A/N: So I'm listening to my iPod and filing, trying to keep the alphabet song out of my head, when this song comes on, and I'm struck by a few flash-images. I pull out my blackberry, and I typed this entire thing with my thumbs in less than ten minutes, beginning to end. I looped the song on repeat, and by the end, I was making myself cry. I don't do that very often. I blame the hormonies.
(If you want to hear it, a live version can be found on youTube - youtube[dot]com[slash]watch?v=LgKjqQuA0Qg - obviously it sounds differently on the album, but you get the idea...)
Here is the light Oh let it shine through me Here is the light Oh let it burn and burn...
It was a credit to his age that he held onto strands of consciousness - filmy and indistinct as hot breaths between his fingertips. He smelled it, sharp in his nostrils as he felt the death pulling him down.
If he had a heart, he wondered if it would be beating wildly, or if it would be as at peace as it had ever been, knowing what was next.
He'd seen it happen, once or twice.
This was why there were no vampire cowboys, he thought to himself with a chuckle. She found it funny for weeks, and it still brought a smile to his face. It was probably still taped to his office door, the newsprint image yellow and cracked with being pieced together over the years.
His blood, her blood, they drew out the life of her body longer than any person had a right to. But she was still human. She never wanted what he could have offered her, and it was the one thing they never spoke on.
Years and years of conversation, and he knew her mind would never change. Even the day when she found her first grey hair, or the day she couldn't get the crows' feet to go away - he never offered. He wondered about letting it become the thing they said and never meant, but he would always mean it, and it would break her heart to tell him no. So he didn't jest about it. He just didn't bring it up.
Instead they just danced around her mortality - they celebrated milestone birthdays without the "over the hill" jokes and black balloons, without the "one foot in the grave" hallmark cards and the stylish walker gag gifts. They attended the funerals of her friends, and that's when he saw it had begun to wear on her. He knew then, that hope he held close to his chest, that one day she would ask him for it, would never come to fruition. At her very core, she was too pure a creature to deal with so much death. She'd had more than her fair share, and untimely ones could be railed against.
Those that came with the natural passage of time hurt worse. There was no one to blame, and nothing to be angry for. It just was.
He inhaled deeply, smelling the purest scent that she had always smelled faintly of. It was stronger, bolder, and he wondered what it smelled like later in the day. There had never been so many things he disliked about his existence until he knew her - for the first time in many centuries, he had wanted his humanity back; if only for brief moments.
He had wished, more than once, that he could have given her children. They never spoke about that either - she made her choice clear, and tried very hard not to let him see the tears when she may have regretted that one thing, even for a moment. But he always knew. And every time after, he would make love to her slowly, and doze with his head pillowed on her belly. He would kiss it and touch it, showing her that even though part of him too wished her womb could swell with his child, that he loved her anyway. He supposed couples that wanted children and never could have their own could adopt, but that never seemed like an idea for them - their lives were simply too dangerous, and they never mentioned it. An accidental pregnancy would have been the only way they could have ever justified it anyhow.
He could taste dawn on his tongue, and he reached his fingers out into the cloud-filtered sunshine, watching the light played off the shiny reflections of his fingernails, the dark cloud spots rolled between his knuckles. It wasn't strong enough yet, or he was too strong. He knew of so few who made it as far as he did - and this wasn't something they talked about at cocktail parties.
She had told him some weeks ago she was tired. It was her tone of voice, the way she looked at him instead of mentioning it casually as though she meant ordinary fatigue. They had shared a long look, and pulled her close, kissing her hair.
He had no intention of telling her this was how it was - if she had not guessed it on her own, he would just have to chalk it up to her own stubbornness - wanting to believe that there was a tiny bit of him that was a liar to make herself feel better. Forever had a different meaning to him - he'd said so once or twice, but she'd compared herself to the human race in the life of the planet Earth - a blink. He didn't argue with her after the first few times she brought it up - he knew she felt she had to justify to him why she clung to her breath and her beating heart.
He'd made the arrangements with Pam, and Pam had taken it well. It took her almost a full week, and then she came to him and cried blood-red tears. He told her what he'd never put into words before - how proud he was of her, how amazing she was, how much he loved her. The words were few, but their weight was as intense as they could ever be. It was only the second time he'd ever seen Pam cry, and unfortunately it wouldn't be the last.
It was the only time he would ever hear her cry.
She died in her sleep, as he suspected she would. He wasn't sure if it was her or him that held on until he was awake, so that he could hear her last breath.
He had held onto her body until it was cold.
They had the service three nights ago - burying a box that held her ashes. She had stipulated she be cremated, and he wished they could have talked about that - he wished he could have made a joke. But upon discovering why, reading her last letter to him, he had been brought to tears again. He had cried over her more times than he cared to admit, and that something in her precious sentimental heart thought that being ashes meant that when he died they would both be ashes, made him lose control. His own pride kept him from making any noise, but he had crumpled that paper in his fist and laid his head on his arms - and let the bloody tears pool on their dining room table.
It was coming now. His skin felt warm in a way he hardly remembered from before.
He briefly wondered if it would hurt.
His last thought was that it didn't. Not really, no.