Last updated 29/10/14
Towards the Time to Talk
A Thomas & Friends fan-fiction
Sodor's National Anthem
Tracks Told, Never Needed
As he finally let his eyes lids slip, Edward felt a spasm of relief across his face. His boiler tingled and his frame sunk into the ground slightly as he finally allowed himself to succumb to the well-earned rest.
Fate didn't succumb to this sleep however, it would seem.
A sound rattled his sub-conscious mind, so much so he found himself mimicking it. He called it a mimic once his mind was settled enough that he pondered over what it was. It was a gasp ridden with shock which Edward had copied in both the physical and mental state. As fast as it has caused him to open his eyes, he closed his lips and pressed them together so much so that it ached a little, a punishment at the realization that he may have woken the other engines up. In that few seconds he spent in silence, it enabled engines he had disturbed to settle but also in that silence and focus, he detected a slow, deep panting, the tint of vocal similar to that of the gasp. He reversed as slowly and lightly as he could towards the sound, speeding up ever so slightly when he saw Percy out of the corner of his eye opening and closing in mouth in sync with the panting.
Edward opened his own mouth but hesitated in releasing sound. He didn't want to shock Percy even more than he already seemed to have been. After all, he hadn't appeared to have acknowledged Edward's movement. He deemed it wise however to enquire as to what the problem was.
"Percy," He addressed him quietly but not as a whisper. Percy hated it when people whispered, it reminded him of some kind of ghostly voice and to use it now, Edward was afraid he'd reverse through the back wall of the shed. He kept his voice at a volume where Percy could recognize it if he was surprised by the noise.
Percy gasped at the mention of his name and his cheeks flushed a crimson red at the sound of Edward's voice. He looked at the bigger blue engine and despite his gentle smile, quickly ceased his panting and wore a face of pure apology.
"I-I'm sorry Edward!" He said quickly and let off steam suddenly. He crept away from Edward slightly (only by that much because the buffers where there) in an attempt to escape the embarrassment.
Edward replied quickly but still retained that reassuring smile, "Shhh! You didn't wake me Percy, don't worry. Keep your voice down though so you definitely don't wake anyone up, James needs his beauty sleep apparently." He chuckled quietly and now Percy mimicked him, albeit he still remained embarrassed and his crimson cheeks showed this, a slightly lighter shade than before however, "Now, how about we head out of the sheds and you can tell me what's the matter eh?" Edward meant to smile reassuringly again after he had said this but Percy's actions led him to a glance of concern instead.
Percy's gaze was no longer on Edward but at no one, nothing in particular. He had acknowledged him speaking however, he answered, "What? No! Nothing's wrong, I swear!" He lied, not because there was something wrong, he wanted to forget he was upset, why he was upset.
"Percy shush!" Edward repeated, with an unintentional hiss, only because he didn't want Percy to be on the receiving end of any grumpy, half-sleep engine. He lowered his voice again and reverted to his original tone, “Come on out here with me." Edward lifted his drowsy frame and hauled his wheels clockwise with his aching side-rods out of the shed.
Percy now felt obliged to move now, Edward had, for him. He hauled his frame forward also, his wheels shaking rather than aching from his frightening ordeal. Edward heard his frame creak repeatedly, like his own when he was really feeling the pinch of his age. It continued for a short while after Percy had come to a stop next to him.
Edward's smile returned as did a small one from Percy, but his gaze was sympathetic, "Now come on Percy," He began, again not as a whisper but in a quiet voice, "What on earth hasyou so spooked?" Percy stayed silent again, his gaze on nothing in particular. He pondered over the question, and answer. It didn't scare him anymore. He was only wondering how on earth he would explain it. Edward couldn't tell what Percy was thinking but respected his silence, "Talking about it can help you know, but of course, you don't have to tell me anything you don't want to."
Percy's voice began to quake before Edward had finished speaking, not to contradict him, but because he'd finally figured out what he was going to say, he didn't want to let it go, "It was strange. It was a bad dream but, it felt so real..." He stopped to think about it again, his uneasiness also returning. His expression showed this; his eyebrows were raised as far as his face would allow and his mouth hung open, his bottom lip trembling slightly. The worry drained back into Edward's face.
