the air, desperate to put distance between them-

She was under him on the couch in his garage again, his face blissful with sexual rapture as he made love to her. Above his shoulder, the sun watched with Sunshine’s face, his blue eyes curious. Jael wanted to hide from him, but he didn’t seem to notice her discomfort. She wanted to scream in protest but all that came out of her mouth were sounds of pleasure.

Then she was the sun, watching as Charles stood over a kneeling Sunshine. The glazed stare of devotion in her friend’s eyes sent a burst of panic through her, but she couldn’t move. When Charles took his cock out of his pants and Sunshine leaned forward, eager, all she could do was scream.


When he was sure Jael was asleep, Sunshine set the guitar aside and floated into the air. He didn’t need to sleep, so he got his palmreader and carefully settled on the bed next to her. Once he was sure he hadn’t accidently woken her, he let himself be absorbed in his reading. Occasionally he glanced at her, his blue eyes drinking in the vision of her sleeping. He’d never seen her do this before but like all the things she did, he liked watching her do it.

A strange noise pulled his attention from his book; Sunshine glanced at Jael, frowning at the look on her face. It was twisted into a frown and her eyes were moving rapidly. She was also panting, her breathes rushing in and out of her lungs. It took him only a moment to recall where he’d seen this before; on a vid about nightmares.

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For a moment he stared: shocked at the realisation that she was having a bad dream. He wondered what it could be about, his mind racing as he pondered what to do. To wake her up seemed the obvious choice, but how to do that? He set aside the palmreader and rolled onto his side facing her, reaching out and letting his warm fingers smooth her hair.

"Jael." he called softly, his voice as soothing as the petting hand. "Jael, it's me, Sunshine. You're having a bad dream. Wake up." He let his other hand rest on her shoulder, gently shaking it.

"Wake up, Jael." he said once more, his voice gently pleading.

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The hand wrapped around her shoulder was jarring. It woke her up and ignited her instincts, all at once. Sunshine found himself shoved into the bed, Jael straddling him. But more disconcerting were the claws that pricked his throat. She hadn’t actually done more than split his skin and pinned him to the bed.

A second later, recognition and distress filled her eyes. “Sunshine!” she cried, releasing his throat. “Oh, god! I didn’t… I’m sorry!” Her claws were gone and she pressed her hand to his shallow cuts. “Oh, fuck, you’re bleeding!”

“It’s alright,” Sunshine managed to say. His heart was racing with shock, but Jael hadn’t meant to hurt him. It was like the time he’d destroyed Jason’s house with his eyebeams. “It doesn’t hurt much.”

“That… So not good enough!” Jael said, rising from the bed. Taking his hand, she pulled him into the bathroom, snapping on the light. “Oh, babe,” she murmured as she stared at the wounds. “Sit,” she ordered, making him take a seat on the toilet lid. “Oh fuck,” she whined as she dug out antiseptic and Band-Aids.

She started to swab the cuts, but Sunshine caught her hand. Blue eyes met, one set composed and compassionate, the other set frantic and tearful. “Jael, it’s alright, really. It doesn’t hurt.” He touched her face softly with his other hand. “What were you dreaming?”

Jael dropped the cotton swab and sank to her knees in front of him. “I dreamed about Charles. I dreamed he got you, Sunshine.” She felt the tears come then as she verbalized her worst fear. Sunshine held her while she finished crying, his warm arms soothing her in a way that no words could. Once she was done, they cleaned up her face and his neck, working together.

“I’m not sure I can sleep anymore,” Jael said softly after.

Sunshine studied her face, noting the circles under her eyes and exhaustion in her gaze. “C’mon,” he coaxed. “Lay down, I’ll be right next to you.”

Jael swallowed. “Can I… hug you? While I sleep. What I mean… I’d like you to hold me, please. I don’t know if I can sleep otherwise.” Was she honest, she wondered to herself, or just too tired to realize this was probably a bad idea?

“Of course,” Sunshine promised. He retrieved his palmreader and they settled into bed together. It took a while, but gradually, she fell asleep again, nestled against his side and wrapped protectively with his arm.

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Day Two. Morning...

Sunshine was aware of Jael's pleasant weight as he opened his eyes. She was still asleep, one arm and a leg flung over him and her tousled head resting on his shoulder as he lay with his arm around her. The solar youth smiled gently and stroked her hair, causing Jael to murmur something that sounded like "Wstphgl" and wrap her herself tighter around him, a warm anchor against bad dreams.

Sunshine wondered about dreams. He'd had them, of course, but he was always aware that he was dreaming, part of his mind never turning off. Most of his dreams were about things he'd seen or experienced, whereas some were about things he wanted to experience, and some were just plain strange.

