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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Hidden Sunlight - 7. Latent Revelation

There are many times in your life when you might have good cause to question your sanity. Up until that moment there had been a number of occasions, for me, that had reached the very borderline stage where that same burning question always presented itself. The question that would thrust the issue into my conscious mind whether I desired to answer it or not. The question that I had managed to successfully marginalise and minimise time and again, never allowing it far enough to give any real credibility, despite the circumstances of my life often demanding the opposite.

Until now.

Am I still sane or have I lost it completely? For a good few moments, I genuinely believed that I had gone crazy. What I saw on that screen and what I thought to be true were so far apart that the only explanation seemed that I was disconnected from reality. That it was so twisted to me and I must be certifiably insane. Imagining things. Divorced from the basic concept of normality.

It wasn't the day, since there is nothing particularly troubling about which part of the week you're in, nor how far through the month you are. It wasn't the month either, since it was exactly what I thought it would be. The year though; well, that was where the question of mental stability kicked in.

Monday, 23 September 2318.

"This- ... this isn't a prank is it?" I felt weak as I said it but I had to ask. "Don't tell me you're joking." I delivered the question to him, praying and begging with my eyes for him to tell me it was, for him to burst into laughter and reveal it as some sort of ruse. All I got was his even stare and a terse shake of the head. "Do I look like I am joking?"

He did not. There was no humour in the way he was looking at me. Precisely zero.

This date is real.

Not just seven months, but ... seven months plus years. Years and years. Decades. Centuries. Two centuries.

It sat there, inexorable. Unyielding. Just a fact.

Two hundred and fourteen years.

Crazy was about right. Already a part of my mind was dredging through memory as fast as it could manage. So many small things about the world that seemed slightly odd now fit into the picture in a way they never had before. Volkov, so deserted and so rundown. The GSPI, the state of it, the mess, the disarray. Palatus, more weathered than just from the bombs of a military operation. The roads to Palatus itself, damaged, cracked. The countryside, so empty, so deserted, so wild.

It was not just because of the Sharpe virus, it was because this world had been purged of human civilisation for 200 years.

"So, can you explain this Shay?" Konstantin's question was repeated, his serious dry insistence disconcerting. "Can you explain why you were born in 2089, why you were waiting for your 15th birthday in 2104, when it is truly the 24th century?"

Explain? Explain ... this?! "Explanation?" I looked at him, my angst and turmoil starting to accelerate, my voice raising. "How the fuck do you expect me to explain this? I didn't know what the date was until you told me, just then!"

"Calm down." Stoic, implacable and sensibly measured. "You need only answer this question, no more than that."

Calm? Sensible? My rational mind tried to speak but a tumble of new raw feeling jumped in before it could so much as draw breath. What is there to be calm about? Everything has changed. Everything is different. The old Lucere is further gone than I thought possible. The civilisation is not seven months lost, it's dust, well and truly destroyed. All the cities are fucked, and the people? The people are GONE. Then a fact was there in my head; one that I should have recognised first but in my haste had forgotten about entirely.

The people ...

It was the first thing I had looked for when I awoke from stasis. Now, the one thing that was completely beyond my ability to fix. It was a bittersweet pill I had swallowed in entering the Hoffstadt chamber. I had lived, locked safely away in a cocoon of extension. Outside, the world had flared in a cataclysm of mutation and warfare. The rotting remains of human culture were slowly withering away in the years after, decade upon decade of a long drawn out cancerous existence.

Outside, where my parents had died while inside, I had lived.

"Calm down? You want me to calm down?" I hissed. Pushing his hand off the chair back, I stood and looked him in the eye as he straightened, facing me back. "You don't get to tell me to calm down!"

"There is n-"

"NO!" I shouted, and he leaned back startled, not expecting such an explosive response. "You just told me my parents are dead. Not just 'maybe dead' or 'probably dead' or '99% likely dead' but ... DEAD, period! So far gone that there is no way, no FUCKING way that they can be alive any more."

"Shay, I didn't mean t-"

I ignored both his demurral and the essential hurt of the revelation as it ran down my face in liquid trails. "Fuck your intentions! They were MY parents! Two hundred years. Two HUNDRED years! Dead for so long I'll never know how or why or what did it. They are just gone." I took a deep breath, standing as tall and straight as I could, teardrops unnoticed as they followed along the line of my jaw. "So to hell with calm and to hell with anyone that tells me what to feel."

Then, I turned, yanked the door open and slammed it shut behind me. Konstantin was calling my name, but I barely heard him as I stormed away. Angrily wiping my face with my arm, I rushed towards the kitchen and the garden, the exits to outside the house. Anywhere away from here was preferable, but there was a sound behind me and then a hand girding my free wrist, holding me in place.

Mira?

His hair was mussed from sleep, and despite the distress killing my focus, I knew he just woke. Not only that, but even with the same veil of emotional protection back in place as before our kiss, I could see right through it. His eyes radiated concern, his expression saying 'where are you going? I'm not letting you run off on your own like this. You're coming with me.' The words in my throat didn't even get said and he was already pulling me into my bedroom, overriding my resistance.

Eyes downcast as he led me, all I could see was his hand grasping mine and ... he's wearing my boxers and shirt still? Of all the clothes he could be sleeping in, he's wearing mine? A lone chord of comfort swelled in my heart, and then a thrill of inadvertent desire. The shape of his body pressed so enticingly against the fabric, the muscles in his back and rear moving as he climbed onto the bed, pulling me with him. Then guilt at feeling this way when the grieving wound was still bleeding inside; the grief itself at war with Mira's compassion and the hormonal want for indulging my senses.

