The Band's All Here - For Awhile

(The four intrepid —er, explorers come together again)

"How odd what sounded?" Kaylee asked blankly.

Remington blinked at her once then chuckled. "That you're sitting in my lap to reassure my girlfriend."

"Reassure me about what?" Carmen asked as she stepped into the light cast by the glowing crystals lighting the steps up to the veranda. Her hair was a wild dark mane and her skin had the pink tinge of someone who had been in the wind. She stepped up and dropped on the couch beside him and Kaylee, where she smirked. "My, don't you both look smug?" She stole his cigarette then leaned in and kissed him soundly before giving him a chance to answer.

"Um.. well, yes," he replied mildly. "And you look thoroughly tossed."

Carmen grinned widely. "He can fly!" she said gleefully.

Remington gave her an utterly blank look. "What?"

"Jack," she explained. "He can fly! It's awesome!"

The sculptor looked from Carmen to Jack and back again. "Wait. Are you trying to tell me the Monkey Boy actually sprouts wings and flies?"

"Yes!" Carmen exclaimed.

Remington started laughing, fully and for true. He had to bury his head in Kaylee's neck for a moment. Carmen was giving him a wary look.

"What?"

"Was it good for you, Dorothy?"

Carmen rolled her eyes and looked at Kaylee - who could tell she was seriously trying not to laugh along with Remington. "I swear to you, sometimes I feel like a Den Mother when they're together."

Kaylee regarded her for a moment, trying valiantly to fight down laughter. "You do realize," she said finally, grinning and with her amusement riding high in her voice, "that I may not be much help on that front… right?" A couple of snickers escaped. "Or has Jack been lying and saying I'm the serious, sober Twin?" She rolled her eyes in his direction. "Been showing off, bro?"

Carmen snickered. "I have reason to believe that Jack is unfamiliar with either of those s-words." She coughed back a laugh just long enough to toke on Remington's smoke before handing it back to her snickering boyfriend. "You shouldn't talk like that in front of the young one."

Jack sniffed at Remington's comment, "Who's been teaching the ape to read?" He smirked, "Aw, who am I kiddin', he saw the movie, of course."

Remington looked over at Jack, but whatever he was going to say was completely lost when he started laughing again.

"I've been sayin' you were the screechy twin." His hand went to his eyes, "Damn! Is that Kaylee's big ass?" He looked away, and moved round to a lounger smiling. "I don't think I've ever seen the twin moons so low since we arrived." He chuckled and grinned at Carmen. "I was told not to be serious. It hurts the universe." Jack dropped upon cushions on Carmen's other side, and looked to Kaylee. "Sober? That's the opposite of something…but I'm too drunk to remember what."

"Liar," Carmen giggled. She pulled the pillow from behind her back and smacked him upside the head with it.

Jack fell over from the blow, laughing. "I am! Intoxicated by unbridled hedonism."

"I'm not screechy, I'm a singer," Kaylee objected, grinning. "But that's okay, J, I know - haven't met a drummer yet that knew a good melody when he heard one." She stuck her tongue out at him and then settled back against Remington's shoulder again to take another drag on her cigarette. "Sober's what happens in the morning after a long night drinking and a nap," she added. "And coffee."

From his place sprawled on pillows, he replied readily, "Nor have I. Good thing I'm a Percussionist." Jack didn't even have to look when she stuck out her tongue, "Hasn't that done enough for now?" He smiled brightly, looking up at Carmen and reach out to tickle her side in retaliation for the pillow. "Sometimes that's what happens in morning, but we're usually getting to bed by morning." Jack then stretched, arching his back, "So, Kay, are we gonna play a tune or what?"

"She already played," Remington said after having finally gotten himself under control. He put his free arm around Carmen and pulled her close, looking extremely smug. "Twice. And now I'm taking the women to the hot springs. Which means you get to clean up this mess leftover from dinner.."

Carmen chuckled and stretched up to whisper in his ear. "Oh, you naughty girl," he grinned.

"The morning that happens when we finally get up again, Jack," Kay said with amusement. "Not the one that happens when the sun rises." She slid back off Remington's lap to the couch and looked up at him, grinning. "You have met my brother, right? You don't actually expect him to clean…?"

Jack was getting to his feet, looked at Remington and laughed. "Sorry, Sasquatch, I've got a date, well, three." He scooped up one of the red fruits, and tossed it up, catching it again. He looked up at the sky, and smiled. "Enjoy the hot springs, try not to climb any skyscrapers." Jack gestured in the direction of one of the Temples, "I'm off to Temple, I've got worship instruction — the instructors come in gold, silver, and rare, but lovely, copper."

Kaylee turned her head and looked at her brother like he'd grown a second head at the mention of 'worship instruction.' Though truth be known, she probably wouldn't have looked at him nearly as oddly if he had.

"I do expect him to clean," Carmen interjected as Remington's other arm wrapped around Kaylee. "I cook, they clean, and it's Jack's turn to clear the table."