The night before he'd taken the flight out of the atmosphere, for instance, he'd dreamed about hanging in the void of space, looking at the Earth as it hung there against the star-speckled blackness. He'd heard singing, the singing of the stars light-years away, a choral promise that he'd never be alone, never know pain or sadness as long as he was with them. Then he'd looked back at the blue-green planet and it had seemed so small - small enough that he could stretch out a glowing hand and pluck it from the void. It was perspective, of course. But in the dream the perspective had seemed surreal, as though the sense of the hand-sized Earth being illusion was itself a trick of the mind. On waking, Sunshine had decided to go and see for himself. Of course he hadn't gotten far enough away for the Earth to seem so small to him, but the singing of the stars was as clear and beautiful as it had been in his dream.

But bad dreams... Bad dreams he didn't know about first-hand. Jael had dreamed that Charles had gotten him, dreamed that he had been in her place, a victim of the mind-controller. It had made her wake up fighting 'Charles', then cry uncontrollably as she'd come down from the adrenal high, sobbing against his chest as he'd held her. Her nightmare had been about him suffering as she had. He squeezed Jael gently, earning another muffled noise and some distracting wriggling as she nestled against his body. A well-toned thigh resting on his abdomen triggered the predictable reaction, and Sunshine sighed very slightly as he became hyper-aware of Jael's closeness, the softness of her body pressed against him, the scent of her hair and the way her arms tightened around his torso.

In his varied dreams about Jael over the last couple of months, he'd often wondered how it would feel to lay in a tangled embrace with her. Of course in his fantasies, both sleeping and waking, there was usually a little more... activity. Though what type of activity, Sunshine wasn't so clear about.

So he'd done what he always did when confronted with a puzzle - he'd studied. The OpNet had a lot to say about sex, sexuality, technique, 10 easy ways to make her climax, kissing tips, foreplay hints, 20 fun ways to spice up your sex life...

It all seemed very complicated. But more complicated still was the lead-up. To Sunshine's clear and incisive mind, once two people had established that they were going to have sex, it pretty much took care of itself. It was the 'does she/doesn't she/will she/won't she?' that was perplexing him. And of course, the 'should I/shouldn't I?' factor as well, plus the all-important 'what will happen after?'. Some things even a nova brain didn't help with. Well, not his anyway.

Besides, he was self-aware enough to know that he was nervous as hell about actually having sex, or 'doing it'. Doing it. There was a phrase he'd picked up in school. It was funny, really. It meant 'having sex' or 'making love' but there was an air of illicitness that humans seemed to have about the act, especially young ones. So they called it 'it' and giggled. It confused Sunshine.

So he kissed the top of Jael's head and gently stroked her hair and back, trying to tune out the clamoring of his body and just enjoy this experience for what it was, rather than what he wanted it to be.

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Jael dreamed as she slept in Sunshine’s arms but this time when the dreams didn’t turn to nightmares. She luxuriated in the sensation of sleeping in a man’s arms. This wasn’t an unusual feeling for her, but the subconscious knowledge of whose arms they were made it just that much sweeter. The warmth of Sunshine’s body aided in a peaceful slumber, coaxing her into relaxing into a deeper sleep. She was safe; more importantly, as long as she touched him, she knew he was safe, too.

That was all subconscious; consciously she was really only aware that a warm body was next to hers. As she slowly awoke, Jael first indulged in a deep stretch. The movement lifted her arms and legs off of Sunshine; the motion made her aware of a few things. Grinning slightly, she burrowed against her partner more tightly and nosed his shoulder, making contented noises.

The arm around her tightened; under her hand she felt his heart start to pick up speed. Her fingers curled on the shirt, her nails scrapping lightly even through the cloth. She felt her partner shift; felt his warm breath on her hair. Jael hummed with pleasure and shifted a little, putting a little more of her upper body on his. He smelled wonderful and familiar and she was just drowsy enough to not remember why this was all not a good thing.

Her hand stroked down his sculpted stomach. She heard his breathing increase and felt his other hand come to rest on her arm. She wondered if he was going to stop her, but instead his fingers rubbed her bare arm. She slipped her leg over his again, across his hip. She felt an odd hesitation; her sleepy grin widened a little more as she slipped her hand lower, her fingers wrapping around him through the shorts. Jael was expecting many reactions: a sound of pleasure or a teasing comment – perhaps a return grope. She was not ready for the full-body twitch of someone utterly surprised by her action, or the strangled gasp of someone who wasn’t ready for these sensations. The strangeness of it woke her up completely and she looked into Sunshine’s surprised blue eyes.

