DISCLAIMER: This story is just for fun and I made no money writing it. I don't own the show, the books, or the characters. They're the property of ABC Studios, Disney, Terry Goodkind, and others whose names escape me. They're all just kind enough to let me play in their sandbox.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Other than the fact that it's been raining here, which is actually pretty normal, I have no idea where this came from. I've only given it a rough edit because it's a bit too fluffy to warrant more than that J. Also, I have no idea why it's in present tense. I usually save that for when I'm writing in second person. I hope it's not too disconcerting. I hope you enjoy.
DEDICATED TO: Ralst, because of all her hard work at Passion & Perfection.
SPOILERS: Season two, specific (and slight) spoilers for Desecration.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By ocean gazer


Kahlan shivers in her wet travel dress, but says nothing. The downpour of rain against leaves and ground is loud enough to drown out most sound, and even if it weren't, Richard and Zedd are more than making up for her silence. Their complaints are unnecessarily loud, occasionally profane, and completely pointless.

She bumps Richard slightly, pushing him farther under the drooping shelter of the tree branches; this tiny grove of willows is the only dry-ish spot they've seen in the past hour of walking through the near-treeless plains. He smiles his thanks, before turning back to argue with Zedd about how best to start a fire, and she fights to keep her face impassive. She knows any wood that can be scavenged will be wet, that Wizard's Fire is their only real option, so the discussion is futile at best and makes her head ache. Even more than it did before.

"I need to get some more supplies. There's a town less than an hour's walk from here."

Kahlan jumps at both the unexpected sound of Cara's voice and the fact that it's coming from slightly behind her. It's a bad sign that she'd lost track of the other woman in such a small space.

"Now? Are you crazy?"

Kahlan smiles, almost, at the incredulous note in Richard's voice. Not that she can blame him; the idea of walking through more of the storm does sound completely mad. She turns to glance at Cara and catches the rise of one blonde eyebrow.

"No, just in need of things I don't have here. I'm already wet – more rain won't do any harm. And perhaps by the time I return, you'll actually figure out how to get a fire going."

Kahlan turns back, watches Zedd shrug his shoulders, clearly not caring one way or the other, watches Richard shake his head. She's familiar with his expressions now, knows that he's trying, and failing, to come up with an argument against Cara leaving. She knows him well enough to know it has nothing to do with the storm, not really, but with his own fears, his own guilt about leading them out here on his quest. Finally he finds a reason, echoing her thoughts as he says decisively, "It's not safe for any of us to be out alone in this territory, not with so many people trying to stop us from finding the Stone of Tears."

Before she even knows she's made a decision, Kahlan hears herself speak. "I'll go with her." She doesn't miss Richard's startled glance or Zedd's continued indifference. And she hears a soft snort of what she hopes is amusement from Cara. She ignores the others, focusing on Richard. "It's unlikely any of our enemies would travel in such weather. We'll be fine."

She holds his eyes, gentling her expression to one of reassurance, until he sighs and looks away. It's in his nature to worry about those he cares about, but it still brings up the familiar irritation within her at being coddled like some pampered princess. With ease of practice, she shoves the feeling away and steps closer to him, laying her hand on his arm. He looks up and smiles at her and she smiles back. Without another word, she turns, heading back to where Cara stands, arms crossed over her chest. The Mord'Sith says nothing, simply rolls her eyes, clearly bemused at the notion of needing a nanny. Kahlan understands her well enough to know the gesture is intended for Richard, not for her.

The blonde turns and heads back into the storm and Kahlan follows close on her heels. The last thing she hears before the rain drowns it out is Zedd and Richard once again arguing about fire.

"So how far do you intend to walk before you confess that you don't really need to go to town at all?"

Kahlan's thankful she'd already stopped walking before she asked the question, or Cara's abrupt turn would have thrown her off-balance. As it is, she takes a step back as the blonde moves closer.

"What are you talking about?"

