Naked and Alone

(A Forever Knight Fic)

"I understand now."

Urs looked to the direction of the voice. Her Master, Javier Vachon, stood before her. It was the first time she'd seen him in a week, having taken time off from the Raven to visit New Orleans. Javier looked tired, that was to be expected. She knew he'd been sick. He hadn't told her, this was the first he'd spoken to her since she'd been away. No, LaCroix had informed her of what her Master had been unable to. A fever, striking the Community like the Plague, destroying the weaker ones before Nick's doctor friend had cured the others. She had felt the sickness through Javier; she would have run to him if only he had asked.

"Screed's gone."

Yes, Urs knew that too. There was no love lost between the carouche and herself. Screed had been nice enough, but his crudity and eating habits had disgusted her. She tolerated him for Javier's sake, but her very nature would not allow her to love him. Screed had been a carouche, a rat drinker, and the lowest of their kind. He was not a vampire; he was an abomination, one that had only lived as long as he had because her Master had been attached to him. Their one link had been Javier. Without him they would have separated long ago.

"I buried him down by the water."

This Urs had not known, though she could have guessed. Screed had always loved the water. A sudden feeling akin to regret raced through her. Was it hers or Javier's? She had known Screed since her rebirth, nearly all her life. Such a trivial amount of knowing compared to Javier's four centuries of brotherhood. Such a long time, Urs couldn't even begin to imagine living to such an age where friendships spanned civilizations.

"I don't know what to do now."

Javier was confused. He'd come to her for comfort. She would never deny him that.

"Come sit by me," she requested. He did as he was told; collapsing on to the sofa, relieved that she hadn't turned him away. As if she could ever refuse Javier.

"It's all wrong, Urs."

Urs had never seen him like this; not in the decades she'd known him. This pain she felt from him – it was unlike anything he'd ever felt before. Urs hadn't even been aware that her Master could feel such emotion; such grief, such guilt, such overwhelming despair.

"Eternity: that was the deal. Drink blood, stay away from sunlight and stakes, live forever. He wasn't supposed to die."

Urs didn't know what to say to that. Tentatively, she put her arm around his shoulders. He clung to her like she was his salvation. She was no more his salvation than he'd been hers over a century ago in Louisiana. Javier was nearly five hundred years old, but, in some ways, he was still a child.

"There's no one," Javier rambled. "Bourbon left, Screed's dead and, and…" he trailed off; unable to remember the names of the countless companions he'd surrounded himself with before he'd made Urs.

Poor Javier, Urs mused, he never could handle being alone. She was all that remained. This knowledge should have made her feel special, she only felt pity.

"I'm sorry he's gone," Urs spoke truthfully. Of all his companions Urs knew her Master had loved Screed the most. She would never understand their bond, unnatural as it was, she could only accept it and take Javier's loss on to herself.

"I – I couldn't save him."

"You tried."

"It wasn't enough. I stayed with him 'til the end. I couldn't leave him."

Her Master was trembling under her fingers. "You did right by him, Javier."

"I wanted to run."

"You didn't."

"I didn't think I could watch him die."

"But you did, you were his friend until the last. He's grateful you stayed."

"He died in my arms."

Urs didn't know how he could bare the carouche's touch. It had always irritated Bourbon and herself. Javier's love was no where near as limited as hers.

"He asked to be buried by the water. Always was a sailor." Javier's voice caught in his throat.

Urs tightened her grip. "Shhh, you don't have to talk about it."

He pulled away from her, and stood on shaky legs. Urs wondered if he would leave. She hoped he wouldn't.

"I want to talk to Screed." They both knew he couldn't. "He's dead and I, I need him here. I don't, I have to…" Javier turned away, unable to look at her.

Urs had never seen her Master so unhinged. It terrified her. He had always been so calm. Nothing fazed him. He was untouchable. Perhaps she only believed that because he'd made her.

"You don't have to do anything, Javier."

Her words focused him. He spun around; staring at her so intensely she briefly saw his eyes flash golden green.

"When I apologized for bringing you across, I didn't mean it."

Urs knew this. Javier had always savored life. He could never accept how she could not. Her lust for death was beyond his comprehension.

"I, I understand you now, Urs."

If he truly did than he was no longer Javier Vachon.

"You wanted death, I gave you eternal life. It was a gift, I know it was, but now I, I can't… I understand why you want to die."

Such a revelation was unthinkable. Her Master loved life far too much to long for death. Had Screed meant that much to him? Urs knew he had.

"Javier," she whispered, unable to say anything else.

He knelt before her. "I'm sorry, Urs. I am so sorry." It was too late for them both. Weeping, Javier placed his head in her lap. She began to stroke his hair, mumbling endearments. She wasn't sure he heard any of them.

After some time, an hour perhaps, maybe more, Javier stood; his eyes were dry, his face was composed. "Thank you, Urs," he said stiffly.

He left as abruptly as he came. Wiping her own eyes, Urs knew that, come the next night, this incident would never again be spoken and the name "Screed" would never again exit her lips or that of her Master.

Screed was gone. That part of Javier's life was over. It was best not to dwell on it. The past was the past and the future stretched onward, unending for them both.