Winner of the third Village of Tokakeriby fanfic contest. Entrants were asked to write a piece inspired by TR Anniversary.

Nothing Alike

The last of the day's light filters through the stained glass, pooling in patches on the old patterned carpet at my feet. I lose myself in the sight of the dust motes suspended in the rays, my movements slowing somewhat but continuing on subconsciously, cleaning my weapons with a practised efficiency that long ago replaced the need for concentration. The dust is falling. It's moving slowly, wafting choicelessly on the otherwise imperceptible air currents, but falling nonetheless.

I tilt a pistol to the sun, scrutinising the metal in the yellow glare upon it. It, too, is dusty, having picked up the specks and fibres from the cloth I'm polishing it with. I frown, blow along the shaft to dislodge the imperfections. As dust so often does, it just stays stuck, caught in tiny, invisible grooves and scratches on the gun. Sighing harshly, I roughly shove the gun back into the recess of its velvet lined case, that, too, impregnated with stubborn, immovable dust. Out of the sun now, the gun shines dully and pretends to be perfectly clean.

"Pierre," I say to myself as I curl up into my easy chair and reach for the wine at my side, "your wake is my envy."

An outsider might be forgiven for thinking that Pierre and I were cut from the same cloth – both of us nothing more than grave robbers, and I won't deny that – but our motivations couldn't have been further apart. Pierre did what he did for money and fame. And I? What did I raid for? Knowledge? Experience? Perhaps a death wish. I give a short, bitter laugh at that thought. It really wouldn't surprise me.

But whatever the reason for my insatiable need to risk my life, and sometimes my very soul if that was what you believed, I know that it's a lot deeper than simple material gain. It's true. It's real. It's a part of myself.

Pay cheques can be ironically cheap.

The wine swirls in the glass as I circle it, contemplating the tiny currents I create.

Pierre's scream as he'd died had reeked of fear and regret. I hadn't heard a hint of resignation in it, no willingness to admit defeat to a greater enemy at last after years of putting himself in harm's way to break the defences of the dead. There had been no honour in his passing. He would have quite happily continued his career until he was too old to continue and too rich to do anything but live a life of luxury, massaging his ego with every uninformed celebration of his finds in the archaeological press. He would have been content to fade away.

And though I don't fully understand my own motivations, I know, as I watch the darkening grey of the room under the sunset, that fading away is something I am desperately, desperately afraid of. I am nothing like Pierre. I will never run from a fight. I will stand my ground and refuse to back down until eventually I am forced into a real, tangible death. One worthy of my life.

But it worries me. What if that death never comes? What if I always win until eventually there are just no more battles? What will happen then?

A chill settles over me and I know it's not from the evening. I will scream in fear. I will run.

"Pierre, my friend," I say as I move to the window to catch the last weak strains of day on my skin, "your wake is my envy. And may you never have a chance to return that. We are nothing alike."