From the Story Arc: Cold Front

Previous Story in the Arc: To grieve is human by Krasnaya Zvezda (Wednesday, December 13, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Role Model by John Murdock (Wednesday, December 13, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006)

Astra quietly did her homework tucked away in a little cubby that had been used to hold the overflow from Aunt Bella's paperwork. She was within range of Aunt Bella; that was all that counted. It was her turn to help sustain the woman that had done so much for her over the years, and so very, very much recently.

She hadn't known Uncle Zach nearly as well as Aunt Bella; it had been Bella who had come Underhill to supplement the Elven healers and Aunt Vickie, it had been Bella who had trained her in the use of psychic shields when her own telempathic powers manifested. But Uncle Zach had been a bright light in her life, and as one telempath with another, she knew that Zach had been, quite literally, the love of Bella's life.

And there was a gaping hole in Bella's heart and soul now, a terrible wound that would stop bleeding in time, but never cease to ache.

...and yet...and yet....

There was, over that wound, a kind of empathic bandage. From friends, from comrades, from her sister-in-soul, Seraphic Flame, to a lesser extent from Astra herself, Bella was accepting the concern, the care, the sympathy, the comfort--little trickles amid the grieving of the others--and weaving it into that protection for herself. From Petrograd, the intense, lighthouse-like beam of I would die for you that never ceased even amid his anger and grief. From Gremlin, poor man, so wracked with I should have been there came his determination I will stand between you and harm. From...grudging admission from awkward compassion....

All wound into the steady outpouring of strength from Sera and Astra herself. And that...

It seemed impossible, but that was what was making that counter-flood of strong, sure comfort radiate from Bella, back onto those who so surely needed comfort themselves as they tried to give it to her.

Astra didn't understand it. Couldn't imagine how Bella was really doing it. All she could do was help make it happen, by even a little bit.