Oil and Water

by Jane Davitt




Naomi smoothed damp, silky hair back from a forehead dry and tight with fever heat, crooning reassurances under her breath.

"Just a cold, sweetie, you'll be better soon. I'm here, I'll take care of you…"

Blue eyes, blind with pain, stared up at her, cracked lips moving to shape words Naomi could only guess at.

"Thirsty? This tea with honey will do wonders for your sore throat. Ah-ah! No spitting it out. Swallow. There. And some more….that's it."

So passive…it worried Naomi more than the fever that would have to break naturally because Alex couldn't tolerate drugs. Passion, fire, a raging impatience…those were the qualities she associated with her sentinel, not this surrender to a minor illness.

She smoothed the quilt Alex lay on, absently admiring the pattern of triangles and circles in bright, vibrant colors; red, yellow, blue…pure, primary colors, source of an entire rainbow when they were mixed together. It made her want to paint again, her brush swirling through the rich thickness of oils, intense punches of dark and light to daub her canvas with. There was never any time. They moved, always running, always looking back…

Alex slipped into a restless doze, her hand lying trustingly in Naomi's loose clasp. Naomi looked at their linked hands and smiled. For someone who'd taken on the task of guiding at Alex's urging, it wasn't often that she led a willing Alex anywhere. She cajoled, reasoned with, sometimes overwhelmed the woman with a flood of words, but rarely did Alex give in, place herself in Naomi's care, and follow with trust to guide her way.

Only when she was sick. The mother in Naomi wanted Alex's fever to break, and the guide wanted her sentinel fit and able to work, but what remained of Naomi Sandburg the woman, the small portion untouched by the change in her life -- she wanted this.

A hand in hers. Companionship. Trust.

Blue, red, yellow.

Simple.

Green, purple, orange…no!

A kaleidoscope swirled in front of her eyes, jewel shades, prisms, and she sighed, the warning signs of a migraine shattering the brief peace she'd felt. It meant that Alex was improving; Naomi's body stayed strong while her sentinel was sick, always, but it didn't mean that she was going to enjoy the next few hours.

If she could slip away and find somewhere that sold herbal remedies… She eased her hand away from Alex's and found her wrist clamped by strong fingers.

"No, can't go…can't leave me. Find you. I'll find -- Hunt you down --"

"Shh, sweetie," Naomi said and patted Alex's hand soothingly, her voice calm. "You know I don't like it when you talk like that. I'm not going anywhere, and if I did, you'd detach with love, because --"

"I would kill you," Alex said, her voice chillingly distinct.

Naomi felt her mouth tighten. "I'm going to discuss this with you when you're well," she warned. "I'm not letting this fester. We're going to deal with it and --"

"Please," Alex whispered. "Please don't go, Naomi."

Naomi felt her eyes sting with warm, unshed tears as Alex's hand slipped into hers again. "You know I won't," she promised. She gave Alex's forehead a kiss, testing her temperature the old-fashioned way. Damp skin, soft and yielding now, if still hot against her lips. Good.

Without letting go of the fingers that had left her wrist bruised, she curled up on the bed beside Alex and closed her eyes, willing sleep to come for both of them so that they could heal.


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