Title: Shadows
Author: Silvi Henna
Fandom: Ats
Rating: FRC
Pairing: if any…I don't want to say, but anyway this is more of a Gen ficlett (Song-fic).
Spoilers: None really.

AN: This idea actually comes from a challenge that I found on 'Forging Ghost' group by Zinny V. Dark. Though I changed the pairing, well frankly the only thing I used from that challenge is the lyrics of the song 'Broken' by 'Ours'.

Thanks Pat for betaing this. As always it has meant a lot. /i

Summary: He watches and he guards over the one thing that means everything to him.

Smoothing down my hair I prepare myself to go out. I grab the keys from the small table beside me and slip it into my coat. Straightening the collar I then button it up before opening the door and stepping out. I don't bother locking it as I know no one will enter while I'm gone.

I try to shake off the maudlin feeling I've been having but it's hard. Shaking my head I pinch the top of my nose trying to alleviate the building headache behind my eyes, something that should really not be possible with my condition.

Stepping out into the cool air I take a big whiff of it, letting its foul stench fill my useless lungs. Looking down the streets I wonder where I would go this time. I'm not concerned that I have lost it, the trace, since I've always managed to find it again and a few days is really nothing.

Besides, I know where the most likely place he would turn up if he hasn't actually managed to leave the city this time. Turing to the right I begin to walk wrapping my coat firmly around me not really bothered with the cold that makes the windows frost and the air crispy.

I remember once my sire telling me that nothing really lasts forever, things change, sometimes for the better and other times for the worse so I know this situation will change and luckily I have both the will and the patience to see this through.

And when it does change, I will be there and tell the truth of what has been going on. I have eternity and I promised him that he would never lose me. That he temporarily forgot that, well that's understandable. And not something I will ever blame him for.

/It's not you fault
They pushed you too far/

It angers me beyond anything I've ever felt how they treated him and that's the sole reason why I've never returned to them. He comes first and now always will. I haven't forgotten anything I've learned during my years, both mortal and beyond and I can feel my face twist into a sneer as I think that for all their superior age they seemed to have known pathetically little. It's their loss and I know that they are feeling it acutely by now, not that it has changed their opinions of him.

As I turn to take a short cut I decided to grab something to eat as I know if I find him I most likely won't get a change to feed for a while.

Navigating between the many twists and turns that make up the backwaters of this city I can smell the river in the air and know that I'm close. In a way it amazes me that no matter where in the world you are, the smell of an old river, of decaying plants and putrefying water is the same.

If things had been as they should be I wouldn't be here, in fact I would stay away from places like this but that's not a choice I have, not anymore.

Not if I want to find him again.

There are others here, the bottom scab of humanity and other creatures that aren't even worth killing, not for someone like me and him, at least the him he would be if things were right.

Suddenly I know. I will find him tonight. He is here. Quickening my steps I stay away from the others sometimes flashing golden eyes to some of the lesser creatures that actually prey on this filth letting them know that I'm not one to mess with.

Turing one corner, the sound of the river close by, I see him. If it weren't for the fact that I knew what to look for I wouldn't have recognized him. He has lost a lot of weight and the dirt covers most of him and the rags that he wears. As he turns his head I step further into the shadows not wanting him to see me. It's not the time yet and he's not ready. I refuse to think on the possibility that it, the time, will ever come.

He is pawing among the trash looking for something that I don't even want to know and once again I fill with the rage that hasn't left me really during all these long years of how they could have let this happen. What was it with all the talk about family and loyalty and being there for one another?

Apparently not worth a damn when push come to shove. At least not for him. I think underneath it all that's what hurt him the most. I want to go to him but I know his mind is not ready to cope with that.

Seeing him move I follow at a distant. I find it ironic that my skills, most of them, have been honed beyond even I could imagine by following him.

He is extremely skittish, reminds me of a kitten I once found in our yard when I was but a little boy. She had been abused and reacted to the smallest sound or movement by running away. It took me almost a year before I had her eating from my hand. Not that I want to do that to him.

But I learned that if I wanted to stay at his tail, not lose him, then I had to make sure he never found out about me or it would take me months to find him again.

A movement from the corner of my eyes caught my attention and I saw one of the native demons. I could see the intention it its eyes and my lips curled back from my teeth. Backing away I made my way behind him.

The fight was intense but short and as I let the corpse fall to my feet I lifted my head sniffing to see if I've lost him again.

This isn't the first time it has happened to both my annoyance, despair and other feelings I rather not get into.

