No Way Back – Chapter 15 (The long-awaited)

It’s 2AM, and here I am pushing myself to finish this chapter.  And, boy, is it a doozy!  The chapter itself is over five-thousand words!  That means that this chapter ALONE is an addition equal to one eigth of my story to this point, and dwarfs my previous-longest by about 2k words! 

I want to appologize to anyone who’s been reading and waiting six weeks for this chapter through revisions, modifications, and lazy or distracted author.  Hey, sometimes it takes some time to get to, right?  I’m truly hoping that you find the chapter worth the wait.

Alright, enough chitty-chatty.  The long-awaited continuation of No Way Back.

Chapter 15

I find myself looking at the ceiling for a while as I lay in my bed. It’s been just over three years since we started seeing each other, and today’s another one of those days when I wonder why it’s been so long. Another day where I think about Dannielle and wonder why I didn’t just do what I said I would back then. Oh, she understood alright. And then she made me understand. Three stitches just under my left cheek and an inability to stand for a short period of time. Mom was infuriated and dad wanted to press charges. I told him no. I knew what I had done, and I felt as if I deserved it. After a few months Dannielle and I started talking again but it was never the same. When we graduated, she came over to me and told me that she still cared and gave me one last chance to leave Allessa. I close my eyes and remember the moment clearly.

“Robert!”

I look over to see Dannielle, her face still spread with a smile as she held her valedictorian award and her diploma close. “I know, right? We did it! We’re done with this school!” I ran over to her and gave her a hug. I was truly happy to see her since had all but disappeared the past few months. She had made it clear that she was going to get the top of the class, and nothing was going to stop her.

She giggled as her feet left the ground for just a moment. She smiled down at the boy who she was no longer sure of and risked one last try. As I looked up to her with a smile and began to set her down, she grabbed the back of my head and quickly kissed my lips. She took a half-step back as my arms freed her from my embrace, and I could tell that she could read the surprise in my face. “Rob, please, listen to me before you say anything.”

I simply nod. It’s not like I was expecting her to kiss me.

She quickly scans the graduates for someone, even though I know who it is, and then steps back in closer. “I know that she still isn’t being the girl you need, Robert. I know that it’s been a year and a half, and I know that we’ve both got our significants, but if you tell me you want me right now, then I’m yours. I always have been.” Her voice wavers as she fights back tears and tries to sound as if it’s simply a request and not her heart at its breaking point again. “I’ve seen how she is with you, Robert, you’re barely even there in her eyes.”

I start to quietly respond to what I think is an opening. “Dannielle, she treats me,” I pause for a moment to think of the right word, and one doesn’t come, “okay. I know that it could be better–”

“Then leave her!” She stops masking the tears as she continues and one flows down her cheek. “Damn you, Robert, you’re so dense! Don’t you think you should have better?”

I look to the ground, then back to her eyes. “But I love her, Danni…”

She squeezes her eyes shut, and the steel clamp that was her protection for herself against me clamp back down. Her eyes open and the tears, hope, and dream is completely hidden away again. “I know you do. I had to try, though, didn’t I?” I hear a loud sniffle as she quickly clears herself of her tears. “I’m… I got accepted to California PolyTech, and I’ll be heading out in a week to get my housing arrangements set up.” Dannielle’s eyes light up as her smile becomes real. “I’ll be studying computer networking and sciences. When you told me the truth about what had happened, I started to do some research. I’ve decided I’m going to try to find out who’s been tracking your family.” She turns slightly to hide a slight blush but continues. “I promise to let you know if I find anything.” She turns around to see her boyfriend, a slightly taller, black-haired guy, weaving through the crowd to get to her. “Well, looks like Donovan found me. Keep in touch, ‘kay?”

And she left. I never saw her again. We talked on the phone occasionally, and we would send e-mails back and forth. But the calls got shorter, and the e-mails less frequent. Then, one day, she didn’t return my e-mail. She wouldn’t answer her phone. I gave up after about two weeks of trying. I didn’t want to be the hurt in her life and I felt like I was. Besides, I’m sure she and her boyfriend were quite content to live as they were, and that was without me.

