Thunder and Lightning
By: Manna


"You're too serious, Kent," a friend used to say to him. "You're supposed to be the level-headed one, y'know?"

He vaguely remembers acknowledging those words, but what had come next still hurts when he thinks about it: "So why are you still here?"

It's too late to change things, now, he thinks—no, he knows. He is no longer young, nor is he old. Instead, he's a comfortable medium, young enough to have lived, but old enough to have learned.

The sky makes him angry, but it's just another thing that he can't change, that won't bend to his will.

With everything in him, he wanted to go after her. He still wants to. Sometimes he looks through the windows of his own gilded cage, and he wants nothing more than to drop everything and leave suddenly, without any warning at all; he wants to be as impulsive as she was when she left him.

The bright sun and the clouds that look like cotton are out of place in his world. Oh, cloudless day! He rues that quiet spring morning as the birds sang and she wrapped her arms around him, softly whispering her last goodbye; it is his most treasured, and equally hated memory. He could have said something, could have held her a little tighter, could have kissed her like he'd wanted to; maybe if he had, she'd have understood.

Why am I still here? he asks himself again, has been asking himself day after day after year after year. When the air is calm and the atmosphere beautiful, he thinks of her, and he both hates and loves it.

Back then, he had a million excuses to stay behind, and only one to follow her. Those million have faded, but the one reason to find her remains. For ten years, he's taken a seat on the edge of his mattress before he sleeps, and he always stops to shake his head. I still love her, he will think to himself, but he never does anything about it.

It's been too long, but even he knows that love is love, and not easily eroded over time. He wonders how she's doing, hopes she's well, prays every day that she's happy.

He's out of excuses, out of reasons, and out of hope.

He's breathing his last. He never expected to die on such a day—never wanted to die a traitor to his own heart. It should be raining, he thinks. The sky should be dark, the clouds a grey that matches perfectly.

He waits for thunder to roll across the earth, and lightning to snake down from the heavens, but the birds keep singing and he keeps struggling to breathe.

"See, Kent? That's what overworking yourself gets you. You get sick!"

A dry, wheezing sound leaves his throat. A laugh, but no one is there to recognize it. Maybe his friend had been right all along. Maybe he really had been too stiff and serious. Maybe that was why Lady Lyndis never—

He sighs and looks out of the open window beside his bed. A meadowlark is singing somewhere in the courtyard below, and he closes his eyes.

If I live, I'll go to her.

It's been ten years, but he's desperate. Maybe she has a husband, children…

But what if she's out there alone? What if—all this time—she's been living the same nightmare she had lived for the six months following the death of her people?

He knows how much it affected her because she used to dream of it; he could tell because she would cry, alone, in her sleep, and she thought nobody knew. But people knew… They just chose not to confront her about it, and he's still ashamed that he hadn't tried to be of more help.

He hates that she might be out there alone, might have been alone for ten years, but he tries to comfort himself. Perhaps she's with Rath; at least then someone would have been there for her.

But he's never liked Rath much, so the thought both disgusts and relieves him at the same time.

Caelin will be fine without him. Marquess Hector will appoint a new steward; Kent knows he's not really necessary anymore, not for Caelin's well being or Lyndis's.

Ahh, damnable sunshine, damned spring morning. Even with his eyes closed, he can feel the warmth on his face, hear the birds singing as if they're on his windowsill instead of in the trees of the garden.

He doesn't want to die, not on a day like this, exactly like the day she left and he let her. It's too cruel, St. Elimine, too cruel, God, to make him suffer this way, as if he hasn't suffered the last ten years of his life! He wants to go to her, wants to see her again, wants that moment back when she hugged him so that he can hug her back in the hopes that she won't want to pull away.

"So, why are you still here?"

He realizes he doesn't know.

A few minutes after he stops drawing air, a great gust of wind blows over the hills of Caelin and down through the valleys; it isn't long before rain starts to fall from the still-bright, blue sky.


Author Notes:

A half-baked 'fic. I know, it's not very good. It's mostly just depressing, and not even in a good way. But I've been lazy with writing lately, and I'm trying to get myself back into it, so I started with this.