Author:  The Wanlorn

Title: Symphony of Sorrow 1/1

Summary: Just a short involving Nire and Jander.  No real point.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Some of the things that happen in FTW

Pairing: Nire/Jander

Distribution: My site, fanfiction.net, The Writers Shack.  Anywhere else, please fill out the proper request form in triplicate and I shall get back to you.

Disclaimer: Nire is mine, her family is mine, most of her Family is mine, Ted is mine.  Jander, Raistlin, Khelben, and Laeral belong to WotC and their respective authors.  The first song is 'Perfect' by Simple Plan.  The one Nire quotes to Jander (and the one he later quotes to her) is 'Something Else' by Gary Jules.  The next song is 'Acoustic #3' by The Goo Goo Dolls and the last song is 'Gutter Glitter' by Switchblade Symphony.

Thank Yous: Thanks to all the people who have been my Khel and Laer.  I wouldn't have made it this long without you.

Author's Note: Here's a Nire/Jander story set in the future of 'For the World is Hollow…'.  Enjoy!

Story Notes: This is unbeta'ed.

Symphony of Sorrow

            Jander could feel Nire, but he couldn't feel her.  It had been like this almost all day.  A lot of the things his little one did made no sense to him and this was certainly one of them.  Why did she insist on staying at her house in America when that family obviously made her miserable?  Why didn't she do what she had to with them, then come back to her Family?  It was hard to erase the damage her birth family did when she wouldn't come back.

            More importantly, why did she cut herself off from him like this?  She had to know that when she shielded herself so he could feel she was alive, feel the tickle that was Nire at the base of his skull, but not feel her general emotions… She had to know that that told him just as surely that something was wrong as if she let him feel her turmoil.  Logically, he understood that it meant she wanted to be alone, that she didn't want him to rush to comfort her.  But there was a piece of him that hurt, a piece of him that ached because she still didn't trust him enough to tell him to leave her alone.  Of course, he supposed it was no different from how he would never say such a thing to her, fearing to drive her away.

            He allowed her the privacy she desired all day.  Even now, as he picked up Amariyah in his arms and had Dawn and Ivy trailing after him, he wrestled with whether or not he planned on going to see what was wrong before she came back on her own.  As he tucked in the three girls along with the rest of the younger children, he reached his decision.  After all, what was the worst that would happen?  She would throw some choice obscenities at him and tell him to go away.

            At least, he hoped that was the worst.

            The young ones were in bed for the night.  The older ones would eventually drift that way and get themselves to sleep.  He had no other duties for the night, so he stepped out of the tent and gated to Nire's room.

            It only took a moment for his eyes to adjust from the soft darkness of the Dale to this encompassing darkness of Nire's bedroom.  The sharp smells that assailed his nose from outside, car exhaust the strongest, immediately made his eyes water, but he knew that would stop after a few moments.  The cleanliness of the Dale air versus the poison of the air on Earth was always a shock to his senses at first.

            Nire was lying on her bed, her CD player loudly playing music, her caramel brown teddy bear clasped in her arms.  He had seen her with it less than a hand of times.  For the most part, it lived up in the closet.  He wasn't sure if it even had a name.

Hey Dad, look at me

Think back, and talk to me

Did I grow up according to plan?

And do you think I'm wasting my timed

Doing things I wanna do?

            "Hey little one," he said as he sat on the edge of her bed.

            "Hey," she responded listlessly.

            Jander considered moving the junk on the other side of her bed so he could lie next to her, but the mess was too great to move quickly.  "What's the matter?"

            "Nothing important."

            The mess suddenly lifted up and moved to the side, then settled onto the floor.  Another example of her thoughtfulness.  Jander went around, picking his way carefully through the junk on the ground, and lay down, Nire immediately snuggling into his side.

            "Love, you know that's not true."

            "Nothing that hasn't happened a thousand times before," she clarified, sighing.

But it hurts when you disapproved all along

And now I try hard to make it

I just wanna make you proud

I'm never gone be good enough for

You can't pretend that I'm alright

And you can't change me.

            Jander pushed gently at the gate to her mind, silently asking permission to enter and look around.  After a moment, she acquiesced to his unspoken request and opened to allow him in.  He began probing through the events of the day, silently wincing at each verbal assault thrown at her.

            The sense of failure her mother had instilled in her and reinforced every day was there, brought up today because she wasn't getting top marks in this school like she had in her old one.

            The plumbing was acting up again, as it was wont to do in a small town.  Today, it was somehow her fault.

            The computer wasn't working right, but her parents wouldn't allow her to do what was needed to fix it.

