Dark Legacy Part Six: The Castle Wall
by Chanaur Majere

Authors Note: Again, not much to say here. Continuing on, they enter the last fortification before they are in the heart of the Dark Castle. Reinhardt is dead set to restore Rosa to life, Dracula to Hell, and to make it out alive. Carrie and Chanaur aren't yet (the important word being YET) reaching out to each other, but are keeping an eye on each other. What more do you want from me?!?

"Great." Chanaur muttered as the drawbridge went up, and a portcullis blocked the way out further. "We're boxed in." He walked up to the second portcullis, which led to a second room, and a third portcullis. There were three torches in the room, and they looked like they were hollow.

Reinhardt came to stand beside Chanaur. Carrie was slumped against the wall, getting some rest without the others seeing. Apparently she didn't want to slow everyone down. "So the switches to opening these are in the towers, one door is locked, and the key is probably in that room." He gestured forward, crossing his arms.

"Yeah. It's in that torch in the middle." Chanaur said. "We have two choices. One, we could go to each tower in turn, or two," Carrie stepped forward. He put his hands on her shoulders, and said in a slightly strained voice, "We could let you get some sleep, and then after you've recovered, you could blow down this first one to warm up." He gently forced her to sit down and lean against the wall. He kneeled down beside her. "Then we could pull the switch at the top of the west tower, lifting the second one."

Carrie nodded, "Sounds good, but how are you going to get in that room?"

Before he could answer, Reinhardt turned to Chanaur. "Could you get on the other side of that one, and get the key?"

Chanaur stood up. He faded out of sight and was suddenly on the other side of the bars. "No sweat." Turning around, he broke apart a torch. A small red key fell out of it. He vanished, and appeared next to Reinhardt.

Carrie watched him as he teleported to and from the second room. I didn't know he could do that... Maybe.... Then he walked over and whispered something in Reinhardt's ear. She strained through the haze in her mind to hear what he said, but couldn't hear him.

Chanaur offered him the key. Taking it from him, Reinhardt nodded and said, "Teach me how to do that sometime." Applying the key to the door, he stepped into the left tower. "Oh," Reinhardt leaned in and whispered in his ear, "before she drifts off, you two might want to straighten a thing or two out." And with that, he left.

"Besides," He whispered closing the door behind him, "according to Chanaur, Dracula's waiting for me at the top of this tower." He licked his lips. "He knows where Rosa is, and he will tell me."

Reinhardt started across the crumbling floor to the old staircase that would lead him to the Count. At the crest of the fourth set, he stopped.

Seconds later, a large guillotine came down inches in front of him. Had he continued, he would have been split cleanly down the middle.

He smiled grimly, observing the old bloodstains. "Boy am I glad that I talked to Raziel about this one." He shook his head. "Good god, now I know what he's been going through...."

Raziel was back at home, leading the defense for Wallachia. I have a feeling he won't be around when we get back... The guillotine lifted upon it's chain, opening the way again.

He walked slowly on. I wonder what Carrie and Chanaur are doing now...

"Chanaur..." Carrie yawned. "We've been over this..." She rested her head on the wall.

"Yes, but I want to make sure this is perfectly clear." Chanaur yawned too. He was also pretty sleepy. "You need to take it easy. You must rely on yourself first, and magic second." Chanaur watched her eyes close. "Otherwise this happens..."

"Chanaur, I appreciate your concern, but I'll be fine." Carrie started to drift off again. "I'll take it easy, if it makes you feel any better."

Chanaur smiled. "Yes, that would make me feel a lot better."

Carrie was now on the verge of falling asleep. What am I doing? My first chance to be able to talk alone with him in so long, and I'm dropping off. "Chanaur, come here..."

He hesitated. Bet she beckoned to him again, and Chanaur sat down next to her. Carrie rested her head on his shoulder. He in turn put an arm around her. "What's up?" He asked.

Carrie yawned again. "Where were you during the ball?"

Chanaur told the truth... sort of . "I met up with Taolin, and we shared a dance." He wasn't quite sure where she was going with this...

"Oh." She said. Taolin was Chanaur's first girlfriend.

Hm. Usually she only uses that response when she has something to say, but doesn't... "Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering...." She yawned again. "..'cause I'd been looking for you." She took his free hand in hers, there fingers lacing.

