Fifolet sat in the plush burgundy armchair in the living room of the Unified Guilds' safehouse, his head resting in one hand, long dark hair cascading over one shoulder. There was a thoughtful, almost contemplative look in his brown eyes as he stared at the two women standing on the other side of the room, talking.
One of the women was a tall blonde. She was the former matriarch of the Assassins Guild, his former boss in other words. In a sense Bella Donna Boudreaux still was his boss, but not entirely. As viceroy of the Unified Guilds, she was second-in-command to their Guild patriarch Remy LeBeau, who was ironically Bel's ex-husband. But Fifolet wasn't really looking at Bel, or even thinking about her as he sat there watching them. His thoughts were entirely on the other woman.
This other woman was slightly shorter than Bella Donna was. Fifolet didn't know whether it was due to her natural beauty or her mysteriousness, but he thought the raven-haired woman known only as Singer was a goddess. His feelings towards her had changed and grown stronger as their years of working together in the Assassins Guild passed, but Fifolet was very good at keeping secrets, and no one, not even his two closest friends, Gris-Gris and Questa, knew how he felt about their partner.
'What is she thinkin'…?' Fifolet asked himself as the two women spoke quietly. Part of the mysteriousness about Singer was that she wore dark glasses all the time. Fifolet knew this was because of her communications channeling abilities, but it also gave her the edge of being able to hide her true feelings from everyone. Bella Donna was a telepath, so Fifolet figured she knew on some level what went through Singer's mind, but no one else did. And as Fifolet sat there, he realized he didn't know what color Singer's eyes were. It was a simple enough piece of information, something he should have known years ago, but it always eluded him because of those glasses.
Fifolet continued to sit there and wonder about Singer's thoughts and eye color. He had no idea that he was projecting his thoughts as loudly as he was. If he had known, he would have shut up about it long ago. He suddenly heard Bella Donna's voice in his head.
'She's thinkin' you're bein' rude starin' at us like y'are an' her eyes are green. Any other questions?'
Fifolet blinked and swallowed, tearing his eyes away from the women and sinking back in the chair, visibly embarrassed. He briefly considered using his intangibility powers to disappear through the floor, but thought better of it. He looked up again and found Bella Donna looking at him, expectantly.
'Sorry, Bel…' he thought to her. 'I…I jus'…I don' know…'
Bel smiled at him, her dark blue eyes glittering. 'I know. You're in love wit' her. You have been for quite some time now. I noticed when your feelin's started changin'. You can keep it from her an' everyone else, but not me, mon ami.'
Fifolet's eyes widened. He was amazed that Singer didn't notice that he and Bel were talking telepathically. If she did notice, she didn't let on. He also couldn't believe that he had been delusional enough to think he could keep his feelings for Singer a secret from Bel. This alarmed him and it was clear in his voice when he spoke again. 'Bel…you…you won'…'
'Tell her? Non. Dat's your job.' Bella Donna replied. 'Mais for what it's worth, I don' know how she'll react if you do tell her.'
Fifolet thought about this, losing himself in his own little world as the two women in front of him continued to talk. He made a conscious not to stare at them anymore. He wasn't sure if he should ever tell Singer about his feelings…the idea of rejection scared him more than he was willing to let on to anyone, even Bella Donna.
Fifolet sat there for so long, he didn't even realize it when Bel and Singer left the room. He was startled back to reality by Questa waving a hand in front of his face.
"Hey! Fifolet! Feef? Is dere anybody home in dere?"
Fifolet jumped briefly and looked at his friend, shaking his head. "Huh? Oh. Man…"
Questa laughed. "I t'ought I was de crazy one 'round here…least dat's what everyone keeps tellin' me. I've been tryin' t'get t'rough to you for five minutes. Where on earth was your mind?"
Fifolet's mind flashed to an image of Singer and a slightly faraway look came into his dark eyes. "I don' t'ink my mind was on earth, mon ami…."
"Ah…dat would explain it. You care to tell me what had you off on your own planet somewhere?" Questa asked.
"Fine. Be dat way. I don' care, I was jus' askin'." Questa replied. "Anyways, I was jus' wonderin' if you wanted to come to de video store wit' me? It's my turn to pick a movie for us to watch an' I wouldn' mind de comp'ny."
"Yeah, sure." Fifolet said, subconsciously running his fingers through his hair. He did that more often than he noticed, and if he had realized it, he wouldn't have been able to say why he did it. It wasn't like he cared what anyone…well, except for Singer…thought of the way he looked. "De fresh air might do me some good…"
Upstairs in her bedroom, Singer stared out the window. She watched as her two teammates left the safehouse and walked down the street towards the video store. Like everything in her world, their images were seen through the darkness of her glasses. She had long forgotten what the world looked like for everyone else; she was so used to seeing everything through the glasses that the difference never occurred to her.
Once Fifolet and Questa were out of sight, Singer left the window and went over to her bed. She sat down on it and absently traced the pattern on her blue and white bedspread with the index finger of one hand. She kept trying to focus her thoughts on other things, but her mind kept drifting back to Fifolet.
