What Zari hopes for is nothingness.
There had been Heyworld, and then that gentle, quiet place, and then a sudden summoning, like being awoken from a dream.
She’d called it Totem-town. It had sort of been a joke, but mostly just a statement of confusion.
She’d looked at herself, the other version of her. Shinier, brighter, happier. And she’d looked at herself in comparison. Still so sad. So hollow. And she’d thought, so this is going to be eternity.
There had been a fear, then. The same one that she feels now, as she becomes one with the wind again, turning into ether, into only spirit. She fears that she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.
It’s so much easier to be in that quiet. Sitting in that makeshift parlor, somehow conjuring two cups of tea, she had been able to remember. To hurt. To miss.
And for those moments she spent, looking at her other self, she’d feared that now she’d be in this little room forever instead, fully aware and yet- Not. Not able to see the outside world, not able to contact it. Trapped in a little snow globe.
Mercifully, that hadn’t been the case.
She’d gone back into the spirit realm. The living darkness. Whatever it’s supposed to be called. In there, she didn’t really do much of anything.
And that had been fine, perfect. No thought. Only calm. No need for worry. Stress. Pain. She had been aware of her own existence, the existence of the other totem bearers, but more than anything, she had felt peace.
And back into peace she had sunk.
A jolt, a new body, Nate, Behrad, Charlie, all of it- Having two bodies but only one mind. Then two bodies, and two minds. Were they two souls split in half? Or two completely separate beings? It had never been made clear.
All she’d known is that for a second, and it had only, truly felt like a second, she had been alive.
And as peaceful as that resting place is, in that spirit world, “alive” is the one thing it is not.
So she watches the Legends fade from her view, vision blurred from tears that are no longer tangible, and she welcomes the relief of thoughtlessness. It will be painless. That’s the only thing she can wish for. That it will only hurt for these next few, precious moments, and then never again.
Her shock when her feet hit carpet and her knees bend, letting out a gasping breath at the feeling of landing, is only replaced by an instant, cold feeling of dread.
Punishment? Solitude? She rises to her full height and her worries suddenly stop. Quiet. Like that peaceful feeling she’d been longing for, but so much more powerful. So much more passionate.
“Amaya?” she asks, willing herself to remember the function of taking one step forward.
Amaya is the one standing over the tea-tray now, pouring out the second cup. Like she’d been waiting for Zari to arrive. “It turns out,” Amaya says, taking the tray by the handles and gesturing towards the sitting area. “The timeline, and thus, my memories, were momentarily tampered with.” She rests the tea down on the coffee table, Zari standing there in front of her, still not entirely sure how she’d walked over there to begin with. She certainly can’t remember the basics of movement as Amaya picks up her glass and offers it to Zari, her soft, fond smile taking up all that Zari can see. “Otherwise, I would’ve been here sooner. I’m sorry.”
Zari can feel herself crying again. She can feel the heat of it, the pressure in the front of her skull. “Put the glass down, please,” she says.
Amaya looks at it. “Why?” she asks. “Is this wrong? I thought it was what you liked.”
“Amaya,” Zari says, voice already hoarse. “Please put it down.”
Slowly, Amaya lowers it down to the table, not breaking her curious gaze. “Okay,” she says, showing Zari both her empty hands. “Now what?”
She remembers. Only the action of how to hold someone, Zari’s arms wrapping around Amaya’s waist and holding her tightly. She puts her face against Amaya’s shoulders, heart pounding at the feeling of touching her, holding her, warm and real and here. “Are you dead?” Zari mumbles, into Amaya’s shirt. “Am I dead?”
Amaya returns the hug, and it feels like it always has, like they’ve never been apart, like she’d never left. “Sort of?” she says. “But don’t panic.”
“I-“ Zari lifts her head, if only to blearily look into Amaya’s eyes. “I won’t.”
Amaya’s hand is touching her face. Zari nuzzles into it on instinct, taking a moment to close her eyes and remember how much she’d missed this. “You’re crying.”
“Yeah,” Zari says.
“I’m sorry,” Amaya says again.
“Stop saying that,” Zari says. “You just need to be here.”
Amaya gives that a nod, and Zari can tell she might want to cry, too, but she’s always been better about this, and when she tilts Zari’s chin and kisses her, Zari realizes she doesn’t really want to cry, anymore.