"I was looking for you, too." He gave her hand a short squeeze. It felt good to be this close again.

She leaned against him now. Chanaur wrapped both arms around her, still keeping her hand. "I wish we could have had a dance...." Carrie trailed off. She squeezed his hand back.

"Yes...." Chanaur said. "That's why I was looking for you."

"Well, why didn't we before you took me home?" Carrie whispered, relaxing, moving in closer.

"It looked like you were done for the night...." He felt her slipping below consciousness. "You didn't look too happy either...." Yes. And I was the one who hurt you. He squeezed her hand again, gingerly caressing it. It felt good to have that reassurance that she was still there.

Carrie didn't answer. Her chest rose and fell in the rhythm of her breathing. It's strange. We've been so close, for so long, but neither of us have done anything serious about it. And been truthful about it, anyway. Asleep in my arms again... Sometimes I wish we could be this way without the uncertainty.... Without me not knowing how she feels for me. I don't want to tell her, because I don't want to force her into a corner. I don't want her to feel she has to feel the same. That just wouldn't be right. As her friend, I must give her time.


His mind suddenly cleared, as he released Carrie's hand. She was rubbing it, little red marks appearing on the skin. He had squeezed it too hard, lost in his thoughts. "Jeez, I'm sorry Carrie. Are you okay? Let me see your hand." Carrie gave it to him. Chanaur tenderly took her hand in his. Damn it, I hurt her again. This time physically. What's next? "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

"It's okay, Chanaur. I'm fine. No blood, no broken bones." She still trusted him to hold her hand. She rubbed his palm with her thumb. "It makes me wonder what you were thinking about..."

He didn't like the feeling of hurting her. He absently massaged her hand. "I've never done that sort of thing before...."

"What, hurt me?" Carrie smiled slightly. "Chanaur, it's okay. I know it was an accident. It felt kind of nice. I'm always here for you to vent on." She laughed. Her laughs were rare and precious. She would smile teasingly all the time, but her laughs were different. "Just not like that, okay?"

Chanaur laughed shortly. "Oh, now that really hurts..."

Carrie smiled a loving smile, and closed her eyes. That made him feel a little better. I'd forgotten how beautiful her smiles were when it wasn't all part of a big joke....

I wonder just what he was thinking about... Carrie squeezed his hand, and he relaxed slightly. Carrie felt his eyes on her. I didn't mean to say ouch... She reached up and started rubbing the back of his neck. "You're much too tense." She whispered, and squeezed his hand.

Chanaur continued caressing her hand. "Are you feeling any better?" He asked.

"A little..." Carrie yawned. "I could still use some more sleep..."

"Hey, whenever you're ready." His grip tightened around her, hugging her closer.

Carrie kissed him on the cheek. Her head rested on his chest, just below his heart. Her hand stopped rubbing his neck, now simply holding him. They both soon fell asleep, the sun setting in the distance.

Reinhardt's head snapped up, hearing the door click. Night had fallen, and the moonlight released the seal. He stood up, pushing the door carefully open.

Hm. No roar, no blue fire, no bone dragons. He opened the door the rest of the way. Must be in the other tower... He rolled up his whip and put it on his belt.

His eyes wandered around the room, taking in his surroundings. The machine to raise the portcullis stood in the middle of the room, composing of a chain wrapped around several gears of different sizes. He faced the switch that would start it moving. Behind him was a large hole in the wall, facing towards the rest of the castle.

The blood moon was rising just behind the central tower.

Reinhardt pulled the switch, with a little added effort. It would seem that weathering had rusted it almost solid.

The gears rotated madly, as a rumbling accompanied by the sound of metal grating against stone filled the air. He chuckled. "Lets see those two sleep through that."

Finally, the machine grinded to a halt. A cloud of dust settled settled around the room.

A bell tolled off in the distance, making an unholy sound that sent shivers up Reinhardtís spine. He turned around to face the castle, moving toward the large hole in the wall.

There, silhouetted by the blood moon was a large man dressed in a black suit. His boots and gauntlets were adorned with gold, and blades coming off of them. His black cape flowed out from behind him, showing the inside, blood red in color. A white sash was wrapped around his neck and torso. His arms were crossed in front of him, his pallid face curled in a malevolent sneer.

