Part 7: Facing It Together

From the Story Arc: A Sistah's Burden

Previous Story in the Arc: Part 6: Baby, I Got Some Bad News by Gaia's Soldier (Tuesday, July 26, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Moving On by Gaia's Soldier (Tuesday, August 23, 2005)

(posted Thursday, August 04, 2005)

Sister Hecate stood in the open doorway of Gaia Solder’s studio apartment, an aged tome in one hand, her other slender hand raised, fingers outstretched. She wasn’t a large woman; on the contrary, she was small and slight of build. However what she lacked in statue she made up for in pure natural magical ability. Muttering deeply in words full of age and history, she motioned towards the remnants of door that lay broken on the apartment floor. Dark tendrils of energy engulfed it, raising it of the ground, spreading to the cracked frame. She closed her glowing green eyes as she felt the wood fusing, the door becoming whole again.

Once she felt the task was complete she opened her eyes and set down the book scanning the apartment. The single room was small but the space was well utilized. A kitchenette with a tiny stove and sink took up on wall, one the floor there lay the scattered remnants of the teapot. Near the window to the balcony was a twin-sized bed, the sheets and blankets pulled tight in military precision. Other than that shelves of book lined the walls and were used to almost create partition in areas like near the television. Beside a burgundy papasan and a small wicker chair, very little else furnished the place. Not what one would suspect from the average hero, but Gaia’s Solder had never been close to average. The place was a bit of a mess but that was no trouble to fix. Within moments she had tidied it up and even set out the fresh flowers she had brought from her small garden. A fresh set of linens on the bed and a warm blanket, and it was ready.

Just in time, from the sound of it. She could hear the heavy boots on the hallways and Aura’s voice. “Ok, we’re here. You can put me down now.” Hecate chuckled and walked to the door. “I mean it, Anthony. It is bad enough you insisted on carrying me from the hospital, I can at least walk into my own place on my own two feet.” The mystic opened the door and seeing the stubborn look on the large man’s face, moved aside so he could carry Aura in.

Once Heavy Brother set Aura on the bed he turned to look at the door. “Nice work…not much left of it last time I was here.” Knowing the scowl that awaited him if he looked at the woman on the bed, he met eyes with Hecate. “It was nice of you to fix up the place.” He spotted the fresh flowers by the largest window. “Real cozy.”

Sister Hecate grinned while she watched him help Aura with her shoes, much to the strong woman’s dismay. “Anthony, I can do this myself.”

“Yeah, you keep telling me that.” He set the boots next to her small bed. Glancing up at Hecate he said, “Do you mind giving her a hand with the rest of it? I’m gonna wash up.” He turned back to Aura. “If you need me…”

The mystic shooed him out the apartment door. “Go. I have everything here. You’re right down the hall.” Nodding, and failing to hide his concern, the big man allowed the door to close on him. Hecate turned to Aura and smiled at the pursed lips that met her gaze. “He just cares about you. He is not trying to embarrass you.”

Sighing, Aura accepted Hecate’s help to undress and don an over-sized t-shirt. Normally full of glowing health, and stronger than any woman she had ever known, Aura now looked weary, her beautiful brown skin taking on a grayish cast. Once she was tucked into bed, Hecate sat a small chair next to her. “People have been very worried. None of them knew what had happened to you.”

Aura’s voice was sharp when she spoke. Hecate could see past her anger to the fear. “They don’t need to know anything. I’ll be fine.”

“They are your friends…”

“No!” Aura’s eyes softened. “I’m sorry. I just…” A tear threatening to spill over but she refused to give in to them. “I don’t know what is happening to me, Hecate.” Hearing the light knock on the door, Aura shut her mouth tight. Trying even harder to hold back her pain.

“In a moment, Anthony.” Hecate’s voice became stern. “If you truly love him, you will not hide this from him.”

“I can’t let him see me like this. I don’t want his pity.”

