The Karma Downs
Hey, Sam whispered, kissing Graces temple. Early
morning light streamed in through the open window, making her hair
glow. She groaned and pillowed her head on him.
She mumbled what he translated roughly as I hate mornings,
and fell silent again, her breath steady and warm against his chest.
Watching her, he fell asleep.
When he woke, it was to an empty bed. The indent beside him was still
warm, though, and he staggered to his feet. Grace? he
asked blearily as he pulled on a pair of pants. His shirt seemed to
He padded out the door in bare feet. Grace? he asked again,
and found his shirt.
Looks good on you, he said with a grin, watching her tear
apart the living room.
She stopped and blew her hair back from her face with a frown. You
seen mine? she asked him.
Yeah. Last night.
Big help there. What I meant was Do you have any
idea where my shirt is now?
Nope, he said with a grin. Havent seen your
Sam! she said, growling in frustration. Youre
Ah am too. Whose shirt do you think that youre wearing
Thats not help. Thats protection from the elements.
Well, he said with a grin, moving towards her, Ah
dont see many elements that you need protection from in here.
If youre going to be like that, then Ah might as well take it
back. If its not helping you at all, that is.
She scrambled away from him. The cuffs came over her wrists and the
hem hit mid-thigh. Not exactly something that she was big on getting
into scuffle in. What about you? she asked, backing away.
Thats kind of you, Grace. Ah will feel much better with
a shirt again.
You have a change of clothes back in the room.
Ah want that shirt.
What about you? she repeated desperately, scrambling up
onto the couch. I may not need any protection from the forces
of nature, but it looks like I need protection from you.
Really, you wound me, he said in mock pain, a grin splitting
his face as she backed to the end of the couch and hit the wall. Does
the garden need protection from a tourist who only wants to admire
No, but it does if the poor, bedraggled tourist wants to jump
into the bushes.
He leaned forward, trapping her with one arm against the wall and
the other against the back of the couch. What if the offender
isnt a poor and bedraggled tourist, but a poor, young, comely
student? he asked as he kissed her jaw.
I suppose some allowances could be made, she said with
a sigh before she leaned forward and kissed him. Im still
going to make you pay, though, she said with a wicked grin.
Ah guess Ahll just have to take that chance.
Bobby lashed out a hand at his opponent, icing up and dropping him.
There was a noise behind him and he continued his motion, arm flying
as he pivoted. A head jerked backward out of his way and a hand flashed
diamond as it blocked him.
Oh, he panted, letting the ice slide away. Hey,
She raised one elegant white eyebrow at him as the program faded away.
Sorry, Bobby said, glad that the flush on his cheeks could
be put down to the exertion. Didnt see you.
Yeah, Im really sorry about that. What are you doing here?
What am I doing here? I seem to recall a certain fearless
leader forbidding solo training.
I got here early, Bobby said.
Three hours early, before everyone was even up?
You hate the mornings, Bobby. I know that.
He leered at her. You do know that, dont you?
She carried right on over top of him. And there is no training
Isnt there? I couldve sworn Scott said something...
He did say something. He said No training in the morning.
You danced. You sang. You ordered a pizza.
Well, Bobby replied with a grin. I guess I forgot.
Because of the early hour and all.
Really? she purred, stepping forward and whispering in
his ear. Its a silly rule, anyway. Say someone just wanted
to practice, without dragging other people into it. Inconveniencing
them, even. Learn something new without having to worry about what
the others were thinking, or having to take their helpful
advice. There wouldnt be anything wrong with that, now would
My thoughts exactly, he said hoarsely, and he knew that
it had to be apparent by now that the flush in his skin wasnt
just from working out.
She knew it, and it danced easily between them. Her eyes sparkled.
Hed never seen her eyes sparkle before. Emma wasnt the
kind of woman who had sparkling eyes, but there they were, glinting
and sparking. There was something eerie about the effect, against
the whiteness of her skin and hair. The steady brightness of her eyes
seemed somewhat over the top, and the sparkles distorted the colour.