"Where is she, Dracula?" Reinhardt wasted no time in getting to the point.

He said nothing. His lips twitched, but nothing more.

"Where is she, you bat from Hell?" He repeated, clenching his fists.

Dracula laughed horrendously, a bone chilling, mirthless sound that only fueled his hatred. Reinhardt clutched a throwing knife in his right hand, blood welling beneath his fingers.

Dracula stopped suddenly as the knife sank into his left eye. Without crying out or wincing, he pulled the dagger out. His eye was speared on the end, but when he removed it from the blade, the optic nerve brought it back into his head, undamaged.

That's not good... Reinhardt took a step forward.

The Dark Lord dropped the knife and floated closer, getting a good look at Reinhardt. "So, you want her back, do you?" The voice was dark, barely audible, but he heard every word as if it was being screeched in his ear.

"Until I have her in my arms, or your head, I will not leave." He planted his feet firmly, his hand twitching inches from his whip.

Dracula stopped his descent. He was just out of range. "Indeed?" He raised a hand, pointing at him. "You have courage, boy, but you could never kill me alone." He snorted. "I wouldn't be surprised if that girl had more power than you."

"I believe Carrie and Chanaur have a score to settle with you too. Did you think you could take Rosa from me and not pay for it?"

He crossed his arms again. "Upstart weakling. You dare to oppose me, when all you have to offer is revenge?" He descended a little more. A little closer... A little closer....

"All who oppose the Dark Lord must die."

Now! Reinhardt brought the whip from his belt and slashed Dracula across the face, adding to the already numerous scars.

Dracula grunted this time, the gash fizzling and smoking. "Bastard." He whispered, touching it. This one, however, would not heal.

Reinhardt was about to cast his whip again, but Dracula had disappeared.

"Huh." He sighed. Reinhardt turned around and ran smack into Dracula's chest.

The dark lord lifted him up by the neck, with one hand. The death grip tightened, blood appearing beneath his fingers. "I should kill you now, but I think I'll toy with you a little more." He brought his other arm up, the blade slicing through his leg, exposing the bone. Reinhardt screamed out, dropping his whip. "Besides..." His hand tightened again, cutting off his breath. "...I wouldn't want you to miss your friends dying. And at your own hands, no less." Dracula threw Reinhardt against the wall, new cracks forming as he fell to his hands and knees on the floor.

As he tasted blood, the Dark one smirked again, and began to dematerialize. "Don't worry about Rosa, though." He said, licking his lips. "I'll take extra special care of her."

"You touch her..." Reinhardt growled between breaths. ".....and you're a dead man."

He groaned as he felt the toe of a boot glance off his temple. "Commendable, but pathetic. You won't live long enough to save her." He laughed another Dark laugh, and disappeared into the night.

"Damn you!!!" Reinhardt called out after him, slamming his fist into the ground. "I will return you to Hell, from whence you came!"

Reinhardt forced himself to his knees, clutching his torn quad. Now what am I gonna do? "Reinhardt? You okay?"

It was Chanaur, kneeling next to him. "Where the Hell did you come from?" Reinhardt growled, trying to keep from screaming out.

Chanaur gestured to his left. There was a man-sized crack between the building stones, leading into the center of the wall. "I climbed the chains to get up here. Apparently that's where the mechanisms for raising and lowering the portcullises." He placed a hand on Reinhardt's leg, starting the healing process. "Dracula's gone?"

"Yes." Reinhardt nodded ruefully. "We have to find Rosa, and fast." Chanaur looked up at him quizzically. "He's going to do something terrible to her... We have to stop him..."

"Reinhardt, he might have been bluffing." Chanaur touched his neck, healing the marks his fingers had made. "He thrives on Hatred and Fear, that's why he plays games like this." He sighed, retrieving his hand. "Rosa's fine. Well, you know what I mean. If you lose faith, nothing can save her."

"How's Carrie?" Reinhardt changed the subject, standing up.

"She's still asleep." Chanaur said absently, walking over to where he had come through. "Climb down the chain to reach the main entrance, and wait for me." Chanaur bowed his legs, preparing to jump. "I won't be long..." He was gone.

