by Alicia McKenzie
DISCLAIMER: The characters in this piece belong to DC/Vertigo and Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only. This was originally posted to OTL under the pseudonym 'Fionell', but rest assured, this is everyone's favorite Cable-obsessed Canadian here...;)
I'd always expected this one would be a little unusual when it finally happened. Special circumstances and all. . .it's not every family that treats my realm like a revolving door.
Okay, so it was a LITTLE more unusual than I'd expected. He was standing outside his body, watching himself die. Smiling.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he looked delighted to see himself lying there bleeding to death. I even spotted a tear escape as he watched his lover trying her best to save him, sobbing at him to stay with her. But he was smiling.
It was a strange little smile. A little sad. A little wistful. A little ironic.
No fear at all.
"That would be pointless. Wrong. To be afraid of you, I mean." The words might have been harsh, if they hadn't been so soft.
I raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't stop most people, Nathan," I pointed out easily, going to his side. Not taking his hand. Not yet. We had a little time. He nodded slowly, still watching her. Her, not me.
They all expect me. . .recognize me. But the ones like him, the ones that have flirted with me all their lives. . .they tend to be calmer. More casual about it. Like I'm an old friend, dropping in for one last chat over coffee. "Nice to see the odd exceptions to the rule, though," I said with a brief smile.
"Afraid of you. How ridiculous." His smile grew a little as he finally looked down at me. He was sort of cute, if you liked the stone-faced, brooding type. Mismatched eyes, gold and gray. Sunlight and stormy sea. "It's like being afraid of the sunrise. Or I suppose sunset would be a better metaphor here. . ." His head turned slowly, back towards where she was cradling his lifeless body, weeping. "I can't say I didn't expect this," he said. A little abruptly. "It was always in the back of my mind, that this might be what it took."
"So you were resigned?" Poor guy. Being dead is enough of a shock for mortals, but he was dealing with two endings, life and purpose both. Double the fun.
"Not resigned. Just. . .accepting. You can't stop the wind from blowing, or tell the sun not to go down. What is, is."
I smiled wryly. His wasn't a face meant for softer emotions, but masks had never fooled me. "You don't have to be so damned stoic, you know," I pointed out mildly.
"What?" he asked a little irritably. "What do you want me to say?"
"I don't want anything from you," I pointed out calmly. "But really, Nate. Think about it. All things considered, this isn't the best time to lie to yourself."
"Fine. I did suspect this might happen," he said. More sharply. "Always. But I still hoped. . ." He trailed off, and I saw his hand twitch at his side, as if he wanted to reach out to her. "I wasn't afraid of dying. Losing, though. . .failing. That was what gave me nightmares. Does that make me selfish?"
"Dedicated, maybe," I suggested softly. Some might have called him a fanatic, I suppose. Not me, not here.
"I wasn't thinking about her. I should have thought about her. I should have seen more clearly. . .figured out what it might cost her." He took a deep breath, straightening. "I came into this world to kill. My whole life. . .all it ended up being was HIS death. What kind of legacy is that? If I really loved her, loved any of them, I wouldn't have let them love me. . ." His voice was harsher, ragged. "So flonqing selfish of me."
"Hey," I said lightly. "Take it easy on yourself, all right? I'm not here to judge you."
Our eyes met again. "No, you're not," he said unsteadily. "I know that. I just. . .it's finished. And I. . .in spite of it all, *I* wasn't done yet."
"I know." I still didn't move towards him, or touch him. "But there aren't any endings, Nathan. Not really. You should know that better than most."
He stared at me for a minute. "You sound like my sister." A little grouchy, that.
"Rachel, right. Nice kid. A little too fond of the whole guardian angel schtick, but her heart's in the right place." My attention was drawn by a familiar sound, the last beat of a heart. A familiar silence. "Time to go, Nathan," I said gently.
He nodded, looking back at her for a moment, tears standing in his eyes. "I didn't think it would be this hard."
"Well, then," I said with a sly smile. "I guess your life wasn't just a deathtrip after all, was it?"
He looked surprised, then rueful. "I guess not." Still watching her, he murmured something under his breath.
It might have been 'I love you'.
It might have been 'Forgive me'.
Either way, I wasn't about to eavesdrop.
"I suppose you took him already, did you?" he said, turning back to me. Casually. Trying to change the subject.
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, yeah. Spare me from five thousand year-old Egyptians with delusions of godhood." The comment actually got a laugh, and I winked at him.
"That shouldn't be funny, but it is. . ."
"Yeah, yeah. Are you ready or what?" I joked.
"Onwards and upwards," he said very quietly, looking over at her for the last time. She looked up from his dead body, her violet eyes full of tears as she stared off into the distance. "Goodbye, Dom," he said roughly.
"Don't say goodbye," I said lightly. Another suggestion. "How about just. . ."
"Took the words right out of my mouth," I said, shaking my head with a chuckle. "You telepaths. Take my hand, Nathan."
And he did.
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