“Oh! Sorry!” Jael yelped, jerking her hand back and propping herself up on an elbow. Her expression was worried and apologetic as she gazed at him. “I was… I thought… I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have done that. I was still asleep and I wake up next to guys a lot and this was just reflexive and I didn’t realize it was you!”

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His body was tingling all over as he looked up at Jael's chagrined expression. For once, his mind was having problems processing what was going on, caught in an endless replay of the welter of sensations that had shot up his spine as her hand had closed confidently around him. Jael's distress broke through the haze of hormones and desires, though. The gold flecked crystal-blue of Sunshine's eyes was darkened by his excitement, but he swallowed and tried to collect himself, reaching up with one hand to stroke Jael's hair back from her face.

"It's okay." The words came out more huskily than intended, so he coughed a little and tried again. "It's okay. I... I know you wouldn't do that unless you... thought I was someone else." He smiled, but there was a faint disappointment in the depths of his gaze. "I should have... um, removed the temptation as soon as I started to get hard. But it felt good to be laying here with you." he confessed, blushing dark under the golden tan of his face. "I didn't want to move because I liked, uh, being aroused by you."

Acting on impulse, and ruthlessly quashing his brain's urging to think it through, Sunshine leaned up and planted a kiss on Jael's mouth. It was a virgin kiss, a simple pressing of lips to lips which, whilst chaste, was far from casual or passionless as it lingered for a second or two before he let his head sink back to the pillow. His mane of golden hair pooled around his head as he looked up at her.

"So it's not your fault. It's mine." he told her earnestly. "And it wasn't bad. It just surprised me." he added with a shy grin that turned a little mischievous. "It shouldn't have. You did say on the OpChat that you're a *BAM!* COCK! sort of girl."

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“Sunshine…” It took Jael a moment to recover from the shock. She’d suspected that he liked her –

No. No, that was a lie. Jael sighed and lowered her head as she let herself admit the truth. She’d been around too many men to not see all the signs. “This isn’t your fault,” she said, shifting on the bed. She pulled herself into an upright position and took his hand.

Sunshine sat up, leaning against the headboard. “But I should have-”

“No, lemme finish, please,” Jael said softly. She squeezed his warm fingers and said, “This isn’t your fault, and I’m not blaming myself. We’re two young, healthy people who are emotionally close and sexually attractive and attracted. This is just our bodies. Us being what we are. I don’t want you to blame yourself for a natural reaction. So no more apologies for morning erections, ok?”

“I’m sorry I didn’t move,” Sunshine clarified. “That’s what I was apologizing for.”

“Oh.” Jael was quiet for a moment. She was thinking: this was dangerous ground, but this was Sunshine, her Sunshine. “I’m glad you didn’t. Selfishly glad,” she admitted. Sunshine blinked at her, his expression unsure. “Sunshine, you are important to me. I don’t know if I can love, but if I can, you and Shelly are the two people that I do. Shelly’s not sexually attractive to me, and you are. So I want you. But I think it’s a bad idea, for you. I think you deserve a relationship where you can know happiness, faithfulness and stability with someone you love. I’ve been told that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and it’s wonderful.

“The guys I sleep with… usually… just want some fun,” Jael added. “They don’t love me, though I’m sure many of them are fond of me.”

“Einherjar?” Sunshine asked softly.

Jael grinned. “He’s one. Kazuo’s another. What you saw with Paul, on your first day… that was a mistake on my part. I try not to sleep with guys that are going to be hurt with I’m not with them the next night.” Her eyes dropped to the floor for a moment, before rising to his again, their expression vaguely pleading. “Do you understand?”

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"I... do." Sunshine said slowly, biting his lip for a moment as his deep blue eyes scanned Jael's face. "I kind of knew it already." He smiled, a sad smile but a genuine one, and touched his fingertips to her cheek. "I didn't want to tell you how I felt because I thought it would upset you. I'm glad I was wrong."

"Jael..." his eyes searched hers. "I don't really know a lot, I know that much. I've not lived very long, and so on." He took a deep breath and let it out, smiling. "But you should know that I feel loved by you. I always have. You've always been kind and good to me, always cared about how others saw me and how I looked, and whether I was happy or scared." His gaze was depthless and earnest, his smile gentle.

"I think you are capable of love. Maybe not the same way everyone else does it, but who cares about that? You love me. I feel it, and everything I know backs up that feeling." He squeezed her hand gently. "And you deserve to be loved. Not made over into someone's perfect girlfriend, or be squeezed into a non-Jael shape. I know you're deserving of love just as you are. And one day, you'll know it too."

"So I'm going to keep right on loving you." he declared with a mock-stubborn tilt to his jaw that dissolved into a lopsided grin. "And you can't change my mind, either. Because I'm your Sunshine, and you're my Jael... Whoever you're hooking up with."

