Epilogue: Worth the Price?
Courtney stood staring out the port long after the fire had died away and Earth was but another star in the night. No one would disturb her, understanding her need to be alone. They did not understand mourning, or why it was so important to her. They just accepted it as a personality trait from the only human any of them had known personally.
It was close to midnight Earth time, when Quartas' treatment had made Gui'Yata well enough to move about. He had been surprised, oddly enough, to be alive, he had not tried to delude himself about his condition during captivity. He sat up slowly, swinging his legs out over the floor. He looked at his desiccated body, amazed at how little time it took to become this shadow of himself, he had only been there for one Earth week.
"Where is Courtney?" he asked quietly of the walls.
"Aft war-room, Gui'," it said in what was as close to a mournful tone as it would get, "I think she needs some company. Sora sacrificed his own life to save you and the group, she is very upset."
He nodded solemnly. Standing unsteadily, he traced his way to where she was. The doors slid silently away, and he paused a moment. She stood against the left-hand pillar, staring out at the passing stars. No, she was not seeing it, her thoughts were turned inward. She was crying he could tell, no one else knew how to handle her when she was like this.
He silently approached her, and laid a hand on her shoulder. She spun around to face him, her face was puffy, hot and wet with tears. Without any forewarning, her face decayed into the ugly mask of anguish and she wrapped her arms around her unsteady companion.
"He's dead Gui', I can't believe Sora's dead!" she cried in a pained voice, "I tried so hard to help him! I thought he was so much better!"
"I know," he replied quietly, stroking her soft hair, "I thought he was too. He was a good huntsman, and became a good friend."
"He was like a brother to me..." she said softer, rubbing her forehead against the muscles of his stomach. He had been the closest friend she had, had next to her relationship with Gui'.
She was unaware of the lack of flesh on his once husky body. Nor did she notice the places where his bones poked into her painfully. She needed his presence, his support and nothing more.
Gui'Yata was fighting his own emotions about Sora's loss. He never wished to admit it, but he and the scarred warrior had become almost inseparable. He knew Courtney had noticed, and approved with a sort of 'I knew it would work out' air about her. He had found more in common with Sora, than most of the Soua he had been calling his friends. Courtney had said once that sometimes even the worst of enemies could become the best of friends, which seemed to presage the two warrior's fraternity. Their alliance came as a shock to the both of them it seemed, for Sora was just as awed that they had not killed each other.
Gui'Yata cooed at Courtney, continuing to stroke her long hair. It helped to calm her on the rare occasions when she did cry. It had puzzled him the first time he had seen her in tears, he had thought her sick again. He was always paranoid about illness in her, since their arduous trek through the jungle. He had almost lost her on that trip, when she developed an allergic reaction to his own blood.
She was so frustrated at his inquiries about her health that first time, she only cried harder. Telling him for the first time to leave her alone. After a few hours she was back to her normal self. She had a hard time convincing him that there had been no illness involved. Her explanation perplexed him almost as much as the actual act. Crying was something peculiar to the human race, he had seen it nowhere else in his hunts.
He understood perfectly now, she had cried a lot in those first few years at Onona, for her adjustment had been a long hard road. It was usually only a sign of extreme stress, and she used it a relief valve, a way to release mental pain. She had said that if she did not cry every so often, her only other release could be, aimless, undirected violence. So he coped with it, trying to cheer her when her mood was grim.
They were two halves of one puzzle, they knew each other intimately after all of their rotations together. They were still marked as bondsmen, legally in the eyes of everyone outside of Taysa. In the city it was nothing more than an outdated form, unacceptable in a small struggling town that was not and did not want to be supported. The two of them had been free to just walk away from each other, and never lay eyes on one another again. They chose to stay together, and had lived in the same dwelling for the years since the move. Too attached to each other to bear to be apart. They knew what pleased the other, supplemented each others hunting styles, and could predict each others moods, knowing exactly how to handle it.
After the tears had dried and the sobs had ceased to echo in the room, Courtney still clung to the tall creature, calming herself in the security of his arms. She concentrated on his heartbeat, so strangely different compared to her own. This reminded her of when she was young, before her troubles started. When she used to lay on her mothers stomach, taking comfort from her. Tears stared to well again at the memory of her mother and she quickly wiped them away, pushing away from her most cherished friend.
She sniffed and smiled in embarrassment, he reached to her face to wipe the last tear of her soft, scarred cheek.
Her brows furrowed as she really took a look at him, "God's are you skinny!" she exclaimed, her mood suddenly brightening, "I can't let you go anywhere by yourself, now can I! I swear your just like a kid!", She finished mocking incredulity, and anger.
"Not my fault, ma', I swear!" He said mimicking a southern drawl. He had said it straight but the look on his face and the drawl made the joke pointed, and her smile broke through.
"I'm glad your back Gui', I missed you." she said honestly, smiling warmly up at him.
"I am glad to be back, I like you too much, human, to leave this world without you. You are my favorite pet." he said humorously, trying to cheer her mood, it was a personal joke they shared. She hit him playfully.
"You crab-faced son of a bitch!" she retorted, and they both laughed.
Sorry to dump three chapters on you guys at once, but I am going to be away from my computer for a while and I would not be able to get these up for weeks. I hope you understand! Please review this and let me know what you think! It has been great knowing that even though the concept of this story is over thirteen years old (And been sitting idle for three) that it is still so well accepted by you guys! Thanks for all the support throughout this story!