I want to scream. I want to fucking scream! Everything was haywire and I didn't know which way to go, how to react, only that Mira was pushing me down onto the bed, on my back. My head landed on the pillow and his weight was on me; lying across my lower body, head on my stomach. I wanted to rub the tear stains off, but he was curtailing me, bringing my arms back to rest, then his own rising to perform the task instead. A thumb under each eye, wiping clean, fingertips stroking behind my earlobes as the thumbs worked. Shuddering at the delightful sensitive touch, it was gone all too quickly, his hands lowering to grasp my elbows. I gripped him back, my fucked-up gyroscope of feelings finally beginning to equalise as we both became still, comfortable. As his head settled on my stomach to gaze up at me, the steel of his eyes was a lake of placidity, shimmering with affection. The doting attention was a balm; it gave me so much assurance and coupled with the simple closeness of his body, I was grounded again.

Don't fret. Just breathe. The hysterical streak faded and I could finally think. He gave me a small smile, and we just sat, gazing at each other for a minute, letting everything subside. Then, a look, blinking owlishly, that seemed to say 'so, tell me what's going on, please?' Okay. Okay, if anyone can make this better, it would be him. So tell him.

"Mira, it's ... it's like- ... like I never woke up at all and I'm still in stasis, somehow dreaming all of this. That's why I think maybe I'm really dead and this is the afterlife, like a purgatory, or ... or that I am actually crazy, and it's all in my head. It is real, isn't it? I'm not crazy, am I?" He just watched, unchanging; listening to me, letting me say it. It made me think. Even if this isn't real, would I want to leave it behind? There's good and bad happening here together, all wound up tight. But, it is real. I can't doubt myself so much to think my senses are deceiving me completely. Konstantin, he said there were too many things on Lucere that could destroy the minds of men. I'm stronger than that. Smarter than that.

Stronger, smarter. The self reinforcement stood in defiance of everything else. This was reality and there was no escaping it.

Is my own will power going to be enough?

"I don't know how to make sense of this," I confided. "It's a string of impossible stuff. I created you and I don't even know how that happened. Then we're immune, against all the odds, and now ... two hundred years asleep? It's all so insane, so impossible and it's all centred on me." On me. Why on me? A lance of poignancy hit and there I was, thinking of them again, a rueful burn that wouldn't quit.

-o-0-O-0-o-

A bowl sits on the bench, morning light glossing it and the milk carton as I balance on the chair. The cupboard latch comes open and it swings free with a promising creak. On the shelf above, there is a colourful box, the exact one I'm looking for. Success! It's in sight. Now to get it down. I stretch onto the tips of my toes and my fingers strain towards it

Almost there!

As I touch the bottom of the box, there's a thrust of tearing pain in my shoulder and across my chest. My arm jerks and my body twists. Balance is gone and I fall off the chair. On the way to the floor the bench smacks my arm and head painfully and the rogue head of a screw from the chair slices into my arm. The box hits the bench, cereal cascades onto the floor. Bowl crashes into pieces and the carton half empties itself as well.

"What in the blazes is going on? Shay?" Dad is in the doorway, alerted by the sound,and I hold my arm in pain, the waterworks already starting. He gasps when he sees the bleeding and in a second is picking me up off the floor. Without stopping a beat, he ignores the mess on the floor, sits me on the kitchen table and vanishes out of the room. Back moments later with a box of stuff, he sits in front of me and cleans the cut. As the plaster goes on my arm, he tells me off. "Son, you can't go climbing around like that. You could have hurt yourself worse than this. If you want breakfast, come to me or your mom, alright?"

"Dad I'm sorry." I sob. Some of it was pain, some of it was shame. "I nearly got it down okay, but then it hurt. It hurt lots." I hang my head. "I'm sorry. Don't be mad, please."

"Oh, Shay." He slows, wiping my arm clean then a finger under my chin where it has sunk to my chest, drawing it up so he can make eye contact. "Buddy, I know you want to do things for yourself, but sometimes we need help. I'm not mad, I'm just worried. You're special and I don't want anything to happen to you. Understand?"

I nod at him, bashful and slow. "Okay. Is it 'cause I'm sick? I don't wanna be sick anymore. It hurts, and I don't like it when you and mom are sad."

When I tell him this, he gets a distant look on his face, like he is far away somewhere else in his head, and his eyes go glassy. Then he stands, picking me up as he does so. He doesn't do this much and I'm not really used to it, but his arms feel good and I cling to him as he hugs me. "You're going to be fine, son." His voice is soft in my ear as he carries me into the lounge. "You're going to get better and we'll be with you all the way, me and your mom. Okay?"

"Promise?" I whisper to him.

He squeezes me as I lean into his neck.

"Promise."

-o-0-O-0-o-

Some promises aren't made to be kept. Some are made to be broken.

I didn't really care about that though. I just wanted them back.

"I can't even hope to find their remains, because what would be left? They're gone and I won't see them ever again. I won't hear any of my dad's s-stupid puns that never m-made me laugh, or mom complaining about ... the t-traffic or the w-weather or anything she c-could t-think of." My voice shook and I faltered. "They're g-gone f-forever, and I- ... I miss them so m-much."

