We’ve come to the end of Kolchais’ season. It’s in many ways it’s been a quieter time than Lefeng and Tsouchm had, but I think that fits the wise-one. When we return to Planting Life it will be the Spinner’s turn to take center stage. But first, season 2.5 of Mighty Hero Force Epsilon starts next Friday.
Season content notes: ableism, internalized ableism, violence, autistic meltdown
Kolchais sat and stared into the fire. That way ey didn’t need to see Paiokp’s retreating back, didn’t need to think about what would happen if ey was rejected again… Ey knew it was Paiokp’s own fear speaking…
Lefeng sat with Kolchais, but when Paiokp left, ey had turned so eir back was to the fire. Guarding-one, always watchful even around the home fire. They had been talking about Paiokp’s fears, but Kolchais didn’t know what else to say.
“Your family are fools,” Lefeng said, changing the topic.
Kolchais, not sure what to say, or even what Lefeng meant, shrugged and stared harder into the fire.
“You push yourself hard–too hard.” Startled, Kolchais turned to look at Lefeng. The once-walker wasn’t looking at Kolchais but staring into the darkened sky. “And why? Others can do the physical work that you can’t. But you are wise about people, and good with barter and coin. You cut to the heart of a problem. In the wilderness, you would be in trouble, yes. But here in town,” ey gestured the obvious and faced Kolchais, “your mind is enough to give you great current.”
The night was still. The neighboring families were settled for the night, and none passed on the darkened street. Insects buzzed, and a night bird called. Lefeng would know what bird it was.
Lefeng knew many things, Kolchais decided after a moment. Ey thought the watching-one knew this, too. Kolchais did have current, even if ey, emself, was often blind to it. Had been taught to be blind to it.
“My family couldn’t see it. Their current runs in a different way, and they could only see that I moved against them rather than with them.”
Lefeng looked down. “I never had much current. I flowed with my family because it was the life I was born into, and I was good at it. I miss the mountains. There is beauty to them. But I think sometimes I never really cared about anything until I met Chestef. And then… It was less than I cared about em and more that caring for em gave me a reason to not run back to the mountains and let them take me.”
That was not the guarding-one, long-stride, watchful-one Kolchais knew. Not the strong-one who killed a great cat to defend eir family and carried it across the mountains in memory.
“And now?” Kolchais asked.
“I am lost.” The words were so soft they were nearly lost too, even on such a quiet night. “No current of my own and none to follow. I think if I were alone, I would stop where I am. But I can’t do that because you and the others depend on me.”
Hesitantly, Kolchais reached out and put a hand on Lefeng’s shoulder. “I think you mistake yourself. You can create great current when you choose, but what moves you is the people you care for. As long as they are well, you are content and let yourself be carried in the current of others. But when they are in need, you are the riptide, sweeping all from your path.”
Lefeng was silent for a time. “How do you see in me what I don’t see in myself?”
Kolchais laughed. “Well, my spouse-to-be, you are the one who says I am wise about people. Maybe you are right.”
Lefeng chuckled and raised eir eyes to the star-dusted sky. “The stars seem dimmer here. Less sharp and clear. It is harder to see.”
Kolchais felt the faintest touch as Lefeng reached up to take eir hand. When Kolchais said nothing, the touch firmed unless Lefeng was clinging to em.
“I am still grieving,” the loyal-one said. “I will be for… a long time yet. I do not think I am fit to be anyone’s spouse. To give what… a spouse should give.”
“You have already given me a family and a child–two things I never thought would be mine to have.” Kolchais squeezed Lefeng’s hand, held tight like a boat taking another in tow. If ey had such current as Lefeng saw in em, then perhaps that was eir role in this family. To be the current that the others rode upon. That carried them around the rocks and kept them moving always towards home.
It was not a role Kolchais had ever expected for emself, but thinking back over recent weeks, it might be something ey could do.
“I hope the day comes when you can give yourself to me as well. But you have shown me that you accept me as I am. I know if that day never comes, it will be because of your grief and not, as with others, because you reject me.” Kolchais smiled and felt the smile to the depths of eir soul. Ey knew Lefeng now. Knew eir spouse-to-be as ey had known few others. Ey would grieve, yes, for a long time. But when ey was ready to move, ey would not be stopped.
Kolchais turned to face the night sky with Lefeng, the stars that guided the far-walkers and boat folk in their journeys. When the day came, Lefeng would find Kolchais still here, steady as the stars themselves, which never stopped moving, but were always where you needed them to be. “How can I be angry that you grieve them? When it only shows me how great your soul is and how strongly you value those you love.”
Slowly, Lefeng leaned over until eir head rested against Kolchais. Together, they watch the night sky.
“Perhaps one day, you can take me to the mountains. Show me how the stars are meant to look.”
“I would like that.”
“The Spinner could come too.”
“I think ey loves eir markets, the way I loved the mountains.”
“Yes. But ey could still come if ey wants.”
Planting Life in a Dying City (S3, E1)
Planting Life in a Dying City (S3: Kolchais, E8)