A/N: Written as an exercise – I don't care for this pairing for a plethora of reasons, but when I find a pairing I dislike, I find myself wanting to write it and give it a fair chance (basically, try to take it seriously and not do it badly just because I don't like the pairing). It's something I do every once in a while, to keep myself fresh and able to write several pairings from a generally unbiased point of view if I'm asked. Because of this, feedback would be appreciated.
Title and lines of poetry in the note are taken from the poem Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath, with pronoun changes in the few lines from the note.
They meet by chance, near that lake with the summer houses their families somehow managed to frequent without colliding nearly as often as they should have. She's pale and thin, a nihilist with cute shoes; he's long-limbed and smiles a bit too much, someone who's destined to be either a philanthropist or a psychopath. She sees him before he sees her, and smiles a bit at his slightly startled expression when he notices the spot he usually occupies is no longer exclusive. She pats the planks of the dock, indicating a spot next to her, and he sits after a moment's consideration.
Her sandals sit on the other side of her as she dangles her feet in the water, disturbing the placid surface of the lake with the small ripples and waves she gently kicks up. He tucks his legs underneath himself before he shifts his attention to her and studies her face.
"May I ask your name?" he asks eventually; a soft smile forms, the first of many that he'll give her, and it manages to not create lines on his face – but then, she knows that smiles that are less than genuine usually don't.
"Dahlia, sir. Might I have yours?"
She smiles at him, looking up at him in a shy manner, from under her eyelashes. "It's quite the pleasure to make your acquaintance, Kristoph."
"The pleasure is mine. Are you here alone?"
"Unfortunately, I am. Yourself?"
"Not exactly; my younger brother is around here somewhere."
"Oh. It must be nice to be so close to your family; the area here is so nice, though it's quite secluded."
"Yes, I suppose...though I'd imagine he's quite bored here, considering he's definitely more the city type. But he seemed to want to spend time with me, and who am I to say no?"
"I see. How sweet of him to want to spend time with you; family must be important to both of you."
Kristoph doesn't answer. They sit in silence after that; she swings her legs in slow circles, her feet under the surface of the water, and he tents his fingers under his chin and seems quite lost in thought. He seems to notice when she looks at him, and he always meets her stare; though he doesn't seem annoyed, she can see the tightening at the edges of his mouth. He adjusts his glasses and they go back to what they were doing before, sitting together but not keeping each other company.
He stands to leave before too long; she looks up at him, watching him move.
"Leaving so soon, Kristoph?"
"Ah, pardon my rudeness," he says, the gentle smile returning. "My brother will expect me back before long, and I wouldn't want to keep him waiting."
"Of course. I look forward to a time when we can meet again."
He simply nods before he goes.
They meet again the next day, as well as the next, sitting on the dock and doing nothing in particular. He sits with his legs curled under him and she dangles her feet into the water, and they don't have a full conversation until the third day after he meets her; they exchange pleasantries and perhaps a comment or two on the weather, and she asks after his brother, and then they seem content to lapse into silence.
She brings a book on the third day; she sits next to him as always, reading Plath and smiling as she does so.
"Lady Lazarus," Kristoph mutters, glancing at it over her shoulder when curiosity finally gets the better of him.
"Have you read it?"
She looks up at him. "I'm not surprised; you seem the type to be well-read."
"Well, that aside, there's also the fact that I despise Plath." He tips his head slightly to the side, looking at the pages of the book again anyway. "University courses have done quite a thorough job of ruining certain poets for me."
"Are you a literature student, then?"
He smiles at her. "No. Pre-law. Were I a literature student, I doubt I would have had so many poets ruined for me – I probably would have found dissecting their works repeatedly and having their morals shoved down my throat absolutely fascinating."
"Oh, I don't know," she says, and her own expression has taken on a hint of the mischievous. "I've had a fair amount ruined for me."
If Kristoph is surprised, his face doesn't show it. "You're attending school as a literature student, then?"
"How interesting." His tone makes his level of sincerity hard to read; hers has been doing it since they met.