The prickle of tears threatened again, but then Mira's weight was lessened and he was off me, sitting back on his haunches. He grasped the hem of my shirt and pulled it up to just under the ribs, exposing my stomach. "Mira," sniffling, now nervous too, "what are you doing?" Then he leaned forward again, balancing his weight on his hands and his face came down towards my skin.

Oh!

His lips were feather soft and he moved around my torso, planting kisses on every square millimetre. Methodical, fleeting, entrancing. Each touch was so delicate, so fine, spurring minute intakes of breath from me. One hand was pushing the waistline of my pants down a fraction, the ridges of my hips showing and then kisses on the left, and the right, anointing each side with the same treatment. "Mira?" A muttered question alongside the warm fuzzy feeling growing within, and also the sensation of tickling.

I couldn't help it. It was a combination of the wispish movement, so light and airy, and the fact that it was my stomach, a very touch-sensitive area of anatomy. The giggles were slow at first but then faster, and soon I found myself struggling to breathe and laugh at the same time. Oh god, that tickles! Tickles so much! He ignored the squirming, continuing to kiss any spot he thought he may have missed. Up and down, back and forth, covering and then recovering, faithfully making contact even when I wasn't staying very still. Can't ... stop ... laughing. I want him to quit ... but ... I don't ... I really don't ...

Another cross between the hips, a momentary pause at my navel. His lips parted and then there was something warm and wet in my bellybutton. "Hey," I breathed huskily, trying to catch some air from the laughing, "what are you doing now- ... oh ... oooh!" A tide of pleasure spread over me from his tongue and I whimpered in euphoric shock, actually whimpered. That feels soooo good. "Unghh, Miiiiraaa," I squeaked, twisting deliriously beneath him. Far too good. Using all my resolve, I pushed him off me. Shouldn't. Can't. Not right now Shay. He sat up, nonplussed about my reaction, his hand sliding my shirt back down over my stomach as if nothing had happened.

I managed a perfunctory frown, giving him an accusatory glare as I brought my breathing under control. "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Still wasn't sure if he fully understood everything I said, or if he was just tuned to my emotions in the same way I now seemed to be able to read his body language and facial expressions. Right then, what I saw was an innocent sort of goodness, a pristine wanting that wasn't guarded or obscure. No ulterior motive, no innuendo. Just that reinforced connection and his eyes, saying to me what was going on within him; not all that different from him speaking it aloud: 'I just want you to be happy. Please don't cry.'

You were distracting me so I wouldn't be sad? I swallowed, a lump forming in my throat. Great, now I do want to cry again. That's the most ridiculously sweet thing I can think of. "You're amazing," I whispered to him, "and I don't know what I'd do if you weren't here." I swear he understood, as a rewarding 'Mission Accomplished' look burgeoned, my gratitude inducing his own happiness to kick up a notch. "Your name really is perfect for you. You are a miracle, in so many ways." Then rolling off my tongue, natural and easy, an accidental disillusionment of the Freudian kind. "My miracle."

My miracle?

Wow. I had said it. Do I actually think of him that way? I already knew he unreservedly saw me as his. The question of how mutual that was still remained.

Or does it?

I think you've already answered that, haven't you Shay? Tally it up. He looks at you and you like it. He touches you and you like it. He talks to you and you nearly melt into the floor. He kisses you and ... you remember every microsecond of how good that felt, don't you? The memory of it was still very fresh and just thinking about it gave me a rush of tingles. Best of all, he does everything he can to make sure you're safe and happy, and you absolutely positively love that about him. Maybe you didn't know you wanted one, but he's your proverbial knight in shining armour. So what's the problem? Lily was right. He's a boy, but so what? This world is short on good things and heavy on the bad, and this is a good thing. A very good thing. Face up to it. Go with it.

Embrace it.

The annoying little know-it-all sentiment wasn't keeping quiet. It was past the point of being a repressed subconscious voice. It was making itself heard, loud and clear. Not only that, but it was also being completely accurate and talking far too much sense.

Okay, no more denial. Time to come to terms with it. I smiled inwardly, repeating to myself the nucleus of my emotional engagement, getting used to the words. He is a miracle. My miracle. Mine.

I like the sound of that.

There was a knock at the door, and Konstantin's voice rang through it, asking to come in. The time for private consolation was done. I had to face the music. The Russian's head poked through the doorway and he entered, cautiously sitting on the foot of the bed, Lily right behind him. Mira had pivoted around where he was to face them, closer than I to both. His attitude had switched to dead serious and he didn't budge from his central position on the bed, staying between me and them. It didn't take a mind reader to see the warning that plainly stated: 'if you should do anything to hurt him while I'm right here, you should be prepared for me to respond.' Konstantin knew it, and this was why he spoke first.

"Shay, I am sorry. To Mira also as you are protecting him, I have no doubt," he inclined his head towards the other boy, "and so his hurt becomes yours. I gave no thought to your loss, only to the extraordinary circumstance I saw around you. This is why I ask your forgiveness."

If he can apologise to you for this, then you can be honest with him. About everything.

"So long as you forgive me for, uh, not telling you everything. For being dishonest too. It was just to protect myself, I never thought anyone would believe me if I s-"

Lily cut me off before I even started rambling, thankfully. "Shay, honey, you don't need to justify yourself. Neither of us doubt your sense of right and wrong. I'm sure you have your reasons. He accepts your apology and so do I. Don't you, Dimi?"

