Pairing(s): Kit/Nita-ish, Tom/Carl, Dairine/Roshaun-ish
Warnings: Spoilers up to Wizards at War.
Summary: The moon is for beginnings, and for endings.
Fact: If you were to stand on the moon, the phase of the earth would be the exact opposite of the moon’s current phase.
“This is so cool!”
Kit’s statement breaks the immutable silence of that place, only audible because they brought their own oxygen with them. Nita merely nods emphatically - she has been to other universes, she has talked to trees and befriended a white hole, but she is still dumbstruck.
Earth hangs above the distant horizon, its colors so blinding-brilliant and alive in reflected sunlight - a brilliant waxing crescent. She has seen the pictures of earth from the space shuttle, but this is entirely different. It makes her wonder why she hadn’t come up her before Carl suggested it.
She attempts to take a step forward, and overcorrects for gravity. Instead of just one stop forward, she is off and away, her face pointed at the ground. Her fall is slow enough that she has time to throw her arms up in front of her face.
Kit laughs at her, once she has her feet underneath her. Nita sticks her tongue out at him, and gets a mouth full of moon dust for her efforts.
He has better control of the rollicking gait necessary to navigate in the low gravity, though she notices with some vindication his initial unsteadiness. Still, it is only a matter of moments until he has crossed the distance between them.
He reaches out a dark, nail-bitten hand toward her with a smile. Nita takes it, and Kit pulls her up - her feet actually leave the ground for a moment, and Nita laughs.
So cool is really an understatement.
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
Tom smiles at his friend and partner and lover, his eyes panning to the first-quarter earth on the horizon. “A bit too long, if you ask me,” he says. “Still, what can you do?”
Carl runs a hand through his hair, and laughs. It penetrates the distant roar of entropy and starspeak - but only until the sound waves run out of oxygen. Then the sound is muffled, quieted, and there is a waiting silence.
“Do you think we’re ready to be seniors?” Tom asks, quietly.
“We’d better be,” Carl replied. He gestures in the direction of the incandescent earth. “They’re counting on us.”
Tom entwines his fingers with Carl’s, and the heat from his partner’s body is nearly palpable.
“It really is beautiful, isn’t it?” he says in a breathy whisper that almost doesn’t make it in their artificially created air bubble.
‘Beautiful,’ Carl agrees. He cannot say it out loud, because his lips are occupied by other things.
Dairine has seen the wonders of the distant universe - she can still see them, as the computer-language flows underneath her dreams. Still, there is something special about earth just rising over the horizon of the moon’s white landscape.
She sits in silence for a long time, listening to the steady link between her and the mobiles, and is lost in thought. It is hours before she moves, as first New York disappears and then Africa emerges from the gibbous curve of Earth.
She finally found the magic, finally got what she had been longing for. And there was so much more to it than she could ever imagine. It was hard to find an anchor, among the billion billion homeworlds.
Still, if she had to chose one, earth was a good choice. Not perfect, nowhere close - but still beautiful, and still worth fighting for.
She grins at the tiny computer next to her. “I think I’m going to enjoy being a wizard,” she says.
Spot answers in a metallic voice. “Affirmative.”
Letting go is probably the hardest thing Nita has ever done, but she knows that she has to do it. Her vision is blurry from the tears - they just won’t stop coming - so she misses that first look of the full earth on the horizon. She has seen it before, anyways, Nita thinks as she scrubs at her eyes.
Her mother’s arms wrap around Nita, and it is a long time before they say anything. When Nita finally takes her head from its resting place on her mom’s shoulder, the tears have stopped flowing. The empty place inside of her feels no different.
Betty Callahan smiles, and finds a rock to perch on. She is not as strong as she used to be, and she has to rest often. Her cheeks are gaunt and her knuckles pale. Still, her posture is straight and perfect, and her flame-red hair shines like a beacon in the darkness of space.
“I feel so light,” she says quietly.
Nita takes a seat next to her mom. Not a rock, just a patch of moon dust. “One-sixth gravity,” she says absently.
