Genre: Sapphire and Steel
Word count: 992
Prompt: “There were icicles in it and savage fields of ice, great storms boiling over a flat countryside striped with white rails - a chessboard beneath a storm.” National Velvet
evil_little_dog, I hope you like what I did with this. This has probably been the hardest prompt I've ever dealt with. My thanks to sparky955 for her beta.
“I can’t understand what she sees in him.” Copper raked his flame red hair back as he stormed from the assignment room. He liked wearing it long and thought it made him look roguish.
Silver was lounging to one side of the room, waiting for his turn. With any luck, it would be something more interesting than mending a bit of broken this or that. He glanced up from his spot on the white cube bench. He grinned, mostly because that’s what Silver enjoyed doing the most. He loved his existence and he liked it even more when there was an attractive woman involved.
“Let me guess, you must mean Sapphire.” He sat up and patted the solid surface beside him.
“And that insufferable Steel.” He hesitated, then sat. “Here we sit while they get all the plum assignments. I haven’t been sent out in weeks.”
“Why does that bother you?” Silver gestured to their world of white. “There were icicles in it and savage fields of ice, great storms boiling over a flat countryside striped with white rails - a chessboard beneath a storm.”
That left Copper stunned and for a moment, he merely stared at Silver. “I… I don’t understand.”
“It’s from an Earth book called National Velvet and the writer was using it to describe a snowy landscape, but I think it also works for Steel’s mind. Cool, hard as ice, yet even ice can be tempered.” Silver glanced over as the assignment room door opened again and Steel walked from the room. He locked eyes with Silver as if baiting him, daring him to say something.
Sapphire followed, her dress a striking blue against the whiteness that surrounded them. She beamed as she saw them and quickly crossed the space separating them and gave Silver a hug.
“Silver, it’s good to see you again!”
“Sapphire, you are a sight for these tired eyes. Heading out again, are you? Need a Specialist?”
Immediately, Steel snapped. “Rather, we need someone who is less of a flirt and more of an expert in inert gases.”
“That might be more up Copper’s expertise than mine. He’s more of a conductor than I am.”
“All right, come along then.” Steel’s head jerked and Copper leapt to his feet. He smiled at Silver.
“Just remember, savage fields of ice.” Silver winked and stood brushing the wrinkles from his pants as another pair of Elementals approached the Assignment Room. This was his team, although he wouldn’t have minded working with the lovely Sapphire again. She was lovely, flirtatious and totally devoted to Steel. So much for his luck. Silver thought as he entered the room with his Elements.
The assignment had been a fairly easy one, but as a Specialist, his involvement was usually limited. Silver loved to make copies of things, at times ‘forgetting’ to add this or that and it frequently led to the failure of Time and the success of their mission.
Gold and Diamond had been the agents in charge and that pleased Silver. Gold really didn’t care if Silver flirted with Diamond and her heart was too hard to be bothered by his sagacious attitude. It was amused Silver that she and Sapphire were separated by just one point on the Mohs Hardness scale, but what a difference a point made.
Happily, Silver was permitted to skip the debriefing on their assignment, not being an Elemental. He was preparing to return to his quarters when he saw Copper, or rather what was left of Copper. The twisted shell of a body could hardly be the Element he saw leaving earlier.
Following closely behind him was Steel, looking grim and even more serious than usual.
“Steel, what happened?” Silver asked as they passed.
Cold blue eyes studied him, but Steel never missed a beat. He followed the gurney carrying Copper into another room.
A moment later, Sapphire appeared, wringing her hands. She looked beaten down and exhausted. As she started to pass, Silver caught her hand. “Sapphire?”
“Silver.” She paused then and after a moment sat down on a nearby bench. Silver settled beside her and for a long time, they merely sat. “It was terrible,” she murmured, finally. It was as if just the admission alone crushed her.
“Tell me?” Silver asked, but he did so quietly, respectfully.
“They caught Copper. He’d been… oh, obstinate… reckless even. Steel was at the end of his rope with him, then Meitnerium and Dubnium found us. They weren’t able to touch Steel or myself, but poor Copper…”
“They tried to convert him into copericium.”
“But that only has a half-life of twenty-seven seconds.”
“They thought it would be long enough for what they had in mind,” Sapphire paused then. “Steel, he rescued what was left of Copper and we headed back. It nearly destroyed him, though.”
“Steel, but he refused to leave Copper behind. He was able to outwit them for a few seconds, but it was all we needed to escape, but it was at a tremendous cost.”
“A chessboard beneath a storm.”
“I’m sorry? I’m a little tired, Silver, and worried. I don’t understand the reference.”
“I was telling Copper that Steel was a chessboard beneath a storm. Cold calculating, and unchanging. I forget to add mindful and intelligent.”
“I know you don’t care much for him, but he is a good agent.” Sapphire stood and smiled down at Silver. “And a good partner, something I fear, you will never have.” Her eyes assumed a distant look and Silver realized Steel was talking to her. She nodded, slowly. “I understand.” Sapphire smiled. “I must go now. I am needed.”
Silver caught her hand again and kissed the back of it lightly. “Be careful, Sapphire.”
“I always am, Silver. And you.”
With that she was gone, leaving Silver alone in the corridor, a speck of color in a savage fields of white – alone, cold and irreproachable.