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“I don’t want to change your mind,” Jael told him. She smiled a little, watching his wonderful face and eyes. “I don’t mind you loving me. I feel for Shelly and we’ll never have sex. But I do mind you passing on other women because you are waiting for me.”

Jael released his hand and shifted unhurriedly. With deliberate slowness, she straddled his legs. Sunshine didn’t stop her, but she saw his eyes widen and his nervous swallow. When he started to put his arms around her waist, she caught his wrists and pinned them to the wall above his head. “And I do mind you making statements,” she murmured, her lips a hairsbreadth from his, “when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex isn’t just physical, Sunshine. There’s a connection. Even I feel it. That’s one reason I like sex.”

She leaned against him a little more and the fire that had dimmed with all their talking came back in a flare of heat and desire. “And of course, it’s fun.” Jael tilted her head to the side and passed over his cheek, leaving a trail of warm breath behind. She blew lightly in his ear, enjoying the soft sound he made in reply.

“It varies from person to person,” Jael murmured, placing a light kiss on his neck, “how that balance works out. Whether it’s more fun or more connection.” She pulled back only to start repeating her gesture on the other side of his face. “For some, it’s more fun, and it’s easy to walk away. Like me.” The blonde puffed air lightly into his ear before she licked the side of his neck. Sunshine moaned, turning his face toward her, but she pulled back. “Others cherish that connection, and not just with everyone, but with that one. They are so very hurt if the other person has sex with someone else. They get jealous and feel betrayed. And this is just a small taste of what I’m talking about.”

Jael finally kissed him, and there was nothing virginal about it. The nova was patient, not only thoroughly kissing him but letting him kiss in return, to experience both sides of the embrace. Somewhere in the middle – even Jael wasn’t sure exactly when – she released his arms and grabbed two handfuls of thick golden hair. She felt his arms circle her body as he pulled her tight to him. She kissed him until she needed to breathe; flushing and panting, she lifted her head and finished, “But until you understand what it feels like, and what it’s going to mean to you, you should probably avoid sex with girls like me.”

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"I should?" he asked dazedly. Wide blue eyes gazed back at her, the pupils so dilated that the blue of his eyes was a tiny band around a pool of blackness, in the middle of each of which Jael could see a tiny golden sun burning brightly. Though he wasn't panting, she could feel Sunshine's heart pounding in his chest where their bodies touched, and the radiant young man's skin was darkened with a flush that had little to do with shyness.

"Definitely." Jael said with a smile, shifting her weight a little on his lap and inwardly grinning as she felt his body react. Sunshine looked bewildered, dazed by the kiss. To be fair, Jael felt a little dazed herself, aware that the situation had left the boundaries of 'under control' some time ago and was now rocketing gleefully into the Great Unknown. She saw her Sunshine's expression shift, turning thoughtful under the flush of first passion.

"But we already have a connection, don't we?" he asked, conscious of her hands in his hair and her body in his arms. "We like each other. A lot." he added. "Would that change if we had sex? Would you care about me less?"

"No." Jael hugged him tightly. "I wouldn't. I couldn't. But you might not like me so much, if you got attached that way. That's what I'm worried about. I'll always like you."

"Then I already have everything I could ask from you." Sunshine smiled angelically. "I know that you're not a one-man woman. I'm not like Paul, who likes you but had an ideal of what should come after, which is why he was hurt. As long as you care about me, I'm happy even if we're not exclusive." He paused, brow furrowing a little as he looked at her from under the tumble of golden hair, strands of which had fallen over his face.

"I was going to say 'I don't care if we don't have sex at all'. But that would be a lie." he confessed. "I'm curious, and I love you, and I know even if I fall in love with someone else that I'll always wonder." He raised one hand and placed a warm palm against her cheek, feeling the warmth of her skin.

"Most girls like you wouldn't warn me to avoid them." he said with simple logic. "You care about me. And I trust you to watch out for me." He smiled gently at her. "So if you say: "Sunshine, we are never going to have sex, so get that thought out of your head and lets go have breakfast", then I'll deal with it. Because I'll know that you care."

He paused, the biting fractionally on his lower lip as he waited to see what she would do.

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She laughed, which wasn’t exactly the response he’d wanted. “Oh, darling,” she purred softly, “you seem to think that I have the willpower to tell you, ‘No, never.’ It’s all I can do to make myself stop now. All I want is for you to understand sex, really understand what it means. And I think that it should be with someone other than… me.”

A surge of pain rose in her as she said it. It surprised her, this sudden deep regret and anger. What the fuck? she thought to herself. What the hell is that?

