Moving On

From the Story Arc: A Sistah's Burden

Previous Story in the Arc: Part 7: Facing It Together by Gaia's Soldier (Thursday, August 04, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: A Friend's Sacrifice by Gaia's Soldier (Monday, August 29, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005)

Sun shone through the window, stirring the sleeping woman. Gaia’s Solder could hear the faraway sounds of plates clinking and opened her eyes in the bright sunlight. Once her vision cleared, she saw Heavy Brother walking towards her with two plates.

“Hey,” she said. “What you got there?”

Heavy Brother grinned. “These ribs are the best I've found around here.”

She moaned as the smell hit her, all spicy and thick. “Thanks, baby. Been damn tired of soup. All Hecate will make me lately.”

“Well, don't tell her that I brought you this. I'm sure it violates some magical law.” She sat up to make a lap for the plate. He set his on the small table next to the bed.

Aura laughed. “My lips are sealed.”

“I can't stand to see a sista suffer through all that soup. Your body needs sustenance.” He sat next to her and ripped free some rib meat. “Here.” She smiled as he fed it to her. “That's better.”

“You are very good at this. I like having you take care of me.” Aura smirked. “Well for anyways.”

“Heh, you know it.” Heavy Brother reached for his plate. “You know, baby, you are not alone anymore. You have me.”

“I know baby.” She frowned. “I feel bad you being cooped up in here, too.”

“It's all right. I've had worse. Besides, I like cooping up with you.” He took a large bite of ribs.

“Not used to depending on folks.”

Heavy Brother chuckled. “I know you ain't. It's cute, you're all ornery.”

“Glad you think so. Most folks think I am just ornery.”

“They're not used to a strong Black woman.”

“I am sure I won’t be bedridden for much longer.” Aura tried to convince herself with her words, hoping he’d agree. “I am feeling much better.”

“But that thing is still inside you,” he said in a low voice. “It ain't just going to dissolve.”

Aura’s demeanor darkened. “Yeah. I know. I just feel...” She shuddered. “Goddess I feel almost dirty... just...it just disgusts me.”

“It's all right, Aura. Treat it like a disease.” He passed his hand before her, a gesture of forgiving. “It ain't your fault.”

They ate in silence, save for lip smacking and managing the messy, sauce covered meat. Heavy Brother put half his pile of napkins on the bed next to her. He gave her a fond wink, but her frown widened. Finally, she set her plate on her lap.

“I shouldn’t have let it happen.”

“Hell, you can't control that shit. You save your strength while we find a cure.”

“But Anthony I am supposed to... I should... I just don’t know what to do now. Hell, if I didn’t have you...”

“If you didn't have me,” he said, putting down his plate of food, “you'd find someone else to be ornery to. You would get through this struggle, because you are strong. You don’t need me for that strength.”

Aura’s fists clenched. “I don’t want to be stuck here. I want to be out there with you. I should be out there fighting.”

Heavy Brother leaned in towards her. “This is your fight now. And you had better win.”

She looked up, meeting his eyes. “Our fight now, right?”

He shook his head. “It's your fight, Aura. I am here for you every moment of the day and night, but the strength and will comes out of you. I will never leave you, but I can't affect what happens in your body.” He leered at her. “Well, not like that anyway.”

Tears made her eyes bright, but she held them at bay. “What if I can't?” The words carried all the weight of the doubt within her. “What if I'm not strong enough?”

“You are strong enough. Stop doubting yourself, baby.” He paused to look at the window. “Sometimes I think I am weakening you. The Aura I knew could take anything on by herself.”

Aura shook her head hard. “No, baby, you make me want to fight it even harder.”

“You can't depend on me for anything but love, baby. Everything else comes from you.” Heavy Brother grinned. “Well, love and ribs.”

Aura smiled in spite of herself. She took a big bite of rib meat and closed her eyes, savoring the flavor as if it were her first taste of BBQ sauce. “Especially these ribs.”