I open my eyes and it’s three years later again. The bed is still warm from my laying in it still wearing my jeans and t-shirt from the day’s classes. It’s been such a long day. I finished the last of my second-year finals today, so all I want to do now is have a few drinks and pass out. That’s not going to happen today, though. Allessa told me that she has something important for me once she finished her own classes, which means that the schedule’s empty for tonight and it’s just her and I.

Bringing my legs off of the bed, I swing them out to the side and down to sit up. We’ve shared an apartment since we started going to college. It’s a two bedroom place because she suggested that we’d need our time together and our time apart, which I understand. She’s an only child and used to having her own room, her own furniture, her own everything. We spend a lot of our time in the living room but still have our separate sleeping arrangements. Whenever we have plans, though, it usually leads to the apartment being wrecked and sleeping wherever we fell. The only strange thing about that was that I never woke up with her in my arms. I guess she still prefers sleeping alone.

I walk over to the mirror in my room to try and straighten my hair once again. The one thing that I was always very sure of was to not have her come home and see me too unkempt. Once in a lifetime of being that badly embarrassed was enough! I let my hand fall to the dresser where the comb should be. The small black item was exactly where it was supposed to be: tucked underneath a thin piece of fabric I use to keep the products in their entirety off of the natural wood. As I lift it to my brow, I start thinking about what normally happens when she tells me she has something special planned. The actual time together is different than anyone I’d ever been with before her. The biggest difference is that she never, ever lets me see her naked. EVER! Even when we’re enjoying our most intimate of times, she keeps herself completely and unshakably clothed. I learned quickly to not even try to get them off her. The few times I did, the fun came to a stop faster than I could blink! I eventually decided to stop trying for as much as I really, really wanted to. And the sex itself? Outside of the lack of nakedness, which I find less than personal, she was insanely good with it! Not that I’m some kind of expert in the matter, but she seemed to know everything that I could possibly want and more! I feel my skin start to grow warm as the memory pushes through my mind of how she took my body to insane heights of pleasure. Behind her longer skirts and dresses that always indicated her desire, she was a master of the art. It was damn-near a religious experience with her!

I pause as that thought comes to mind and look at myself in the mirror. My hair’s finally laying where I want it, but I’m chewing on the words. A religious experience? What else could I call it? It was magical what she could do with her body, and, I never let her know, but I’d heard her say something under her breath. I couldn’t make it out between her moans and gasping, but what I could catch seemed so very important to her. After I heard it the first time, though, I started to watch and listen for it. Whatever it was that she mutters, she says it practically every time. Maybe religious is more accurate than I–

I hear the door to the flat open from across the living room. Quickly, I bring the comb back down and under the fabric hiding place, and then turn to greet the lovely Less from her long day of finals. My feet pound the ground happily as I fly out and into the living room to find her there closing the door. Her back is turned to me, but my smile vanishes when I see her head hanging slightly and I hear her hands turn the lock slowly. It wasn’t like her to be down after a test…

“Hon? Is everything okay?” I walk closer to her, passing our entertainment center and letting my hand fall on her shoulder. She turns slowly to face me and I can only become more confused when she smile she offers me is obviously forced.

Her bright blue eyes seem strangely cloudy as she starts to speak. “Yeah, I’m fine, Robert. I’ve just… It’s been a long day. I hope,” she sighs ever-so-slightly and then brings her eyes to look into mine, “that you’re ready for tonight.” With that she begins to press past me. Not quite forcefully, but strong enough that it doesn’t seem like her. Her jeans swish as their legs slide against themselves in her pushing through the living room quickly and into her room. The last thing she does is push the door closed quickly behind her.

I slowly cross the common area again and stop at her door. I bring my hand up and rap it against the hollow flat-paneled door. “Allessa, is everything okay? We don’t have to do anything if you’re not up to it.”

“I’m fine. I just… I need… a moment…”

– – – –

She looks across her room and at the panel of the wall that is her communications board. Through her mind played the message she’d received early this morning.