“What is wrong?” Sunshine asked. “You look suddenly unhappy.”

“I… I’m not going to lie to you but I don’t want to talk about it,” Jael told him softly. “I’m not ready to talk about it without some more thought.” They were quiet for a moment. “Anyway, I think that because you need to know what sex is before you start talking about what kind of relationship we could have. I know that you think you know but sex changes you. Changes your world. That sounds campy, but I stand by it.” Jael put her elbow on his shoulder and buried her face in her hand. “Argh! I feel like I’m talking in circles or not making sense. I kinda want to just fuck you stupid and hope it all works out, but if I hurt you, I’d hate that.” She peeked at him through her fingers. “I would never want that… even though I really want that. You.” She lifted her head and added, “I want you. But I want you happy more. And I have never said that before.”

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Sunshine had crimsoned at Jael's confession that she wanted to 'fuck him stupid', but he was smiling ear to ear as he looked back at her. Truth told, Jael was hard pressed to remember seeing him looking quite so happy, which was saying something because Sunshine was usually all smiles.

"What?" she asked, smiling herself a little in reaction. It was hard not to sometimes: Sunshine rubbed off on a body. And right now I really want him to rub on me her treacherous brain supplied.

"You said you want me. Not just like me, but want me." Sunshine said with a grin, looking like he'd won the lottery.

"I want a lot of guys, sweetheart." Jael told him dryly, but she kissed his cheek and smiled. "But yes, I want you."

"And I want you." he replied frankly.

"Oh, I know." Jael said archly, shifting her hips slightly where she straddled him. She felt Sunshine gasp slightly and twitch.

"No, seriously. I want you." he said earnestly, trying to concentrate. "I don't want to learn about making out and sex and stuff to some hypothetical woman who I haven't met yet and might not even truly care about me. I've been reading about first times..."

"Oh, really?" Jael asked with a grin. Sunshine mock-glowered.

"Yes." he answered, then smiled. "And most of them seem to be fumbling occasions that people wish they could forget and do over, maybe with a different person." He lifted his hands from her waist and rested them on her shoulders, looking into her eyes. "Jael, I love you and care about you too. This isn't a race or a snap decision that has to be made now. I get that. And I get that I don't really know what I'm talking about: I have no first-hand basis of comparison, not even a real lifetime up to this point to form a decent second-hand basis. I'm less than a year old in real terms." He lowered his gaze.

"It's frustrating, you know?" he said in a subdued voice, his expression contemplative. "Sometimes I feel like everyone's treating me like an unusually developed baby. 'Oh, he's so smart, but he doesn't really know about life'." He flicked his gaze up at her, looking serious. "Well maybe I don't, but I want to learn. And I'm kind of sick of learning on other people's terms. That's why I went flying up in space, and if I'm being truthful I probably will again That's why I like to go out by myself sometimes and test my abilities somewhere remote without Doctor Jia fussing around me like I'm a rambunctious toddler in a china shop. And that's why if I could choose who to learn about sex from, it'd be you."

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Jael studied her golden ‘duckling’. Since she’d found him, her world had shifted to incorporate him. He’d become one of her anchors, someone she’d not just die for but someone she’d live for. Someone she’d truly grieve if they died. She’d thought of him as a child and someone to protect, even from herself. But she’d been coddled and she’d hated it. She always thought it did more damage than good, personally.

It helped that this was really something she wanted to justify.

“Alright,” she told him.

“Alright?” Sunshine repeated, looking a bit hopeful but not letting himself get too excited yet.

“Alright, I’ll teach you about sex, when you’re ready,” Jael promised. “Two things. I will set the pace of the lessons because I think you’ll learn better for it. My first time was with someone who was experienced and I don’t have one of those bad ones that I wish I could forget. But before you say you’re ready right now, I’m calling a time-out for you to cool down. This isn’t a decision to be made while high on endorphins from making out.”

“You’re going to really teach me?” Somehow, Sunshine looked even happier than just a moment ago; Jael wasn’t sure how he’d managed it.

For answer, Jael leaned in and kissed him. Her hands stroked at his neck and shoulders before slipping down his chest. Her fingernails raked him lightly, the sensation muted by the shirt. She finished the kiss by giving him one last feather-light brush of her lips and straightening. With an impish grin, she purred, “It’d be my pleasure. And yours.”

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"Mmmhmm." It was fair to say that Sunshine was momentarily speechless, blinking several times as Jael straightened and with a flush and a smile fighting for dominance on his gorgeous features. The smile won, and he hugged Jael hard, kissing her on the cheek. "Okay. Time out then." he said equably, nodding. "That's fair. And smart, too." He didn't show any signs of wanting to unwrap his arms from around her for a moment, but then slowly disentangled.