Reinhardt took one last look at the High Tower, and started down the massive chains.

Chanaur watched him, waiting for him to get off the chain. Reinhardt finally made it all the way down, disappearing through the hole in the floor.

Chanaur sighed. This is going to be tricky...

He turned to face the machinery that would raise the last portcullis, and took another deep breath. Coiled around the gears, were two bone dragons, sleeping. One of their heads rested in front of the switch.

Only a dematerialization spell... I've done it many times before... But never with my life on the line!

One of the dragons stirred. Itís breath came out of it's nostrils, a pale blue flame.

Chanaur took one last deep breath, hoping it wasn't his last. He concentrated on the switch, and teleported. He arrived in front of it, remaining immaterial. He had to cancel the spell to pull it, but one millisecond off, and he'd be caught.

He put each hand on either side, preparing for the worst.

He dispelled it, pulling violently down on the switch in the same moment.

Sure enough, the Bone Dragon awakened. It bellowed a challenge, waking it's companion. Just before the jaws closed over him, Chanaur used the spell again.

He was safe now, but the Dragons weren't as lucky.

Before they could disengage, the machine started. Their coils were shortly caught in the gears, being ground down.

Chanaur turned away. He heard the screeches, felt the warm blood spattering on his back. He walked slowly toward the open way down, not looking back. He mounted the chain, and descended slowly.

He landed right next to Carrie. Reinhardt sweared under his breath. Carrie jumped up, worry springing to her eyes also. "Oh my god, Chanaur! Are you...." Then she realized it wasn't his blood that covered him. He dematerialized again, allowing the thick liquid to slide to the floor. He didn't feel too good. Even though he had only killed a shell, it's dying cries still pounded in his head.

"What happened?" Carrie asked, her composure returning.

Chanaur phased in, shaking his head. "I don't want to talk about it." He felt like he was going to be sick. How could I have done that? Caused that much pain, needlessly!

Carrie just stood there trying to analyze what had disturbed him so. She shrugged, taking his arm in hers, leading him on. "Thank you, Chanaur."

Chanaur looked down at her. "For what?"

"For killing that monster just to save me the trouble of destroying that obstacle." Carrie patted his shoulder.

"I didn't kill it. I mangled it...." He still couldn't get the horrible experience out of his head.

"Never mind that..." Carrie kissed him on the cheek. Suddenly it all disappeared. "You did what you had to do." She shook her head. "You're the only one I know that feels compasion for setting damned souls free of their bonds."

"Well, everything feels pain." He said, closing the subject. He knew he was overreacting, but he just....

"Forget about it." Carrie whispered. She kept his arm, leading him into the night, heading toward the castle Villa.

Reinhardt had calmed down quite a bit, but there was still fire flashing in his eyes. He walked through the room with the torches, following Carrie and Chanaur between the enormous pillars.

Without even turning around, they listened to the portculis closing their way back, yet again.

Sighing, Chanaur looked around. A heavy iron gate stood before them, leading to another gate. The second gate led to what appeared to be courtyard. In the middle of it sat a fountain. Chanaur stepped forward to try the gate...

And suddenly, the darkness closed in.

Raziel was perched on a cliff, staring down into the valley that cradled the dread castle. His feet dangled over the precipice, barefoot. He often went here to think, a place he held most dear in his heart, him and Lacuna both. A place to talk. Their place to talk.

Now, he just came here to think.

He seemed to come here a lot lately. Perhaps it was the influence of the dark castle, but he couldn't be sure.

Actually, it was him worrying about Reinhardt, Chanaur, and Carrie. He knew the Terrors of the castle well, and hoped they were standing up to it okay. The battle was just as psychological as physical.

Raziel leaned back on his hands, swinging his legs. Their faith would pull them through.

He seemed to be devoid of emotions the last few years. He hoped that Carrie and Chanaur wouldn't lose each other before they truly had anything, besides those few nights.

Raziel shook his head. Despite his numerous atempts to bring them together over the last five years, they both seemed to be afraid of what the other would think. Carrie and Chanaur had both come to him, confiding their secrets in him. Again and again, his subtle designs failed.

Well... The darkness brings people together in the strangest ways. He sighed. I should know.

