Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts June 2016 Puzzle: Water,
Word Count: 1,206
Date Written: 26 June, 2016
Disclaimer: Xena, Warrior Princess belongs to Universal Studios, not the author, and is used without permission. Tobias, Rachel, the Andalites, and the Animorphs belong to K.A. Applegate, also not the author, and are used without permission.
He should feel lost, but he doesn't. He was dying earlier before they slipped him into these magical waters, but that time seems like so long ago now. He barely remembers the pain of his own crushed bones struggling for air or the terror of this alien world. Everything that's happened should seem strange. He's billions of light years away from home, alive only because of some kind of alien, underwater volcano that sends some kind of healing beams into the water every hour or so by Earth time, and yet, Tobias still feels at home. He knows it's because of her.
It's all because of her. They're alive, again, because of her courage and determination. They won, because she almost sacrificed herself to make sure they would. She knew her injuries would heal if she could only demorph, but they hadn't even known at the time if they would be able to morph on this strange world to which Ax's people has brought them. She didn't know if she would live. She didn't care. Her own life didn't matter; theirs did. She would give anything to save them, just as he would give anything to save her. He barely remembers throwing himself in front of the enemy as she screamed, determined to save her from what bullets his considerably smaller body could.
But that still seems like so long ago. Now she's slipping against him, her body twining around his, and he's remembering again how strange this all is and yet, too, how lucky he is to have been one of the five human kids who were chosen by an alien Prince to try to save their world against invaders that had already dominated so many galaxies. His being one of them, he knows, is the only thing that's made Rachel look at him.
Before, when he was just another geek having his head shoved into toilets, she never would have looked at him, but now, she does more than look at him. She makes him feel alive. She makes him feel special, and wherever they are, whatever else may be happening around them at any time, she makes him feel at home. And when she smiles at him with that dangerous, Xena smile, as Marco calls it, she not only makes him feel safe. She makes him feel like he's the only guy on the planet and he can do anything.
He can do anything, because he's got her behind him and at his side. He can do anything, because she won't take "no" for an answer. She'll support him and any of his crazy decisions just as he backs every decision that she makes that he know won't kill her or, at least, shouldn't kill her. But the truth is, he can't do anything. He can't even spend time with her as a human for more than two hours without having to return to his bird form. He can't be in classes with her. He can't take her to the prom without raising a dozen questions from well meaning parents and teachers and even more from the loud mouthed kids that are part of the world they fight every day to save. He can't --
She chirps to him in dolphin language. Her voice seems beautiful to him no matter what language she speaks. It slides through his darkening thoughts and brings him back to the moment, brings him back to her. She's gliding around him in close circles now, the smooth, gray flesh of her current form sliding against his own. It's only then that he becomes aware of the music.
She's not singing. It seems like the water itself is singing an alluring tune in words he can not begin to comprehend. The words don't really matter, though. Nor does it matter that they're still trapped on an alien world so far away from their homes. He's already at home, because he's got her with him. He says, these days, that the sky is his home, but that's a lie. Wherever Rachel is is home for him.
He can see her smile glistening in her form's dark eyes. He would smile himself if he could. He feels his dolphin's facial features pull back into something that, he hopes, remotely resembles a smile. He chirps back at her and nuzzles her with his beak. They glide together, dancing around each other in close circles and slowly drifting upward.
Soon, he knows, they will break the surface. Soon, they'll be surrounded by well meaning friends and allies. Soon, they will no longer be alone, just the two of them in an underwater world. As she nears the surface, he bumps her several times with his nose, guiding her gently back down. He's not ready to give up this time with her.
They can't go to the prom. He can't dance with her out in public. He can't hold her in his arms and sway with her cheek to cheek before a school full of boys who wonder how he ever got so lucky as to land the hottest babe in school -- not that he would ever dare call Xena, Warrior Princess (Marco's so right) a babe -- and girls who wonder why she's wasting her time with him when she can have any one. She can have any one, but she chooses him, even though there's so much he can't give her, even though he's no longer human. She still chooses him.
But alone in their underwater paradise, the realities of their home world don't matter. All the things he can no longer give her fade from his mind. All that remains is the fact that she's here with him, choosing him again, and dancing with him. Her beak suddenly nuzzles him. Tobias would blush, but dolphins don't blush, so instead he nuzzles her back and thinks again how incredibly lucky he is.
He almost died today, but that doesn't matter. Jake and the others are trying desperately to figure out where they are and how to get back home, but that also doesn't matter. He knows where he is. He's with her. He loves her, and she loves him (of all people!). He knows it's true even though they haven't found a way to voice their feelings to each other yet. There are some things that even Xena fears. But he knows she does.
He glides ever closer, feeling complete and at home in this strange, alien paradise because she does and wishing this moment will never end. He knows it will, and he doesn't know what's going to happen when they eventually break the surface except that she'll pull slightly away from him again for the sake of the team. They'll be team members again and the dearest of friends, but they won't share this unspoken bond they're sharing now until they're alone again. However long that takes, he knows it will be worth the wait. He wonders what the future holds for them, but he doesn't fear. He doesn't fear, because he's got Xena, Warrior Princess, and her love, and with that combination, he's got everything a boy who once had his head in the toilet can ever want.