"The bad dreams always are, they're always the more realistic-," He began but Percy wanted, needed to continue.
"But it was, it was so real but..." He'd another wall, the barrier he was dreading. He took his time in trying to word it, Edward remained respectfully silent. Percy let himself continue, he'd left himself a small plot of dialogue to put Edward on while he thought of how to word the most daunting aspect of his dream. "We were all in it. Everyone was in it. We were at Tidmouth Sheds, you, me, Thomas and Toby, Donald and Douglas, Duck and Hank too!" He paused again for a short while; the wall had yet to fall. Edward let Percy know that he was listening.
"A bit of a family reunion this is turning out to be, isn't it?" He chuckled, as did Percy despite his determination not to be distracted and to think about his answer, his answer to a question Edward had yet to ask, "But what was so frightening about it? Was Spencer in it? I can't blame you..." Percy giggled again, a little more cheerful now that he'd figured out how to describe his ordeal.
"He was in it but..." He hesitated once more, wondering what would Edward's reaction would be to his dream. He said it aloud as well as in his funnel as he played his version of events, but eventually joined reality to witness the outcome, "We weren't engines. We were still us, we had our faces but our wheels...They were there just, just not where they are now. They were tucked into our arms sort of, we had arms, and we had legs. We were standing up. We were shaped like people!" The last comment almost excited him to the point of him moving forwards, or backwards, for that reason rather than in fear.
Percy had become so engrossed in the recollection of his dream, that he didn't track Edward's change in expression or detect his emotions and thoughts. When he finally turned to face him, he wore an awestruck smile but was not facing him.
As Percy a relayed more of his dream, Edward had experienced a daydream (or night-dream) although it more him reminiscing but he didn't like to call it that, he thought of his age more than anything else. Only one vision in his dream was reminiscence however and although it was relevant, he'd rather not have thought about it and 'fast-forward' through it. The next vision was a daydream; he pictured what Percy had described with little difficulty.
Nothing he'd said was new to him.
The pain that came with the vision was a very new sensation.
A hot wave flew down his funnel and engulfed his face with a scorching blanket of heat to which he scrunched his face up from the shock and in an attempt to squelch to flames. It didn't last long and Edward took a deep breath in and out, not in a sigh of relief but in a attempt to quell his boiler contracting after. Edward never liked to express when he was in pain, he hated people fussing over him because of his age as it was. The pain came on suddenly as it did with Percy it seemed, who had yelped just as the clench had come over him too.
He was certain it wasn't a coincidence. He glanced towards the sheds where every other engine appeared to not be experiencing the same sensation. Then again, they were asleep for now, Edward thought. He put on a brave face for little Percy, to try and get them both to sleep as well for now.
"Have you got boiler ache Percy?" He asked, concerned. Admittedly, he sugar coated it immensely; what this pain was, it was most certainly not that childish classification.
Percy didn't answer Edward directly, he knew that he already knew the answer to that question, Edward always knew and yet, he always wanted to make sure he was right.
'It just came like that!" Percy gestured with a jerk of his wheels, in any direction, just to show Edward how sudden it had been, "It's like a really bad boiler ache though!" The older engine tutted in sympathy and tried to reassure him by blaming himself.
"It's probably because I kept you up. Oh I'm sorry Percy!"
"It's not you Edward, it's fine!" Edward could see the strain in that forced smile. Percy didn't know how to regulate the pain but he didn't want to retort to the default, he didn't want to cry in front of Edward.
"Now I'm sure a bit of sleep will do us both good," Edward mentally spanked himself, but Percy didn't seem to notice that the both of them were in pain or that the entire shed, and island, had begun to cringe.
"Mm-hm." Percy managed before cringing himself as he brought his wheels round to carry him back into the shed. Edward began to do the same but winced and yelped at the slightest wheel-turn. His boiler contracted deeper, like he'd been picked up by a young giant and twisted from buffer to cab. Percy noticed this, but he put it down to just coincidence. He asked a different question to what Edward had expected, "Aren't you coming as well?"