How he managed to survive the time before I first found him, as it had taken me awhile to find out what had happened, I will never know as he is far from the strong figure he had been.

Even though he may be shunned, ridiculed and other demeaning stuff from others it hasn't stopped them from going after him, especially since he's weak now.

He would never have done that. He used to scoff at those that did it as he saw no pleasure or honour in going after the weak. It would be like taking sweets from small children. There is no challenge in that.

I can't count the times I've had to step in and save him. One would think it would make me loathe him and be disgusted by him for having turn into such a state but no; to the contrary in fact, it has made my resolve to beat them all off stronger.

As I hurry to the place he was last my heart plummeted down as I see the place empty. Walking past the pile he had been digging into without looking down I try to find him again. The relief I feel half an hour later as I see him again goes beyond any words I can say.

He is close by the water front hunched down on the ground, his attention once again held by something within his hands. I don't have to come closer to realize he is feeding. I was wondering if he was going to do it tonight as it's obvious he's starving.

Sometimes I just want to pin him down and force pints after pints of blood down his throat, in fact I've daydreamed about it but I know I won't. That would destroy everything I've done, everything I've worked for over all these years.

I can't but admire him for his resilience, which utterly proves the real strength that lies deep within him and which I never saw when things where as they should be.

How can I mock him when he has survived everything that he has gone through, being cast out of the very thing he ever wanted – family. He may be in this sorry state now but that will not last, of that I'm sure of.

I can't honestly say that I think anyone else would have lasted as long as he has. I know I wouldn't, I don't have that inner strength, not if I had been in the position that he is in, though if I had him to help me…who knows?

I climb up the side of a building and settle on the roof looking down at him following him jumping from one roof to another when he moves. I know he is broken, but once, he taught me, anything that has been broken can be rebuild, it only needs time.

/It'd not your fault
They pushed you to far/

As long as he was their prince, king, the unbreakable force they worshipped him and followed him. But when he needed them they all disappeared, shut him out and kicked him to the curb.

/And all of your thoughts
Came apart within so/

And for what? For a soul? Hadn't he spent decades teaching that every soul is corruptible? Even the one of the Scourge of Europe who apparently hadn't been that pure to begin with. You only needed time and wasn't it the soul that had drawn her in in the first place? Had she truly forgotten that?

From what I heard, they wanted him to be the one he had been without giving him time to come around. That essence which they have an abundance of above all other – time – could have worked to their advantage if they had only had a little patience. If they had actually listened when he had talked and taught the lessons. But no, it had to be now or get out….

/They pushed too hard
They pushed too far
Fate comes, and fates heals all the worst of our debts
There's a broken man inside
There's a broken man inside/

I had known something was wrong when he didn't come. And when the feeling grew in me I had to leave to find out what had happened. I can never forget the cold look in their eyes as they told me, talking of him as if he was someone else. I was enraged and I wanted to shout at them but I'm not a fool, he taught me better then that.

It wasn't his fault that much I knew. For the first time I actually didn't resent my mortal life as the years under my mortal fathers tutelage taught me and gave me the foundation I needed to not turn my back on him as the others had done.

So… he had a soul, a human soul. Intellectually I could image what he was going through but still it was a real shock to see how far gone he had…gotten. It had taken me a couple of years to find him combing every place I could think of, even returning to his native land.

He was broken and yet he had survived. My God had fallen but he will rise again. Until then I would watch out for him, protect him from the threats of everyone looking to get the head of the 'Scourge of Europe' thinking him exposed, easy and vulnerable in his current situation.

And if he thinks to walk out into the sun again I'll protect him from himself and knock him out - not the first time… and we'll begin again.

I feel like a gargoyle perched on the edge of the roof top silently watching him. He hasn't spoken a word in years and strangely I can't remember the last time I did either.

I see him move and I stand up to follow him.

For close to a century this strange dance has been going on and if I had to wait another century for him to find his two feet again I will, till then I'll be his guardian angel, unseen, unknown but always there.

I can't help but shake ruefully my head at the thought.

/He'll break
The stars are gonna change
Time will go away
The stars are gonna change, but I won't
If I could find a way
I'd suffer all your pain
Time will go away, but I won't/

As Penn walked further away to go to the next roof he briefly turned his back on the figure below. Among the filth, the darkness and the shadows there was a brief flash of burning gold as the figure turned his head up into the sky, knowing eyes following the ever present shadow on the roof.

The end.