"My body wants to rush, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to rush." he admitted with a sheepish smile. "So yes, a time out sounds good." Slowly, he slid off the bed and stood, stretching un-selfconsciously before smiling happily at Jael.

"Let's get you some breakfast. Waffles and bacon sound good? And then we can go flying - oh, I can show you my practice area, we could probably use it for fighting practice too - then we can go to lunch and then paintball, which I'll suck at because I can't hide to save my life..." he grinned at her. "And we can decide whether to go watch a movie or just make out somewhere, if you like. My offical age means I can't go to most clubs, which isn't much fun, I know, or we could go clubbing in Vancouver."

"Alright." laughed Jael. "It's alright, Sunshine. We'll figure out something fun to do." He flashed her another smile and headed for the door. Just as he stepped through it, he poked his head back and grinned at her.

"Oh, Jael- mmph?!" a pillow caught him in the face, cutting him off.

"I know." Jael told him, grinning. "BAM! COCK!" She gave him a wicked smile. "Believe me, I noticed." Her laugh followed the blushing Sunshine out of the room.

Still blushing, Sunshine made for the kitchen and began cracking eggs into a mixing bowl. The morning sunlight from the skylight and large windows filled the penthouse with light, and he could feel his cells soaking it up, his own radiance lending a warmer glow to the kitchen as he practically floated through fixing breakfast, making sure to prepare a nova-sized portion for Jael and a normal portion for himself. The smells and sounds of cooking filled the kitchen and lounge as he hummed to himself, pulling out a jar of maple syrup from the cupboard and setting that on the counter whilst turning the bacon.

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Jael grinned as she flopped back on the bed, feeling oddly happy. She was pretty sure that by society’s standards, she’d just made a grievous error. It also hinted that she couldn’t deny her Sunshine anything. She was a little nervous about changing their relationship. She knew she wouldn’t feel any differently about him afterwards, but she wasn’t sure what would happen with him.

The Nordic nova rarely let such things bother her for long; with a grin, she hopped out of the bed and went to shower. Sunshine might be impervious to dirt, but she wasn’t. Humming to herself, she scrubbed quickly. Her thoughts were consumed by the promise of what lay ahead; worries or no, Jael knew she was going to enjoy this.

By the time she stepped out into the kitchen, breakfast was ready. Jael stood up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, saying, “Thanks! Looks yummy.” Sunshine blushed cutely as she took a seat at the counter, pulling her plate over to her. They ate quickly, not wanting to waste time with food when they could be having fun. After, Jael helped him with the dishes, keeping up a light, teasing chatter. She wasn’t helping the young man cool down much, though she didn’t kiss him again. Of course, Jael being Jael was enough to enflame many men and with Sunshine’s heightened awareness of sexuality, he was aware of her draw on a more primal level.

Jael changed her eufiber to jeans and a sweater appropriate for the spring morning as she waited for Sunshine to get ready. This is good. The thought came to her sudden, as she stared out of Jason’s balcony doors. I don’t know what it is, but it’s good.

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This is awesome! Alex exulted as he finished his quick shower and practically jumped into his jeans and t-shirt, ran his hands through his blond hair (it would dry relatively quickly) and belatedly remembered to pull on a pair of comfortable sneakers before darting out of his room.

Jael could feel him as he came into the lounge and moved to stand beside her, the light of his aura shifting and dancing across the room. She turned his way and smiled, any vague misgivings still lingering washed away at the sight of his face.

"So, where we flying to?" she asked him. Sunshine's smile took on an air of repressed mischief as he moved in front of her and took her hands.

"I'll fly us out there." he said, the golden motes in his eyes dancing. "If you're comfortable with that?"

"Comfortable? I'd like it." Jael smiled back. "Of course, you go quite fast, don't you? How fast, exactly?"

"A little faster than Utopia think." Sunshine grinned. "They've got me clocked at 620 miles per hour, give or take."

"Mmhmm. That's pretty fast." Jael said consideringly, loving the feel of his aura on her face.

"Don't worry, I can tune your quantum signature to mine. You won't be hurt or have to worry about not being able to breath." Alex told her reassuringly.

"Oh, I wasn't worried about that." Jael replied, a hint of tease in her voice as she stepped closer. "I was just thinking that I'd have to hold on... tightly." Grinning, she ran her hands up over his shoulders and around his neck, pressing her body to his. "And you'll have to hang on to me, too. Tightly."

