Darkling Abroad   
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Introduction. After a few difficult days, Viresse finally comes to grips with what's been at the back of her mind - and it seems someone else wishes to do the same.


iresse sat on her bed, across the room from the other bed that Rube was meant to sleep in. The room was nicely decorated, there was a tapestry along the main wall, and some drapes covered the chiseled-out windows. There was a dresser with a quaint indoor lamp set atop it, and a cozy upholstered chair.

Viresse had everything in her satchel sprawled across the bed. She had thought of writing, but was wound up. She felt like she really wanted to break someting. It was difficult to restrain. She pushed all her writing utensils to the foot end of the bed and flopped backward, her head landing on the fluffed pillow in a comfortable way. A bed - she missed beds. It'd only been a couple of days, but sleeping on the ground was very rough. She hated sleeping on the ground. Almost as much as she hated sleeping in trees.

The door squeaked open and Viresse looked at the door with her eyes without moving. Rube pushed the door open halfway, an inquisitive and sorry look on his face. Viresse looked at him for a few moments longer, then closed her eyes. She heard Rube cross the room, and sit close to her - she assumed he sat in the seat by the dresser.

"Why are you following me?" she asked, and rubbed her temples with her pale fingers. She sighed loudly.

Rube was quiet for a few seconds, then fidgeted in the chair he sat in. After a few heavily-weighed seconds, he spoke. "I kind of love you," he stated simply.

Viresse opened her eyes and looked up at him. For a moment, she had nothing to say. She knew he did. Or at least, she had gotten the idea as such, since the morning after the rain when he absently had touched her face; which wasn't all that long ago - mere days. She had thought about this situation before he had even admitted it to himself, and had come up with a simple answer to it.

"You can't," she said back.

"I know," he replied, a note in his voice rang that statement true. A hint of sadness, as well.

It must have taken a lot for Rube to say that phrase. He must have weighed the consequences, come to the conclusion that it was impossible that anything could occur between them, and yet - he said it anyway. She hung her head. The strength of the human spirit. Never had it occured to her in this fashion.

She knew humans were headstrong. They were stubborn and persistent against things they knew little about, things they knew were bound to fail. And yet - their will to succeed pushes them past the obvious and into the territory that only hope knew the way out of. Sometimes humans failed when they took risks like that. But sometimes, the most remarkable thing happened - they would succeed. On occasion.

But not for Rube, not this time. Because it was impossible. Viresse knew that, probably more than he could fathom. For he had hope. And all she had the honest, cold truth - hard against her back, and no where to turn, no way to hope. It seemed that hope was a quality only humans possessed. She saw no point in hope.

She sat up on the bed and asked. "Why did you say that?" She thought that he would give an honest answer - about that concept of hope that eluded her since the day she was born, that he would explain it to her. But he only exhibited the trait that elves found almost useless - Emotion.

Not to say that elves didn't feel. they just didn't feel in the chaotic, confusing mess of thoughts and feelings that humans did. Elves showed their emotions in a very controlled way. And for lack of better words - humans did not.

"What did you expect!?" Rube flamed, and stood up from his seat quickly. "I'm not a kackin' Mary Sue! I'm not a good person - I don't make good decisions. Seyella knows how dishonest I am! I'm not perfect, I don't expect to be and that's why I screw things up so beautifully, okay?" He stomped over to the draped window, pushed the curtains aside and set his hands on the sill leaning heavily on them, his head bowed. "I'm only human."

Viresse nodded slowly. "Exactly."

Rube turned away from the window, his brown eyes full of sadness and frustration, and even a hint of anger. "So - is that it?! I'm just a human?" He took a few steps toward Viresse as he spoke, gesticulating wildly with his muscled arms. "If I were an elf, would things be different? If I was all pompous and arrogant and talked like I had seen the birth of the world and wore frou-frou clothes and hated everyone who wasn't an elf? Huh? Would you like me then?"

Viresse blinked slowly, keeping her composure, though she felt as if she was breaking apart inside. "No."

Rube stopped short and blinked. "No?"

Viresse shook her head. "No."

A look of rejection rippled across Rube's facade as if his face were a pond that had a rock dropped into it. A quick change that was almost undetectable, as if the anger in him subsided in a few blinks of an eye. "Oh," was all Rube could manage as a reply.

"I fear... that you may love me because I am an elf," she stated.

Rube did not respond.

"I feel as if you are infatuated with me - for the fact that I am like nothing you have ever encountered. And... in your human hope, you thought that by stating your feelings, that you could keep me. Like a dalór in a jar."

Rube began to shake his head in naive protest, but Viresse raised a pale hand to silence him.

"If I was to stay with you, as a lover - I feel that I would be ensnared for all of my remaining days with you, which would not be a bad thing given the proper circumstances. But I have more than two hundred years left of my life, and you - mere decades if you are lucky... And I feel that while I may be the greatest love of your life if I stayed with you, you would only fade before my eyes." She sighed deeply.

"Is that how you wish to be loved? As a memory of a great man?" Viresse looked up at him, and awaited a response.

Rube's mouth opened and closed for a few seconds, as if he wished to speak and nothing came out. Finally, he pushed out a single word. "... No." His voice cracked as he spoke it. He was stunned.

Viresse rose from her seat and stood before Rube, her elven height matching his. She stared into his eyes, then took his hand. "If I was human, things would be different... For I think you would hate being an elf."

Rube's face softened, he looked very much in love - or infatuation. The two were hard to tell apart. "Why would I hate being an elf... if I had you?" Rube asked, genuine curiousity in his voice.

Viresse truly hoped he was only temporarily smitten, for he could get over her if that was the case. If it was love - then she feared he may never forget her. "Because..." She squeezed his hand. "The human soul burns bright and short - the elven soul long and dull. And... I love you for that bright buring soul. I doubt I'd love you otherwise." She pursed her lips.

She admitted it, to herself. All that she had stated of what he thought, was truly her own thoughts. She loved him because he was a human. She could have been right about him - maybe he fell for her elvishness. But it didn't much matter. She would not have him. He couldn't. It was not meant to be that way. And it would be painful if she went against the grain.

Rube's eyes brightened, and he kissed her gently. Viresse did not struggle, but she made it short. She slowly pulled back. Rube took a step back.

"Neither of us should do this," she said smartly.

Rube said nothing, but looked confused. "Why not?"

Viresse turned on her heel and returned to the bed and retrieved her satchel, quickly stuffing her belongings into it. She slung it over her shoulder, and turned back to look at Rube. "Elsreth is north-east?" she asked.

Rube looked at her like a lost dog. His eyes were damp, and he seemed dejected and hopeless. He nodded.

Viresse sighed. "If our paths cross again, Rube - then may Seyella bless it."

Rube only nodded, then looked away.

Viresse walked to the door, and slipped out.

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