Maybe she doesn’t need to.
“I didn’t realize you could be here,” Zari says, murmuring against Amaya’s lips. “With me.”
“I thought I’d told you,” Amaya says, softly. “We’re soulmates.”
“Well,” Zari says, finally feeling herself smile. “Us and all the other Legends that held a totem. Right?”
“Technically, I suppose,” Amaya says. “But that’s not going to be for a long time.”
“Really?” Zari says. “So how long do we have together, then?”
“Forever,” Amaya says.
Zari kisses her again. The concept of eternity reshapes itself. Presses against her heart.
“I have so much to show you,” Amaya says.
“You mean other than-“ Zari looks around the room again. “This? Or like, the sleeping area that we all go to unless you’re summoned?”
Amaya looks wistful for a moment. Regretful. “If we’d had more time,” she says. “Together. On the Waverider, I mean.”
“You can just say alive,” Zari says.
“It’s different,” Amaya says. “I promise.”
“So what would you have done?” Zari asks. “With more time.”
“I’d have taught you more,” Amaya says. “I’d have shown you as much as I could.”
“In here, you mean,” Zari says.
“Yes,” Amaya replies.
“Well,” Zari says, and she’s teasing, her veins pumping with light, levity, an ease she’d thought would be lost to her. “Not like we’re short on time now.”
Amaya nods at that, and Zari recognizes the guilt on her features. She leans in, their foreheads touching.
“I love you,” Zari says. “I never stopped, in case you were wondering.”
Amaya is so delicate. So gentle. She looks at Zari with the weight of all of time and space and says, “I love you, too.”
“So there’s nothing we have to worry about,” Zari says. “Ever again.”
“There’s so much for you to learn,” Amaya says. “There’s whole worlds in these totems, Zari. Worlds beyond worlds.”
Zari’s still smiling. “That’s… oddly corny.”
Amaya thinks that’s funny, bumping her hips against Zari’s and asking, “Is that a bad thing?”
“No,” Zari says. “It’s just unexpected.”
“So then I guess that makes it less corny,” Amaya says.
“I don’t think anything could make this less corny,” Zari says. “Unless you’d like to put me in a pumpkin carriage pulled by white horses. Maybe we can have a big dance scene.”
“That didn’t seem like your style,” Amaya says.
Zari bites her tongue. “I don’t mind the dance scenes, I guess. Every once in a while.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Amaya says. She kisses the corner of Zari’s mouth, her jaw. That sweet little pulse point on her neck.
Zari’s eyes flutter. “I guess we should get going,” Zari says. “If we’ve got a whole… eternal adventure to go on.”
Amaya laughs, and Zari finds herself grinning with her, noticing they’ve never untangled, not wanting to now. “Maybe we can stop and have tea, first?” Amaya asks.
“That could be nice,” Zari says. “Though I don’t have a lot to fill you in on.”
“I somehow doubt that,” Amaya says. When they sit down together, Amaya puts her legs over Zari’s lap, and the glass she hands her is cool to the touch. Refreshing. “What happened after I left?”
“Well, between then and here,” Zari says. “I may have put on one small musical number. If we’re still on the subject.”
“Oh?” Amaya says, leaning forward. Her eyes burn with that familiar spark Zari’s been so lonely without, her curiosity, her kindness, her interest. “And how did that happen?”
“It’s kind of a long story,” Zari says.
“Tell it,” Amaya says, her hair falling over her shoulders. Zari reaches to tuck a few stray strands behind her ear, and when Amaya takes her hand, she feels herself tremble at the sensation. “Tell me.” And Amaya is smiling at her, holding Zari’s hand to her cheek. And Zari will tell her, pour out her heart and soul to her, the highs, the lows, the emptiness, the inevitability.
She will tell Amaya about the sadness that remains, that she has to accept the fact, still, that she is in here forever. That this is different than death, according to Amaya, but still feels kind of unlike life.
She will tell Amaya that with her, anything is possible. It will change. They’ll change. She will tell Amaya all these things. But for now, she says, “Just give me a second. I want to take in the moment.”
Amaya turns and kisses her palm, and at once, Zari’s cheeks feel incredibly hot. “Please,” Amaya says. “We’ve got nothing but time.”