“Ah, you’re awake.” An orange-and-black Au’sharh appeared on its hidden video display with a large smile across her face.

A naked and groggy Chi’bi wiped the sleep from her eyes since she had, in fact, actually been sleeping rather fitfully. Her ears stretched upwards since she had no need to hide them within her own room. Robert wouldn’t dare enter without her expressed permission, and there was no way she’d be offering that anytime soon. “I am now. What’s so important that you’d call me at this time of night?”

The snake’s smile grew as her tongue flicked from her mouth, a sure tell that she was excited about something. “I thought you should be the first to know. Your mission is at an end! The Fleet Commander has authorized the collection of all viable subjects. You’re one of three I have for my ship and I know you’re ready to leave this hell-hole.” She cocked her head slightly as if to allow a more thorough study through the screen. “He IS still viable, isn’t he? I know you Eil’ph enjoy milking your mates dry…” She let the sentence trail as she started a hissing laugh.

Chi’bi glared at the reptid through the comms panel, her ears snapping back and her nose twitching in rage. “You know damn-well he’s ready, and I do NOT milk that…” She suddenly couldn’t finish the statement. She looked down in embarrassment. “He’s ready, commander. Let’s take care of this now, before he can wake up.” The words left her mouth but her heart wasn’t in them. She knew she’d become attached to the human in ways she would have cursed herself for years ago. He now was in her heart, just like Djarn, who she’d never forgotten.

“We can’t yet.”

Chi’bi snapped her gaze at the machine and threw a fist at it, the impact making a clattering sound as it reverberated the wall. “Then why, for the love of the Goddess, did you call me!?”

The transport commander’s grin had only slightly diminished from the outburst. She’d expected it. She knew that this “poor little bunny” didn’t want to be in love with a human, but it was apparent that she was. “Because I’m not yet in position. I will be in about twelve hours. Can you be ready then?” Her tone was teasing but still very serious.

“Yes.”

“Good. When you’ve finalized his collection, send the burst transmission aqua.”

The Eil’ph looked at the screen in mild confusion. “Why aqua? It’s more likely to be detected by the humans than any other burst,”

“Because it looks like their other communications channels. We’re coming in during daylight, Chi’bi, and we must make the extraction as simple as possible. Burst Aqua.” The Au’sharh nodded off-screen and it snapped to black, then white to match the room, leaving the naked alien in the dark.

Chi’bi, currently in the appearance of Allessa, spent all day thinking about everything that had happened so far. The time spent with Robert, actually with Robert, has been nothing short of happiness. Even her initial plans to keep him as distant as possible didn’t stop him from making her happier than she ever thought such a primitive race could have. He was kind, caring, and honest with her to a fault. It was different than the Ru’therian lover she still kept dear to her in ways she hadn’t expected. Djarn was very selective about what was said and done. His discipline didn’t counteract the natural aspect of his own territorial nature, and it made him cruel around other males. His kindness tended to have a price, which that came from the pressures of his own race’s pressures. His race was so dependent on the military mindset that social interactions were usually short and to the point. She wasn’t with him for small-talk, though. She’d fallen in love with his clumsy attempts to show his affections in ways that grated harshly against his normal self. Chi’bi loved knowing that he wanted to do whatever was needed to see her happy and that he would often embarrass himself in his attempts to show just how much he cared. But this human was raised where his feelings and emotions were a part of his life and not something that had to be contained at all times. She now understood why the females who were around him acted as they did, and it was making what she was about to do that much harder.

She began to steel herself for the task at hand, pulling herself from the door and heading across the room to where she’d hidden the small injector, when a thought crossed her mind. What if she didn’t have to turn him in? What if he would accept who she was and start fresh here? Would he keep her secret? Would he tell her that he still loved her? Would her goddess, Mei’enerra, bless their union? Her hand, still under its nanite camouflage, rested on the case that held the sedative device as she thought about what could be. She could live here with this human she finally forced herself to admit she was in love with and be happy. He would love her, bring her happiness, and always be unafraid of his emotions towards her. She lifted the case from its hiding place within her dresser and eyed the wooden box. It was a simple jewelry box that she’d purchased in case someone did look through her items, but inside held the self-propelled dart. The projectile itself could be launched if need be, but usually was inaccurate beyond a few feet. It had found more appropriate use as a point-blank injection device that was easily deployed and hidden after the job was completed. The mark that would be left would resemble a small insect bite, making it that much more difficult to trace the sedative’s, or poison’s, delivery vehicle.

