Title: Refracted Light
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Category: B:tVS/5th Element
Summary: If she knew Leeloo from before her five thousand year sleep, the green-haired girl couldn't be anything like as young as she seemed. 1800 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen"; A:tS post-NFA; "The Fifth Element" (1997)
Notes: For the 2007 twistedshorts challenge; also fits a tthffa pairing.
"What is this place?" Korben frowned, eyeing the dim doorway Leeloo had escorted him to. He felt for the weapon at his hip, just to reassure himself it was still there, then glanced back at his new cab, pulled up tight against the building in the fog. No one went down into the depths of the city unless they had to, or they belonged there; he'd taken Leeloo low to avoid the police the day they'd first met, but he hadn't thought she'd had time to sightsee then. He had no idea where she could have gotten the address for this place since, or why, and not knowing what he was about to walk into always made him cranky.
Leeloo glanced over at him, her bright, off-centered smile belying his worry. "The place is not important; only Light is important," she repeated, serenely.
"Light, light, I heard you the first time," Korben sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He loved his superhuman, slightly crazed, flame-haired wife, he really did, but times like these reminded him just how wide the gap in their ages and cultures of origin really was. "Whatever that means. Can't you just cut it with the cryptic shit already?"
Her smile dimmed a little, but she reached out and captured the hand he'd raised, pulling it down and twining the fingers of her right hand with his. "Red and green and blue make white," she said encouragingly, as if speaking to a child.
"Red and green and blue?" he muttered, frowning at her as his gaze drifted back up to her vividly colored hair. "I thought the primary colors were red and yellow and-- oh." Light, of course. "RGB, like with vid displays and holograms, got it." He grimaced, meeting her eyes again. "This is more of that symbolic shit, like the elements, right? Tell me there's no Dark Planet involved this time, at least."
She shook her head, still smiling, and knocked firmly on the door with her free hand. "No Dark Planet. My sisters have their own struggles, their own schedules of waking. But they are both here now, and I have not seen them in many cycles of years."
The door opened while Korben was still trying to decipher what that meant. From what he knew of her past, what she'd said herself and what the priest Cornelius had told him, he knew she was some kind of ageless, created being, built as a weapon; structured like a human was, but capable of much, much more. He wasn't sure he could *survive* meeting anyone she called sister. One "supreme being" might have found him kind of interesting to be around, but odds were against three out of three valuing his hide.
It looked like he was going to be introduced to the others whether he wanted to be or not, though: the girl at the door, tall, blue-eyed, and dressed in the latest fashion rebellious teens wore these days, had long, thick hair colored in shades of green and medium brown and heavy green make-up smudged around her eyes. Her expression lit up when she saw Leeloo, and she instantly snared the slightly taller woman in a hug.
"Leeloo Minai Lekatariba-Laminai-Tchai Ekbat De Sebat!" the girl exclaimed, all in a rush. Korben barely recognized the flow of words as the yard-long name Leeloo had given for herself the day he'd met her. Judging from the physical age of the girl, and the fact that Leeloo had been giving everyone the shortened name he'd asked her for ever since that first day, that pretty much cemented her origins in his books. If she knew Leeloo from before her five thousand year sleep, the green-haired girl couldn't be anything like as young as she seemed.
Leeloo hugged her back for a moment, still smiling, then put the girl away from her and wriggled the fingers of her left hand in demonstration. "Leeloo Dallas, now," she said. "And you-- Yaknan Kulka?"
The girl blinked uncomprehendingly, then wrinkled her nose. "I forget sometimes, since the memories woke up, that not everyone I remember remembers me back as Dawn Summers. I got incarnated again a few hundred years ago, as the younger sister of a Slayer, when a small-time demon goddess wanted to rip down the barriers between dimensions so she could go home and punish her siblings."
"And-- Podo Antila-Galine? She has slept for many, many cycles. Is she still--?"
The one called Dawn smirked, then stepped back and opened the door so Leeloo could tug Korben in after her.
"Yep," she said, as she led them down a stained hallway toward a heavy-looking wooden door. "Still going by Illyria. She got re-bodied too, though; believe it or not, she's even smaller than I am now. And pretty touchy about it, since she lost a lot of her powers in the transition. She got a little used to being jury and executioner as well as judge, back when the planet was overrun with morally-defective extra-dimensional refugees, and her first months in a human body didn't do much to convince her things no longer worked that way."