"Why does he keep starin' at me like dat? Does he suspect…?" she whispered. She knew Bella Donna had spoken to Fifolet earlier when they were in the living room, and she also knew that Bel hadn't betrayed her secret to him. She guessed that Bel didn't tell her everything Fifolet said to her, which didn't bother Singer any. But she still wondered if he knew.
For the longest time, Singer had looked at Fifolet the same way she looked at Gris and Questa. As a brother, nothing more. He was her teammate, her friend. It made no sense to her that her feelings should change, but somewhere along the way, they had. At first, she kept those feelings from everyone, even Bella Donna. But when she started dreaming about him, Bel had figured it out very quickly and called her on it. Bel was the only one in the world who knew that Singer had fallen in love with Fifolet.
She couldn't act on it though. She couldn't tell him. She was scared to, afraid of hurting him. Her powers as a channeler were very strong and Candra had warned her that any truly intimate contact with another person could seriously harm the other person. If she and Fifolet even did so much as kiss, her powers…everything she had thought, felt and seen for her entire life…would flow into him and Singer was frightened that his intangibility powers wouldn't be enough to protect him from the damage that could be done.
As Singer sat on her bed thinking about this, she realized with a sinking heart that there was no way she could ever tell Fifolet how she felt. She wouldn't risk hurting him for the sake of him knowing she loved him. Besides, what if he didn't love her back? It would all be in vain, and she'd be heartbroken. She couldn't bear it.
Across the hallway, Bella Donna was in her own room. She could hear Singer's thoughts loud and clear, but made no attempt to contact her best friend. She knew Singer wanted to be alone just then. The other woman had to figure out for herself what she had to do about Fifolet. Bel just wished she didn't know how Fifolet felt.
In Bel's eyes, her two friends were foolish to not take advantage of something so wonderful and amazing as love. She knew neither one of them had ever experienced love before, until they realized they loved each other, and she knew from her own personal experience that love was the most incredible feeling ever. She understood Singer's fears of hurting Fifolet, but she also knew Fifolet well enough to know he would be willing to take the risk.
"I can' convince either one of dem to jus' go wit' it." Bel said aloud to the walls. "But I do hope dey smarten up an' realize what dey're missin' out on…"
A few hours later, the movie ended. Questa had, as he almost always did when it was his turn to pick the movie, chosen an action movie with plenty of violence and mean guys with guns. This time around, he'd gotten "Rambo", a movie they had all seen about a hundred times. They loved it more and more every time they saw it.
As the credits rolled on the television screen, Singer got up to take the tape out of the VCR as most of the others filed out of the room, stretching and yawning. It was quite late at night. The thieves had all opted not to watch the movie with the assassins and had all be asleep in bed hours ago, so the safehouse was essentially quiet. Assassins tend not to make much noise even when they're at home.
Tired as he was, Fifolet paused at the living room door and looked back, watching Singer's graceful movements as she put the video in the tape rewinder and waited for it to finish rewinding so she could put it back in the case. She stood with the elegance of a swan, her attention focused on the television. Steven Seagal was on Leno. When the video stopped rewinding, she put it back in the case and realized finally that she was being watched.
Fifolet couldn't see the shock and nervousness that registered in her eyes, and she was careful not to betray her feelings in her stance, movements or voice. "I t'ought everyone had gone upstairs…" she said lightly.
Fifolet glanced away, a slight flush coming to his cheeks. He was suddenly very nervous and uncertain. While he and Questa were out, he had finally confided to his friend about his feelings for Singer and Questa had made him realize he really had nothing to lose by telling the woman the truth. He had decided then to tell her after the movie, after everyone else had gone to bed, but all of a sudden he wasn't sure if it was such a good idea. "I…uh…can we…talk?"
Singer flashed him one of those smiles that made his knees weak and motioned to the couch. "Of course." The two sat down beside each other and Singer continued. "What's on your mind?"
Fifolet's blush deepened and he silently cursed himself for turning to mush around her. He was stronger than this, damn it! She shouldn't be able to make him feel this way…but she did. All through the movie, and especially now, he could smell the light scent of the soap she used and it was driving him mad with desire.
"Well…" he began. "I prob'ly should've told you dis a long time ago, but I was…scared…you'd take it de wrong way, or you'd be angry or somet'ing. I don' know when or how it happened, but..."
Fifolet could see the beautiful woman's fine dark eyebrows raise above her glasses as his voice trailed off. He swallowed hard a couple of times and silently willed his heart to stop pounding so hard. Breathing was getting a little difficult. 'Here goes nothin'.' He thought.
"But what?" Singer prompted, seeing his hesitation and wondering where this was leading.
"Somewhere along de way…I…I fell…" he paused and then just decided to say it and get it over with. "Singer…I'm in love wit' you."
There. He said it. The words hung in the air between them and the silence was so thick Fifolet thought he could actually see the words. He suddenly wished he could reach out and grab them and put them back in his head, in his heart, and not ever say them. He saw the shock on Singer's face when her jaw dropped. He sat there, shaking slightly, as he waited for a more vocal reaction from her.
