Title: Prose
Author: A.j.
Spoilers: Through season one, but nothing specific.
Rating: Parental Guidance Suggested.
Notes: For Little Red, who's riding balls out for the West Coast with nothing but her mommy and a dream. ;)

Summary: He almost wishes this were a book and that when they're finished, he could open it to read and live all again.


She makes him kind of nervous and a little bit tongue tied. And if it weren't for the fact that the world ended on their watch, and they're left to deal with the daily fallout, he's pretty sure he'd be acting like a rather silly teenager.

It's strange to feel at all grateful for a nuclear holocaust.

He also feels rather stupid for admiring her legs when she walks into a room. They are nice legs.

But mostly, he's fascinated by her.

He'd mentally written her off as a silly school teacher the day they'd met. To be fair, he was being retired and his ship decommissioned, so it hadn't been the best of days. She'd been nothing more than the messenger then; an instrument to tie off his career and send him kicking and muttering into retirement.

He'd never expected her to be able to make the tough decisions. Had no reason to really consider the matter at all. Mentally he'd signed her into the category of uppity female with no real backbone to back up the feminist training. He should have remembered that most of his primary and secondary school teachers - the good ones anyway - had left him gasping and striving to do better. Be better in everything. To not disappoint them.

He knows that she was a good teacher.

The Gods know he doesn't want her disappointed in him. He's done it once already, and past the gaping chest wound, he remembers that sharp pang of anger and fear at watching her eyes dim while looking at him.

She confused him on so many levels, and had constantly from the very beginning.

He wants to think in prose about her. Compose sonnets or, at the very least, think up bad adjectives for her eye color. But he isn't wired that way. Never has been.

He wants to have met her when he was young and dashing. He laughs at the idea she would have been impressed. She might have, but she wouldn't have let him know. He thinks she'd have probably smiled that little smirk in his direction and happily let him make an idiot of himself.

Then again, he might not have given her the time of day when he was young and dashing. So maybe it's a good thing he met her when he did. Met her at the end of the world. Got to watch her become who she is, and stand beside her.

He's strangely honored for the privilege.

He wants to have her kick his ass in a literature debate. They'd done that occasionally in the beginning of this long, strange journey. Finished their work, and taken a few moments to themselves. To discuss art and books and things that made them more than scared rabbits, running from a rather persistent wolf.

He remembers laughing at her interpretation of Gonjii early works, and the way her brow crinkled at his humor.

Mostly though, right now, he wants her to open her eyes.

Sitting slumped on the floor of Colonial One, he holds her hand and watches her breathe shallowly. Behind them, he can hear Billy's voice crack over Cottle's name. The boy is frantic.

He isn't frantic. He isn't even scared. He's seen death so many times, in so many different ways and faces that seeing it in her face only makes him sad. Makes him regret.

Carefully, he leans over and tucks a loose lock of hair behind her ear. Squeezes her hand. Opens his mouth and lets the words come because he's done with tomorrows.

"Ours is a time in autumn. A place in the twilight of the world. We are the vanguards of a lost place, knowing ought but that which fades into the distance..."

Later, in the dark days, he will remember that she squeezed his hand back.