She took one last step towards him, until there was no more than an
inch between them and he could feel the warmth coming off of her body.
Early mornings are good for that, she confided. Her breath
tickled his skin. A person like that, just looking to train
without silly rules or inconveniencing anyone, theyd be safest
doing it in the early morning. Less likely for someone to catch them
He should have been saying something about not circumventing Scotts
authority, but he couldnt bring himself to particularly care.
It was a silly rule. One he would have no problem breaking. A small
voice inside of him whispered that there was a damn good reason for
Scotts decision, if hed just *think*, think about it,
But the voice was getting smaller and smaller lately. More white and
washed out, and it rarely agreed with him. It spoke of rules and convention
and motivation, and he was moving beyond it.
So he pushed that little voice aside, and latched onto white words
Morning guys! Sascha called. Guys? she glanced
into the living room as she passed, Angela close on her heels. It
looked messier than she remembered, but it was deserted. Oh.
Hey! she said with some surprise when they hit the kitchenette/diner.
Grace was sitting out on the balcony in the long chair, arms wrapped
around her knees. Steam rose from the coffee sitting beside her on
the table, whipped away by the winds.
Morning, she said, eyes fixed on the skyline. The glass
door was fully open, and the sounds of the day filled the apartment.
Sascha winced a bit as a siren wailed somewhere nearby, and a horn
sounded on the street below. Any more of that coffee?
she asked hopefully.
Grace shook her head. No. But there are beans in the cupboard,
and the pots still warm.
Sascha nodded and winced at the bright sun. Im just going
to go make some, she said, turning and heading back into the
Angela leaned against the balcony railing. So, she said
finally, then dropped into the second chair, long dark legs extended
in front of her. We came for breakfast, she said cheerfully.
Sascha didnt have any food at her place, so she staggered
over to mine, which is closer. I was planning on going later today,
but she seems to need coffee in a bad way, so we came over here. Youre
just lucky I got some advil into her before she got here.
Grace nodded silently. Her cup was clasped loosely in her hands, and
she sipped it before she spoke. Kyles still out of it.
Dont know when hes planning on making an appearance
Probably now that Saschas here, Angela said with
a grin. They always seem to know when the other is around. Hes
missed temple, though. He always feels bad when he misses it because
of something like this, even though he likely wouldnt have gone
anyways. She paused. You know youre lucky Saschas
still hung over. She asks more questions than anyone I know.
Grace turned and a small smile broke the seriousness of her face.
You, on the other hand, imply things until you get an explanation.
Thats the plan.
Whatever works for you. I tend to prefer directness myself.
Angela lifted her face to the wind. So, she said finally.
Hes not *that* bad, is he?
Grace gasped. What? she asked with a hint of a laugh in
Well, from the look on your face, Sam either passed out half
way through or he killed your dog.
She shook her head and laughed. No. Nothing like that. I have...
What is it, then?
Grace shook her head and took another gulp of her coffee. Nothing,
she said, staring out at the world that danced around them, unaware
of as much as their presence, let alone affected by their words.
Okay, Angela said.
No, really. Its nothing.
They sat in silence. Grace finished her coffee, put the cup down on
the table with a clunk that somehow didnt blend in with the
noises around them.
Hes a nice guy, she said finally. She expected Angela
to say something, as her what was wrong with that, but she didnt.
Hes a nice guy, Grace repeated. I... I dont
really know how to deal with nice guys.
You like him, Angela said. You actually like him,
really like him, and that scares you.
I dont know if it scares me, she said defensively.
Its just not something that Im used to.
It seems to me, Angela finally proclaimed, that
those two factors are a pretty good coincidence. That he *is* a nice
guy, and that you really like him. It makes trust easier.
You think I have issues with trust? Grace asked, and the
lightness in her voice didnt fool even her.
I think that its something that you need to work on before
you lose the capacity.
Grace sat silent. I did, you know. I lost it completely. I didnt
trust the people around me, and I trusted myself least of all.