"I'm going to stay out here a moment Percy, let the air peculate around my wheels," He used big words, just to get Percy to nod in agreement at something he didn't understand and leave him alone. "You get to sleep now, don't worry about me." He added to further reassure, and push away, the younger engine. He smiled to say okay and glanced around before speaking.
"Thank you Edward, for talking with me," Percy rather wished they were all in the state they were in his dream, he could perhaps offer his friend a more grateful gesture. Nevertheless, Edward smiled back, also grateful.
"Anytime Percy," He gave him a friendly wink and Percy closed his eyes with a smile, despite his still lingering 'boiler ache.'
Edward continued to keep an eye on Percy until he was sure the little engine had managed to doze off through the pain, either that or he's fallen into a state similar to a human passing out. He caught a glimpse of Thomas who was wrinkling his nose in his sleep. He usually did that when he too was experiencing a nightmare or a disturbance of some sort. Edward sighed at the thought of Thomas, any other, or any more engines in pain.
He turned to James but he felt there was no need to be concerned for him. He wore that pout he usually did whilst sleeping, much like an unhappy toddler but with a slight essence of your average teenage girls' impression of a smile. Edward chuckled quietly, making his pain ease slightly but probably more him taking less notice of it rather than it actually beginning to calm. James had always amused him, presumably because of their age differences or ideology.
Edward then turned to Emily whom was also displaying a disturbance within her. She exhaled as she usually did, a moan twisted within it except in the time the older engine had his watchful gaze on her, there were intervals in which she almost paused in her breathing and when she continued, her voice demonstrated more of a groan.
Edward didn't think to check anyone else, he was certain this wasn't a coincidence. He did think of those outside the sheds and how they were taking it, the pain, if they were indeed experiencing it too. He thought of venturing out to Brendam, to see Bill & Ben, Boco and Salty, to see how they were, and whether the excruciating pain was also implemented on the diesels. That he wasn't sure of, but he was almost certain of what would happen next. The only thing he couldn't pin point was the cause. The only one whom he could recall capable of causing such a thing, was no longer capable. He didn't identify whom to himself, afraid that it might trigger something far more painful for him in comparison to the contractions. The watered-down recollection didn't prevent the reminiscence he so desperately wanted to avoid. He moaned quietly in despair as it coiled round his funnel and tightened its grip on all the wrong nerves.
Approximately 8 years earlier:
Lady cringed at how mistaken she had been; you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover. She had rather admired Edward's true form; he certainly didn't look his age! His arms and legs were slender but appeared muscular. He was indeed a handsome Sodarian, not that she didn't think he was handsome as an engine, but she did prefer to be in her normal form.
She did feel a pang of guilt tug at her arms along with his weight as she yanked, rather than carried, him. She hadn't expected the change to have such an effect on him, she would've thought it would have shocked him into a conscious state rather than tired him out. He was an old engine though, and that was just how he had responded.
She brought him away from the shed at a comfortable distance so he could stand without any obstruction (she would help to steady him). She settled herself down on her knees and rested his head on her lap, his body to one side. She wanted to be the first thing he saw when he woke. She took one of his hands and softly stroked his knuckle with her thumb, in an attempt to perhaps stimulate his awakening but also, it felt good to touch him. After all, she'd always preferred their origin forms.
Edward stirred and opened his eyes almost instantly, he sensed something was wrong. Lady placed her other hand on his cheek, making sure he was facing her, to reassure him, and it did.
Despite his brief anxiety from how unfamiliar his frame felt, the sight of Lady was a stimulus of short-term memory loss with wheels (or legs now, as was the case). He thought about how long it had been since they'd last seen each other, which brought on a sense of happiness and relief. Seeing her in general just made him smile, it was by no means a sense of reality in which he could not explain it; it just made sense to him.
"Lady?" He said or rather, asked; He didn't believe it, but he wanted it to be true. Although, the more his eyes saw, despite the more accurate his sight was getting as he began to regain his consciousness, the more he began to doubt whether his question was necessary. What he was finally beginning to comprehend was far from making any kind of sense.
