Before our eyes, Cal’s outstretched palm bursts into hot, roiling flame. But it is strangely beautiful, a slow burn of languid, dancing fire. Yellow and red, lazy in movement. If not for the heat, it would seem an artistry instead of a weapon. “I didn’t know how to control it,” Cal says, letting it play between his fingers.
I apologize in advance for the angst at the beginning. I’m hoping the actual scene will be a hurt/comfort type thing, so here’s my version of it. I hope you like it, and I love feedback on my writing! Note: this takes place near the end of the book, after Mare’s (*fingers crossed*) escape
Warnings: Angst (sorry), weird dream sequence, stay for the ending and I promise you fluff. ;)
I push myself up from the cold marble floor. My head, my entire body feels made of lead, of stone. I drift in and out of consciousness, falling to the floor the first few times I try to get up. I’m finally able to sit on my knees, when a pair of fingers find their way under my chin, tilting my head upwards. I’m met with a pair of eyes that are a song of ice and fire. “Hello, Mare darling.” He purrs. With his voice, my sense of pain is heightened, and I’m aware of every bruise, scar, and scrape on my body, all of which are throbbing, pushing me farther into a void of familiar nothingness. Nothing but cold darkness ripples around Maven. I growl at him. “Now, Mare, that’s no way for a lady to act.” I narrow my eyes. I aim and spit at him, landing directly on his cheek. He glares at me, seething. “Put her under.” He says, though I don’t know who he’d be talking to, as we’re the only ones I can see in the pale expanses of wherever we are.
Tic, toc, tic, toc.
The clicking starts slow, sounding like a clock. Jagged scars start to creep up my body, setting fire under my skin. The sounder.
Tic, toc, tic, toc.
The marble floor vanishes, and all I can see, hear, think is the void of pain that cuts into me, not just my body, but my entire being. Everything I was, am, and will be is filled with nothing but endless suffering.
Tic, toc, tic, toc.
I scream, and he yanks on the gilded chain of the bone collar around my neck. It digs in, drawing blood. I reach to cover my wounds, but when I draw my hands back, they’re stained silver.
Tic, toc, tic, toc.
Elara’s sickly sweet voice echoes in my head.
Tic, toc, tic, toc.
“Red in the head, Silver in the heart.”
“Mare!" His voice seems so far away. I try to tug on it, to let it pull me out of the cold I’ve let surround my heart. "MARE!” I can hear the urgency in his voice. I sit up in bed, and he lets out a sigh of relief. “Cal.” I breathe. I can see the worry wash from his face. He reaches to pull me closer to him, and I shrink away from his touch. He recoils too. “What’s wrong?” He asks, eyes rimmed with fake calm and real panic. I stare at him, eyes wide. The room feels like it’s closing in on me, like the oxygen has been drained from here, and I can hear my frantic heartbeat in my ears. I can feel the last pieces of my sanity slipping through my fingertips. “Mare?” He asks, but his voice is nothing but a whisper as I fall back into that white void of cold, bright nothing. I grip the sheets, scrambling for a shard of consciousness. I find enough of it to get out of the bed. “Mare, are you okay?” His voice is shaking. “Fine.” I say. I almost don’t register the lie. It’s what I always say when someone asks that. Cal’s one of the few people who know I’m lying when I say that. Before he can object, I say I’m going to get a shower. My gaze is distant, wandering back to my blood-covered hands from my dream. A dream, that’s what it is, that’s what it will always be. It wasn’t real, it won’t be real. Yet somehow I’m still not convinced. I walk over to the shower and pull the curtain back. I don’t know what my logic is in this, but I decide to sit down in the bathtub and put the curtain back in place. Somehow, it’s comforting, how quiet it is. I draw my knees up to my chest. I don’t have to worry if everyone else is okay here. Here, I can worry about my mental state. I can cry my eyes out without having to answer a bunch of questions about if I’m okay. The answer is no, it always has been. I’ve ignored that for too long. So I let every tear fall, everything I’ve been holding back, I let loose. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It feels good to cry, to let everything go. There’s a soft knock on the door. “Mare?” He asks. “Are you okay?” This time, I answer honestly. “Yeah, I’m okay.” “Oh, okay. I got worried, because it’s been twenty minutes and you haven’t cut the water on.” Right, I’ve been sitting a bathtub crying. “Can I come in?” The door muffles his voice. “Yeah, sure.” I reply. I hear him walk in and stand still, looking around for me. “I’m in the shower.” He pulls back the curtain to look at me. “Hi…” I say weakly. “Mare, have…have you been crying?” “Yeah…” “Why?” Are you serious? I try to keep the bitterness from my expression. “A lot of stuff that I kept to myself for too long.” To be honest, there isn’t much I’ve told anyone. “Oh. Can I sit down?” He tries to keep his expression light, but I can tell he’s worried about me. “Sure.” He tries to sit down across from me in the tub, but he’s much taller than I am, so he ends up taking up over half the tub. “You know, Mare, I barely know anything about you.” “Sweetheart, there isn’t much to know.” “Come on, there must be something you haven’t told me about yourself.” There’s a lot I haven’t told you, Cal. “Well, I used to sing a lot. I’m not any good, though.” My face burns, I know what he’s going to ask. “Can I hear you sing?” I knew it. My face turns an even deeper shade of red. There aren’t many musicians in Norta, but I’ve heard a few Old World songs. I decide on one and take a breath, starting to sing. When I look back at him, his eyes are wide, My face is burning crimson when I finish the song. “Wow,” he says. “You sound really good.” I find it in me to smile. “Well what about you?” I blurt out. “What about me?” He replies, smirking. “Can you sing?” His face flushes silver, turning his skin the color of moonlight. “Yes…” He starts to sing, it’s a song I’ve never heard before, but I could’ve listened to it a thousand times with his voice singing it. “You sound amazing.” I say. He grins, and I return the gesture. “What else don’t I know about you? Nicknames? Any more hidden talents?” I laugh. “No, no, there’s nothing else that’s very remarkable about me. What about you? Is there something I don’t know about you?” He laughs, “I’m an okay writer, I guess. I like writing short stories down.” He runs a hand through his hair. “You’re a writer?” I say, intrigued. “Have you ever written about me?” His face gets impossibly paler. “Once. The night I met you.” “And how did you describe me?” “Why do you want to know?” He says, flustered. “Because making you uncomfortable is fun.” He grins. He starts reciting what he has written down about me somewhere. “There’s something electric about her.” “Electric?” I smirk. “Hush.” He continues with what he was saying. “A certain power that I can’t place lurks beneath her warm, tanned skin. Shadows grow in her dark eyes. I noticed that her eyes aren’t the bleak, cold nothingness that I’m used to seeing. They’re warm brown, flecked with gold and bronze and amber. They show emotion, unlike any pair of eyes I’ve seen in a long time. She moves like a cat, agile and swift. I almost didn’t hear her sneak up on me. She told me everything while walking home. Every fear, every doubt, every regret. I could’ve sworn I saw tears streaming down her soft-carved features. I wish I could make things better for her, that I could lift every burden off her shoulders. Maybe one day I can. We stopped walking a little way from her house. The wind blew the wild mane of dark curls out of her face. She’s breathtaking. She starts to walk away from me, and I wish I could’ve asked her to stay, but I had to get back. I can’t stop thinking about her. She was a hurricane, and I would go through that storm again and again if it meant seeing her again. I think I might be in love, and I don’t even know her name.” “Oh.” I say, flustered. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, but the words come out anyway. “I love you too.” He looks down and grins, blushing. I move towards him in the tub. “No more keeping stuff to myself.” I promise. “No more letting you pretend to be okay. No more blaming what happens to us on you.” I smile. My lips meet his. “No more crying in bathtubs at two in the morning, lightning bug.” I giggle at the nickname he came up with. “Well you know what, fire babe? Sometimes it feels good to cry.” He smirks. “Fire babe?” I smile. “You heard me.” He kisses me again. “Weirdo.” He says. “Maybe, but I’m your weirdo.” I answer. “I love you, Mare Barrow.” “I love you too, Tiberias Calore.”
Review: Star Trek Gender Swap Comics "Parallel Lives"
Flashback to this January when IDW’s Trek comic series released two issues with a gender-swapped reboot crew. At the time I was cautiously optimistic and now I’ve finally managed to read it for myself.
When fans gender-swap characters, at its best it helps challenge our preconceptions about our favourite characters. It makes us ask, “Why couldn’t character x be a woman?” (or a man or androgynous). Or “Why does y trait have to be seen as feminine/masculine?”.
But it can go wrong. Sometimes gender swapping just ends up reinforcing stereotypes, as in the reverse patriarchy we see in the episode “Angel One”, or the classic Trek spoof by Carol Burnett (It pains me to say anything remotely negative about Carol Burnett but the sketch relies heavily on stereotypes and makes it look like putting women in charge of the Enterprise would be a hilarious disaster).
I’m really pleased to say the “Parallel Lives” comics did not have this problem. The characters on Jane Kirk’s Enterprise are pretty much the characters we’re familiar with, possessing the same traits in different bodies.