"Yes, indeed." He bowed his head in solemn penitence. "If there is a debt owed by either of us, it is still from me to you, not the other way around. Though I would very much like to hear the honest and unabridged version." Amicable and good-natured, he faced me again, benignly awaiting a reply. "That is, if you are willing to tell it."

Fair enough.

"Well," I began, then paused. Where to start? Completely honest? Yeah, fuck it, completely honest. Start from the very beginning. "Okay."

I took a deep breath and began.

"My birth year was 2089, exactly as you said. The place was Seattle in Washington State, which is the northwest part of the United States. We lived in California for a while when I was younger because of my dad's work and because of, um, the specialists I had to see in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was easier because of that, though we ended up back in Washington because my mom's family was there and, I, um," I blinked, stopping for a second to compose myself. Stupid emotion. This won't overwhelm me. It won't.

"Shay, it's okay to stop. If you don't think you can ... " she left it there, an anodyne chance, if I wanted it.

"No," I was adamant. Not going to wimp out. I'm going to do this. Take another breath. Talk. "I'm okay. It was because her, uh, her family was there and it was ... it was home. The specialists were mostly doctors because I was born with an extremely rare genetic disorder called, um," a good pause, to recall the name of it;"Demming's Degenerative Hypoplasia Genotype. Uh, I think that's it. I'm surprised I even remember what it's called. Most of the time I didn't think of it by the name anyway. It was just something I was stuck with since I was little. Something I hated.

"Having this disorder meant that as my body started maturing, it would develop defects, in my muscles and organs mostly, and that I would continue to get them even after I was physically an adult. The doctors told me that these defects would just compound, getting more severe and common as I got older. They said that there were treatments that could slow it down and that operating could correct some, but that it was really like fighting a rising tide and it wasn't going to stop. Best case I would live until maybe 25. Worst, I wouldn't make it to 18. Didn't matter, I was going to die young anyway. It wasn't 'if', it was 'when.'

"From around nine years old, it was uncomfortable but not too noticeable. At eleven, it got bad enough that I was taking days in a row off school; so by the time I turned thirteen, my parents had gone to consultation with a group called the Volkov Research Foundation. They recommended a 'promising' trial treatment that could be done at their medical lab. Here, on Lucere. The treatment would put me in this chamber where a genetic virus would hold me in temporary suspended animation long enough to correct the Demming's genotype errors in my DNA. If it worked, my body would stop producing flaws and I would grow up no different than anyone else. Even with partial success, they said my lifespan might be increased by decades.

"It was meant to take no more than a week. The doctor in charge told me that even if someone was left unmonitored, that after about two weeks, the virus treatment and the chamber would lose the ability to preserve the body. Suspended animation would start damaging the body instead of keeping it 'asleep' but the chamber would detect this and automatically stop. The person would wake up before anything serious happened. It was a failsafe so no one could die.

"Konstantin, I woke up in that chamber four days before I met you. I didn't recognise the world I saw. It's unreal to me. More than unreal, but, I swear, this is the truth."

I was done. The room was in deafening silence. Both of them were staring at me, blank, confounded. Then Konstantin cleared his throat, as if coming out of a long meditative trance.

"Well," he said. "I believe you."

He does. Wait ... he does!?

"You are smart, but this? I do not think you could fake something so complex. No, that would take a more depraved and warped mind." Then, just like that, his enthusiasm picked up again, that familiar verve sparking. The bounce in his voice was back, his spirit as lively as I had ever seen it. "Shay! There is so much more to you than anyone could believe! You were born on Earth!" Stopping, hands out in a gesture of amazement, licking his lips, a shake of the head. He couldn't quite choose what to say next and almost stumbled over his words. Normally so concise! Is this what it takes to actually make him lost for words? Shit. It made me want to laugh at his mannerisms.

"On Earth! You saw Lucere before it was destroyed. By God's grace, this is a marvel! Not only this, but 200 years in suspended animation!" The questions continued, his mind moving rapidly now that there was no film of uncertainty between us. "What of the Demming genetic disorder? When and how did you meet León, Carlos and the girl? Your friend here too, there must be a story to that."

A story? Oh, is there a story or what ...

I addressed them in the order he asked. "My condition is gone. I haven't felt any pain or signs of anything being wrong at all since I woke up. Also, what Carlos said was true. Our meeting wasn't that friendly. They kidnapped me when I was walking along the road to Palatus from the Volkov Medical Centre, on that first day. The evening after that, we were camped in some ruined buildings somewhere in the open when a group of sharpelings came through." A shrug. "Well, I didn't know what they were, I had never seen them before. León decided we would slip away and leave before they could find us and that's what we did. Only, it didn't work out." Understatement of the year, or is that century? Whatever.

Lily spoke up. "I believe Carlos said you were separated and they thought the sharpelings killed you. I can't imagine you got in any direct conflict if you're still in one piece." Then, seeming to consider that perhaps such a crazy course of action might fit with the rest of what I'd told them so far, she frowned. "Uh, you didn't actually fight with them, did you?"

I bit my lip and meekly scratched my head. "Um."

"You did!? Shay, you have a lucky and suicidal streak a mile wide." She looked at the Russian. "Dimi, I'm beginning to think you're right about providence. It's a miracle he is alive."

There's that word again. If they had any idea how accurate it was. They're just about to find out.