"Truth is a weapon all its own," Leeloo said, arching her eyebrows and pursing her lips a little. Korben knew that prim expression; he'd seen it more than once. She was generally pretty easy-going, except when it came to the sanctity of life. If it wasn't an immediate necessity to protect others, she very strongly disapproved of killing.
Dawn dismissed Leeloo's statement with a roll of her eyes, then set her hand on a scanpanel next to the door. "Don't I know it; she's the most brutally honest person I've ever met, emphasis on the brutal. Seriously, though, when Einstein said 'Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods,' he really didn't take into account the fact that sometimes the gods *are* the ones doing the judging. The Powers put Illyria in that position for a reason; without her keeping some kind of order, the old ones would have stomped the planet into the dust long before humans got a handle on things, and then where would you be? Guarding a dead planet from death?"
"Excuse me, old ones?" Korben objected, raising his eyebrows. He knew about the Mondoshawan, the Mangalores, and the other not-quite-human races that lived out in the wider galaxy, but he'd never heard that any other species had actually lived on Earth.
Dawn looked a little surprised at that, as if she'd forgotten he was there. "You don't know?" she asked, sounding surprised, then shifted her attention back to Leeloo. "Uh, is he--?"
"He loves me," Leeloo said firmly. "Love is worth saving."
Dawn groaned. "He *is*," she said accusingly as the scanpanel blinked off and the door unlocked itself with an audible click. "At least when I dated normals I always picked one who knew enough to protect himself! *You* get to explain this to Illyria."
Korben snorted at that. "I was a Major in the Army special forces, kid. I know how to protect myself."
"Not from our world," she said wryly, then pushed the door open and ushered them inside.
As Korben's eyes adjusted to the unexpected variety of beings clustered inside the smoky barroom, he almost found himself agreeing with her. He had no idea what any of those creatures were, nor what their capabilities might be; for all he knew, they could all shrug off projectile weaponry like bee stings and flick him away with a finger. He wasn't about to let that phase him, however, and deliberately broke his gaze away from the more bizarre-looking patrons, scanning for body language that pinged his danger instincts or a woman that might fill the "blue" spot in Leeloo's hypothetical Light trio.
Finally, his eyes lit on a chick near the bar that filled both criteria. She titled her head in their direction in a birdlike movement that reminded him a lot of the way Leeloo behaved when she was tensed for action, like the two arms and legs of the human form didn't quite correspond to the limbs she'd worn when her fighting instincts had first been laid down. She wasn't quite as blue as the Diva, Plava Laguna, had been-- she was kind of frosted around the edges, rather than uniformly alien in color-- and like Dawn, there were still threads of brown amid the altered strands in her long, straight hair. Despite her thin frame and short stature, everything else in the bar gave her a very wide berth.
"What are you people?" he murmured under his breath. He'd seen a lot in his lifetime, but since he'd met Leeloo his entire world had been knocked on his ear too many times for comfort. It was worth it-- it had brought her to him-- but it was also damned unsettling.
"Fragments of a larger whole, Mr. Dallas," Dawn said tartly, leading them toward the blue woman's table. "You can think of us as the Way--" she gestured toward her own breastbone, "--the Truth, or at least its Arbiter--" she pointed toward Illyria, "--and the Life." Finally she jerked a thumb toward his wife. "Or if that makes you uncomfortable, intermittently embodied facets of a Light that's bigger than us all."
"It does make me uncomfortable," Korben replied, then fixed her with a stare. "That doesn't mean I'm going to let it scare me off." He remembered the pure terror of the moment when the Light of Creation had boiled up out of Leeloo and soared into the sky; he'd been holding her close at the time. A minor matter of shifting worldviews could never compare to the sheer blinding enormity of that moment, of Leeloo clinging to his love and using it to save the world.
Besides, whatever else Dawn might be, she apparently still had a lot of bratty teenager left in her. Clearly, no mere human was going to be good enough for her big sister.
World abruptly realigned, he smiled at her, all teeth and good-natured threat. "So are we here to get to know each other or what?"
At his side, Leeloo laughed, and when he glanced at her he saw approval sparkling in her eyes.
"You could have given me some help over here, you know," he groused good-naturedly.
"I am the Fifth Element," she said, tilting her chin up teasingly. "Supreme--"
"Being, yeah, whatever," he snorted.
"*And* your wife," she added, with an air of offering a great concession. Then she reached up to pull herself to him for a kiss.
"And don't you forget it," he murmured back, losing himself in the embrace.
Excerpts from the "Divine Language":
"Leeloo minai" -- Precious stones/gems
"Yaknan kulka" -- Another road/path
"Podo antila-galine" -- Great powers