"Uh... Yes. Yes I would." Blushing, Sunshine wrapped his arms around Jael, trying to drown out the sudden bass thump of his heartbeat with the necessary mental exercise for attuning another person. He concentrated, feeling her quantum signature sync with his, granting her immunity to the negative effects of his powers so long as contact was maintained. He looked down at her. "Ready?" Jael nodded and tucked her head against his shoulder, a not-quite-reflexive wriggle of her body against his causing Sunshine's heart to double-thump in his chest.

Bright motes of light appeared in the golden glow surrounding them as Sunshine lifted off from the balcony, keeping the ascent smooth until they were a few hundred feet about Whistler, then rocketing upwards towards the spring sky. They were doing 500mph when he passed through the clouds a mile and a half up, the sudden wet chill of the vapor dissolving in the warmth of his aura as they emerged above the fluffy white condensation. Through the many gaps in the cloud cover Jael could see Whistler below them and the shape of Vancouver on the southern horizon. Sunshine levelled off, heading south by southwest and roughly following the course of the Sea-To-Sky Highway. He increased their speed until the entwined novas were doing roughly 600mph and grinned down at Jael.


"Yes!" Jael called back over the whistle of the wind, peeking over her shoulder to gain a measure of how fast they were going. "But looking at that smile, I get the impression this is just your warm up!" She felt Sunshine's laugh before she heard it, felt him tighten his grip on her.

"You may want to hook your legs around me as well!" he called. Jael did so, smiling at the flush under the bronzed skin of his neck. On impulse she kissed him there, at the juncture of neck and shoulder, tightening her grip as she did so.

"Okay!" she shouted, delighting in the cute way he squirmed against her. "Now wha-aaaaaahahaooooo!" The sound of her shout dopplered behind her as Sunshine kicked his flight into overdrive.

Abruptly there was no more whistle of the wind, though Jael could still feel it pressing against them. That meant bye-bye sound barrier. The warmth of Sunshine's aura at this cool altitude meant that, when Jael looked towards his feet, she could see a solid contrail of vapor hanging in the air behind them. Sunshine performed a lazy corkscrew, and the contrail formed in that shape behind them for a few seconds. Then he dived.

They were headed towards solid ground at a speed somewhere in the region of twice, maybe three times what Utopia thought Sunshine capable of. Below them was the highway and alongside it a river, sparkling in the morning sun as it flowed towards the sea. Jael felt her heart jump into her throat from the high-speed drop that put a rollercoaster to shame before Sunshine levelled out once more, barely a hundred feet above the river and going flat out, the ground blurring past them in shades of green, tan and grey.

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Jael screamed with delight, even though her shout was left far behind them. Grinning, she threw her arms out; only the fact that she was attuned to Sunshine’s quantum field meant that her arms weren’t damaged. Sunshine’s arms tightened convulsively as if he was afraid she’d fall, but he smiled and sent them into a spin, making the world pass in flashes of blue and natural colors. It was exhilarating rather than sickening; Jael didn’t experience much fear, and with fear removed, this was merely exciting.

Her laughter was torn away as rapidly as her yell as she looped her arms back around his neck. This was wonderful; she couldn’t fly nearly this fast. This kind of speed was a treat. She wondered how and why Sunshine had been hiding this from the Utopians. It didn’t matter; the fact that he had made this flight delightfully illicit and twice the naughty fun for the sociopath. Her fingers began to trace the valleys and peaks of his back, the tips of her deft digits leaving lines of sensation tingling over his back. The young man found flying drawing less of his attention, not that the woman in his arms ever had trouble catching his attention.

Jael wasn’t meant to distract, but her position wrapped around Sunshine meant that she was getting distracted, too. She’d really meant to have a cooling off period, but she couldn’t keep her hands off of the glowing godling. Right now, she had an excuse for keeping such a tight grip, but she knew that she would be dying to touch him anyway.

Sunshine shot up in a loop, putting them into a spin as they ascended. The two novas smiled at each other as the wind tore at them, creating a vortex in which they were the calm center. Jael’s fingers continued to slide up and down his back; it would have been soothing if the look in her eyes wasn’t so warm and eager. She couldn’t stop herself from nosing against the smooth skin of his neck, or the lightning-quick kiss against that same skin.

Sunshine cut off their rise and spin by settling into a shallow dive. Blue eyes met as he settled onto his back. His hands moved to her waist and she sat up. The wind tore around her, not touching her thanks to the protection of her Sunshine’s aura. Sitting up made her aware of a certain excitement on Sunshine’s side. Jael didn’t move away, as she had done before: instead, she mouthed, BAM! COCK!

Perhaps the only way he'd cool off was enforced separation from her, Jael considered. There was no way she'd suggest that, honestly.