"One of them cornered me. I should have died," I conceded, "but something happened. It's- ... I don't- ... I'm not sure how to describe it." I hope he understands this part, because I'm not sure I understand it myself. "I don't know what to say."

"My dear Mr Andersen, if you told me the devil of Hell himself had broken bread with you, I would at least treat such news with the seriousness your situation demands." Konstantin folded his hands together, his deep rich voluminous voice fully on key, encouraging me in a baritone refrain. "Do not think your experience too outlandish that I will not believe it, I beg of you." He leaned forward, fixing me a secure look; a glint of strong promise. "So ... try me."

"Okay." Here goes. "There was something in me. It felt like a ... like an energy. Like a sort of vibrating electricity. It wasn't even a physical thing, it was like an emotion, or a kind of warmth, in the mind only. I'd felt it building up inside me since I woke up and when I fought, it came out of me. I don't know, maybe it was because I was scared and angry, maybe the pressure of fighting for my life triggered it or something. I don't know why, but it was flowing, like, uh, like water! Almost like I pushed it, like I was aiming it. It went into the sharpeling, this energy. The sharpeling acted like I had burned it, thrashing around, trying to get away from me. Then it just curled up and stopped moving."

"You ... killed it?" A basic query. "With this strange energy."

"No, not dead," I told him, soft and sure. "Definitely not dead." I couldn't help but glance to Mira, who was paying only scant notice to the others and was spending most of the time surreptitiously spying on me. Of course he caught my lilt in his direction, and through his everyone-but-Shay-proof facade, I could see a spectacular amount of restraint and a very definite 'I wish they weren't here because I want to touch you' expression. Involuntarily, my breath caught and I got that dizzy giddy feeling again. My miracle.

Konstantin didn't miss this. His face morphed from deliberate suspension of disbelief to outright shock. Lily's reaction was to look back and forth between us, confused until the penny dropped.

"Oh."

All eyes were on Mira. At first he didn't realise, but then when the attention became a little more than obvious and wasn't followed by any words or actions, he gave both a very good 'what the hell are you gawking at?' stare in reply. Unable to keep it in, I burst into laughter. I don't think they know how comical this all is. Swept up in it too, Konstantin joined in, a bubbling waterfall of humour over the whole absurd thing.

"Heavens! This is one very unlikely story," he chuckled, wiping back a few tears of mirth. "A lot about his behaviour was difficult to formulate reason for, but now? It makes more sense. He is as much a scientific fascination as you. You are both curiosities." A hmph of amused understatement. "No, more than that. Curiosities, that's not enough. Scientific wonders! Breaking rules we know to be possible. You are proof that the laws of nature as I understand them are not so written in stone."

"Well Dimi," Lily told him, "it's normally you who suggests this but I think I need a drink."

"That is a splendid idea," he rumbled. I hadn't seen them touch very often, but right then I could see the affection he held for her. His hand rubbed her shoulder gently, and he leaned in, kissing her on the cheek. She smiled back fondly. "There's so much here to think about and we could all do with a break. It is about time for lunch."

Interpreting their actions as an example of acceptability, Mira shifted back next to me. Assuming a new level of social propriety, he hugged me around the torso from the side, planting a chaste kiss by my ear, where my jaw met my neck. Then snuggling down into the cusp of my neck, the contented warmth of his breath spreading across my collar bone.

Right in front of Konstantin.

Whoa. Um, yeah. Petrified, I was the small woodland creature in the car headlights. Oh, uh, that was ... blatant.

He had clearly seen it. I could only stare, waiting for a reaction, and Lily turned to him too, prompting him. "Well?"

"Well, what?" He gave it back to her. Seems almost like he doesn't care?

"Don't you have something to say?"

His look to her, and then back to me was thoughtful, a little consideration, then a sort of slight shrug, followed by: "Not really. Well, maybe that for a clever boy he sure took a while to see it. Just as well Mira is so patient."

The nervous heat in my stomach just intensified, turning more towards embarrassment. What?! All that 'special bond' talk he gave me, did he really think that we were- ... and it was some kind of code to make me ... ? Oh my god, he could see it even when I was clueless. I want to disappear right now.

"That's it?"

"Yes. Should there be more?" Then clicking his fingers. "Oh, wait. No reason to make up the bed in the other room any more."

"Dimi!"

He snorted. "Come now, dearest. I was a boy once. You truly think you're going to keep him out of here?"

She gave him the evils. "Konstantin Andropov, you really ARE horrendous sometimes." Clambering to her feet, she pulled the door out and left the room. "I'm going to make lunch. Good luck to you Shay."

"Ignore her. I am not as bad as she says," he informed me jovially. "Nor as conservative. There are upsides! For instance, pregnancy won't be an issue. What a relief."

Oh my god.

Next to me, Mira turned his head as he hugged me, burying his face properly in my shoulder as if to agree with exactly the way I was feeling.

Yeah, lunch is definitely the place to be right now.

-o-0-O-0-o-

"There," he said, turning back to me from his computer monitor, "that confirms it. You are immune, as we thought, to the Sharpe virus."

We were in his office. Konstantin had just finished a 'composite' analysis where he had taken blood, tissue and skin samples from me. The equipment he had to work with was modern by the standard of 22nd century values, and it functioned just fine. He explained to me that this was the result of a long history of careful use and the fact that Lucere's industry had produced machines and structures of lasting quality, something he attributed to the general ethic of the European colonists. The result of analysis, it seemed, was conclusive.

