Notes: For the “weather” challenge. This is what happens when I discover HL reruns in the afternoon… no good can come of this.
The lightning, when it came, came suddenly and without warning, leading nearby Las Vegas residents to stare at the sky in wonder. Huge banks of black and purple clouds rolled in, turning the bright mid-evening to the darkest of nights in seconds, promising rain, but never delivering. Instead, winds blew strong, upturning garbage cans and children’s bicycles, sending plastic bags flying through the air, making many a nervy motorist grip the wheel a little tighter as they muttered prayers to St Christopher through clenched teeth.
Those who witnessed the event – and it was a localised event, confined to an radius of a few square miles, centring on a disused construction site – would say that they had never seen anything more spectacular than the sky for those few minutes when lightning split it wide open; huge tongues of forked lightning arcing through the sky, showering sparks visible for miles around when they hit dry land. Not just one, but dozens, each more violent than the last, more powerful, lasting longer, as if some angry God were gaining strength with each bolt thrown. Strangely, those who were nearby would swear that they heard no thunder, would swear that there was no way they could have heard it anyway, not over the roar of the wind, the crash of the lightning. Some though, would swear that they’d heard strange scream-like sounds, vaguely human, attributing them to the cries of some animal that had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When it was over, they would look at each other and exclaim and wonder, and they would do so for many a long day afterwards, remind each other of the freak storm that had descended upon their neighbourhood. They would talk about the majesty of the spectacle, the miracle of nature.
Yet no-one witnessed the true miracle of the spectacle, because the construction site, where the lightning hit strongest, was deserted at the time.
Deserted, apart from two men, both of whom were standing before the lightning hit.
When it was finished, both men were lying on the ground.
One stood up.
The other, minus his head, did not.
Slowly, the man looked around him, running a hand through his hair, hiding his sword in his long coat. To his right, what once had been a bank of weeds smouldered dully, to his left lay the body of his opponent.
“Well,” he said to himself. “I’d better get that hidden.”
Two days later, most people who hadn’t lived near it had already forgotten about the lightning strike.
Sara Sidle was the exception.
She hadn’t seen the lightning strike, had only heard the stories, but it hadn’t left her mind since.
Firstly, because when she saw lightning strikes, they tended to live on in her memory, usually rendering her usual insomnia even worse. She hadn’t enjoyed a thunderstorm since she was fifteen years old, especially not a thunderstorm like the one that had hit Vegas.
Because she, unlike others who had heard the stories, seen the lightning strike, had heard of lightning strikes like that before, had even seen one up close and personal once. The sight had been truly awesome, as well as truly terrifying, the kind of memory that tended to sear its way down into the deepest recesses of the brain, resurfacing usually in dreams, mostly when a thunderstorm raged outside, or when some great upheaval was going on in her life.
Suffice it to say, between one thing and another, she hadn’t been sleeping well lately.
So, when she walked out of the lab early in the morning, so exhausted she could hardly see straight, she wasn’t looking at where she was going, could barely remember where she left her car and had to concentrate hard in order to do so.
Then she saw a movement out of the corner of her eye, a flash of material moving, something small and insignificant, so much so that it shouldn’t have even warranted a blip on her internal radar.
But then, there was something familiar about that movement, something that sent sparks of electricity shooting across her skin.
After all, she’d been seeing it in her dreams for the last two days.
She stopped in her tracks, turned slowly in the direction of the movement, already knowing what – who – she was going to see there. But seeing him there was still a shock, because it had been five long years since she’d seen him, five years since a too-quick goodbye had left her bereft. Since then, there had only been the intermittent postcard from some far-flung corner of the planet to let her know that he was still alive, and in the last two years, there hadn’t even been that.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she’d been sure that five hundred years had finally caught up with him, that she was never going to see him again, and yet, here he was, standing in the parking lot of the CSI lab, a dead man walking in more ways than one, and she blinked once, then twice, as if to make sure that he was really there.
His face was perfectly still at first, but when she blinked, she saw him nod once, a slow smile spreading across his features, still unchanged after all this time. It was a familiar smile, a smile that sent more sparks flying over her skin, sending a smile across her own features, and she self-consciously tucked a length of hair behind her ear as he began to make his way over to her, hands tucked ever so casually into the pockets of his long camel-coloured coat. He didn’t speak until he was standing right in front of her, and when he did, his voice was as casual as his saunter over. “I thought you’d be more surprised,” was all he said, and she shrugged with one shoulder, tilting her head up at him.
“I had a little warning,” she reminded him, pointing up to the sky, and he grimaced, pushing his hands even further into his pockets, the action rounding his shoulders.
“You saw that, huh?”
“No… but I heard about it… and you don’t forget.” Just what she couldn’t forget flooded her brain again, in full colour and stereo sound, the clash of metal against metal, sparks flying, lightning flooding the sky, making her head swim, her stomach turn, and she had to look away.
His hand on her shoulder – warm and secure and real, and dear God, how she’d missed him – brought her back to reality, and she looked up into a pair of eyes that were heavy-lidded with concern. “If I’d known, I never would have come,” he told her quietly, and she didn’t doubt it, knew that he would never put in her danger. Nor, when she met his gaze full-on, did she blink, didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“Then I’m glad you didn’t know,” she said, reaching up to lay her hand over his. “I’ve missed you Sam.” He ducked his head, not quickly enough to hide the flash of pleasure in his face, and something occurred to her suddenly. “It is still Sam isn’t it?”
He looked up at that, nodded as he reached up to touch her cheek. “Still Sam,” he told her, and she smiled, because it never hurt to be sure. “And I’ve missed you too.”
Sure that any moment she was going to wake up, Sara lifting her hand to his cheek, mimicking his gesture. The stubble there was prickly and real against her hand as she slide it around to thread her fingers through the fine hairs at the back of his neck. She was suddenly lost for words, but it didn’t matter, not when he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.
Closing her eyes, Sara felt lightning flashing through her body, and for the first time in a long time, she wasn’t afraid.