'Cause we lost it all

Nothin' lasts forever

I'm sorry I can't be perfect

Now it's just too late

And we can't go back

I'm sorry I can't be perfect

            Her father hated Jander, despised the life she had chosen and never passed up a chance to make it blatantly obvious.  Her sister wasn't much better with her snide comments and racism that shone more blatantly than her father's.

            Her mother wasn't much better, disapproving of her daughter's life.  Not a time was wasted that could be used to make her aware of the disapproval.  Nor did her mother neglect t make it known of the surety that it was her Family that was causing this slip in her schoolwork.

I try not to think

About the pain I feel inside

Did you know you used to be my hero?

All the days you spent with me

Now seem so far away

And it seems like you don't care anymore

            Nire's mind kept bouncing back tot eh sense of failure that was thrust on her at every turning when she was on her birth-world.  Every single time they made her failings solely her fault, ever considering that outside influences played in, only saying that she didn't try hard enough… Every time was there in her mind, filed in massive tomes, ready to fall open and mock her at any instant.  And the tomes were constantly filling and growing.

            "Oh, little one," Jander sighed, holding her and Nameless Bear close to him.  "Why does it matter?  You always make it seem like nothing they do affects you because they're not your parents.  I thought, as far as you're concerned, Khelben and Laeral are."

            She laughed bitterly.  "I know.  It's a well-crafted mask, isn't it?" For a long moment, she was silent.  Jander allowed her this time to think.  "I don't know why it matters, but it does.  It just does.  It matters a horribly lot.  And it hurts.  But you, Khel, Laer, my Family… You balance it."

            For a moment, she met his gaze intensely.  The pain in there, the bitterness, was almost too much for him to take, but he would not allow himself to turn away, to reject her.  Finally, she looked away, turning her head away.

            "I don't know why, but it matters."  A harsh bark of laughter essayed forth, keeping the tears at bay.  "The gods know I'll never be perfect like Kerry.  No matter what I do."

And now I try hard to make it

I just wanna make you proud

I'm never gonna be good enough for you

I can't stand another fight

And nothing's all right

'Cause we lost it all

And nothin' lasts forever

I'm sorry I can't be perfect.

Now it's just too late

And we can't go back

I'm sorry I can't be perfect.

            "Sometimes I wish you could hear for yourself the bullshit I have to put up with when you're not around.  They're afraid of you, you know.  The big bad vampire." She spit out the words, their taste poisoning her mouth.  "Evil Hannibal Lecter come to seduce naïve little Clarice Starling away with his wiles.  They never understood that she wanted to go, did they?

            " 'They never tell you truth is subjective.  They only tell you not to lie'," she quoted to him.  "So I wish you could hear it first hand.  But then I don't because I Know you would kill them.  As much as I wouldn't complain, you would never be able to forgive yourself."

            He nodded slightly and held her close, trying to give her what comfort he could.  His poor, poor little one…

Nothing's gonna change the things that you said

And nothing's gonna make this right again

Please don't turn your back

I can't believe its hard just to talk to you

But you don't understand

'Cause we lost it all

And nothin' lasts forever

I'm sorry I can't be perfect

            "They don't understand, though.  Not in the slightest.  They don't know how far they've pushed me away."  Her cynical face brought tears to his eyes, tears that shamed him.  She was the one in pain and she was too strong to cry, yet here he was, ready to weep like a baby for her.  "They still try to pretend we're a family sometimes, you know that?  But they can never get back what they lost.  Hell, when they're not feeling some sort of guilt, they don't want it back.

            "Nothing can make this right again." Her throat was getting thick so she paused, waiting until her emotions were well under control before continuing.

            "Sometimes I wish… everything was normal.  I wish I was the favorite, or that there was no favorite.  All the children equal in their eyes.  But more often, I wish they never existed, that I grew up with Khel and Laer."

            "Then why bother coming back, little one?  You know that you don't have to.  You know you're the one who controls who stays and goes at home. So why return at all?"

            The CD track changed with a slight hiss of empty silence.

They painted up your secrets

With the lies they told to you

And the least they ever gave you

Was the most you ever knew

And I wonder where these dreams go

When the world gets in your way

What's the point in all this screaming?

No one's listening anyway

            "Don't know why," she finally said, so quietly he could barely hear her.  "I guess… There's a masochistic part of me that makes me keep coming back." When she paused again, he nuzzled her neck comfortingly, snugging her closer against him.

            "You know… For the longest time, that was all I knew.  I sucked, Kerry didn't.  They always told me I was imagining things until I almost believed them.  I'd want to do something… but they wouldn't let me.  Kerry would want to do it and all lights were green.  And that was how life was.