“Do you want his love?” At the shock in Aura’s eyes, the woman pressed on. “If you push him away now, when you need him most, you may lose that chance forever.”

Aura nodded. “It’s okay, Anthony. Come in.” Her voice trembled and she turned away to hide the tears that threatened to come.

Heavy Brother entered slowly, wary of Hecate. He shied away from her penetrating gaze. “So… you two need me to get you anything?”

Hecate shook her head. “No. I need you to sit here.” She stood, motioning him into the chair. He sat down, reaching for Aura’s hand. “I want you to tell me exactly what happened from the time the emergency call went out until you arrived here.”

The mystic leaned against the far wall and listened, nodded at times, scowled at others, until Heavy Brother finished his account. For a moment, she considered his words, until the silence of the room roared in his ears. Then she knelt beside the bed and placed her hands on Aura’s stomach.

He found himself leaning down and wrapping his arms around Aura. She leaned into him, trembling. “I’m here, I’m here.” Aura nodded once and closed her eyes, tears spilling out from under her lashes.

The woman who heard the voice of the ancestors swayed back and forth. A hum came from her closed lips but she never once removed her hands from where they rested. The pitch of the humming increased until it resonated through the apartment like a swarm of angry bees. Heavy Brother’s grip on Aura grew tighter. He felt her shake with sobs.

After what seemed like an eternity, Hecate’s hands relaxed and clasped together at her chest. “It is not something I am familiar with, this being, but it seems to be resting. Perhaps dormant. I do not believe the pain it caused you was intentional.” Heavy Brother tensed in anger; Hecate put up a hand to silence him. “I sense from it washes of grief, loss, fear, deep pain, and strangely enough gratitude.” She smiled at a confused Aura. “It is grateful to you. I am not certain why. For now all I can do is attempt to keep it in slumber until we can discover more.”

The cloaked woman rummaged in her bag and pulled out several leather and cloth pouches, along with a stone bowl and pestle. As she added each bit of dried plant material, Hecate spoke words strange and ancient. She returned the bags back to their sack, and then began to crush and mix the contents of the bowl.

Setting it on the floor, the mystic spoke to Heavy Brother. “She is to have three tablespoons of this in a tea every twelve hours until I tell you differently. Pick a time that will be easy to remember, but this must be adhered to.” He nodded, jaw set. “Aura needs rest, at least a few days, until her own body can come in balance with what is happening to it. You will be staying?”

As Aura started to protest, he placed his fingers on her lips. “I will be here. I’ll take care of everything.”

Hecate nodded and stood, taking the bowl with her, and placing it on the top of the television. “I will come every day or so to check on you and to take care of her more private needs.”

“Right on.”

Hecate hefted her bag to leave the apartment. At the door she stopped, hand on the knob. “Aura, remember what I told you.” Not bothering to turn to see the response, Hecate closed the door behind her.

Aura lay in his arms a long while without speaking. Then, as he got up to head to the kitchen to boil a pot of water, she said, “I can take care of myself, you know.”

As he filled the pot, Heavy Brother kept his back to her. “I know.”

“I don’t need to be babied or anything.” Her stubborn pout came through in her voice.

“I know.”

He set the pot on a burner, adjusted the fire on beneath it. “I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me,” she continued.

“I know.”

Heavy Brother turned to watch her, bedridden, fists twisting the sheets. “This has not got me beat.”

Her went to the bedside, and, with infinite gentleness, propped her up, slipping himself behind her. Pulling her into his lap, he cradled her in his arms. In the light on the setting sun he could barely see her tear stained face. He pulled the blanket over both of them, and slipped off his boots with a foot to each heel. As he held her there, he softly caressed her hair. “I know, baby. I know.”

Aura’s body relaxed; she melted into his arms. It felt as if she was inside his gravity shields, the two of them, the world far away and floating. A thought came to her, surprising her with its clarity. “I love you.”

Heavy Brother smiled, close to her, and said, “I know, baby. I know.”