Lana, Elaine, and Cody, (c) Lana Emerald

Ender McMallard (c) Crow

Jedar Stormwing (c) Nylessa Drakely

Matters of the Heart

By Lana Emerald

Cody sat back and flipped his lucky silver coin in the air. He watched it lazily as it plummeted to his left hand. He caught it deftly. He didn't even look at it as he flipped it again...and again...and again. He sighed, and put his lucky silver coin away. He leaned back even further, and put his muscular legs up on the other end of his black leather couch. He looked at the clock. Midnight. Has it been so long? He crossed his arms over his broad chest, and closed his eyes. 'I'm not going to think about her...NO! I'm not even going to breathe her name!' He thought. But another voice bellowed above his own. The inner voice we all despise...

'You can't deny the way you feel!'

'Yes I can. It's easy.'

'You know that's not true.'

'Of course it is. I can take her or leave her.'

'She's poisoned you. You are intoxicated by her in every way. You are a fool.'

'No woman can control me!'

'But she does. You bend to her every whim. If she asked you to cut out your heart, you'd gladly do it. Pain is nothing. And you know what she would do?'

'I don't care!'

'Oh, but you do...she'd throw it on the floor and stomp her muddy boot heel into it. Because she doesn't like you. how could she even-'


'Stop what, Cody? You know the truth. You don't even have to hear it.'' There is nothing else to say on the matter.'

The voice paused. Cody sighed, relieved that it had stopped. There was a long silence. Cody opened his eyes, and looked at the clock. Two minutes past the hour. The voice whispered...

'Go to her...find her...'

Cody jumped like a bolt of lightning hit him. "I can't! Don't you get it?"Cody shouted into the still of his room. He looked about. "Man! Damn it! I need a drink..."


Lana finished her last song, and the crowd at The Diamond Roost cheered wildly. Riled up boys and men hooted and whistled, while women clapped politely. Lana took her bows, and the lights dimmed to black. She took her exit out to stage left, and headed for her dressing room up the stairs.

"Hey, beautiful!"Lana turned around, halfway up the stairs to face her emcee, Mike Beakly.

"Hey, Mikey! How was I tonight?"

"Fabulous. But enough of this small talk. Want to go out after you freshen up?"

"Um...who's all going?"

"Just you and me, silly."

"Sorry, Mikey...But I have to feed my cat."He looked down and laughed shortly.

"Sure. I can take a hint."

"Sorry, darling."

"Yeah. See you around."Lana waved to him, and turned back up the stairs. She reached her door, and turned the key. She flipped the light on, and threw her gloves on her fainting couch. "Alone at last!"Lana kicked off her shoes, and began to wriggle out of her silk gown. She robed herself, and plopped down on her favorite chair. She pulled out her nearby purse, and picked a cigarette. “Ahhh...nicotine. My dear, sweet friend."She leaned back and closed her eyes.

The guilt began to take over. Lana Emerald and guilt? Nawww. Can't be. But it happened. 'Why didn't I go out with Mike? He's handsome a Mafia boss kind of way. And he was nice.' She thought. 'I must seem like a real bitch. Everyone knows that "I have to feed my cat" line is my infamous way of getting out of a date. I haven't dated in months. Ever since I joined the Brotherhood. But we are allowed to date...wait. There was that drink and dancing with Ender McMallard two weeks ago.' Lana smiled. He was handsome...oh hell...gorgeous. And he was definitely a fascinating bird. She had made a fool of herself over him. But who cares? 'I may just be a flirty friend to him, but I win every man I want. I may not have him now. He may be attached to Leila, but he'll belong to me.' Obsessive? No. Not Lana Emerald.

Lana opened her eyes and lit her cigarette. She took her first puff. She absently glanced over to her dressing table, and noticed an enormous bouquet of flowers in a crystal vase. There was a note attached.

"It must be from a certain red head I know! Ender...I knew you couldn't stay away for long."She hopped up off the chair, holding her cigarette far from her body and the table. She sniffed the flowers, and closed her eyes. They were beautiful. The vase was expensive, and ornate. She inhaled her cigarette again, and blew out the smoke. She set the lit cigarette down, and opened the card that lay tilted against the vase. The outside of the heavy envelope was decorated with spidery calligraphy: " For Lana."She opened it, and pulled out the card inside. She read it:

My dearest Lana.

I can't stop thinking about you and that time in Sin City. The time we first met and shared our real dreams together. We discovered how much we had in common, and how much we meant to each other...

Lana stopped. Ender? She continued.