            "Suddenly, there was Raistlin.  And you.  And Khel and Laer and others.  It freaked me out, but I craved it.  I wanted a family, needed a family.  I as crying for help in the only way I knew how.  But no one heard.  For the longest time, no one heard."

            A wave of guilt crashed through Jander.  He couldn't even claim to be the first one to hear her silent screams.  No, he had been too wrapped up in his own doubts and self-pity.  It was Laeral, and they both knew it.  Her followed by Khelben.  Then she had stopped screaming so loudly.  In a way, though, Jander was glad.  If he had been the first, would he be here, like this, right now?

Your voice is small and fading

And you hide in here unknown

And your mother loves your father

'Cause she's got nowhere to go

And she wonders where these dreams go

What's the point in ever trying

Nothing's changing anyway

            The raised voices of her parents could be heard suddenly.  They were fighting about something again.  Nire flinched and turned to bury her face in Jander's side.  For a moment, she just listened to the song.

            "It's true, you know," she finally said.  "That's the only reason why we stay with Dad.  There's nowhere else she can go.  Nowhere she could take us because she doesn't make enough to support us.  You should hear her talking about everything he's given up.  You would think she lost everything.  But she doesn't give a shit about what her children have to give up.

            "I was dying, you know." She switched topics fast enough to make anyone's head spin if they weren't used to it, her voice tortured.  "Inside.  Crumbling to pieces for such a long time, even after you guys.  Remember Ted?  He called me a nihilist.  And he was right.  There wasn't a point to anything.  Not trying, not breathing, not living."

They press their lips against you

And you love the lies they say

And I tried so hard to reach you

But you're falling anyway

And you know I see right through you

When the world gets in your way

What's the point in all this screamin'

You're not listening anyway

            "I screamed in different ways." Her breath tickled his side, her head still hidden there.  She was bouncing across the conversation again, hopping back to things she already talked about.  "You heard it, some of it.  You heard me crying, not for a family, but just for someone to care.  And you did."  She laughed sardonically, clutching him and her teddy bear tighter.  "How long did it take you to see right through whatever masks I hid behind?  A week?  A month?  Two at the most?

            "You saw what there was, I know you did.  You just wouldn't always let yourself see.  You dealt with what you wanted."

            "I tried to help," he said quietly, full of shame.  "I really did, little one.  But you didn't seem to want it."

            "Yeah, I know.  I didn't and you didn't want to piss me off, drive me away.  I understand, it's not your fault."  She was silent again.

            "I almost lost you so many times," Jander mused, his lips pressed against her hair.  "You kept on… slipping through the cracks.  And I couldn't catch you, didn't know how to catch you, didn't know if you wanted me to catch you…"  There was another silence.

            "It was safer.  For me.  Everything they told me… It was safe.  I was, am, worthless.  It's how the world works, how I was taught, how I lived.  It was what  learned and it was safe.  Much less threatening than dealing with everyone else… who thought I as something, didn't understand that I'm nothing." She could hardly speak now.  Her through was closed up tight, her eyes burned, her stomach and heart were being squeezed into a pulp.

            "You're not nothing, little one.  You're everything."  There was a long silence in which neither talked.  Jander merely held Nire closely, comforting her with his presence, both listening to her CD player.

Iridescent eyes of the seahorse riseTreasure she lovesOthers despiseA shooting star shan't fall very farDim fireflies held in glass jarsApril showers brings May flowersDazzling dust tossed in wind gustsThe trap door is openThe window half closedThe tapestry curtain vivaciously closedLondon Bridge did fall downMy fair lady nearly drownedWhat is the reason to lock her upWhen already she's had such rotten luckBracelets of silver adorn my wristsCandy kisses from sugared lipsCandy kisses meKisses meThe London Bridge did fall downMy fair lady nearly drowned(My fair lady)The London Bridge did fall downMy fair lady nearly drowned(My fair lady)London Bridge is falling downFalling downFalling downLondon Bridge is falling downMy fair ladyTake the key and lock her upLock her upLock her upTake the key and lock her upMy fair lady

            Jander was aware of her trembling lips, her watery eyes, her mask of strength.  He held her as tight as he could without hurting her, stroking her hair and cheeks.  Her head rested on his shoulder, pillowed between his arm and body.  The arm between their sides was curled around the teddy bear, making her look innocent and vulnerable.  Her right arm was thrown across his chest, holding him as he held her.

            "Little one," he whispered into her hair to get her attention, then quoted the song back to her.  " 'They never told you there's strength in vulnerability.  They only told you not to cry.' "

            It was enough to release her tears and allow them to flow.

*Fin*

~October 20, 2003~