"Dinner's the last meal, Angel. I'll clean it up when I get back." Jack smirked, "What happened around these loungers and pillows had nothing to do with dinner." He gestured at discarded red rinds. "And, I poofed a bunch of the dishes into that magical contraption just goofing around with this magic thing I've gotten. It'd be good for summoning drumsticks, a shame it won't last." Jack smiled, "Be sure to tell Kay about the magic stuff, and the Temples — she'll definitely want to see the Temples."

Jack tossed up the fruit, and whistled a tune, "Be good to the nice people, Kay." Then he headed towards the garden path that would take him out to the front and towards the Temples.

Kaylee relaxed slightly when her Twin said she'd want to see the mysterious temples and chuckled. "Define 'good'," she called after him.

"We should move while he's gone," said Remington with a frown as he started playing with Carmen's hair.

Carmen chuckled. "We could."

"The hot springs you keep mentioning," Kay offered idly, "sound like a wonderful idea. Whenever you're ready to get up."

"Very subtle," he smirked. But he pulled his arms out from around them both and unfolded with a groan. Turning, he offered them both a hand up and pulled them to their feet. Carmen grabbed two bottles off the sideboard, and Remington retrieved the box he had shared with Kaylee earlier. Carmen handed him the bottles and smiled.

"You have to go first and make sure there's no frogs. I hate frogs. Even if they are pretty colors."

Remington scoffed. "You're not fooling me, sweetheart."

"I know." She kissed his cheek and sent him on his way before she turned to Kaylee. "So. You alright with this whole — thing?"

Kaylee shrugged easily. "Keep Jack on your side of the bed, and don't get any bright ideas about hot girl-on-girl action, and I don't have a problem. It's not like it hasn't happened before; it just usually involves at least four more people and a bit more space."

"Aw, no girl time?" Carmen grinned lazily as they started down the path after Remington. She shrugged with casual grace. "No skin off my nose. I can play that way, but I much prefer my bodies hard. There will be some sharing of Remington during these group gatherings, you understand. If he's feeling adventurous."

The blonde laughed. "Oh, C - you have no idea. Sharing is fine. We may want to make sure to coordinate the non-sharing time, though, or we'll wear the poor boy out." She grinned impishly. "And unlike the boys, I promise I won't squawk if there's accidental touching while we're sharing. It's not my thing, but it's not any weirder than anything else, considering three people trying to share one space." She paused. "Four. But keep him on his side, damn it; that's too weird to think about."

Carmen laughed. "You know, Remington is already thinking of ways to weird Jack out with this. But I will do what I can to make sure Jack stays on the opposite side."

"That may be harder than he thinks," Kay answered. "Especially if he wants to avoid weirding me out too."

"Nah," Carmen chuckled. "Most of it will be Remington talking, I think. The occasional warning, the smug look in the morning."

The blonde laughed. "He'll have to try harder than that. Jack and I have shared a suite all of our lives."

They follow the curve of the path through the trees until it opens up into a grove. Moonlight filtered through silvery blue leaves painting them ethereal. Around the pool grew plants that reached for the moon the way others turn towards the sun. Head back and eyes closed, Remington was already settled back onto one of the natural stone benches submerged under the steamy water. Carmen dropped her sarong to the ground and stepped in, the blue and purple dragonfly and morning glories of her tattoo stand out against her tanned skin.

"Heya, gorgeous," she said as she settled on his right. He smiled, opened one eye and an arm for the brunette and the other for the blonde.

Kaylee settled down on his left side with a smile; she leaned her head against his shoulder, eyes half-shut, and savored the heat. "Hi again," she added belatedly. "Don't mind me… I always miss my hot tub when we're in Amber."

"After a week of this, I can understand," Remington agreed. Carmen made a noise of contented agreement that made Remington laugh at her and kiss the top of her hair.

"If you fall asleep, I'll carry you inside," Remington smiled over at Kaylee.

She chuckled. "I'm not that sleepy yet," she objected. "Make that offer again when I stop finishing sentences."

"Deal," nodded Remington before he turned back to Carmen. "I still think we should move and not tell him."

She chuckled. "Oh, you meant move. We could always go visit that priestess at the Temple of Ashura - assuming Kay likes the sword swinger types. Jack probably won't even miss us until he gets hungry."

"Does that involve getting out of the water now?" Kaylee asked, cranking one eye all the way open. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that plan yet; I have a couple of weeks of winter to soak outta my system first. Besides, Jack will get cranky if we vanish without warning."

"That was the point," said Remington before taking a drink from the bottle Carmen was offering him

She eyed the water speculatively, and then scooted forward out of Remington's arm; she took a deep breath, held it, and dropped down into the water, surfacing a moment later. "That's better," she continued, brushing hair and water out of her face as she moved back to her comfortable position. "So what're these Temples, anyway? I was about to ask what you'd done with my real Twin when he started talking about 'worship instruction'."

Carmen snorted and handed Kay the bottle. "This is Atlantis; the home of the true sensualists - don't let that One True Earth stuff they tell us back home sway you. The High Goddess here is Celestra. She oversees all that is Pleasure. While Jack has a high time at the Temple of Air - whose Goddess also oversees Music, he is quite the worshiper of all things Celestra."

