There is a time to fight, a time to scream. In the heat of the anticipation of battle, once it has become inevitable, the heart pounds, and the blood boils, breath coming quick, the pulse of life beating under the skin so fragile, so fast. Noise grounds you then, gets all your echoes reverberating, reminds you that you live still, as long as you can hear.
Cats know this. Why else do they scream in the face of attack but that it is natural and right to do so?
There is another time, though. Not a time to fight. A time to be still, to be silent. To be a shadow, sliding between buildings and trees, every sense on alert, all hackles raised. A time where speed will not save you, where noise will only endanger you more. This is the worst time and place, the hardest.
Cats know this too. It is why they stalk their prey in silence, feet deliberate and raised.
This is where I live. I run swift and smooth. I could be a bird on the wing, I could be a cat prowling over new territory. I could be a dreamer lost in a dream.
It would be much easier to scream.
The silence would shatter, the tension break utterly, and the war would begin.
It would be satisfying, in a way. Sigrun and Emil, they know how it goes. They yell and shout, they make things explode, they fire guns and flamethrowers. The daylight burns in them, the energy races through them, and this is how they survive.
I am of the night. In silent darkness on quiet feet I slink from shadow to shade, ever alert for movement. Tonight the wind is still, the snow soft, and my footsteps, clear though they are, fade into the distance as I dance from dark empty building to shadowed street, to lurking horrors behind abandoned ruins.
Ruins where, once, people lived.
This old world, the one we have no longer, the one that is gone, does not often cross my mind. I have no time for it, I have no place.
But they looked at the same stars, in the years before the great plague. The night sky blazed for them as it does for us. It lights my way tonight, unchanging, eternal, as it must have done for many thousands of people all through time.
In the shadow of what once was a house, I wait, anticipating. Battle is not inevitable, not yet.
Something drifts by on the night breeze.
I am still, frozen, looking up at the stars.
Stars, guide my way.
I am silent. The lurking fear that lingers near cannot hear me, cannot see me. Every nerve is cold, every muscle tensed as though frozen.
Even my breath makes no sound, not even in relief as the horror turns, vanishing into the blackness of a nearby forested area. After a moment, I unbend, and move on.
There is a time to rest, a time to sleep. A time for dreams. In the aftermath of heated battle or icy wandering, sleep is inevitable and necessary.
Not only sleep.
Reynir, silent and naked amidst the blankets of my bed, reaches out and tugs me in beside him. Words are unneeded; the love in his eyes is shouting out to me.
I make a soft noise and let him pull me down. His warmth surrounds me, the scent of him caresses me, and I arch up into his hand like a cat seeking to be petted.
He obeys my unspoken request, and slides his fingers through my hair, sending shivers down my spine. For a while I shiver and twitch as my nerves work out their overstimulation under his steady, careful hands. Eventually he moves down to tracing light fingers over the back of my neck, and then down my back. The pleasure, the relief of it is glorious, less sexual arousal than sweet shivers coaxing me down to a relaxed, warm state of mind.
I ride wave after wave of the sensations his fingers induce in me, half-asleep, completely boneless against him. After a while his fingers flatten out and he slides his whole hand down my back. It is something of a signal between us, and the warmth of it rouses another desire in me, only stoked when he moves to press his lips to mine, to coax my mouth to open against his.
We kiss, and I awaken a little, enough to push against him, feel his arousal. He makes a small gasp into my mouth when we are fully pressed together. We must be silent. Other people are sleeping; I can hear their breathing, slow and deep.
My mouth swallows his second cry as I thrust against him. He's hard too, pressed against my hip. My erection slides against his belly, the warm softness of him sending sparks of desire through my head. His hair, usually braided, is loose, tumbling down his shoulder, teasing and tantalising me every time he moves with the way it brushes against me.
Soon we catch the rhythm of each other. His hand is still pressed to my back, holding me in place, and mine frame his face, holding his head still while I take kiss after kiss from his lips.
I am lost in his warmth, in the feel of him, in the way he arches against me, in the bitten-off cries he cannot quite suppress.
I am doing this to him. I am making him feel this way.
His eyes flutter shut, and he cries out softly, lost in the bliss of orgasm.
I thrust once more and follow him down, sparks lighting up behind my eyes, shivers running down my spine, my body alight, alive.
I want to cry out for him. I want to shout.
I cannot. Not here, in the waking world. In the world that might wake, both in the tank and out of it.
After a few murmurs and movements, we arrange ourselves for sleep, cuddled together.
We awake in dreams together, his arms around me. I raise my hand, trace the contours of his face, and speak, for now the time has come when I can, the word I longed to shout.