...I am by you everyday, and everyday I feel like my insides are pulling me apart. To be near you, to know you, to be so close to paradise, but so far. I know now that I'll never be closer to you than I am now. I have my regrets. I'll never reach you. But I don't regret ever knowing you. As I said. I can see you everyday. But everyday I die. I can't help the way I feel. I'm sorry.

Lana stopped again. She couldn't baer to read the signature. She folded the card, and put it back in the envelope. She knew who it was from.


Elaine shut her bedroom door and headed down to the practice room. She knew it was late. But she couldn't sleep, and she didn't want to socialize with the teens in the Green Room. She was always miserable when they laughed and joked. They never included her. She was tiny, shy, and miles away from them in common.

She was not your typical youth. She read all the time, she daydreamed, she wrote poetry and stumbled over conversations. She didn't talk about boys, or make-up, or kissing or hit teen idols. In a way, she was a rebel. Well, in a quiet, harmless way.

But that didn't stop her from feeling. She knew. She knew that she couldn't ignore what she was feeling every time the loud blonde boy who joked more than he was serious was around her. She really adored him. He was popular, he was athletic, he was cute. She welled up with joy every time he teased her or pulled her hair. He was all wrong for her. But she didn't care. She had more than a crush on Nosedive. She was over doing it, and falling in love. But, she would never express it. She didn't know why, maybe because he paid her attention.

Elaine turned down another corner, and reached the elevators. She stopped at the first one, and thought to where she should go. She was going to the practice room, but, maybe, just maybe, she could be bold. Elaine decided to go to the Green Room.


Cody downed the tequila quickly. He had five shots, and wasn't drunk yet. It didn't help. He had stopped shaking, but he still felt queasy. Not from the alcohol, but from his inner voice...It wouldn't go away.

'Go find Lana...'

'I can't! I don't even know where she is tonight, anyway.'

'You do. She broadcasts her nights at The Diamond Roost every time she goes there.'


'You are pathetic, Cody. She's there and you're here.'

'She doesn't want me.'

'That never stopped you before.'

'It's different. I've pleaded my last effort towards her. After tonight, I'll know if she really wants me, or if she never did.'

'Then you've given up.'

Cody closed his eyes. The voice was persistent.

'You just gave up, like that?'

'I can't take the pain anymore.'

'You know she only does this to you because she is a heartless woman. She sleeps with anything remotely interested, yet, she ignores you or abuses you.'

'That's enough.'

'You know the truth, why fight it?'


'The woman is a whore. You've given up on a whore.'

"I said that's enough!!!"Cody threw his bottle of tequila against the wall, and it shattered, splashing the remaining liquid all over the walls and floor. Glass sprinkled the room. He had shouted loud enough to wake anyone next door to him. He heard banging on the far wall next to him.

"Keep it down you two! I'm trying to sleep!"

"Sorry Stormwing!"Jedar thought someone else was in with Cody. Cody leaned against the wall, and slid to the floor. He held his head in his hands.

"I'm going's as simple as that. I've gone off the deep end."

The voice came back. 'She's a whore, and you still want her.'

'Go away.'

'You figure, every other man has had a go at her, why not me?'

'It's not like that...please. Leave me.'

'Admit it! Under all the jokes, the flirtations, the amorous foolery, it boils down to that. Love first, but physical love at a tight second.'

'Stop it. I don't want to think about it.'

'If she came to you tonight...'

'I'd know if she really cared. That she was mine at last.'


'It won't happen. My last attempt is a folly.'

The voice finally went silent.


Lana walked on the rain laden streets, black with no light and dinged from Sin City pollution. She approached a corner, and looked about. No cars at this time of night. Everyone was either sleeping or crying into their beer at this hour. She crossed the street and headed for the parking lot across from The Roost. She pushed the remote key chain and her car unlocked.

As she drove away, she couldn't stop thinking of Michele Du BluLune. It had been almost ten years since that first night that they met. And still...Still she remembered how it was. He was romantic, debonair, handsome, worldly, and deadly. He had abused her and tried to kill her. So why did she still feel for him? No man was like him. No man could ever be like him. She prided herself as an independent, but she needed him still. There were other men in her life. But they were lusts, not loves. And she needed those lusts to convince herself that she wasn't alone. So why did she suddenly feel threatened and backed into a corner with this note she had gotten?

She sped ahead, crashing red lights until she got to DuCaine Metro. She needed to talk with him. Now.


Elaine waited as the elevator slowed down and came to a halt. The doors opened, and she took a deep breath. Nosedive would be in the Green Room at this hour. Maybe they could spark a conversation for the first time. Maybe he would tell her that she was special and that he liked her...Elaine was all fluttery. She was starting to shake. If he was alone, this would be it. She would be bold and tell him that she liked him. She was too shy to use the L word...

