Usual disclaimer stuff...Now you can read. This part is for Tomochika, who encouraged me to continue.


*III*

He woke up in a sweat, the vivid effects of the dream still lingering. He groaned and fell back onto his pillow, beating it until it had formed comfortably around his head. He didn't need this.

He had enough going on with the war games and strategy sessions, not to mention schooling. He didn't need to be going through puberty.

He knew that was what it was. He had read about it in a book from the ship's library and he had been expecting it. He just hadn't expected it to be so...powerful.

He had these dreams every night, about a woman he had never seen before. Indeed, didn't know how she could exist. His planet was full of blondes, not brunettes. He was the only black-haired being in the Universe excepting Earth.

And his father.

He had been contemplating the "threat", as Kivar put it, of his real father. King Zan, now known as the human Max Evans. He knew he looked exactly like him, Tess always said so. Then her eyes would get all misty and sad.

He felt guilty about that. He knew she was his birth mother, accepted the idea, but he just...Felt completely disassociated from her.

Maybe...Maybe he could make an effort. Maybe he could confide in her about the girl in his dreams. It's not like he had anyone else to turn to on this ship. They were in the middle of space, the middle of nowhere, and he didn't have time to make friends.

He was too busy learning to be a Prince.
------

His leg was bouncing up and down from nervousness. He glanced up across the table to Tess, she looked up at him, and he looked down at his plate again. He could do this. He could talk to her. She was his mother after all, it's not like she would just brush him off.

"Um...M-mother?" he managed.

She looked up, surprised and eager. "Yes, Bastian?"

He fiddled with his silverware, not looking her in the eye. "Can...Can I talk to you?"

"Of course!" she enthused, her blue eyes beginning to sparkle, "What about?"

"Well, I've been going through some...um...changes lately."

"Changes?"

"You know," he gestured, blushing furiously, "In my body."

She stared blankly for a moment and then, "Oh."

"Yeah."

"Well it's normal, Bastian, in humans, when they reach puberty, and you are technically thirteen..." She trailed off, her eyes darkening.

He knew she thought it unfair, the way his growth process had been designed. She felt cheated of his childhood, and he supposed he felt slightly shafted at the situation too, but he also believed that he wouldn't have ever grown as close to her as she wanted, even if he had grown up naturally.

He felt sympathy stir within him. It must be hard to have a son only six years younger than herself and gaining quickly. Yeah, he had to start trying to include her in his life.

"Well, I've been having these...dreams-"

"Dreams?" she interrupted, becoming pink herself, "What kind of dreams?"

"Um, well, there's this...girl...in them, with me, and..." He couldn't go any further. His dreams were private, and for some reason, he wanted to keep his dreamgirl to himself.

"A girl? Anyone I know?" she teased, "Should I be giving you the TALK?" He knew she would push it, and he had vowed to try...

"Um, no, Mother, Kivar already talked to me about...that. And I don't think you know her." He felt a dreamy smile cross his lips. "She's like no one I've ever seen. She so small, and she's got this long brown hair and these eyes...They're huge, and so deep, I think I could drown in them."

"Really?" He looked over at her, surprised by her distant voice. She looked faint.

"It's when I'm older," he stammered, "Not now. I know, because I know what my body will be like then, it's like when I'm 18, 19..."

His dream was conjured up again. He could tell his body was more mature, he had grown into his full height, well-muscled, powerful...And she was so tiny in his arms, yet she fit so perfectly. He could feel her body too, all soft and warm. Belonging to him.

Her name ran in circles around his brain, begging to be said...

"And does this mystery woman have a name?" Tess asked guardedly.

"Liz," he sighed, not realizing he had let it slip. When he had, he straightened and looked at his mother. He hadn't wanted to share that detail. He had wanted to keep it to himself.

She looked...stiff. That's all he got. Her face was a mask of unemotion, her eyes dark as death. Now she was the one drawing away, a reaction that thoroughly confused him. Wasn't she the one who wanted him to share?

"She doesn't exist."

"What?"

Her eyes were cold, and when she looked at him he knew she was seeing his father, her eyes so unforgiving. "She's not real, Bastian," she told him, "Forget your dreams and settle down with a nice Antarian girl when this war is over."

"Mother, I-"

"Bastian. I am your mother, and I know what's best for you. You have to believe me, sweetie," her voice softened, "Believing in a dream is only going to get you hurt. Your destiny lies elsewhere."

He didn't like where this conversation was headed. This talk of destiny uneased him. He was master of his own fate, not some pre-ordained babble she kept speaking of.

"Besides," she stated cruelly, "Even if she did exist she's probably no more than a tease. A heartless bitch who would keep you on a string until she wanted to toy with you again. She's probably-"

"NO!" he shouted, leaping up from his seat. He stared at his mother, and when he spoke his voice was strident and trembling with emotion. "No, Mother, you're wrong. Do not talk about her that way. She is not what you say, she is perfect. Perfect," he ended in a whisper. Then he left the room.

This was why he never talked to her. She didn't understand anything about him. No one on this damned ship did. He couldn't wait until they landed on Earth. Something was waiting for him down there.

Maybe someone.

Maybe her.

Rage again descended at the insults Tess had thrown at his dreamgirl. She had had no right. No right at all.

And right then and there, he began to hate his mother.
------

TBC...