"I can get behind a goddess of Music," Kay remarked easily, "or Pleasure. Hopefully there are more priestesses than Jack can handle at once, or the Goddesses may have to come looking for them." She paused, and then chuckled. "'Goddesses' sounds so weird to say. There's only one Goddess back home, and that's Lady Luck. Maybe two, if you count money. So what's the other one you mentioned?"

"There's actually five major ones," Carmen explained as she set a glowing lily to floating in the eddies of the pool. Ashura - goddess of war and fire; Ghaia- goddess of the earth and builders; Nerissa- goddess of water and healing; healing center of Atlantis, Aeolia, patron Goddess of air and music."

"And, of course, Celestra," Remington added after lighting another smoke.

"Ah," Kay answered, and then picked up the earlier thread of conversation. "Warriors are all right, but I've had my fill of them recently. I've also had enough professional cooks, servers, cleaners, valets…"

"You notice artist isn't on that list," Remington said smugly to Carmen. She patted his hand where it draped on her shoulder.

"Yes, dear," she remarked with an amused smile. Then she looked past him to Kay. "So, how do you feel about Heirs to Thrones of hedonistic empires?"

"It's awfully tough to fill up on artists," the blonde said cheerfully. "They're endlessly inventive." She gave Remington another one of her killer smiles. "Depends; if they're stuffy Heirs, can I break them?"

"Stuffy?" Carmen laughed. "And rule here? Not a chance. He's lovely; mage and an artist himself. Hair as black as raven wings and eyes like a summer sky. Build like a swimmer's… Very pretty." Remington sniffed and she kissed him on the cheek. "Oh, stop that. You know I think you're beautiful, baby."

Kaylee chuckled softly and refrained from the "awwwww" that sprang to mind. "Jack told you I like the pretty ones, didn't he," she answered instead. "I'll have to kick his butt later for spilling all my secrets." She grinned. "Sure. I could go for that."

"Actually, he didn't," Carmen chuckled. She looked up at the sky, judging the time. "You want him now or after you thaw the two months of winter in your bones?"

"Oof," the blonde complained. "You would ask me the tough ones." Not unlike her twin, she didn't really exert effort to think about it. "Hot springs aren't going anywhere. I'd love to meet him now."

"Just a mo," Carmen grinned. Remington chuckled as she moved out of the circle of his arm. She sat on the edge of the pool and focused her concentration. A moment later she was pulling through a slender man with long, straight black hair pulled back in a silver clasp. Carmen laughed at the dark look he gave her when he stepped into water with no warning. He was well defined, with strong arms and, broad shoulders, and slender hips. The planes of his face were almost delicate; from the straight line of his nose to the high cheekbones. There was a strength and intelligence in his eyes that was compelling. Like Remington and Jack, he had a silver band around his bicep, though his was set with black opals that seemed to be almost alive with their inner fires. The blue of the short pleated kilt he wore matched his eyes. He was already taking it off.

He turned his azure blue eyes towards Remington. "The word? It was 'impertinent wench'?"

Remington laughed. "Yes. She is." He extended a hand, and the other man shook it with a smile. "Nice of you to join us."

"She teased me!" the Prince exclaimed, and then appreciative eyes rested on Kaylee. "Or maybe not…"

"Kovikin, Kaylee - my cousin," Carmen said casually as she returned to her place by Remington. "Kaylee, Prince Kovikin - Heir of everything you haven't seen yet."

"So… everything except the house and here," Kaylee said with a chuckle as she looked Kovikin over with an appreciative eye. "Got it." She patted Remington's hand in a sort of 'I'm getting up now' gesture and rose, turning on the charming smile again. "Pleased to meet you."

"Kali spe ra," Kovikin all but purred. "I se o mor fi."

Remington leaned forward slightly towards Kay. "He said 'good evening,' and 'you're beautiful'," he said helpfully. "Although why he's saying it High Atlantean, I have no idea."

"Because I was quite overcome," the Prince interjected smoothly as he held out a hand to receive Kaylee's.

Kay put her hand in his with a rather surprising amount of courtly grace - although her smile had gone a bit impish. "You're not at all hard on the eyes yourself," she offered cheerfully, with a friendly wink. "And good evening."

He didn't bow, but he brought her hand to his lips. Instead of kissing the air above the back of her hand, he turned it gently and graced her palm with a warm lingering kiss as he met her eyes. "A woman of discerning taste," he smiled showing straight white teeth. "I hope," she said as he moved closer to tuck her arm through his, "That you will allow me to show you my home as no one else can."

"I think," the blonde answered, "that I'd like that."

"Wondrous," he smiled wider.

"Try not to destroy my beach," Kovikin said over her shoulder to Carmen and Remington — who were not paying any attention to anything but each other. The Prince winked and Kaylee as he stepped around to face her. Pulling her close, he breathed; "Hold on", and the world around Kaylee swirled and ran like watercolors, whisking her away from the grotto, and into the Inner Mysteries of Atlantis that would make Jack envious if she ever told him….


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