Ack! I've done it again. I seem to be having a really good run of writing Obernewtyn slash fics, and here's another. It's slightly weirder than the last couple and a bit darker too.

Title: Promise
Author: Zalia Chimera aka Shaodw Sorceress
Warnings: Slash (did you expect anything else?), death, angst and reincarnation.
Pairings: Rushton/Ariel, Rushton/Elspeth mentioned.

Intro: A promise made in the beforetime has repurcussions in the far future.

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It was dark when Rushton awoke, the room only illuminated by a sliver of moonlight through the window. The bed beside him was empty and the hollow where his lover should have been was cold. Sighing softly, he twisted towards the light, a small frown appearing on his lips as he saw the dark silhouette curled up on the window seat.

Pushing the covers away from his body, Rushton stood, grasping for his dressing gown in the dark and pulling it on before swiftly crossing the room. He wrapped his arms around his lover's shoulders, leaning down to rest his chin on top of his head, inhaling the scent of his pale blond hair. He frowned as he felt the trembling of his lover's body beneath his fingers.

You're shivering love. Come back before you get ill.

I'm fine Rushton, his lover said in a near whisper, leaning back into Rushton's warm body.

Rushton shook his head in exasperation. Ariel, it's freezing here and you need to sleep. We're leaving tomorrow remember.

Ariel tilted his head back to look at him with ice blue eyes that seemed to hold all the world's sorrow in their depths. I know. Hannah wants us all with her. He paused for a moment, as if deciding to reveal some terrible secret. I had another vision. I couldn't sleep.

Tell me, Rushton said, beginning to knead his lover's shoulders where his muscles had knotted with tension.

Ariel smiled fleetingly and took a breath before speaking, his voice taking on a strange, detached quality, as if he were speaking from a long way away or from a far off time. The dark whiteness is coming. Nothing can stop it. Not Hannah, or Jacob or Cassandra. The Earth will be seared with death and precious little will survive.

He paused, his eyes coming back into focus. I saw more, but not so broad. I know that Cassandra has seen what may be more clearly. She knows the far off future and her Sight encompasses the whole world.

Ariel reached a slender hand to stroke Rushton's cheek softly. I can't see that much. I don't know what will happen with the world, but I know what will happen to us.

The blond swallowed nervously and squeezed his eyes shut, forcing a tear out from under the lid. We will be enemies then. I... I will do terrible things. Hurt many people and cause much suffering.

Rushton tightened his grip on Ariel's shoulders. I can't believe that Ariel. You would die before you hurt someone needlessly.

Ariel's misery laden eyes met his green ones again. I will. I saw it. Your future is bright, although it will be hard. You will be a great leader and many of our kind will follow you. And you will fall in love.

Rushton's eyes opened wide in disbelief. I will never love anyone but you.

We will be different people love. Completely different. You will love the bringer of light. She who hunts the lives of the dark machines to bring an end to them. She will need you Rushton. Help her in any way you can. Love her and let her be free. Or all may fall.

He fell silent and for a long time all that could be heard was the sound of their breathing.

Finally, Ariel stood, allowing Rushton to pull him towards their bed and wrap him in the duvet, slipping in beside him and curling up at his back so Ariel could feel his warm breath against his neck. Fingertips caressed his skin gently, a reassuring touch for them both.

Just as Rushton began to fall asleep again, he heard an almost imperceptible whisper. Rushton? Are you asleep?

No. What is it?

Ariel shifted so he was facing him, pressing soft lips against his own in a sweet kiss before breaking away. Promise something for me.

Rushton breathed.

Promise me. Promise that if they take me you won't let them keep me. Promise me that you won't let me win. Promise that you won't allow me to bring back the darkness forever. Promise that if needs be, you will kill me.

Don't talk like this Ariel. It will not happen.

No! Promise me Rushton! I need this. My life is nothing compared to what will happen if you don't and I can't stand the thought that they might use me against you. Please.

The last word was filled with anguish and Rushton found that he could not refuse, even though it killed him to agree. I promise.

*~*~*~*~*

The thought of Elspeth's eyes leant him strength as he faced his enemy. He wouldn't let her die, wouldn't let Obernewtyn fall. Not even if the cost was his own life.

Ariel stared at him with contempt. So, she sends the Master of Obernewtyn in her place. How pathetic. Is she too afeared to face me herself?

She has ten times the courage of you, Rushton snarled.

Ariel laughed, a high, bright sound that was at odds with the surroundings. That laugh should have been heard outside in the sunlight, not in this darkness. An uncomfortable sensation began in the back of Rushton's mind. No matter. This may be a gift in disguise. Tell me Rushton, how long do you think your precious Elspeth will continue once she feels your screams in her mind? Do you think she will still carry on when she feels you die?

Rushton moved to take a step towards the blond, but found to his horror that he could not move. Ariel's laughter sounded within his mind and pain coursed through him, burning his thoughts.

Ariel stepped towards him, smiling lightly but with an edge of insanity in the expression. You are her weakness. You will fall and she will fall with you.

Pain flowed through him again and again, until he could barely think. He closed his mind, trying to keep the pain from Elspeth. She had to continue. His life was nothing compared to what would happen if she didn't.

At the thought, something within his mind seemed to open and memories assaulted him. Pale skin against his own and soft kisses. Ice blue eyes staring into his and a promise. A promise sworn beneath moonlight before the world of the beforetimers came to an end. Barely knowing what he was doing, Rushton called upon his mental link with Elspeth, using his strange Talent to contain her darkest power. Feeling as though he were pushing through thick cobwebs, Rushton stepped forwards, breaking Ariel's hold upon his mind. Ariel moved backwards suddenly, a look of almost fear upon his face as Rushton walked towards him, forcing him towards the wall.

Slowly, Rushton allowed the dark power to uncoil within his mind and then sent it flying into Ariel, forcing the blond to his knees in front of him, eyes wide and glassy before he collapsed and the mind power returned, almost hissing in satisfaction.
Rushton gasped as the deadly serpent retreated back to Elspeth, his new-found strength leaving him as suddenly as it had arrived and he sank to the floor as his legs gave way. He smirked lightly, amused by the irony of the situation. His beautiful Elspeth would save the world but he would die next to his slain enemy.

Something compelled him to look down at Ariel's still for beside him and he noticed wearily as the blue eyes blinked up at him, full of sorrow and... love? A pale hand lifted to his face and Rushton was too weak to knock it aside or move away as it stroked his cheek, and strangely, he did not mind.

Ariel's voice when he spoke in a ragged, barely audible whisper was devoid of the cruelty and madness that had characterised it before, instead it was warm and Rushton knew that if the blond was capable, he would have been smiling.

Thank you. I know it pained you to promise it, but it is better this way. Rushton stared, not understanding the meaning of the words being spoken by his enemy.

I love you Rushton. Ariel's eyes drifted shut and his breathing slowed and finally stopped.

Something shattered within Rushton. It was as if something long buried took over, bringing half remembered thoughts and emotions to the surface. He searched desperately for a pulse, trying anything to start Ariel breathing again as tears began to run down his face.

Don't leave me again! Don't you dare leave me Ariel! Not again! he cried, shaking him slightly and then cradling Ariel's lifeless body close as if his touch would bring him back. He couldn't bear it. Having his lover die in his arms again, killed by Rushton's own hand. Last time to free Ariel from their control, now to save him from his own insanity.

Finally a strange calm overtook him and he brushed a strand of white-blond hair from Ariel's face, noting that for the first time since he had known him, the blond seemed at peace.

In a broken sob he spoke, binding the words into his mind so that not even death would make him forget them. Next time my love. I promise.