Lady was more than disappointed when his gentle smile flipped to a light frown, the kind he made when he was thinking. She knew he'd begun to compute everything that he felt wasn't quite right. Heaven-forbid, he could stay happy for more than a second.
He hadn't comprehended that she had also begun to frown as a remark of disgust; he'd just started making some general observations. Lady was above him, looking down, he knew that because the sky was behind her, and he was looking up at the stars, directly up. That wasn't possible, unless he was buried tender first into the ground. He cringed at the very prospect, and how on earth he'd conjured up such an idea!
Lady saw him squint his eyes, combined with his frown presumably he was confused or disgusted with something. Either way, she decided to put him out of his misery, "Edward, I know you might feel a little different at the moment..." Edward frowned again and Lady smiled with raised eyebrows, he'd taken it the wrong way, a flaw of his at the best of times, "Not mentally, even I know that..." She stroked his now slightly crimson cheeks with her thumb again, while he closed his eyes and smirked, in embarrassment she thought (and knew). "I changed your form, you now have arms and legs like a human," But you're not human, she was about to say but didn't; she knew that he was clearly aware of what she meant.
Edward's face connoted a mixture of shock and confusion, perhaps curiosity. He glanced down, presumably to get a glimpse of this new body of his. He couldn't see as his own face got in his way but he didn't think to tilt his neck upwards, after all, he'd never done that before as he'd never been given the capacity to do so or needed to. He couldn't help but feel slightly apprehensive about his new form; he hadn't moved under his own steam and couldn't yet 'feel' that anything was actually there, and he wondered whether he would actually move at all. He pushed that irrational fear to the back of his mind as fast as he had conjured it up. Lady would help him if she had put him in this form for a reason, and so she did.
Lady caught Edward's eyes glancing at something in particular or at least trying to, his large, dark pupils slowly tilting further and further down. He was clearly straining to see something that was beyond his range of vision in his current position. She wondered why he didn't just move as she clearly couldn't comprehend how something that came so naturally to her had never occurred to him. She slid her free hand underneath his head and tilted it up, and tried to keep a steady hand a she observed his reaction.
"Good god..." His eyes widened and eyebrows raised, his mouth hung open in a rather comical shocked expression that Lady had never before seen him pull. He didn't know what to think, much like when one receives a present they weren't expecting that is of great value, and as they are overjoyed to receive it, at the same time, they are worrying about the cost of said gift. "Oh Lady..." He sighed, saying 'thank you' in a way. She giggled at how in awe he was at the whole prospect. He was like a grown man stood at the window of his home, looking out upon the fresh snow around his house, part of him wanting to build a snowman and another part not wanting to tarnish its beauty with his footprints.
Finally, she acted, "Come on you, stop admiring yourself and use the damn thing!" Edward chuckled but his humour was quickly interrupted by an unpleasant jolt riding its way down his head. It had certainly startled him but it didn't hurt. He realized his head had been resting Lady's thighs but she had, of course, since moved.
As she elevated herself and stood up straight, he couldn't help but feel slightly inferior, but that was presumably down to the fact that he was still lying down. He wanted to get up and join her, but he couldn't.
Lady stood at his feet, with her hands rested on her hips as a sign of impatience. Edward had seen Lady Hatt and Bridget pull a similar pose, but it was so surreal seeing Lady do it, for obvious reasons.
She began to tap her foot, "Come on then, up you get!" She tilted her head up and to one side, beckoning for him to stand. His mouth hung open at the simplicity of her request, and then he bit his lip at his incapability to perform such a task.
"Lady, I...humbly apologize but I-."
"You can't move?" She finished his sentence for him. He smiled nervously, as if to apologize once more, but she merely brushed it away, rolling her eyes, "You're far too sincere Edward." She sat on his crotch, her knees either side of him.
"Well, one has to be, when they're in the presence of one as superior as yourself..." Edward smiled lovingly at her, much like he did when they saw each other after spending a while apart. She rolled her eyes again but with a smile, in an equally romantic manner.
"Oh be quiet!" They both chuckled slightly, and then fell silent at precisely the same time. They took their time to admire their synchronization. It made their bond seem less of a sin, as it was in the eyes of some others they knew. It was like they were meant to feel this way about each other, whatever it was.