Elaine stepped out. The hall was empty. Good. She took a deep breath and went down to the Green Room. She heard his voice! He was talking with some other boy. So he wasn't alone. She approached slowly.

"Yeah. I like her. She's really hot! But she's so out there, you know?"

"You and blondes, Dive."

"Seriously. The next time I see her, I'll ask her out. Just watch me, bud!"

"She'd pee her pants if you did. She's so geeky at times."

"Hey! She may be weird, but I like that."

Elaine grabbed her chest. Could it be? Were they talking about her?

"You don't think that Emerald would mind?"

Yes! It was her!

"Why would she?"

"She's the dating police around here. She thinks every man has to ask her permission before they go out with another girl besides her."

"Naaaaa. Jenny has nothing to do with her. Now if it was that little dork Elaine-Then we'd be in trouble."

"Can you imagine, Dive? Asking that wimp out?"

"She'd drop her tray and run away."They both began to laugh.

"She's a loser."

"Maybe...but she's just a kid. Maybe in, like, fifty years she'll grow up and act normal."

Elaine ran back down the hall to the elevators. She was having trouble breathing. She couldn't see what number to push through her tears. She thought she hit her level and wing, but she didn't. The elevator took her to the next floor. She was hysterical. As soon as the doors opened, she ran out. Blinking, and crying silently, she ran and ran. She didn't see who she was running into...

"Woah! Where's the fire?"

Elaine bumped head on into Ender McMallard's chest.

"I-I-I'm sorry. Don't worry!"Elaine tried to take a turn around him, embarrassed of her tears. Maybe it was true. Maybe she was a dork.

Ender wasn't convinced that she was okay. He gently grabbed her arm. "Yeah. Right. What's wrong-Elaine? Is that you?"

"Y-y-yes. Please. Let me go."

"Why are you crying?"

"It's nothing."Her voice was a whisper.

Ender sighed and looked up and past her head. "It's something. What just happened? I won't take no for an answer."

Elaine kept her head down. She sniffed and rubbed her eyes. "I can't say. I just..."She looked up, her head still down.

"I don't know you very well."

Ender raised his eyebrows. "I don't think Lana is back yet to talk with. If that's what you mean."


"Look. You can talk to me. I won't bite. Much to popular belief."

Elaine sighed and looked up at him for the first time. "Okay. But let's go somewhere else. Where no one else would hear me."

"I can barely hear you and I'm standing right in front of you. Come on. Let's go to my quarters. I can tell you right now, no one is there."

Elaine gasped. "I-I-I..."

He sighed and rolled his eyes upwards. "I'm not that kind of guy."

"But Lana said..."

"Nothing happened between us that night. All we did was drink a little, dance a little, talk a little. We have nothing in common. We're just friends."

"Nothing happened?"


"I guess it's true then. Lana is a big talker..."Elaine laughed, then started to cry a little again.

"About me, anyway. Come on. And don't cry...I hate to see a sweet girl cry."Elaine hung her head and half smiled.

"There we go. A smile!"

"Where's your room?"

Ender almost smiled himself. Almost. "This way. It's late. No one will hear us talking."

Elaine and Ender had been talking for an hour. Elaine clutched a small glass of water in her small hands. Ender sat across from her, cross legged, and resting his right cheek on his thumb and forefinger.

"So That's it. I really thought he liked me. He teased me all the time, he smiled at me, and he even let me sit by him at meetings a few times."

"Nosedive...he's just an over zealous kind of guy. He wants to win Mr. Congeniality every week."

"I really thought he was sincere." She looked down at her hands, slowly shaking her head.

"I don't think so. Sure, there's people out there he truly likes...loves...but, if he doesn't know you that well, he's just trying to get you to like him."

"I never thought of it that way." She scoffed, and looked up at the ceiling. "You see, I AM sincere. I'm friendly only with the people closest to me. And I do want to be liked by everyone too, but that's only because there is no one I dislike. I don't hate anyone. I like everyone. That's just how I am. I can't understand people who are fake like that."

"I don't say he's fake. I mean. I have nothing against the guy. I just want to warn you. He's too immature and goofy. He's a big kid. You're...more mature. You're woman."

Elaine dropped her face to his level. "You really think that?"

He briefly closed his eyes and nodded. "Yes."

There was a silence between them.

"Thank you."

"Sure."He leaned forward. "Elaine..."


"What...kind of man are you looking for?" He sped up. "I mean, I can tell you if such a man exists here."