As Allessa began to open the box to inspect the tool, the other side of her opened up its opinion. She was still in love with Djarn. A wolf who would be waiting for her in suspended animation while she was replacing him with an animal. And these animals can’t even choose a single mate! What if he rejected her entirely, or eventually became bored with her? She would be left on this planet with no way to return. She would have let down all of her family, her friends, her love, simply on a maybe?

“That wouldn’t do either,” she says out loud to no one.

What if she tests him? If he love her, he’ll ignore her form. He’ll know it’s her. If he doesn’t love her, then he’ll panic and run. Then she’ll know.

She whispers a command few technomages ever use and the small machines at her right wrist part and make a small gap. Allessa carefully lifts the injector from its case and gently slides it into the newly-formed compartment. Her lips let out a soft hiss as she thinks to her machines that it should be ready. The gap closes around the needle, hiding it from existence, and informs her that it is still ready to be used. Once the compartment is secure, she decides to remove the disguise. She whispers a command and follows it with mental controls, and the devices begin leaving her face and left hand. She smiles as the mirror panel that hides the communications station shows her soft black-and-white fur and her rabbit-like pink nose. Her still humanesque hand fell to the human designed fabric of her jeans and began undoing their bindings. Her body quivered as the air rushed to greet the slightly sweat-dampened fur beneath the woven material. She steps out of the clothing and kicks it away from her as it falls to the floor, then unbuttons the shirt she’d chosen to wear for the day and discards that as well. Once she’s comfortable and unclothed, her left hand-paw undoes the ponytail holding her long black hair, and her ears, down and back. Her long, straight hair falls down as the band releases its grip, and she smiles as she stretches her ears and now-unbound tail. “One last thing,” she tells herself as she grabs the blanket from her bed and wraps it around her back. She closes her eyes and calls out loudly to Robert, then snaps to have her back face the door.

It was now or never.

– –

I hear my name being called through her door. I jump from the couch that I’d been sitting on as I waited for her. As I made my way to her door, I was struck with a thought. She never, ever called me me to her room. Was this it? She was finally going to let me into her life completely? My hand shakes slightly as I reach for the doorknob and give it a twist. The door swings free and I find the woman I’ve known for years standing in a pink-plaid blanket that covered her from shoulder to floor. Her long black hair was pulled just outside of the blanket and left me nothing to see of her body. I smile but wait at the door to be actually invited in.

She seemed to notice my lack of entry, because the next thing I hear is an unusually soft voice. “Please, come in and close the door, hon.”

I obey, pressing the door closed with a loud click.

“I…,” she starts, strangely unsure of herself, “I know that it’s been difficult being with me.”

“No, it–”

“Please, don’t interrupt. I have to do this. Robert, do you love me?” She stands perfectly still as she speaks, still facing away from me.

I cock my head in slight confusion at the question. Had I ever given her any reason to think otherwise? “Of course I do, Allessa! You make me happier than I’ve been in my life!” It was mostly true.

“Even if I was different from everyone you knew?”

“I know everything there is to know about you! Well, everything you’ve let me know, but everything I know tells me that you’re who I want to be with. Is something wrong?”

She shakes her head slowly. “No, Robert. There’s nothing wrong. But…” She begins to lower the blanket to the floor. “I am different.” As the blanket lowers past her shoulders she starts to turn around slowly.

