by Alicia McKenzie
DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only. This rambling little monologue would be set very late Outsider's Arc, or very early Pantheon, I'm not sure which. I have to acknowledge Siarade's wonderful 'In This Bed'; this piece owes a great deal to it. Dedicated to Persephone, Lynxie and Lyssie, who were kind enough to talk me down off the figurative ledge last night....;)
I wake up alone in our bed, but I know the emptiness beside me is just an illusion. He's there, just like he's watching over our daughter in her crib, and everywhere in this house - our house - his presence thrown over all of this, our whole life together, like a blanket.
And I know where he is. I slide out of bed, smiling as I walk over to the window and pull back the curtain, staring out into the night. Outside, the moon is full and the sky is a blanket of stars. The sea murmurs softly. And I see him, limping over the rocks on the shore, so slowly, so cautiously, leaning heavily on the cane that's a permanent fixture now, the cane I hate with every bit of strength in me.
But I watch him, and smile, because I know that inside, he's dancing. Dancing under the moon and the stars like the child he never was, with a heart that's finally free and a spirit no longer crushed and battered by responsibilities too overwhelming for an ordinary man to bear.
Never ordinary; not my love. I can say that now. My lover, Clare's father. He's part of us and we're part of him, and he no longer belongs to destiny or time or any of it.
He could have laid down his life, along with his psimitar. It would have been easier for him, and I know part of him wanted to rest. But he fought through the pain and the sense of emptiness - which was worse, I wonder? - and reached out with both hands to grasp this new life and hold on tight. That was the test of courage. Not facing the king of his demons across the desert sand at night, but throwing life in the teeth of the purpose that was once his existence. Telling the universe that he was moving on, that he wasn't his war, that there was enough left of him after all the sacrifices to still make a man.
He's a paradox, these days; so quiet all the time, and yet the old reserve is gone, less than dust. He watches. He listens. He smiles, and the smile reaches his eyes like it never did before.
There are no more shadows in his eyes, and the light there doesn't burn anymore. It warms your soul, and I find myself basking in it, day and night.
He's still the fighter he always was, I know that, and I know he'll find another cause one of these days. One, or many, it doesn't matter to me, because this time it'll be his choice. And I'll be at his side with joy, because the war's over, and now we can let ourselves dream.
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