“They should tell those pool-therapy people about this,” her mom answers with a grin. “They could make quite a mint.” Nita laughs, and then abruptly stops, choked up once more. In less than a month, her mom might not be around to laugh with.
Betty Callahan lays a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. It speaks of frailty, but also innumerable, hidden strength.
“I’m going to miss you so much,” Nita blubbers, and tears once again send her vision swimming. She had thought she was all cried out.
“I know, honey,” her mom replies, and there is a quiet note of regret in her voice. “You know that I’ll always be with you, right, sweetie?”
Nita can’t speak her thoughts - that it’s not the same, that it never will be the same. She can only nod.
They stay like that until the oxygen Nita brought along begins to grow thin. Then Betty takes her daughter’s hand, and stays silent as she lays out the spell diagram that will take them back to earth.
“You know, you can tell Kit I was wrong about him,” she says, once Nita is finished. “You have my full permission to date him if you want to.”
Nita rolls her eyes. “Mom…”
Her mom laughs. “What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t tease you about your love life?” she asks. It is a rhetorical question, and the only answer she needs is in her daughter’s wry smile and the sparkling of earthlight in her eyes.
“Neets… thank you.”
Nita is surprised she can manage to speak the words that take them back home.
Roshaun is silent as he takes in the moon’s cratered landscape. He has still not let go of Dairine’s hand, but she is not sure whose fault that is. She is no longer sure if she even cares.
It has been a breakneck fourteen hours to perfect their spell diagram, and the waning earth shining high above their heads is a welcome sight. Of course, it is also a reminder - if they screw this up, she’ll be lucky to have an earth to return to.
She squeezes Roshaun’s hand a little harder. To his credit, he doesn’t make any snide comments.
Instead, he remarks, “Perhaps your planet has its merits after all.”
Dairine grins, in a kind of triumph. She’s slowly deciphering his speech, and to her ears that sounded like a compliment. “It’s a perspective thing, that’s all,” she says.
His brilliantly green eyes reflect the blue-green colors of earth, as he looks up at the planet - a blue green marble thousands of miles away, but at the same time so bright, so close that he could almost reach out and grab it. There is resolve in that gaze, and a kind of softness, a vulnerability - that Dairine has never seen, but that delights her all the same.
“I can feel your sun’s pain much better from here,” Roshaun says quietly.
Dairine raises her eyebrows. “Do we need to alter the spell diagrams?” If they got anything wrong--
“No,” Roshaun says. He smiles at her, green eyes shining confidence in the earthlight. Dairine isn’t sure if her heart hasn’t skipped a beat.
“Come. Let us go save your star.”
Nita is not surprised to find Kit on the dark side of the moon, in the middle of the Daedalus Crater, staring up at a sky full of stars.
That sky full of stars is the only token of their victory - that, and the knowledge that the Hesper has risen, and that there are better days to come. That knowledge does little to assuage the bittersweet reality of the moment.
“Hey, Neets,” Kit says quietly.
She joins him in silence, settling herself so their shoulders touch against the biting chill of an atmosphere-less world. She intertwines her fingers with his, and merely holds on.
Sometimes, not being alone is all it takes - at least for a little while. Kit can talk when he’s ready to talk. She understands, much too well.
“He’s not even gone,” Kit murmurs quietly. “Not really.”
Nita shakes her head. “Doesn’t mean it’s easy,” she says.
“You’ve got that right.”
“At least we know that the endings… all of the endings… are really just a new beginning.”
Kit swallows hard. “Thanks, Neets,” he says, his dark eyes flickering toward hers. “For being here for me.”
Nita smiles. “Of course,” she says. “You’re my partner, and my best friend, you big dork.”
Kit smiles. He is not quite alright, not yet, but that quiet strength behind his gaze assures her that things will be alright with time. It will take merely patience, and that dark moon that fills her eyes will reveal a crescent of silver light. It will not last, but Nita will always know the moments of the sheer joy of the art - the times when the light is brightest, and she cannot help but look into it.
Kit stands and takes her hands. The cadence of the spell wraps them up, and the universe listens in close.
On earth, a full moon shines.