My eyes widen in excitement. This isn’t happening! I’m finally going to…

The first traces of her skin show to me, and it’s not the lightly-tanned skin I’m used to. It’s black… No…. It’s white? It’s both? I look more closely and realize that I’m not looking at skin but at hair. Or fur? I involuntarily take a step back from her and towards the door. As my foot lands I start to catch a glimpse of her face from behind the hair. The lovely lines that were there are suddenly gone, replaced by a slightly elongated snout. Her nose is actually flush with her lips, and they, too, are covered with the black and white fur that was on her back. As I notice the shape of her new face, I catch something lifting her hair. No, it didn’t lift her hair, it actually parted it and pushed past. The limbs were also fur-covered, but they stretched upwards until they were practically vertical. She completed her turn, but not before I saw the tuft that made her tail. My eyes wide, I stand in stunned silence. What was I looking at? What was she? Who was this thing that sounded like my Allessa!?

“What… What kind of… Is this a joke?!”

The rabbit-like humanoid in front of me spoke in Allessa’s voice, and I watched her mouth make the words that should have been Allessa’s. “No. This,” she gestures to her nearly naked body, “is who, no, what I am.”

I feel the panic start to push through the confusion and start to press backwards. “Allessa, if that’s you in a costume, you need to tell me now!”

“Robert,” the Allessa-rabbit creatures spoke, then lifted her right hand, still in its nano-camouflage, up for me to see, “ This was the camouflage.” She started to step closer. “Can’t you hear me in this body? My body? Can’t you see me in my eyes?” Her voice began to sound hurt as she pleaded with me to see her in the strange body.

I look into her eyes and find the bright, almost glowing blue eyes that I know. I listen to her voice carefully and realize that it was most definitely her. This thing was my Allessa! Fighting my body’s inclination to flee, I step closer and bring my hand to her cheek. The fur, which I’ve accepted that that’s what it is, is soft, and I see her close her eyes as I come into contact with it and feel her lean into my hand. “Allessa, what happened to you?” I try to sound calm and in control, but I realize that I sound panicky, and I know she can feel the shaking of my hand.

She sounds more calm now, as if re-assured by my touch. “This is who I really am.” Allessa-rabbit’s eyes open again and look into mine. “I’m an alien to your world, Robert. I always have been. At least since I convinced the real Allessa to move by changing her parent’s work records and moving them to another state. Hold me, Robert, please…”

What could I do? What was I supposed to do? An alien? This has got to be a sick joke. “Allessa, I don’t know if I can. This feel so… Strange! I don’t know if I’m supposed to just accept you’re not being who I thought you were or if I should be calling the damn FBI!”

My words hit her, and I know they do because I can see what looks like a tear forming in her still-beautiful eyes. “I understand, Robert. I do. But listen to me, please. I’m showing you this because I’m supposed to…” She stops and thinks about her words. “Go back tonight. But I think I’ve fallen in love with you, Robert. I’m telling you this because I want to know if you love me! If you still love me, even as the Eil’ph that I am.” I can hear the barely withheld tears in her voice, and I can’t help but feel the girl I’ve grown to love inside of this human-animal form. “Do you still love me? Can you still love me?”

I find my eyes drifting down from her eyes and face and along her body. They trace along her bared breasts, then past and to her tight stomach, then continuing on down her legs. My eyes tell me that she is still the same woman who I’d come to know. Her voice, her eyes, everything was Allessa. But now, that same form seemed so different. It was suddenly… Alien… Could I really love her?

“I don’t know what to say, Allessa. I really want this to be a strange dream. I want to believe that this is still you.”

She brings her hand, paw, what should I call it, to my chin and brings my eyes to hers. I see the alien lips smile and the eyes I know glimmer. “Kiss me and I’ll prove it’s me.”

I strongly consider it. If it’s her, I’d know it right away, right? “If I kiss you, I’ll know? But, what if–”

“I promise you’ll know right away. Just, please…”

My mind begins to race. This would mean that I’ve been making out with an alien. Making plans with one. Giving my heart to one. Making love to an alien! I have to speak, I tell myself. “Why are you on this planet, then?”

The question makes her pull back, but only just slightly. “I promise, I’ll tell you everything if you kiss me, Robert.”