He recalled the night he and Lacuna's relationship had come full circle. She had been dragged away into the night by a werewolf. He found her captive deep in the forest. She had been rendered uncocious, and didn't remember a thing.

Until she woke up in the middle of the battle.

Raziel had made short work of him, and approached Lacuna. She had cringed, and then Raziel remembered his appearence. She had collapsed in his arms, sobbing.

He had taken her home, and told her to get some sleep. However, she told him not to leave, so he stayed. Nothing physical had happened, but...

Raziel's hearing pricked up. He looked around quickly. Maybe he was just imagining things, but he could have sworn he was being watched.

Raziel turned quickley around, and was struck in the face with a blunt object, falling over backward. He hit the slope and started rolling, his body bouncing off of the rocks. He felt his leg snap. His mind was slipping.

Finally, the slope dropped away, and he plummeted toward the trees.

He screamed, knowing that he would be impaled momentarily.

Suddenly, with a jarring thud, everything went black.

A series of growls came from behind the gate, and six glowing eyes focused on him. Another growl came from behind Reinhardt, and a third off to Carrie's right side.

"Cerberus...." Carrie whispered, clutching the dragon axe.

The three pairs of eyes leaped out from behind the gate, landing inches from Chanaur. The creature was a good nine feet long, and it stood six feet high at the shoulders. It bared it's teeth, and snarled, daring him to take another step.

He took one back, drawing an arrow. Firing two in quick succession, he dissabled two heads. The third caught the arrow in it's jaws, snapping it in half.

Chanaur hurriedly drew his sword, dropping to his back as the Cerberus dove for him. As it arched over him, he thrust the sword up, stabbing it through the heart.

The creature rounded on him again, diving for him again. It missed again, and collapsed, dead.

Carrie had already fried hers with a lightning bolt. Reinhardt was keeping his at bay with his whip. They were circling each other, sizing one another up. Reinhardt drew a cross from his belt.

Chanaur smiled grimly, knowing the properties of the cross he held.

The Cerberus pounced again, and Reinhardt threw the cross. It struck the first one, killing it instantly. Before the other's could react, the cross hit the other two, finishing off the creature.

The three bodies dissintegrated, and the gate opened.

The cross returned to Reinhardts hand, clean of blood. He slipped it back in his belt and continued on. Carrie moved cautiously forward. "I don't like this at all...." She whispered, her fighting staff (bo) held tightly in front of her. Not as deadly as the dragon axe, but a lot faster.

The gate behind them banged shut. They were now caged in an alley ten feet wide, and twenty feet long.

Silence. Nothing moved. A warm breeze blew between them, but that was all.

Chanaur was scanning the area with a crucial eye. His head finally came to stop on her. His eyes suddenly widened. "Get down!" He shouted, drawing a fire arrow.

Carrie felt the three jaws clamp down on her, tearing her in three different directions. She screamed, her blood welling in her mouth. One of her lungs was puntured.

She opened her eyes just long enough to look down. She was being held by nothing it seemed. The Hellhound was invisible.

Carrie growled, her breath seething. Blue lightning crackled from her body, a trick she had learned from Imbrium.

Ah, but she was weak. It only killed two heads, the center one shaking her around violently.

A carefully aimed fire arrow finally freed her, the Cerberus appeared, and died.

Carrie hit the ground, after what felt like an eternity of falling. Near the back of her mind, she sensed the gate open.

A red haze clouded over her mind, blotting out her vision. Chanaur's strong arms were around her, his body emiting a strong aura of panic.

Carrie didn't care. Nothing mattered anymore. She was dying, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

"Chanaur...." She groaned softly. "I'm sorry...."

"Carrie, you'll be fine." His words and breathing were erratic. He babbled on, his speach coming out gibberish. He was panicking.

With her failing strength, Carrie slapped him soundly accross the face. Chanaur stopped immediately. "Calm down, Chanaur. You won't be helping anybody like that..." Carrie's mind was failing. She had to tell him, before it was too late. "Chanaur, I...."

Chanaur propped her up against the fountain, where she slumped. She was unconciuos. He knew she was dying, and the most he could do was keep her alive for another five minutes. But she was in terrible pain....

He cut his wrist, letting the blood flow into her mouth. He hoped that his affliction would finaly come in handy. Maybe the regenerative property of his blood....