"Your immunity is innate, though where this intrinsic resistance comes from is an open question. Normally, I'd assume you were born with it, but your genetic code has been altered since then, so it could also be a result of your treatment."

"What about Mira?"

"Well, I don't know he'd trust me taking samples from him, even with you around." He scratched his beard pensively. "However, I can make some educated guesses based on what I know. More than likely his is a passive retroactive immunity. That 'energy' you experienced must have been effective as an antibody and anti-mutagen, since it fully reversed the transformation. It is quite revealing though. When you woke and found him as a human, what did he look like?"

Look like? "Uh, he was the same as now. Well, he was messy, sorta grimy looking, and there were remains left lying around. Little bits of skin and bone and stuff, but yeah, he really just looked the same as he does now."

"That in itself is a first. They may have been around now for a long time, but we still know very little about their internal biology. This is because you cannot get close to a living sharpeling, for obvious reasons; and even if you manage to kill one, the chemical interior melts and destroys the corpse within a short period after death. It is almost as if the natural design of those things has been engineered towards keeping their genesis a secret. We can't do any kind of post-mortem at all."

"Wait a second, so how did he survive then after transforming? Wouldn't the process have exposed him to that and killed him too?"

The Russian nodded. "Normally I'd expect so, but clearly what you began was far more powerful than the pathogen's influence. It undid the chemical bonds tethering the mutation into his physiology, ejected and neutralised the organic remnants and gave us back a fully formed person. This is so important Shay, because it says to us that within every single sharpeling out there, there is a person literally trapped by the Sharpe virus. The physical structure is still there and no one is so corrupted that they cannot be rescued."

He's right. If Mira can be brought back, maybe others can too. "How do we rescue them?"

"Ah, now that is the real question." He gave me an astute grin. "The key to it all is within you."

Of course it was within me. Expecting it to be anywhere else was just asking for a karmic slap in the face. It's me and I've got to go with it. There's more at stake here than just my life, so I've got to think about that.

"Okay," I told him. "What do you need me to do?"

"Now that is the attitude I like to see in you." The grin broadened. "There are questions I cannot answer with the technology I have here, but I think I may know a place. Tell me, Mr Andersen, how do you feel about another field trip?"

Another field trip?

Oh boy.

-o-0-O-0-o-

He rose from the bed, the sleeping figure in it shifting as his weight lifted away from the surface. The barest slice of moonlight came through the curtain gap and it fell across the sheets, a lunar trail of contour, a silvery illumination of shape and possibility. He watched a moment, the line brushing Shay's face, his arm, shoulder, then the decline of his back and the curious protrusion, that rounded softness before the stretch of his legs. There was an allure there that made him quicken, that made him want to touch. It kindled an unusual wanting; a faster breath, a swelling hotness, an ache of need. The physical pull of his new primary directive was so different to him, but not unwelcome. Even unfulfilled and in expectation, it spurred him regardless and the motivation was a pure emotional joy.

Mira did not know why people loved speech and structure so much; the artifice of buildings and machines, culture and social inclination; it was strange still to his extant simplicity. Especially clothing. There was a purpose there, to keep warm or protected from the dangerous intransigence of the wilds, but often it seemed to him restrictive. Running, climbing, hiding, fighting. These were things that demanded freedom. Right now, his primary directive spoke to him; Shay's clothing was a hindrance, a nuisance that hid beauty behind a veil of fabric. It was stark to The Self as he watched The Other sleep. He wished he could change that, but at the same, he knew he would not.

Slipping across the darkened grounds of the estate, he wandered to satisfy his primal core of exploration, in a way that was not possible during the day. The nocturnal silence and the white light of Lucere's moon were old friends and their presence was familiar and comforting. The guiding objective that had taken over also compelled absolute respect for the state of The Other. He knew he would damage the harmonious blessing he had been paired with, the aesthetic, if he were to disobey that objective; it was akin to shooting himself in the foot. There was time and it would occur when it was right.

No, this was already well decided. The tumult was gone and he knew where he stood. Even survival and self-preservation had been eclipsed. He cared not. He knew what was paramount, and this was it.

The dim line of the forest was as it normally appeared and Mira trod across the soil and grass, the cold an irrelevance to be eschewed. Then, with the sense he had, a subtle chill, not of the temperature, touched him and he could feel the eyes.

Beyond the fence, a dozen yards from his motionless stance, the creature stood. Utterly immobile, not even the smallest twitch of muscle gave way, and the exclusive focus of its hunter's eye was on him. The forelimbs were steady, the claws held in front, the head level, the eyes, hidden under their ridge of cartilage but forward nonetheless, upon the human. It was an extreme encapsulation of an instinctual faction of his own mind, only now here on display, indilute in the original state.

Every part of him was in the mode of fight, muscles tightened so densely. The creature's jaw opened and it hissed, a susurration of noise that carried all manner of predatory voice with it, the jaw working silently even after the sound was done. Mira stepped forward, bold and uncompromised. A guttural growl came from him and he stood facing it.

The sharpeling did not move.

An assessment was there, a cunning intellect that stayed beyond the technological wall. It did not rush to strike, nor did it probe the ground around it to find the measure of cessation. It merely appraised him, weighed him with the eyes; still, planted in the dirt. Only a constant excruciating evaluation of Mira and a biological computation of what he was.

