[This post is from Teague’s point of view.]
Water rasped against stones, almost a whisper as the breeze pushed the lapping waves up against the shore. Beyond the sound of birds in the trees, the wind whispering through branches, the world was quiet. He stood and stared off across the water, letting his eyes relax, gaze unfocusing. He listened to the quiet, even breath of his son, not yet a year old, heavy against his chest as he stood near the shore, the boy’s head resting against his shoulder.
In, out. In, out. Teague Vaughan matched the pattern of his own breathing to his son’s, shifting him slightly into a more comfortable hold. Kira would come looking soon. She worried when they were out this long and it was only a matter of time before realized they weren’t back yet. She worried about him and he loved her for it, especially because he still wasn’t quite certain he deserved it.
After all, he still blamed himself for the fate that had befallen the world almost a year before.
If Phelan were here, he’d tell him that there wasn’t anything more he could have done. He’d tried. They’d both tried—them and so many others, Teague had come to realize in the months since.
None of it had mattered.
A faint smile curved his lips at the sound of her voice.
Not none of it.
He turned to see her coming down the path from their lodge, her footsteps as silent as his own would have been. Teague smiled and lifted his free hand, finger to his lips, nodding to their sleeping son.
Kira smiled as she came to him, dressed in faded denim and a plaid shirt. Her hair had gotten long and for all that she made noises about cutting it, she never seemed to do it. Their fingers laced together as she stopped by his side, leaning her shoulder against his.
“You’ve been gone for a while,” she said softly. “I was starting to worry.”
“You do that a lot,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to her temple with a faint smile.
“Well, you’re worth worrying about,” she said, then smiled back, squeezing his fingers before she wrapped her arms around his waist. “Are you all right?”
“Why are you asking?”
“You’ve got that look,” Kira said, resting her chin on his shoulder and looking at him for a few aching heartbeats. “The one I’ve seen before too many times to count. You’re wrestling with something and you’re not sure if you should tell me—or anyone.”
Teague smiled faintly. “You know me too well.”
“Well, I’ve only been dreaming about you my entire life.”
His heart gave a painful squeeze, though it was less than it might have been a year before. He’d never meant for her to go through even half of what she’d faced, never meant for her soul—bound to his millennia ago—to suffer as it had for so long, never meant for her to dream of his face for her entire life. And yet, that had been what had happened, it was what was. There was no way he could ever change that, and in hindsight, he wasn’t sure if he would even if he could.
He knew that she wouldn’t.
“I love you,” he murmured softly, then kissed her again.
“I love you, too,” Kira said, squeezing him. “Is that a dodge?”
Teague laughed quietly. “No. No, it’s not a dodge.”
“Then what’s bothering you?”
“I’ve just been thinking.”
“Mm.” She sounded amused and concerned at once and he nearly laughed aloud. “About what?”
“I had a dream last night.”
Kira stiffened slightly, her brow furrowing. It was a few moments before she asked, “What kind of dream?”
“The kind that scares both of us,” he murmured. “The kind that I haven’t had since I fevered when you brought me here a year ago.”
“I thought we were past that.”
“it’s a gift and a curse.”
“You can return gifts,” Kira whispered. “You can break curses. This is something else. Something different.”
He rested his cheek against her head and exhaled a sigh. “I don’t have another word for it.”
“I know,” she said. “Neither do I.” Another pause. “What was it about?”
“Them,” he said simply, knowing she’d understand.
A breath escaped her that wasn’t quite a gasp, not quite a sigh. Her voice came as a whisper. “What did you see?”
“They’re all right,” he said quietly. “For now, at least.”
“Nothing’s ever certain, Kira. You know that.”
Her arms tightened around him. “Some things are.”
A chill crept down his spine, unbidden, then he forced himself to relax. “You’re right,” he whispered back. “Some things are.” Like this. Like us.
Kira’s fingers brushed along his cheek and jaw and he smiled faintly, tears stinging for a second before he blinked them away.
“Thank you,” he breathed.
“For loving me.”
She smiled. “Let’s go inside. I made lunch.”
Teague nodded and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. There would be time enough later to tell her everything he’d seen—to tell her about all that had changed, how different it all was now from what he’d originally thought, from the stories, from the dreams, from all of it.
There was time.