No, not him.
Why must the youngest, the greatest be the first to die? Why must a cold hand reach inside and rip a soul from a lively person? Like Jack.
His laughing eyes still glowed, staring blankly. He was still Jack. . . But not the same Jack. I remember the way his grin was colored with sharp malice and when it softened to somewhat recognizing affection when he saw me.
"Is he. . . dead?" Harrow's voice reached my aching mind.
"I believe so." I replied, my tongue swiping across my lip, concentrating on the curled figure in front of me.
"Jack. . . How could someone like Jack die? He was invincible." Harrow kneeled next to me, touching the soldier's forehead. Even as Jack was in pain from the bullet, he tried to withstand it and hold his head high. Unflinchingly. But his eyes betrayed his pain. He was always a soldier, never a Nazi.
"He was human," I softly corrected, "and a good one, at that."
I will always remember him. He was all fire; Most people were fire and ice, but he was all fire, burning hot rage. He was angry and satire but understanding and compassionate. All the way through to his core, he burned brightly; he didn't fade or smother out when the times changed or the game got harder. He kept going.
"Jack." I shook him hard. Hoping.
Silence is sometimes the loudest noise, so icily clear and clogging. It filled your lungs like smoke and rang in your ears. It was woeful and furious. But most of all, it was quiet. Dead. Numb.
I rolled Jack—Jack's body—over. He was no longer Jack; he was an empty shell. Steaming hot blood flowed onto the floor from a wound in his left side. Harrow placed his forefinger and thumb next to the gaping wound and examined it closely.
"Mister Schindler. . ." he touched my shoulder.
I held up a hand, "No, I have failed. Let me brew on this thought so maybe I can keep the promises I made to him."
"Yes. To keep you and his family safe."
"Me?" Harrow drew back and glanced down at the figure on the floor. A single tear slid down his cheek, dropping into the blood. It spread out, reaching clear tentacles out through the crimson before being swallowed by it.
"He cared for you, even though he had the strangest way of showing it." I sighed, my hands hot against his cold skin. He was no longer fire; he was fading to icy oblivion.
I grabbed his shoulders and shook Jack, "Come on, Jack. For Hamnet, for Lisle, for Harrow, for me. I need you."
Something flickered, like a flame regaining life and movement. A blue eye popped open and a snicker filled the now-empty room.
"Well, arsehole, if you needed me, why didn't you just say so?"
Jack is back! I couldn't leave him dead for long.