Lady appreciated the moment far more than Edward did, she was sure. That moment of pure ignorance, when there was just them and their feelings for each other, and that was all that mattered. But it's never that simple. Everything else came back to Lady, destroying the bliss from that moment entirely: the rejection of the human race for their feelings, and that of any other engines, and why she had put Edward in this state. She became aware of how much time she had wasted. There was only so much time associated with the darkness of the night, and there was even less of that given the working day of a man on the railway. She shook her head quickly, shifting her mind-set to the task at hand.
"Now Edward," Lady began, taking his hands gently and resting them upon her palms, "Can you feel my hands? Can you feel them against yours?" She noticed a smile strewn across his face as he stared at their hands, hand in hand.
"I can," He said in awe. The smile came from a slightly different sensation, not from the contact itself but due to it. Edward couldn't find the most complimentary term to describe it as it was far more pleasurable than anything he'd ever experienced in his lifetime. Regrettably, more so than when he'd ever received gratitude from another engine for him doing them a favour. It felt better because he hadn't had to do anything in order to receive it, and it was from such a simple act as holding hands.
"Now, this isn't necessary but it isn't totally unrelated. Does it feel...nice?" It would seem that Lady had also had trouble trying to describe the sensation, and almost like she had read his mind. She rotated her hands, making sure not to lose contact with him, so that they were in line with each other. She then separated his fingers with her own and clasped his hands gently.
"It does..." He said quietly, wanting to savour the moment as if she was slipping from between his fingers.
The fact that the feeling was mutual made Lady giggle with a childish glee but she quickly returned to her previously composed self. "Now, if this makes sense, feel your own hands; feel that they're there, that they're a part of your body."
It made perfect sense but unsurprisingly, it was a case of 'it was easier said than done.' He could feel his hands but he wanted to move. Edward wanted to move his fingers and enclose them around Lady's hands as she had done. Luckily, the motivation was there in front of his very eyes.
As time still continued to pass, Lady found it hard to appreciate the fact that this would be Edward's first time using his new body and that it would take some getting used to. Having thought about it had made her paranoid. It seemed like the sun was nearly moments from rising when Edward's slender fingers finally curled around her hand.
He felt a sudden surge of energy pass all the way through his body, as he suddenly gained control of his new frame. He could feel everything. He flexed the fingers on his free hand before clenching them into a fist and rolling his wrist.
“Oh, wow,” He chuckled nervously. He glanced back at Lady, hoping to see her impressed by his feat. Her glance was elsewhere, nowhere in particular, but she seemed agitated. She quickly turned back to him, to check whether he had managed to move yet. She didn’t waste any more time.
“Okay, Edward, I need you to stand for me,” The sentence flowed, as if she’d done nothing but practice it in the time she was waiting. Edward was somewhat taken aback by her forwardness, he rarely saw her like this, but complied as to not cause her anymore stress.
“Okay, no problem,” He smiled, to let her know he was ready, not just to stand but for whatever she needed from him. Lady nodded to and pulled a slight smile for encouragement. She didn’t want to seem too pushy, but she was torn between keeping time and keeping her pleasant demeanour intact. She took both of his hands and hauled him up, keeping tight hold as they straightened up.
Edward didn’t expect the great amount of pleasure he received from his new lease of height. He couldn’t help but take his sights off Lady and look around him. Though he wasn’t quite tall enough to see much the coast or anything more than the roofs of the houses next to the railway, he could hear the sea better than he ever could on the ground, whether here or near the beach with screaming children. He understood why humans found it so soothing. He turned his head, baffled by all of his new angles of vision. He glanced down at the sheds, and his sleeping friends. Suddenly, he felt very self-conscious; what if a human saw him and was alarmed and panicked?
While Edward began to subtlety fret, Lady backed away from him, slowly slipping from his grasp. She became very relaxed again: his 'curious' face was very alluring.