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BAM! COCK! Sunshine mouthed back with a shy grin, not quite as red-faced now that he and Jael had had their talk. He looked up at her, smiling at her lovely face framed by the sky and blonde wind-tossed hair. He cut the forward thrust a little, leaving them coasting high above Horseshoe Bay with the sun glittering off the waves far below. Just to the south, a ferry made it's way across the Bay from Vancouver to Hopkins Landing, arcing around and between the large islands that sat in it's path.

Alex sat up and pulled Jael into a kiss, their hair flowing together in the breeze as his lips met hers. Always the fast learner... Jael thought as, with considerable attention to detail, Sunshine put into practice everything he'd learned in their impromptu make-out session earlier, letting his lips and tongue sweetly tease hers into responding as his hands slowly roamed up and down her body.

He kissed her with heated, urgent and yet somehow sweet passion for a few minutes, until the thudding of both of their hearts was almost deafening and Jael had to come up for air, gasping and a little flushed. She regarded him for a long moment, her arms around his shoulders as they hung drifting in the air. My Sunshine, my only Sunshine... He's growing up. she mused, one finger coming around to trace the outline of his face. But it felt right, felt good. Though his features still had that boyish air, there was the promise of the man he'd become under them. Sunshine gazed back, his eyes so bright with excitement and happiness that it gave Jael a rare moment of pain to consider how they'd look once the world had gotten to him. What would Sunshine be without that innocent openness? He looked around, getting the bearings he'd lost in their kiss, and then looked at Jael and smiled.

"Not far now." he told her softly. Jael smiled back and tightened her grip on him, thinking that she could get used to this. Sunshine's aura flared as he fed power into the tiny caged suns that were his cells, gravitic pulses abruptly propelling him and Jael south and down at his full speed. Had Jael not been synced to his quantum matrix, the acceleration would have likely caused her to black out or worse, but as it was she merely felt a delightfully thrilling jump of her heart into her throat as the world blurred once more.

The angle of descent was steep, and Sunshine flattened them out just above the water as they exited Horseshoe Bay. The sea was only a bare ten feet below them, and as the two novas flew past at over two times the speed of sound water was kicked up in their wake, a wall of foam sparkling in the spring morning. Sunshine was grinning, but was also intent on the sea ahead of them, steering himself well clear of any boats, ships or ferries on the water. He curved their course, heading them northwest now, a glowing blob of light above the waves moving faster than anything so small had a right to.

After a minute he slowed, angling upwards as some green wooded islets loomed up ahead of them. The Trail Islands were mainly unpopulated, a few houses dotting the larger ones, but the smaller one that Sunshine was heading for was devoid of settlement. He brought himself and Jael over the wooded center of the island at an easy pace, finally dropping them both down into a shallow disused quarry pit.

Looking around, Jael could see that the quarry had clearly been visited by Sunshine before. Granite rockfaces with a curiously saggy melted look like candles, boulders with holes burned through them in patterns, and finally a large glassy crater in the center of the quarry all bore testament to Sunshine's experimentation.

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“So this is your home away from home?” Jael asked, giving him a teasing smirk. She hadn’t let go of him yet; the last thing she felt like doing was releasing him. His warm body was welcoming, all the more because she knew it would be hers. Jael always felt possessive toward the men she was sleeping with, at least while she was sleeping with them, but usually by the time that sex had been confirmed, they were starting it. It was positively strange to know that she would have sex with this man but not be stripping for the act itself yet. It was causing a strange unease in her body, a nervousness that had nothing to do with the act of sex itself. It was the anticipation building into something like a living creature.

“This is where I practice,” Sunshine admitted, not letting go of her yet either. “I wouldn’t call it home. I do feel very free here.”

“I can see that,” Jael murmured, leaning lightly against him. She felt his heart leap; her own jumped after his like deer following one another. “Needs a couch or some throw rugs. Something homely.”

“I’d incinerate furniture here,” Sunshine told her. “It’d be a bit rough on the upholstery.”

Jael’s eyebrows rose. “You’ll have to show me what you can do, Stud,” she said, letting her tongue play over her lips suggestively.

Sunshine blushed but didn’t let that stop him from saying, “I think you’re going to be surprised. Now?”

“How about on our way out?” Jael asked. “I believe that you have some sparring to learn.” Her eufiber began to expand, covering her exposed arms and legs. Standing on tiptoe, she gave him a quick kiss before murmuring, “You need to let me go for that.”

“I’m not sure I want to spar anymore,” Sunshine murmured. He kissed her cheek lightly, his lips lingering on her skin.

Jael smiled and tilted her face against him, breathing in the scent of his hair. “You’re supposed to be cooling off so you can make a logical decision about your readiness. Your readiness to be fucked.” Sunshine made a noise, and Jael laughed softly. “I know, not fair. Neither are your kisses.”

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