"Carrie, we'll figure something out..." He put a hand on the biggest wound, the one in her stomach. The skin almost closed, only muscles were still exposed. Her upper torso was still ripped clean open, her sternum was shattered. Several ribs had shattered, the shards speared her heart. He moved his hand to the second hole, preparing to heal it in turn. He doubted he had enough strength left, but he had to try....

Reinhardt cupped a handful of fountain water and splashed it on Carrie's chest. "What're you...?"

Chanaur watched, perplexed as the wound completely closed. "Have you lost all your sense, man?" Carrie remained unconscious, but her breathing was finally normal. "If you wouldn't have panicked, you would have seen that this water..." He ran a hand through it, and Chanaur watched his missing finger regenerate, the one thing Chanaur couldn't restore. "....is the fountain of life."

Chanaur felt a lead weight lift from his heart. "Thank God you were...." He fell to his knees, reaching for Carrie's pack. Her body had mended, but her clothes hadn't.

He kept his gaze resolutely set in the opposite direction as he pulled out the blanket she had brought. He turned around to put the blanket over her, and met her gaze halfway.

He froze. She looked up at him, her eyes showing a display of mixed emotions. It seemed she was fighting within herself. She finally cracked a smile and said, "See something you like?"

Chanaur suddenly realized what he had stopped. His lips twitched, and he covered her up. He was blushing furiously. "Sorry."

Carrie's eyes hadn't changed, but her smile had widened slightly. From under the covers, she pulled the shredded tunic over her head. "Hand me my blue robes, would you?"

"Oh. Yeah." He turned away hurriedly. Chanaur rumaged through the pack and finally pulled out her robes. Their packs were all enchanted to hold a much larger load, and to reduce the weight. He handed them to her, and turned away. Reinhardt smiled at him.

He heard her stand up. She must be tempting me.... Carrie started to hum. If so, she's doing a damn good job.

"Well, that was a close one." Her voice came from behind. Chanaur was still staring at the ground when she came to face him. She seemed mystical in her robes, with the hanging sleeves and cowl. They were a deep midnight blue, almost black.

Reinhardt walked away, for more than just a call of nature. He knew this was thier moment, it seemed.

They stood there in silence, for quite a while, content with each others presence..

"Hey... Thanks." Carrie said nervously.

Chanaur turned to her. Her eyes still remained the same. She seemed confused. "Anytime, babe." Chanaur smiled briefly. He wondered if she was fighting the same inner battle he was....

Should I say it? Should I finally tell her?

Should I say it? Should I tell him at last?

That was too close. I thought I'd lost her.

Good God, what's wrong with me?

I love you, Carrie.

I love you, Chanaur.

So simple to think.....

....Yet so hard to say.

Chanaur frowned slightly. "Carrie..." There was no way around it this time... "I..." Maybe this will say more, so I won't have to... "Carrie, I was the one in the mask...."

Carrie didn't move. She seemed stunned. Her hands that were folded behind her back fidgeted slightly. "If this is one of your jokes..." Now that hurt. She didn't believe him. She really thought he would play that kind of a cruel trick.

She saw him wince. "Chanaur, I didn't mean it that way." She brought her hands out to her front, clasping them together, and looked at the ground. "It's just...."

"It's alright, Carrie." He raised a hand. "I know it's hard to believe, but I can explain."

Explain? What would he have to explain?

Explain? The event, yes; my motives, no.

Carrie looked up at him. Again, the moonlight enhanced her appearence. Her eyes glistened. Her hair shone. His mind returned to the previous night, wich seemed so far away now, lost in time, how beautiful and at peace she seemed.

But it was her eyes that caught him off guard; they always did.

"Chanaur, you don't need to explain anything." Carrie smiled haltingly at him.

"Yes, I do." Chanaur gently put a hand on her shoulder. "I didn't mean to hurt you. I just wanted to see if anything would happen between us." I wanted to know if you loved me.

Carrie smiled again. "You didn't hurt me. But, why did you leave so suddenly?" Was it because you didn't feel the same...?

Chanaur sighed. "I guess I kinda panicked. I wasn't quite ready for what you said." Mainly because it was meant for someone else...

"Oh." Carrie said. She put a hand on his arm. Did that mean he believed what she had told him? Could she ever believe what he had told her?