He took her hand and she squeezed it. “I love you, my sister. I hate to see you suffer, but you need to be realistic about a battle like this. When it's on the streets, it's both of us, side by side. When it's in your body, you always fight alone. But you are never alone, you dig?”

“I dig.” She held his hand tightly, pulling it close to her heart. “Guess I always understood the outside battles better then the inner ones.”

“Baby, I am working non-stop to find a medical solution to this. These experts ain't sure what's going on, but they are fighters too. They ain’t given up yet.”

“I know you are, Anthony.” Aura nodded. “We’ll beat this.”

“Listen here…” Heavy Brother squirmed, his long legs pinned in the small space between the bed and chair. “Damn, I can't even stretch my legs.” He shifted so he could lean in close. “Why don't you stay with me for a while? You’ll be more comfortable. This tiny apartment ain't fit for a Queen.”

Aura was silent for a long moment as she looked around the place. This had been her home for a long time now. She and Anthony had discussed the possibility of her moving in with him before, but she had been hesitant to give up having her own space. Now, with all that happened, those arguments that had played out in her head against it, they seemed silly somehow. “I know we talked about it before.” A voice in her head tsked at her. What’s wrong with you, girl? You love the man. You can still be independent and be with him too.

Aura smiled and nodded. “Okay, baby. Let’s get out of here.” She felt warmth grow in her as she spoke. She set the plate out of the way and turned her whole body to face him. “I mean not just for now. Let do this thing right. I'll come stay with you, move in. We’ll make it work out comfortable for both of us, somehow.”

Heavy Brother looked pleased. “Right on. Ain't no somehow. This is going to be best for both of us. I'll have Hecate bless the place or whatever it is she does.”

Aura eyes twinkled. “Yeah she'll want to smudge it and stuff, maybe do wards.” A serious look crossed her face. “Like I said... no taking away...only adding stuff…”

“You can add your touch...but not the stereo. Otherwise, I don't mind a woman's touch. It's your home now too, Aura.”

She sighed. “Our home. I like the sound of that.”

Heavy Brother took Aura in his arms. “I like the feel of it.”

Aura curled up against him, the wave of warmth spreading until nothing else seemed to matter but them. “Yeah. Me too.”

“I came a long way to find you, my soul sistah.” His breath tickled her neck.

She could feel his arms tighten around her. “I'm glad you came.”

“You are all I have in this century, and that don't bother me at all.”

“No regrets?” She waited for him to tense; he didn’t.

“Well, I didn't choose to be poisoned and frozen. There's a lot I miss. Yeah, I got regrets. But loving you overshadows them. I can live with that.” He kissed her forehead. “I gotta get you healthy so we can hit that African beach.”

“Mmmm… You know how to make your queen feel so good.”

“Hey, that is a King's duty, baby.”

“That whole idea is sounding mighty fine right now.”

Heavy Brother winked. “Someday, baby...someday. We'll watch our kids splashing around in the surf.” He raised his eyebrow surprised at himself. “Huh, that just came out…”

Aura’s eyes widened. “Kids? Hmm…never thought about it...” She laughed “Certainly never thought it would come out of your mouth.”

“Ahem...er...well, let's focus on getting you out of bed first. We got a lot to deal with before getting too domestic.”

It was her turn to leer. “Then you can focus on getting me back into it?”

“Every day, sugar. You have some catching up to do.”

“I think I'm gonna rest.” She didn’t budge from his arm; she simply closed her eyes. “We can call maybe Soyuz or someone to help us pack stuff up. I will help all I can. Don't have all that much stuff.”

“I will take care of everything. You got a job to do, getting healthy again. Let me handle this.”

“Ok, baby.” She nodded. “You know. I think I could get real used to sleeping in you arms every night.”

“Right on, baby. That is one very large benefit.” Heavy Brother cupped her face in his hand and bought it up towards his own. He kissed her gently.

“Anthony... I love you.”

“I love you too, my Nubian Queen.”