Singer couldn't believe what she had just heard. Her heart felt like it was about to break or jump out of her chest or something. She was almost in tears, but she knew he couldn't tell. "You…you…love me?"
Fifolet nodded, unable to say another word. He felt like his heart was in his throat. If she didn't fully react soon he thought it was going to choke him to death.
"I don' know what to say…I had no idea…" Singer stammered, unsure if she should tell him how she felt. Then it occurred to her that it had taken him a lot of courage to tell her how he had obviously been feeling for a very long time. The least she could do was be honest with him as well. The tears that had sprung to her eyes started falling down her pale cheeks in rivers. "I…I'm in love wit' you too…I have been for so long…"
Fifolet stared at her, his eyes wide. Had he just heard what he thought he'd heard? She loved him? They had wasted all this time, all these years, neither of them sure enough to tell the other? But if this was the case, if she really did love him, then…
"Singer, chere, why are you cryin'?" Fifolet asked, reaching up and ever so gently wiping the tears off her damp cheeks with his rough fingers. He wished he could see her eyes, her whole face without the glasses.
Singer made an attempt to stop the tears and finally replied to his question. "It's hopeless, Fifolet. We can'…we can' do dis…it's too dangerous…" she said quietly, lightly running her fingers through his long, thick hair. She had often done that in her dreams, and had always wanted to do it for real. His hair was silky under her fingers, soft, much like her own. It felt good to touch it, to feel it against her skin.
"Dangerous? Dangerous how? What could happen?" Fifolet wanted to know. He could feel her fingers running through his hair and it thrilled him to the very core of his being.
Singer sighed. "Candra warned me when I got my powers…dere's a risk…in order to avoid it…I can' get close to anyone…"
Fifolet thought his heart was going to break. What was she saying? "Chere…what is it? What are you tryin' t'tell me?"
The tears starting flowing again. "If you an' I get too close, if we get too intimate, everyt'ing I've ever thought, felt or seen…will flow into you…it's de drawback of my bein' a channeler. It might not sound bad, but…Fifolet it could kill you! Your own powers might not be able to protect you. I don' know. If anyt'ing happened to you, 'specially if it happened b'cause of me…I can' risk it…"
Fifolet allowed this information to register in his mind. He was willing to take that risk. His love for her was so strong, his desire and longing to be with her couldn't be ignored or denied any longer. "What if I can protect myself an' we jus' don' know it? If we don' try, we'll never know, an' we'll go t'rough de rest of our lives, lovin' each other an' wonderin' 'bout what could have been. Singer, I love you too much to not try. Please." He said, his voice thick with emotion, his dark piercing eyes staring at her intently. Singer, looking in their depths, could see his love and desire plain as day. She knew those same emotions were in her own eyes, even if he couldn't see them.
"De risk is a one-time t'ing." She said softly. "Meanin' if we kiss an' it happens an' you live t'rough it, it won' happen again."
"I'll b'come immune to it or somet'ing, you mean?"
"Oui." Was the whispered reply.
"I'm willin' to take de chance if you are. Please, chere." Fifolet begged quietly.
Singer nodded. "I love you Fifolet. An' if dis hurts you, I am so sorry…"
"Je t'aime aussi, chere." Fifolet whispered. "An' I know."
Without another word said by either, they leaned towards each other. Their eyes automatically closed, and their arms somehow found their way around each other. Their lips met in a slow, deep, intense kiss that made every sense in their bodies come alive with passion. Singer could feel her powers start flowing almost immediately, and she began to pray that they'd both be strong enough to overcome what was about to happen.
Fifolet's entire body tightened and began to spasm as Singer's powers flowed through him. He squeezed his eyes shut and focused on using every ounce of strength, power and self-control he possessed to fight the experience. In spite of the intensity of what was happening, in spite of the pain, most of it mental, it was causing him, he refused to break the kiss until it was ready to be broken. He wasn't going to let anything come between them. Not her powers, not death, not nothing.
When the kiss ended in its natural course, their lips parted and Fifolet sat there, eyes still closed, his breath coming in short spurts. Singer looked at him, worried. She knew it hadn't killed him, but had it done any damage that couldn't be seen?
"Fifolet? Are you okay?" she whispered softly, taking placing one of her slender white hands on his cheek.
Trembling slightly at the softness of her touch, Fifolet reached up and placed his own hand over hers, pressing her hand against his cheek. He opened his eyes and looked at her, tears flowing silently down his face.
"Dat's some power ya got dere, chere." He joked. "Oui, I'm okay. I wasn' sure I would be at one point, but I am."
"Oh t'ank God…" Singer breathed. She was about to say something else when Fifolet suddenly pulled her close to him and kissed her, softly and passionately. And this time, the experience was beautiful, wonderful and very, very right.
Bella Donna silently slipped away from the door of the living room with a satisfied, content smile on her face. She had mentally felt what they both had gone through the first time they kissed. She hadn't realized that Singer's powers were that strong. She would have preferred not to have watched them, but she went down anyway, in case they needed outside interference, if things with the powers got too out of hand. She walked back up the stairs to her room and knew that all was finally right among the assassins.
PART TWO: ANYTHING FOR LOVE
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