Was it possible that he loved her...?

Again that dismissive answer! Chanaur put his other hand on her cheek. Did that mean that she cared any more? Just a little bit? Did he dare believe what she had told him? Was it possible that she loved him....?

Carrie wrapped her arms around him, surprising them both. "I guess we did get to share a dance...." She rested her head on his chest.

"Yeah, I guess." Chanaur's arms tentatively closed over him. Carrie suffered de ja vu. "I'm sorry I had to lie to you in order to get that close. Although...." Chanaur squeezed her softly. "It feels so much nicer when I can hold you honestly...."

Carrie laughed shortly, pushing him away playfully. "You hopeless flirt...."

Chanaur embraced her again. She made no negative reaction. "You better beleive it."

Carrie smiled warmly up at him. This was another one of those rare moments between them. When they felt closer than just friends. The ones that always made her feel better, forget the world.

Reinhardt returned. They broke apart, remembering Rosa. They hadn't thought about that. They weren't sure how he'd react to them, like this....

Like what? Nothing was really happening.... ....Was it?

Reinhardt only smiled. His smile was a little bitter, but he smiled. "Get some sleep, you two." He shook his head, and started setting out his bedroll.

Carrie and Chanaur smiled at each other. Then they set to work.

"You know Carrie," Chanaur smiled wryly. "If you ever get cold, I'm willing to share my warmth."

Carrie sneered jokingly. "I'll keep that in mind...." She said, laying down and covering up. "Goodnight, guys."

"Goodnight, Carrie." They both said together. Shortly after, all was silent, save the fountain and Chanaurs soft snoring.

Carrie sighed. She wrapped up tight in her blanket. It was getting cold.

He was the man behind the mask. Her heart felt so much lighter. Now she knew for sure that she still loved him, and him alone.

But.... was the situation between them any different now...?

She knew Chanaur was steadily drifting closer to her, but couldn't be sure how close. He seemed confused about something or another. Did he really love her? Would she ever mean more to him than a friend?

She shivered as a cold wind swept over her. For a moment, she considered taking Chanaur up on his offer.

No. He hadn't been serious. She was tired of stealing his touch like that, feeling downright guilty about it.

But those other times.....

She sighed again, turning over to look at him. She smiled, seeing his placid face. She realized just how much he had changed over the course of five years. He had become a truly handsome man. Chanaur's hair had originally been a dark brown, but he had changed it to a silvery white. It literally shone in the moonlight. Before, he had been one of the skinniest people she knew. But now....

Carrie watched as his body shifted, his arms opening. His hand came to rest inches from his face. She remembered just how warm those arms were...

Well, if he hadn't really minded those other times, what difference would it make now?

Carrie moved carefully toward him, into his arms. She wrapped both of their blankets around Chanaur, bringing them even closer together. She was sudddenly a lot warmer.

She didn't feel any better about constantly doing this. Well, she would just wake up before he did.

Carrie yawned. They came so close to losing each other.... and she still hadn't told him.

What's wrong with me anyway........ Chanaur looked down at her. She had done it again, probably subconsciously. It was pretty cold out tonight, and he wasn't sure that he could do without a little extra heat.

It wasn't that he minded, or anything; she was very nice to hold. It was just he didn't feel comfortable being this close, when she didn't know how he truly felt for her.

Heh. That would probably be the end of these encounters....

When she was dying, he had never been so scared in his life. He had panicked, forgetting everything he had ever learned. Reinhardt had saved her, not him.

He put his arms carefully around her, almost like he was afraid of breaking her. His cheek still stung, but the feeling was diferent now. Carrie's slap had been what had snapped him out of it.

He stroked her back, rubbing his hands into her skin. She started to purr softly, nuzzling into his chest. Chanaur smiled. Now he knew how that massage book could finally start working for him.

If she would have remained awake, he probably would have told her. I should have.... But, why hadn't he? They were both in that fragile frame of mind, where the slightest influence would bring forth their thoughts. He had proved it, by telling her about that night....

He sighed, squeezing her to him. Someday, he would tell her. Tomorrow.... And if he didn't...

He drifted off. If I don't, I'm a hopeless coward.

End Part Six.

Part seven