Then, at last, the creature lowered its head. It took a step back, a final malevolent fixation on him. Then, an alien phantom in an earthly clime, it vanished backward, swallowed by the dark.

Oh snap. Maybe you thought it was longer than seven months, but who saw that? Come on, be honest. :thumbup:
This chapter is necessarily less action-driven and more information focused. Unsure how happy I am yet. As always, opinions appreciated :)
In other news, I'm looking for a new beta. Link is below if you are interested.
Beta info:
http://www.gayauthor...ovel-long-term/
Story Discussion:
http://www.gayauthor...idden-sunlight/
Copyright © 2013 Stellar; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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On 08/07/2012 08:01 PM, nero said:
Another brilliant chapter! Can't wait to read more!
thank you! :)
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I'd been thinking Shay had been in stasis for longer than a few months,

so 214 years came as quite a revelation; -a big one. Bravo! Now it seems

there's another sharpling out there that may be of interest...I won't even

hazard a guess yet, but something's coming there. I am hooked on your

excellent story!

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Very good chapter. Congrats on getting past Peer Review!

hmm... Every time you say "Mr. Anderson" I picture the matrix and the Agent. lol

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veryyyy nice chapter =]. I like that we were able to see into Mira's head a little bit this time. Who was that sharpling at the end I wonder. I'm also glad that Shay has finally accepted his feelings for Mira too ^^. I do wonder how their relationship will develop further when communication is still a bit lacking. I'm sure they'll make by somehow! Hope to see an update to this wonderful story soon!

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Once again I have to say that I love getting glimpses into Mira's mind. (A 'look' inside Mira if you will). It was interesting that the Sharpling was able to recognize him for what he was to a certain extent.

 

As for the big reveal, of course I didn't see it coming. 214 years is crazy long. How did he survive? Was it intentional? Accidental? I have a feeling that the virus is most definitely a biological weapon and that there is a shadow government interested in it's development, cure and use.

 

Great chapter and thanks for updating!

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On 08/08/2012 08:48 AM, Myr said:
Very good chapter. Congrats on getting past Peer Review!

hmm... Every time you say "Mr. Anderson" I picture the matrix and the Agent. lol

Thank you! I'm excited to be done with peer review :)

 

You know, it *was* unintentional but the first time I had Konstantin address him that way, I heard him say it just like Smith, only with a heavy Russian accent. The mind's eye still draws a pair of sunglasses on his face every time I do it. B)

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On 08/08/2012 09:20 AM, murakisdoll said:
veryyyy nice chapter =]. I like that we were able to see into Mira's head a little bit this time. Who was that sharpling at the end I wonder. I'm also glad that Shay has finally accepted his feelings for Mira too ^^. I do wonder how their relationship will develop further when communication is still a bit lacking. I'm sure they'll make by somehow! Hope to see an update to this wonderful story soon!
Thank you!

 

There is some non-verbal communication going on there, so it's not without some understanding. You are correct though, not being able to directly talk is limiting.

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On 08/08/2012 06:23 AM, Stephen said:
I'd been thinking Shay had been in stasis for longer than a few months,

so 214 years came as quite a revelation; -a big one. Bravo! Now it seems

there's another sharpling out there that may be of interest...I won't even

hazard a guess yet, but something's coming there. I am hooked on your

excellent story!

Thank you :) I'm not going to say anything about that sharpeling, I'll just leave people guessing. The date was a major revelation, but dare I say it .. it's not the biggest one in the story, not even close!
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On 08/08/2012 10:06 AM, Rebelghost85 said:
Once again I have to say that I love getting glimpses into Mira's mind. (A 'look' inside Mira if you will). It was interesting that the Sharpling was able to recognize him for what he was to a certain extent.

 

As for the big reveal, of course I didn't see it coming. 214 years is crazy long. How did he survive? Was it intentional? Accidental? I have a feeling that the virus is most definitely a biological weapon and that there is a shadow government interested in it's development, cure and use.

 

Great chapter and thanks for updating!

The 3rd person is intoxicating. It's so much easier for me to write than Shay! Weird? Depends on where an author's strength lies, I suppose.

 

You ask some vital questions. Indeed how *did* he survive? Was it really something man-made or just a gigantic slice of revenge from Mother Nature? Most of all, don't you wonder why Earth hasn't come calling in the last 214 years? Makes you think, doesn't it? ;)

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Well, for sure I knew it was going to be a LOT more than seven months. Yeah, 200 years seems about right :)

I, too LOVE the looks inside Mira's mind. He's very primal and very simple... well as opposed to needlessly complex. I totally adore him.

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Friken heck! 214 years! Hell no I didn't see that one coming....

Although, this only creates more questions in my mind, and gets me wondering a lot of other things....

Was Shay left in Stasis deliberately to protect him? After all the system was meant to have a fail safe over ride right? So was that maybe the last action of love by his parents who knew there was a world in melt down going on around him?

How and why did the system release Shay when it did. Was this pre determined or an accident, and if it was planned in advance does that mean that the doctors at the medical centre knew something they can now fall back on to help them figure this all out?

I am also beginning to wonder about the origin of Sharpes, and if the fact that there seems to be some much data out there, if some sort of cover up or secret operation was in the mix.

Wow so much going on, and in the middle of this wonderful plot, a beautiful tale of romantic discovery that is just fantastic. The quirky little insecurities that you have worked into the characters and the simple yet stunningly emphatic scenes that you create around their discovery of passion and love are just sublime Stellar.