"So, if he doesn't, I'd have to be like Lana and live alone, occasionally defiling myself with whoever...I mean...I love Lana. But, why does she have to be that way? I 'd rather die an old maid and a virgin."

Ender sat up, alarmed. "What? Um...Elaine..."

She blushed feverishly, and waved her hand, dismissing her own comment. "Never mind. Um...the perfect ,man? Just one thing. He would love me for me. He doesn't have to be handsome. He doesn't have to be smart. Well...not profoundly dumb. I need someone to talk to...I would do anything for someone like that. I would give him anything I had. But what am I saying? That kind of mate would never come my way."

Ender nodded. He looked down. "Yeah. I know what you mean...But...that can't be true. There is someone who would learn to love you."

Elaine smiled. "I know. I just have to wait."

"You never know. They might be there. Right in front of your face."

"Yes. I believe that."Then she added absently, "I know of a pair just like that. Two, actually."


"Well, Cody...and, well, Lana."

He sighed. "Yes. Them."

He looked at her. "Well...who else?"

"Duke and Leila."

He looked away. "Oh."

"I'm sorry?"


"Now it's my turn. What, really?"

"Don't worry about it...It's getting late. It's-"

"Three A.M."

"Yeah. So...I'd hate to throw you out. But."

"No. I'm tired. I should go to sleep."

They stood up at the same time. Elaine looked up at the taller duck, and laughed a little.


"I feel like such a dwarf next to everyone."

He laughed back. That took Elaine by surprise. He was so stoic...

"Don't worry about it. See you at breakfast?"

"Maybe not. I'll probably sleep right through that. Lunch?" They spoke at the same time.

"See you then." Ender turned away, breaking their stare.

"I'll-a-save you a seat."

"Okay. Good"

"Yeah."Elaine walked past him, out the door. "Um, Ender, just out of curiosity...what were you doing up at two in the morning?"

"Couldn't sleep. I was going to see if Leila was up..."His voice trailed off in to the distance.

"Oh."She nodded fast. "Good night. Sleep well, Ender."

"Sleep well. Oh-and Elaine? You're fine they way you are. Any guy who's trying to change you is the one who needs the makeover."

"Thanks."She smiled slowly. She turned, and went towards the elevators.


Lana reached DuCaine Metro on twenty five minutes. She knew where Michele was. She had kept tabs on him for years. She reached the lush condo complex he lived in, not far from midtown. She ran to his section, and knocked hard on his redwood door.

"Merde! Qui es moleste moi a c'est heur?"

"Breathe deep, Lana."She said quietly under her breath. The door swung open, And a furious and dishevelled Michele stood behind it. He blinked his eyes against the complex's street lights, and opened them slowly. The dark figure of Lana was framed by the harsh light. But he knew who it was. He smiled slowly.

"Ma petite vert bijou! It has long."He added shrewdly.

"Michele, can I come in?"

"Heh."He motioned gracefully to come in. "I never turn down the company of a beautiful woman. Especially one of my past. What brings you here, Lana? Run out of men to ruin?"

"No. And It is so nice to see you too, Michele. Tell me? Have you tried to kill any lady friends lately?"

"No. Only you, ma cherie. What do you want?"

"You know why I'm here."Lana said absently as she took in the cathedral ceilings and fine art.

"I'm sure I don't."he moved closer to her, Like a shark to a bloody hock. She turned around to face him.

"Enough of this old anger. Michele. Please. I don't want to fight anymore."

"I do. You have ruined me."

"You tried to kill me! You beat me to a pulp!"

"You are a difficult woman who wouldn't follow simple orders!"

"Oh-you know-I don't need to take this from an arrogant..."She sighed. "Look, Michele, I said I didn't want to do this."

"You are the one who has barged in on my solitude. Do you not see me never coming to the Brotherhood Lair or the Diamond Roost? No. So do what you came here to do and leave. And rest assured, I will-how you say? Retaliate."

"Oh I know you would."Lana smiled. She sized the man up. He was still handsome at fifty two. "But this doesn't make sense. You made the first move."

"I am of opinion, ma petite vert bijou, that you always make the first move."

"You know what I mean. Why did you send the flowers?"

"What fleurs?"

"The ones that you sent tonight. Michele...I...just want to say...Thank you. And I feel the same way too."

"Qu'est que? I do not understand."

"Why, the beautiful note you sent me with the flowers! Silly! How could you forget?"She embraced him and pulled him close to her. "I knew it. Love like ours could never die."She kissed him passionately, holding him tightly and seductively. He stayed stiff and motionless in her arms, and did not kiss back. "What's wrong? You were never this cold before."

