In all the chaos that my mind had become, that was the one word that stood out above the rest as I gazed up at her. In my last moments, I relented and let her lie to me. I let myself believe that lie as well. And who wouldn't in my position? I am merely a mortal man of flesh, blood, and bone. In my last moments, I seek the comfort that has so long been denied to me, by myself or others or simply by fate. I'll take my comfort even if it is a lie. Just to feel safe as I pass on.
"Would you like me to lie to you now?"
"Yes. Thank you, yes."
I feel her arms slide under me, the soft flesh I remember so well brushing against mine. She smiles for me. That small little smile that she never gave anyone else but me, but this time it is marred by her tears. When she speaks, it's the voice I remember. The memories of days past enter my mind. Sitting in the laboratory together, drinking coffee, or she would sneak to my office to steal a kiss and make a suggestion for dinner. She was even beautiful when using a flame thrower to burn away those horrible bug like creatures. Even as Illyria had hollowed her out, I still loved her. The pain of watching her fade against her will and mine left me with my own hollowness and more pain than I feel even now. I never wanted to lose her and I kept hoping that I would find her again. However, that was not to be. She was gone from my grasp forever and I was left with the thing that had gutted her. I wanted to be angry with Illyria, make her pay for what she had done. But I couldn't, not when I could still see Fred beyond the demon. I failed to avenge her because of that.
"Fred. I've missed you."
She asked me before if I wanted her to keep Fred's form, if it would be more pleasing to her. I refused angrily, wishing even more that I could kill the demon. She dangled in front of me simple pleasures that I could have if I believed a lie. At the time, I didn't want to believe the lie. Unfortunately, I did believe a lie even then. I always held hope that Fred would come back to me. Eventually I did build an odd relationship with Illyria. I did it because of the lie. I taught her how to walk in our world like one of us, what had changed and what still might come to pass. I became the teacher of one of the Old Ones. How ironic I find that now. I was a watcher for so many years and I failed to adequately lead not one, but two slayers. I couldn't teach them or get them to follow my example. In the end, one became a rogue and the other in a coma, only to come back and try to kill a dear friend. She didn't succeed and asked for forgiveness.
Time is growing short now. It's harder to breathe in and hurts more as I do so. The feeling has left my lower body as I lay on the cold floor, but I can still feel the sticky warmth of my own blood, knowing that I'm just barely holding my own insides where they belong. It is a lost cause. Thoughts grow hazier and more distanced from each other. Faces, events, knowledge. I do believe that I never realized how much of a journey I was on before. I've changed from the man I was before, becoming more knowledgeable of the world around me and learning how to live in it. Now I prepare to make my final exit, but I'm not scared.
All because of a beautiful lie. I can feel her hand moving slowly through my hair and she's still talking, but I can barely hear her. It's ironic really. Only a few months earlier our positions were reversed. It was she who was slowly dying in my arms, and now here I lie.
"It's gonna be okay. It won't hurt much longer. And then you'll be where I am. We'll be together."
"I - I love you."
"I love you. My love. Oh, my love."
I finally said what I meant all along. I loved her more than my life. And in my final moments, I couldn't ask for anything better. She lied to me and it was a beautiful lie. In my last moments, I gazed upon the woman who will always hold my hear. I felt her arms around me and saw her tears. I saw them until the moment I closed my eyes and drew my last breath, sinking into the peaceful oblivion that I hoped I would find once my tenure on this Earth was done.
I believed the lie.