You get kicked a few times when youre down and its
easy to do. Especially if no one ever offers you a hand up. You get
to thinking that its something wrong with *you,* and thats
a hard chain to stop. With the weight of that, and the people around
you pushing, its hard to keep your head above the water.
It was me, Angela. At the end, it was, even if it wasnt
at the start. Ive just... Ive had to be so many people
to keep from drowning, that who I was got lost along the way.
Grace stared down at her cup, drained the last of the bitter dregs.
Im just trying to find my way back to me. I dont
want to be who I was any more. Its just so hard to break the
habits, the way Ive lived to survive. It kept me alive, but
I lost a lot along the way. Like the capacity to trust, because everyone
turns on you in the end.
Well, Angela said, Id say that thats
an unfair generalisation, but unfortunately, its true too much
of the time. You cant let it get to you though, and this might
be a good place to start. With a nice boy who you happen to really
Grace smiled weakly.
Ill tell you what, though, Angela continued. Sam
breaks your heart, and Ill break his arm.
Grace laughed at that, and it wasnt bitter. She looked out at
the sky then turned her attention back to the woman sitting beside
her. Theres something uncanny about you, Angela,
she said, but it wasnt a judgment.
My grandma was a bruja, she said, flipping her sunglasses
down onto her face. And if you think *Im* uncanny...
Grace smiled again. Stared down into her coffee cup, then out at the
sun reflecting off of the buildings around them. I should go,
she said, rising and brushing off her clothes.
See you round, Angela said.
Yeah, Grace replied. She paused in the entrance to the
apartment. You guys might want to let Sam sleep, she remarked
with a wicked grin. Hes very tired.
He dreamed of white. Beneath his feet, always inches from his fingers,
above his head. It started to burn into his eyes, and he wondered
if hed ever be able to see anything else again.
It was the cold that snapped him out of his daze enough to see that
the white had lightened slightly, taken on a tinge of grey.
Snow crunched beneath his feet and fog surrounded him like a cloak.
His fingers and toes were numb, and the ground was calling out, singing
to him of the arms of sleep. He kept walking, drawn forward by something
always out of his reach.
The fog dissipated slightly. Drew back so that he was surrounded by
a sphere of dead air, depriving him of even the touch of mist on his
skin, until all that there was was the snow beneath his feet, the
sound of his steps muffled before they reached his ears.
He kept walking.
Wind whipped at him silently, the only testament to its presence the
chill it brought, plucking at his clothes and hair, and the slight
eddies in the fog.
He put one foot in front of the other for what seemed an eternity,
the wind numbing him until the only sensation left to him was the
thrumming in his head, pulling him forward.
The wind died down. Fog twirled in around him, but the wind had been
the last big hurrah. Snow beneath his feet slowly regained sound,
texture. He wasnt cold now, but burning with ice. Fog lifted
gradually, leaving him alone in the landscape.
Barren white snow, pure white snow, stretched out around him, mounds
lost against the sky, horizon blending into earth. He felt like he
was floating. He moved his feet just to reassure himself that they
touched the ground, and it groaned beneath his feet.
The pull was gone.
Bending down he dug at the snow with his fingers, scooped it until
even the burning had left them and the only way he could tell that
they were still attached was that he could see them moving.
He hit something that didnt yield. Sitting back on his heels,
he stared blankly as the wind picked up, clearing the snow away from
the small hole he had dug.
He was standing on a lake.
Sunlight hit him suddenly and his eyes shot open.
He groaned. Cracked open an eye and saw the room around him, beanbag
chair in the corner, desk across from him.
Hey sleepy-head, Kyle said with what Sam knew had to be
forced brightness after hed dropped him unconscious into his
bed the night before. Grace just left. She said to tell you
that your shirt is hidden somewhere within the apartment.
He groaned again. Hed liked waking up better the first two times
hed done it this morning.
She said that youd know why.
- (biography) - (discussion)
- (stories) - (pictures)
- (links) - (updates)-