Ten Years Later: Adieu
Leon stares up at the hostel ceiling and ignores the other man in the room, who's just waiting for him to fall asleep before rummaging through his stuff. Leon almost pities him. He's long since had nothing worth stealing.
He thinks about threatening the guy. He hasn't been a cop in ages, but his patience still runs thin, especially when he feels too old to be --
The other suddenly falls asleep. The shadows on the wall in front of Leon coalesce into a shape. A man. A person, a thing…
"I have come to tell you he is dead."
The shadow-man has eyes that look into you forever. Leon feels like he's choking to death. There's only one "he" that's mattered anything in the last ten years.
"Surrender. That is how it takes them. I know the family. I knew his father."
"Lives still." Shadow-man extends his shadow-hand. "Do you wish to say goodbye?"
This isn't how it was supposed to go. How can he bear it? "Th-there's a funeral?"
"It won't answer all your questions. But some. Come. Bid him farewell."
Leon takes the hand. It's the least he can do.
A long and endless room, filled with people Leon's never even dreamed of. People who, he knows, would look like animals in the daytime -- some of them like animals he's never seen, probably. Animals that are extinct, or never existed. Kirins and unicorns and mermaids and…
D's grandfather is standing at the front of the room, in his cloak, staring at him with no feeling. Leon's the only human here.
Shadow-man take the dais. And suddenly, the body lies there in front of him, decked in silk and flowers.
Leon has to close his eyes. Shadow-man speaks.
"I have dreaded this day for a long time.
"I have dreaded the death of the youngest. But I saw it coming; we all did, the price of his vengeance, the toll it exacted on him. He was a creature, ultimately, of compassion. He could not reconcile his mission with the secret, sacred callings of his heart.
"Among us sits the human Count D loved."
All eyes on Leon. No, they can't blame this on him, it can't be his fault --
"I have dreaded the day the youngest knew the truth of himself. That was the end of him."
"You all hear my address in your own tongues. But I choose, for farewell, the human word adieu. 'Adieu': to go with God, godspeed, to send him on his way who cannot answer back, to wish upon him the greatest of all protections. To accept that the conversation is over. That there will be no more words or explanations.
"He left no succeeding child. He had learned too much for that. I will tell you, now, that when he died, he was at peace for the first time. And I hope that now he knows joy as well.
"Adieu, Count D."
D, at peace. Leon's long since decided that D was never happy. Peace has to be a good start. He also hopes D knows joy. He hopes --
Leon stares at the body, with its perfect nose pointing up at the ceiling, the odd-colored eyes closed forever, and thinks that peace is too good for him.
He looks over at Grandpa, and hears the whispers of blame on the currents of the air. He hopes there's some kind of no-kill etiquette at this funeral; then he remembers whose funeral it is, and doesn't know what to hope anymore.
The body vanishes like notes of music on the air, leaving only impression and memory behind. Then the animals. Then Grandpa. Only Leon is left, except for --
He should ask questions, because shadow-man has the answers.
"What do I do now?" The words crack him apart, crack him open, show the hollow, aching space inside.
The shadow-man's hand is cold, but also the most solid thing Leon's ever known.
"He has found his peace. He will wait. Find yours."
"Wait? Wait for me?"
Then the dream splinters open too, into a million tiny notes of melody.
His roommate stole his watch while he was sleeping and is long gone, now. That's all. It doesn't matter; Leon doesn't care about time anymore. Hasn't for a while.
That wasn't how it was supposed to go down. D wasn't supposed to die. He wasn't supposed to 'surrender.' And waiting? What's D waiting for? And how long will he wait until Leon figures it out?
Sonofabitch better be ready to wait forever. Leon's not playing his game until he's good and ready. Until he has some answers of his own.
And he's got all the time in the world.
The open space is frozen, empty, desolate. A waste. But it only needs a touch of his imagination to bring it to life -- he only needs to exert the smallest amount of willpower to bring blossoms forth from the barrenness. Beneath his bare feet, moss and grass begin to grow with each step.
Leon will come here, someday. This place will welcome him, cradle him, give him comfort and rest; D will create an oasis to shelter them both, a paradise that, finally, is the reflection of his heart.
D raises his face to feel the sudden sunlight, and hears birdsong.
"Tired lovers, rest your heads
Here upon the pillows sweet
One for your brow, one for your feet,
And on this humble food be fed;
"And then drink you of the holy wine."
So spoke the voice of the dead.
They dreamed of what was left unsaid;
They mourned the hollow loss of time;
And finally the two were wise,
And finally were lifted up,
And tasted joy, drank its cup
And drained the dregs of paradise.