Naira, Heart of Flame - Part 14, Starlight
"It happened the summer after my parents got divorced. I was spending the week with dad. Dad always went for a jog. When he didn't come back... I called the police and told them which paths he usually took. I thought he make have twisted his ankle or broken a bone..." James paused, afraid to tell Naira what they had found at the foot of the lake in the park just a few miles from where they now sat. She still had her arms around his neck, hanging on every word he said.
"He'd been shot in the head three times. He hadn't taken his wallet or anything, there was nothing to steal... they just killed him. The police never did find who it was though." His heart wrenched, memories flooding him with emotion. Naira felt like stone in his arms. She got up and walked to the far wall of the room, her eyes fixed on something outside. James sat idly, waiting for her to speak. His heart was heavy with the loss of his father, but also with the regret that his killer had never been found.
"Why?" her voice trembled, full of confusion and pain. "How could you shoot a man who was unarmed and alone with arrows three times in the head? The lack of honor and respect..." She turned to face James, her eyes darkening with feeling.
"They didn't shoot him with arrows, Naira. They used a gun.."
"Gun? James, I do not understand!"
"A gun is a very powerful weapon, an Earth preferred weapon. You have been trained to use swords and arrows and you fear them. We fear guns, in this world archery and swordplay are things of the past! Guns fire little bits of metal into your body... They're called bullets and they're extremely harmful."
"Do you have one?" Naira looked confused, but James could tell she was trying hard not to seem vulnerable. Sometimes she was so reachable, so close, and then is a split second she turns into a distant star out of his reach. She was like that now, her eyes blazing with passion and every defense working overdrive.
"No, I would never own a gun. I have never even fired one." He stood up, and walked to her. He wrapped her in his arms again, even though she tried to pull away. He kissed the top of her head, trying to comfort Naira.
"Not everyone has one, just some people."
"Then how can you defend yourself?"
"I don't need to, no one will hurt me." James's voice was soothing, but Naira couldn't calm down. "The police and the army have them for our protection, hunters use them. But some people who shouldn't have them do. And yes, crimes are committed with guns, sometimes premeditated and very violent. But no one would want to hurt you or me, so please relax, Naira."
"Did your father have enemies that wanted to hurt him?"
"Of course not, he was a wonderful man!"
"That did not protect him from the wounds inflicted upon him! Someone killed him James! Killed him in cold blood, took him from the people he loved best! What if someone came after you like that, what if I lost you?"
She stopped, searching for breath to fill her lungs, to make the pain in her heart go away. Naira loved James, the thought of losing him was more than she could bear. The tears that had been stinging her eyes fought through her reserve, her vulnerability cracking the iron of her reserve. James suddenly had her in his arms, he stroked her hair lovingly, the tip of his thumb catching on the point of her ear. It was so hard to remember that she was an elf sometimes. But at this moment that was all that he could see. She didn't belong here, she didn't belong in his arms, she couldn't really live here. No identification, no social security number and a lack of knowledge about the world she had been sent to. Not that life in Middle-earth was simpler, he thought, but that is her world. His thoughts flashed to Narya. The black tinge that had appeared on it worried him greatly. Her body finally relaxed, her arms hugging him back.
"Naira, nothing will happen to me. You're not going to lose me! Let's not ruin today with all this worry. I promised you a nice dinner, and that is what you're getting." He gave her a sweet, full kiss, and smiled at her lovingly. Hand in hand, they headed downstairs and out of the house into the fading twilight.
"What do you mean?" Dr. Wallace screamed at the nurse who was standing dumbfounded before him.
"Sir, you cleared her! She isn't an emergency, you said so yourself it was just a UT, so we sent her home."
"You imbecile! Do you know what you've done?" he screamed, his face turning bright red.
"I followed procedure, sir." She gave an involuntary shiver and left his office quickly. He dropped into his chair, all color draining from his face. A cold sweat spread over his body, his hands shaking slightly as he ran them through his hair in frustration.
He felt tears well in his eyes. Clara Varden had gone home untreated. She would be back soon... but it would probably be too late to treat her. And when her real condition is revealed, he thought darkly, I'll get sued for malpractice... Then they'll snoop around my other cases, ask questions... Find answers that won't please Mr. Florien... He had failed, and Dominic has said that if he failed him...
He let out a groan of mortal terror.
"I'm a dead man...."
James had decided to take her to a little bistro and then they would go to the park for a walk around the lake at night. Maybe, they would go stargazing. It was something he had always wanted to do with a girl, but he knew that Naira would be the only girl who wouldn't think he was weird. He loved introducing her to the menu, explaining how to order and they had a great meal and an even better time just being together. They walked around downtown, looking in shops, joking and flirting with each other. Her eyes sparkled so brilliantly when she laughed that it made him feel infused with joy and hope.
They reached the park, a fresh breeze rustling the trees and the night air sweet and calm. It looked so romantic, streetlamps placed every so often, casting a warm glow in the spring evening. Hand in hand they meandered along the path that ran along the lake. The water was a mirror to the stars and moon, perfectly smooth and glassy. James looked at the sky, noting how clear it was tonight.
They had been walking for some time, lost in the touch of the other's hand, peace ebbing over them. Naira stopped, her graceful hands cupping James's face. She gazed into his eyes, their warmth telling her what she meant to him. She kissed him lightly, and then took off running, his hand in hers.
"A hótule asinye i meneltannar tirien!" she called back, her silver laugh echoing like bells through the trees. James followed her, not understanding what she had said, enchanted by the beauty of the Elvish language.
She stopped when she reached a patch of soft grass on a slight incline. She turned and pulled him to her.
"Look at the stars with me James, show me the constellations." she whispered to him, her eyes sparkling. James kissed her softly, and then they lay down. He put his arm around her, and she snuggled against his chest. She's practically perfect, here I was going to ask her to star gaze with me, and she asks me! He smiled broadly, content just to hold her.
They lay there for some time, the heavens dancing overhead silently. James ran his fingers through her silky hair, a smile painted on his lips. Naira glanced at him every so often, marveling at how handsome he was, how strong and caring. She wanted to stay like this forever, just the two of them together at that moment.
"The light from a star is thousands of years old when it reaches Earth. It has always fascinated me..." he murmured, his voice warm but distant. Naira adjusted her head so that she could see him better. The moonlight danced in his eyes, his face so handsome and strong.
"But the thing is," he continued softly, "the light endures millions of lonely miles to get here. Starlight inspires poets, everyone appreciates their beauty, myths have been written about them... Only here on Earth are they appreciated..." He propped himself up on his right elbow, his left arm around her waist. He gazed into her eyes, his heart whispering louder than ever before its secret.
"Naira, you're like a star. So brilliant and beautiful, so heavenly. After a thousand years of being practically alone, you fell to Earth... you came to me. I don't care that no one else has ever told you how beautiful and amazing you are! Because I know it is true, you know that I adore you... No, I..." he paused, debating whether or not to go on. She smiled, and the feelings in her heart blossomed into her eyes, those jeweled orbs tinged with tears of happiness. James realized he had to tell her, because she felt the same way.
"Maid of Lothlórien, daughter of Corinturion; sister of Encaitar, Oricon and Ainon... My own Naira Cemendur..." His hand cupped her face and he touched his forehead to her smooth brow. He closed his eyes, and whispered into the night, " I love you!"
Naira's heart melted, tears of joy sliding softly down her cheeks. She placed her fair hands on his face, whispering just before he kissed, "I love you too James, hobbit pants and all..."