I feel myself ready to accept it as inevitable, that the only way I’ll get any answers and know anything is if I kiss this … rabbit, is what I’ve decided that she is. I bring the only other question I can feel forming up before I surrender to her request. “Okay. I will. But, I want to know your name first. Your real name.”

She nods, and her eyes sparkle in triumph. “Alright. Fair enough.” She sounds so happy as she continues. “My name is Chiantalle’Biress, which roughly means “Gift of Light.” My mother is a priestess of her… My order. My friends call me Chi’bi, my love.”

I stop my leaning into her at the name and quickly draw back. Chi’bi! “Wait, your name. It’s really Chi’bi?”

She smiles and nods, not realizing that I know the name. “Yes. My mother was so happy to have–” She cuts her words short when she notices the anger growing in my eyes. The honest smile and tone vanish into a deep, unhidden concern. “What’s the matter? Is something wrong?”

I can’t hold in the rage, and she hears me clearly. “You! It was you the whole damn time?” My voice raises to a yell as I continue. “You ruined my life! Why would you do that?” She opens her mouth to try to respond but I don’t give her the chance. “You toyed with me for years! You made my girlfriends think I didn’t care! What the hell were you doing with me? Why!?”

Chi’bi fights back a tear as she tries to gather her thoughts and answer. “Robert, please! I want to tell you everything! I want us to be together! Please, don’t do this. Don’t cast me out! Remember how you feel for me.”

Her lack of answer only angers me further. “You? YOU!? I don’t know you! You’ve lied to me since you took over the real Allessa! All for some sick fantasy? To hell with this, I’m leaving!”

“No! Don’t do this! You’ll force me to…” Chi’bi cuts herself short again as she sees me begin to turn away from her. “Please! This is real to me, you don’t understand!”

My hand grabs the doorknob and begins to twist. Before the latch disables, I feel a pair of hands grab my shoulders and pull me strongly from the door. She had managed to get me turned before I could protest, her movements amazingly fast and stronger than I ever remembered. As I’m spun around, she presses herself against me and tries to force a kiss from my lips. I bring my own hands to her chest and begin to push her away when I feel a sting in my right arm. I cry out in pain, then in confusion as I notice that I can no longer feel my fingers or my forearm, and the feeling is spreading fast up my arm.

Her eyes are filled with tears as she begins to speak. “I didn’t want to end it this way. I love you, Robert. I’m sorry that I’ve hurt you.”

The numbness has crept beyond my upper arm and into my chest, moving faster as whatever the sting was courses through my blood. I try to speak, but she puts a claw to my mouth.

“You will be fine, I promise. It’s a sleep agent, Robert. You’ve only got a few moments before you go unconscious. I wish you would have let me explain.” Chi’bi slides my body down the door as she notices my legs suddenly going limp. As she lays me flat she brings her lips to mine, since I can no longer resist her, and kisses me with all the love and hope that would have shown me that she was truly the Allessa I had known. I try to fight it but can’t as the numbness has spread up my neck and to my jaw. “I’m truly sorry to have hurt you.”

My eyelids suddenly get extremely heavy, and although I fight to keep them open, the room goes black as they shut of their own accord. Before the world goes out completely, the last thing I hear is her voice.

“I hold our love forever in my heart, my back-water being.”

– –

Chi’bi looks over Robert as she sits crouched over his sleeping body. She closed her eyes and let a single tear fall from each. A tear for love had, and a tear for love lost. It’s all she would allow herself. He would hate her forever now and there was nothing she could do about it. She stood and turned towards her communications panel, half expecting it to turn on and for her to see the orange-scaled lizard laughing at the collection. She felt dirty inside and out, almost as if she was betraying her own heart and soul. Instead of waiting for the comms panel to go live, she headed to her dresser, pulled out her UFO jumpsuit, and proceeded to slip into it. After securing the fabric, she went to the display and pressed a digit to it. The wall flashed twice in the color of aquamarine, then returned to a white wall. Within a minute, the unit warmed to the reptilian face she had anticipated earlier.

“It’s done. Get me out of here. Now.”

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