Kahlan chuckles and raises an eyebrow. "You didn't ask Richard for coins and I saw you spend the last of yours several days ago. It wasn't hard to guess that you just needed to get away from the group for a while."

Cara's face hardens into an unreadable mask, her tone flat. "If you knew that, then why did you come with me?"

Kahlan takes a deep breath, weighing what the question actually means, studying her companion. After a moment, she sees the faint hint of amusement in sea green eyes, the slight quirk of an eyebrow, that Cara's hands are nowhere near her agiels. She smiles. "Because you're not the only one who needed some peace and quiet."

Cara doesn't laugh, or even chuckle, in response, but the expansive roll of her eyes is the next best thing. "You would think we were traveling with small, spoiled boys, not men who are on a quest to save the world."

Kahlan can't help but laugh at that. "Indeed."

Her laugh turns into a sneeze as a large drop of rain somehow makes itself felt in the midst of the deluge, slipping underneath her collar and chilling her skin. She sees a flash of something that might be sympathy on Cara's face, hears a soft, "This way."

She trails behind the blonde, who walks quickly down the road for several yards, before heading off to the left. The land is still mostly grasses and small shrubs, as it's been for most of this day's journey, but there's a lone oak tree towering up in the midst of the plain. Within ten minutes, they're standing beneath its branches. It's not as dry a spot as the drooping willows where they left Richard and Zedd, but the downpour slows to a mist under its leaves.

Cara sits in a mostly dry spot, her back to the tree trunk, and Kahlan sits next to her, close to, but not-quite-touching, the other woman. For a long time, they sit in silence, save for the rain pattering against the ground beyond their semi-shelter and the soft sounds of their breathing. The greens and yellows of the grass stand out vividly under the dark grey of the sky and Kahlan finds herself amazed by the beauty of it.

When her companion shifts slightly beside her, Kahlan finally thinks to ask, "Are you bothered that I came with you?"

She feels an unexpected touch against her arm, looks over at Cara in surprise. The blonde shakes her head and her words come too quickly to be rehearsed. "I'm only bothered that Richard assumed it was necessary. Your presence is… familiar… comfortable."

The Mord'Sith looks away then, her hand dropping back against her thigh, but Kahlan understands. Even though they've admitted to friendship, even though they hugged in that accursed tomb, she knows Cara is still uncomfortable with anything that comes from the heart. And indeed, the woman's next words are the driest thing in the entire landscape. "And at least you don't spend hours complaining about the weather."

Kahlan touches the blonde's arm, lightly and quickly, in acknowledgement of the earlier admission. Then she shifts focus, her tone more amused than aggravated. "I'll be surprised if either of them has a voice left by the time we get back."

"If we're lucky, they won't."

Kahlan smiles, but doesn't respond. Instead, she rests her head against the tree trunk and closes her eyes. The sound of the rain is soothing and the ability to just sit quietly helps loosen the tensed muscles of her neck and shoulders. And finally, the headache she's been nursing for the better part of the day begins to fade.

It's nearly three hours later when Kahlan and Cara finally return to the grove where they left their traveling companions, but neither man seems to have noticed the time. There's a crackling fire in the middle of the small shelter, with a pair of rabbits roasting over the flames. How they found the creatures in a downpour is puzzling, but the prospect of a hot meal is heartening. Zedd is chanting over a pile of wood, perhaps saying some kind of spell to make it burn, and Richard is fussing over a pot of boiling water and tea leaves.

Kahlan steps forward to warm herself at the fire, suddenly aware of just how chilled she is. She stumbles slightly and feels a hand under her elbow to steady her. She smiles her thanks at Cara, who simply nods in response, and they stand side-by-side in front of the flames.

"Did you manage to find what you needed?" Richard asks, not looking up, as he stirs the tea leaves into the pot, and Kahlan is glad that he sounds like his usual, boyishly charming self.

"Yes, I did."

Though Cara's response is the height of simplicity, it warms Kahlan, as does the press of a leather-clad arm against hers. Standing next to her friend, she no longer notices the cold.

The End

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