I can honestly say that this has rapidly become one of my favourite stories here on GA. Thanks. :)

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On 08/11/2012 10:49 AM, Yettie One said:
Friken heck! 214 years! Hell no I didn't see that one coming....

Although, this only creates more questions in my mind, and gets me wondering a lot of other things....

Was Shay left in Stasis deliberately to protect him? After all the system was meant to have a fail safe over ride right? So was that maybe the last action of love by his parents who knew there was a world in melt down going on around him?

How and why did the system release Shay when it did. Was this pre determined or an accident, and if it was planned in advance does that mean that the doctors at the medical centre knew something they can now fall back on to help them figure this all out?

I am also beginning to wonder about the origin of Sharpes, and if the fact that there seems to be some much data out there, if some sort of cover up or secret operation was in the mix.

Wow so much going on, and in the middle of this wonderful plot, a beautiful tale of romantic discovery that is just fantastic. The quirky little insecurities that you have worked into the characters and the simple yet stunningly emphatic scenes that you create around their discovery of passion and love are just sublime Stellar.

I can honestly say that this has rapidly become one of my favourite stories here on GA. Thanks. :)

Good questions, all of those! Why indeed did he stay in stasis so long without being ejected by the failsafe? Why did he emerge when he did? How did he stay alive for so long anyways?

 

You're not the only one who thinks there is a big conspiracy going on. IS THERE?! Well ... ;)

 

Thanks very much for your comments :) I'm really happy you're so absorbed in my writing.

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On 08/11/2012 04:46 AM, Nephylim said:
Well, for sure I knew it was going to be a LOT more than seven months. Yeah, 200 years seems about right :)

I, too LOVE the looks inside Mira's mind. He's very primal and very simple... well as opposed to needlessly complex. I totally adore him.

Wow, thanks for the reviews on all 7 chapters :lol: So I'll reply to all in this one instead of individually :)

 

Mira! Several readers do seem attached to him and as I've noted elsewhere, it pleases me a lot because of my own attachment. Interestingly, I wouldn't be concerned about having a killing machine attracted to me either, but I have a macabre fascination with beautiful and deadly things. I'm guilty of having a very graphic imagination when it comes to the particulars of physical conflict, so my mental imagery of Leon's death was *very* detailed. Messy is a good description, and it isn't be the last time they end up in that kind of struggle. So whether or not he gets tortured mercilessly .. I'm really not going to say :P Just that the road will definitely NOT be easy.

 

On the question of sexual content, most opinions are trending toward the 'less is more' philosophy for Hidden Sunlight. It's good to know readers think this way, since it largely matches my intended arc regarding how Shay and Mira's relationship develop. There is a sexual attraction there, but the core of their emotional connection is what has far more significance towards how things will end up and I think I want to highlight that.

 

Anyhow, thanks again Nephylim for taking the time to comment on every chapter :) Appreciated.

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Completely unexpected! Now I really wonder what is going on. And if this has anything to do with Shay being immune and able to "change" Mira? And still…poor Shay. Such a shock and on top of that, all hopes of his parents crushed. :(

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AHA!!!!! Yes, Centuries! Part of what I envisioned is true. Thank you for the vindication but I need more and will read on patiently.

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On 10/20/2012 11:32 AM, stanollie said:
AHA!!!!! Yes, Centuries! Part of what I envisioned is true. Thank you for the vindication but I need more and will read on patiently.
You guessed well! Most seemed to think it was longer than the original week Shay was meant to spend, but few thought as far as centuries. Vindication is incoming!

 

Incidentally, you have given me my 100th review! This is it. :) Woohoo!

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Lol I was figuring 10-20 years didn't think of 200 years hehe. his immunity must have something to do with the DNA restructuring and the 200 years of sleep. Cause afterall isn't sleep usually required after a sickness lol. I like how Konstantin just accepted Shay and Mira closeness funny that Shay was so worried about his reaction when just a day or so ago he was essentially telling shay to go for it lol. Interesting ending with Mira and the Sharpling.

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On 05/20/2013 11:26 AM, Daithi said:
Lol I was figuring 10-20 years didn't think of 200 years hehe. his immunity must have something to do with the DNA restructuring and the 200 years of sleep. Cause afterall isn't sleep usually required after a sickness lol. I like how Konstantin just accepted Shay and Mira closeness funny that Shay was so worried about his reaction when just a day or so ago he was essentially telling shay to go for it lol. Interesting ending with Mira and the Sharpling.
Many guessed it would be longer than what it appeared. Few got the time scale correct, however.

 

Konstantin isn't quite as conservative-traditional in the ways Shay thinks, though you'd forgive him for assuming on rather limited information.

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Two hundred plus years, if they were still alive he could sue the manufacturer. So now they have the data and know the story. Could Shay be the cure for all those that are left alive. What a meaning that would give to his existance, a real purpose to his life. Thank you for this great chapter.

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Nothing like being a tenneager @200+ years of age? :)
I do like the fact that Mira is having an awaekening of his Human self.
This will get better I hope? :)

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On 11/27/2015 12:49 AM, Ashdaw said:

Nothing like being a tenneager @200+ years of age? :)

I do like the fact that Mira is having an awaekening of his Human self.

This will get better I hope? :)

He's definitely looking good for his age, that much is true!

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