Author: Isskar PM
What if the Big Damn Heroes never came back for them?Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama - Words: 1,174 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 1 - Published: 02-27-05 - id: 2284367
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
If he could ever have picked what was going to kill him, it would not have been this. Burning is not a very dignified way to go. If he could have picked how he was going to die though, this would have been it. Holding River close in his arms, her face was going to be the last thing he saw in this ugly world and the first thing he saw in Paradise.
That was not, of course, the way it went.
"No Doctor, you are not to be punished with this witch. Her evil is her own." It was the patron, his glassy eyes mirroring fear and guilt and zeal.
"Besides, Simon," the woman now, the cause of all this, "there are people here, good people, who need your help."
"Light it!" He didn't recognize his own voice as it echoed in the cold air, it sounded of sandpaper and chalk. He could feel River's lips against the shell of his ear, nuzzling, kissing.
"Make them light it Simon, I'm ready. Let's go."
The patron gestured up at them, "Get our doctor down from there."
"NO. Light. It." His grip on River tightening as his voice rose, but then they were there, pulling him away from her. He fought them, fought like he never had for anything in his life before. They picked him up bodily, but River clamped her little hands around his wrists. For the rest of his life, he would remember the look of terror in her eyes when they finally pulled him so hard that even though her nails were clawed into his skin, they were separated.
He didn't remember screaming, though he knew he must have. He did remember kicking and thrashing and biting though, anything to get back to River's pyre so he could burn with her.
Someone hit him on the head, hard, and he fell to the ground, too stunned to move. He could see her, though his vision was blurry, like he was trying to look through water. Her body was contorting, trying to get away from the flames licking up around her. He remembered trying to call out then, but he was too dizzy to get out anything more than a hoarse whisper. Her head, which had been lolling forward, jerked up as if she had heard him. Her clothes and hair were on fire, she was a mass of blackened flesh and red blisters, and in some places, he couldn't tell if the white was skin or bone. Her mouth opened, he couldn't hear what she said, but he saw it. Simon. I love you. Her head fell back forward, and when he croaked her name from the muddy ground again, she didn't look up. This is the part where he remembers screaming. They let him scream for hours lying in the mud.
Sometime in the night, they moved him back to the hospital. He awoke, numb to everything except for an itching in his wrists and against the back of his neck. Rolling over, the itch in the back of his neck was sitting quietly across from him. Ruby. She smiled at him and he wanted to throw up. He stumbled up but fell against the wall as a wave of dizziness swept over him. River. When it passed, he looked Ruby straight in the eyes, "You killed my sister." He then reeled across the room and out into the bright morning. His wrists still itched and, rubbing at them, he winced. River. Her nails had scratched three perfect lines into each wrist. They hadn't been deep and were already scabbed over. River. His feet had led him to her, and he fell to his knees in all that was left. The wind blew her across his face and for just a moment, it felt like her hair against his cheek. He very carefully unbuttoned his vest, removing it and his shirt; then, with a precision gained from years of training and a brutality borne on pain, he pulled open the scabs on his wrists until they bled. He then took River and ground her into his wounds. He licked his hands clean when he was finished. The villagers watched him perform his ritual in silence. They watched him do the same the next day and the next day and again the next.
The fifth day, he took Ruby into his lap and rocked her against his chest. "I'm sorry." he whispered into her hair, "I was..." he sighed, "inconsiderate." She blinked. "I was mean." She smiled up at him, then down at the hand that was resting on his thigh. She turned it wrist up, her small finger tracing the three perfect black lines under his skin, and then twisted around to do the same to the other. "Now she's always with us." She nodded the little girl nod that meant I don't know, but yes, and snuggled deeper into his chest.
It was easy at first. People were brought in with fevers and other ailments and while they thought that he was curing them, he really just let them lie there until they got better. It was easy the day some men were felling a tree to make room for a crop field and a limb hit one man as it fell, breaking his arm. They carried him, pale-faced and sweating, into the hospital with its too-close air and hard beds. They placed him on a chair in front of Simon and waited. He did nothing. They shouted and pushed him towards the injured man but he did nothing. The dark woman yelled at him that if he didn't set the bone it would heal wrong and he would lose the use of his arm. Simon nodded, "Yes." And did nothing. Eventually, she did it herself, but she wasn't trained and he noted with satisfaction that the arm would not heal properly.
It was still easy the night a woodshed caught fire and spread to the surrounding homes. A score of people were carried into his hospital, those who had been injured in their sleep and those burned trying to help them escape the flaming buildings. Simon almost smiled as he recognized the faces lying before him. He had been left alone to treat his patients as everyone else was out trying to douse the flames with the meager water supply. He lifted Ruby and swung her high over his head before settling her on his hip to walk amongst the wounded, looking each and every one of them in the eye. Finally, he and Ruby sat back down on their bed.
"You see Ruby, they didn't understand that first you do no harm."
He picked up her pigtail and tickled the end of her nose with it until she giggled and he smiled back at her. "You should grow you hair longer Mei-Mei, it would be pretty."