"Lana...let go of moi."He peeled her off of him, and pushed her away, like a leper. "Don't you have plenty of men eating out of your wretched hand already?"

"No...Michele...I don't get it."

"Let me spell it out for you so you can understand. I-did-not-send-you-any-flowers-and-a-note."

"What? Who else could it be?"

"Perhaps your latest bed mate."

"There is no one else, Michele, I swear."

He laughed loudly and cruelly.

"Oui! Of course. As I was the only man you wanted. I forgot. You have it in your idiotic mind that we belong together, even if I kill you, non?"


"I admit. I loved you for awhile. But only for awhile. Now, the, uh-how you say? Oh! Yes! Very thought of you turns my stomach."


"It was over between us the very day you wanted a child. I told you. I am not that kind of man. I never was, and I never will be. I don't care what you feel for me. You are just another woman, as a glass of wine at dinner is just another glass of wine."He walked away from her, stretched, and yawned. He opened up a trunk and fished through it.

Lana was stunned...and severely hurt...

"I never knew that. I thought you were just...under Mr. Bigg's influence."

"Moi? I am ruled by no one."

"I suppose you're going to try to kill me now."Lana was glad it was so dark in his condo. That way he couldn't see the tears welling up.

"Non...Not this time, little one. I will let you go, only because I have new carpeting."He turned to face her. He threw her a tiny box.

"What's this?"

"My wedding ring. Keep it. I do not ever want to look at it again."

Lana fell silent. She gripped it tightly, then gently. "What you mean, is, you do not ever want to look at ME again."

He came forward. "You are finally getting it, Lana. I don't like you. How could I possibly love you? Now get out before I change my mind and ruin my carpet."

"Fine. You'll never hear from me again." Her voice was barely audible.

"Bon! Now we can get back to our lives! I can go on, and you, you can live like nothing has ever happened, aussi."

"Yeah. Right. Sure. Like nothing has ever happened between us."

Lana nodded quickly, and turned around.

"Au Revoir ma petite vert bijou. Let us never meet again!"

The door slammed as she ran to her car.

"And good riddance to you, Lana Clair L'eau! Let moi hope I never remember that I shared a bed with you..."He laughed. "That is a disgusting thought."


Cody punched hard into the punching bag. It swung hard into Lana as she tried to steady it for him.

"Woah! Cody! What's wrong with you? Besides the obvious?"

He didn't answer. Lana tried again.

"Cody! I said, what's wrong?"He hit the bag even harder.

"Earth to Cody Thunderfeather!"

"Shut up Lana. I don't want to hear any guff from you today!"

"I didn't do anything!"

"You always have a smart comment to beat me with."

He hit the bag so hard Lana fell backwards to the ground.

"Woah! That's it! I don't have to take this! Practice is over!"

"You'll stay and practice with me because you are my apprentice! And you have to listen to me!"

"I don't have to take this abuse!"

"Oh, but I have to?"

"Cody! What is this all about? This is out of character."

"Out of character? Well, look who's judge and jury today! DuCaine, Lana! You didn't even have the decency to tell me to my face that you didn't feel that way about me?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I mean, even Dragaunus would say to your face that you were fighting a losing battle!"

"Cody! I don't know what you're talking about!"

"The card, Lana! Don't tell me that you didn't get it!"

She stood there, dead in her tracks. The sweaty pair just stared hard into each other.

"I didn't get any card."

"God damn it! You know what the hell I'm talking about!"

"Well...what business do you have sending me a card like that? You'd just be making a fool of yourself. When Ender and I get really serious, you'll be embarrassed you sent it."

"Oh, come-on! Land the plane, Lana! Ender and you are never going to happen! Get it through your thick skull! He doesn't like you that way!"

"You...are...a-a-a-a selfish, stupid, man! What do you know, huh? You don't exactly have a line of women to your door."

"I don't want a line of women! Don't you get it!?! I don't care about that!"he quieted down. "I care about you. Don't you see?"

He went to her, cupping her face in his large hands. "We're that same. Right down the middle. The same..."He leaned over slowly and kissed her gently.

Lana was kissing him back...And they held each other passionately, caressing each other's back and arms. Lana held on to him tightly and he pulled her close to him. She seemed to be his...then she pulled away.

"No! This can't be! I c-c-can't. Cody..." She stepped backwards, far away from him.

"If you do this. You'll be sorry. Lana, if you let go of me, you'll be letting go of everything that I love about you."

"I'm sorry..."She whispered. Then she ran out.

Cody stood there, alone. He seemed frozen in time. He couldn't do anything, he couldn't call after her, he couldn't move. He finally sunk to the floor.

"All I can do...all I can do is...wait."

The End
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