"What's so interesting about it?"
"The fact that you still enjoy Plath after all of those classes."
He says it in such a frank manner that Dahlia laughs, despite herself.
"You're much more interesting than you seem at first glance, Kristoph."
Kristoph arches an eyebrow. "Thank you?"
Dahlia doesn't apologize. "I find your company to be quite worthwhile, but for now, I should probably take my leave...I'm sure I'll see you again."
"I'm sure you will." He leans back, reclining with his palms pressed flat against the dock behind him.
Dahlia is at the dock the next day, though not in her usual position at the end of it. When Kristoph arrives, she reaches out and takes his hand in a manner that would be shy if it weren't so forceful in some small way.
"Where are you taking me, Dahlia?"
"There's something I wanted to show you."
Kristoph allows himself to be led by the hand; she takes him up a hill behind the summer house usually inhabited by the Hawthornes, and though she can tell she's traveling at a slightly slower pace than Kristoph would like, she doesn't apologize.
The field at the top of the hill is covered in flowers that are the deepest shade of blue that Kristoph has ever seen; he doesn't say anything for a moment, and she takes him to an area not quite as crowded with flowers. She folds her shawl and sets it down, then seats herself daintly before she lies down on her back, looking at the sky. Kristoph joins her after a second, putting an arm behind his head, between his hair and the ground; they lie still for a few moments, with nothing but endless blue above them.
"Kristoph. What do you think of mortality?" she asks him; if it were coming from anyone else it would seem out-of-place, but for some reason Kristoph understands.
"It's...consuming," he says simply, closing his eyes.
"If you had the chance to control it somehow, would you take it?"
"Someone else's, or my own?"
"I don't know. Perhaps, depending on the circumstances." He turns his head to look at her. "You're talking like a dying woman, Dahlia."
Dahlia laughs quietly. "No, no. Nothing like that. I'm just curious."
"And what about you?" Kristoph looks back at the sky, a vague smirk on his face. "Would you take that control over death?"
Dahlia doesn't say anything for a moment, and when she continues her voice still sounds lost in thought. "Not control over death...more like control over who receives it and who doesn't."
She props herself up on one elbow, leaning over Kristoph; the pendant on that necklace of hers swings down and the chain folds when the pendant lands with a nearly inaudible thud on his chest. At that moment, there is nothing else but the grass tickling his neck and the wind blowing crushed blue petals off of the braids in her hair, her closeness and the necklace wrapped around her neck, drawing a thin line that stops just short of his heart.
"If you really want to have control over who receives death and who doesn't, it's best that it be given, like a present. Don't you think?"
"And are you able to give that little present?" He reaches up and traces his fingertips across the angular line of her collarbone, massaging her shoulder softly before slipping his hand a bit further down her back. His fingers graze the zipper of her dress, but he doesn't move to undo the fastenings.
"Perhaps," she says. "Though I don't see you ever being able to."
"We'll see," he replies; his voice is breathy, and his eyes are alive. "We'll never know how anything goes...until we wait and see..."
Kristoph leaves before she does; she watches with impassive eyes as Kristoph slides into the car, his teenaged brother in tow. She hadn't said goodbye to him; she hadn't wished him safe passage or a good life. She simply watched before she returned to the dock.
She somehow isn't surprised to see the note on one of the supports on the dock, where the wood begins to span over the water. It's pinned in place and flicking about in the slight breeze; she takes it down and reads slowly, scrutinizing the soft loops and flowing lines, and she smiles when she reaches the end of it.
I don't expect you to seek me out, as I'm sure you know things like this are best left where they ended. Thank you for the flowers; I have no doubt you'll give presents where you will, and when you do, nothing will be heard from me.
Control your own mortality, Lady Lazarus.
Out of the ash
You'll rise with your red hair
And you'll eat men like air.
She doesn't keep it, or tuck it into one of her pockets; instead, she lets it go, watching it drift over the water before one of the edges saturates itself in the soft ripples. It collapses into the water; before long, it's no longer visible under the lake.