Felicitous Façade

Warning: Contains character death.

He could feel her heartbeat slow to pace of his own. Her face lies hidden in his neck, as her arms constrict around his waist beneath a stout coat.

He can't hear them, but he knows the tears are falling. Soon enough, he feels the warm stream leak along his side, cooling as it lamely descends.

Her lips tremble above his jugular, sending a terrifying frisson down his form. He pulls her closer to steady himself.

He breathes deeply into her hair. The blackness that shrouds her damp head seems almost foreboding.

His gut, so close to his heart, is swollen with dubiety. For once, he cannot foretell the future. For once, he cannot keep his promise.

For once, he cannot protect her.

A shot rings ceaselessly through his ears. It dims his senses temporarily. His gut abruptly springs to life.

Ironic, since another, as abruptly, ends.

The body before him slumps, her head beginning to fall from his shoulder.

As an agent, his initiative returns. Holding firm the already exanimate body with one arm, he draws his weapon with the other.

He considers his surroundings, looking for an excuse to shoot.

There is nothing; he sees nothing. He only hears his own whetted breathing.

Abandoning his futile search, he turns his attention. He doesn't dare look at her face, fearing to see the sorry sight of his failure.

But he does it anyway.

Green eyes staring past him suspend his heart indefinitely. The wanness of her already palid skin gleams sickly, mocking his own dark and bloodied hands.

The lifeless mass weighs him down to the sullied, stale ground. He willingly obeys.

Putting pressure on the wound wouldn't help now, he knows. It wasn't a through and through; it must have been a hollow-point, he confirms.

He realizes she passed painlessly, and tries to take comfort in the fact. But he knows he can't.

He doesn't understand. In his mind, thoughts are hollow yet replete. There are questions yet they stand muted.

He wants badly to slap himself. He can't remember her last words. He can't remember her painful pleas.

He scowls madly and his jaw tightens; his fists curl and knuckles whiten. With every possible measure of control, he coerces his muscles to relax.

He eyes his automatic on the earth, relaying a familiar memory. He subdues the temptation to join her.

Brow to brow, his tears fall. Lips to lips, his soul aches.

For a gal so seemingly jubilant and talkative in life, she dies in silence, without a word to encourage the felicitous façade.