"For someone who's never stood in their life, you've got an amazing sense of balance," She said from a distance. Edward processed that there was distance between, and that he was in fact standing under his own steam. He was now far more entranced with his legs. Other than looking down at his feet, he stayed absolutely still, not wanting to fall over and have his lady love's praise misplaced. He flexed his toes, or what resembled human-like metal toes, rolling back onto his heels and the balls of his feet. It felt too almost too easy, but he regretted his understatement almost straight away.
A most vile feeling came upon him, clutching his head and working his brain between its rough hands. He clutched it with his own hands, as if trying to contain the sensation and make it subdued. He didn't know what it could be, it was not like anything he'd ever experienced in an area that was rarely touched. He never liked people seeing him in any distress but before he could contain himself, his natural reflexes had revealed all.
Lady rushed back towards him, bringing his face up to her view. His eyes were slightly wet, producing a clog of guilt in her throat; she had rushed him and therefore pushed him beyond what should've been expected, this short time after his transformation
"Your head, does it hurt?" Lady cupped her hands over his for comfort.
The pleasurable sensation that he'd experienced when they first help hands came rushing back, into his cheeks this time. It distracted him temporarily, but it didn't quell the pain, "That's pain? Whoo," He sighed. He composed himself in front of his very concerned partner and smiled; that smile with one corner of his mouth raised a little higher. Lady also sighed. That was Edward's 'I'm trying to look cool, calm and collected without a care in the world' smile. She also returned the expression for a short time, before signing again.
"I'm sorry I put you through all of that," She brought his hands down from his face and held them gently, looking sorrowfully into his eyes. He frowned and quickly replied.
"You didn't cause all of that!" He insisted, quietly. He carefully brought his hand up to her face, not quite knowing his own strength, and touched her cheek with his fingers, providing her with that same pleasurable feeling she had given him, that it would sooth her as it did him. She titled her head and brushed her face against the touch, wanting more. But, she then remembered that she owed him an explanation.
"No, I pushed you too hard. It was too much stress on your brain. You've never had to use it that much and..." She instinctively glanced up, knowing she hadn't worded it quite right. Edward couldn't help but smile at her embarrassment, "No, I..." She giggled a little before burying her head into his shoulder in shame, " I mean... That's how we move, it's all using our mind. No muscles, see?" He nodded, "And you've never had to move under your own steam before so... I suppose it's only natural that it would put stress on your head."
"Under your own steam," He quoted with a smile and a little giggle himself.
"Oh, you-." Lady frowned but still kept a smile, "I can't even..." They both shared a quiet chuckle.
"Okay, but in all seriousness," Edward began, still with a big grin on his face, "I...um, where to start?" Lady's smile disappeared, the reality returning to her. She held his arms to keep him focused on her.
"I know you must have a lot of questions; how, why..."
"You've pretty much got it,"
"But not here," She continued. Time was of the essence, and it prodded at her being continually. She just wanted to get to a place where it wouldn't be as big of a weight upon her mind, and she too could focus. She admired Edward for the fact that he knew when to listen and take in instructions. He merely gave a nod to to show that he understood what was said so far. She felt like she owed him some reassurance, "I promise, I will explain everything just as soon as I'm not worried about a human spotting us. They might not take kindly to it." Edward gave another series of nods in agreement. Their common sense was another thing they admired about each other.
Lady needn't have required those gestures from Edward in order to make a move, having already been on edge. She took him by the arm and pulled as she briskly walked away from the sheds, dragging Edward, who hadn't even taken baby steps yet, behind. He could sense the urgency, and didn't want to question any more, through fear of making her more tense. But he couldn't avoid one question, which came out as shakily as his attempted walk, "Am I going to be able to be an engine again? Only, I still have to go back to work in the morning. I don't know if you have to be anywhere too or..."
A valid question but it still made her giggle, though she didn't stop, "Of course you will!" She stopped for a small space of time to think about her answer. A lie, but for the sake of reassurance. She wasn't sure whether it was morally high standing. She carried on quickly before she thought about it any more, "Though, if you stayed like that, you wouldn't have to work again, and you'd still worry! Where's your spontaneity Edward?"
"I work on a railway; it's not exactly something I partake in on a regular basis."