Title: That Which Kills Us
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: He was unique, a being worth preserving; but like any fierce, broken creature, he was also a being that would not be preserved. 600 words.
Spoilers: Post-"Not Fade Away" for A:tS; general Highlander
Notes: For the August Fic-a-Day, Day 6. Clichéd mood piece, character death. You are warned.
The sparking effect of mending energy danced across Wesley's abdomen like flashes of light from a warrior's blade; like his soul, honed down to sharpened steel, all softness left far behind him. The memories of the shell were filled with a gentler man, driven by knowledge and loyalty; Fred had not remembered Connor, nor lived to see the events that would once more strip the facade of virtuousness from him. Illyria, however, had seen his true foundations, the naked thrust of duty-- of right-- that subsumed all else in his soul, and found unexpected beauty in the darkness that occluded him. He was unique, a being worth preserving; but like any fierce, broken creature, he was also a being that would not be preserved.
She had let that understanding guide her actions; had resisted the urge to arrest the processes of his body, or to transport him elsewhere to be healed, though it cost the last measure of her power. Instead, she had taken revenge in his name, then done battle in the alleyway with the forces of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart. None other had survived that encounter; she alone had remained standing in the next morning's light, painted in the fluids of her adversaries, the ashes of her pets at her feet and the cooling corpse of the one called Charles buried beneath the bodies of his enemies. Then, and only then, had she returned to Wesley's side with the intention of constructing a proper cairn for his remains.
Instead, she had found-- this. He had fallen a child of Earth; he would arise a child of Air, freed from the cycle of entropy to walk at her side for time uncounted. Already the scents of salt, of muck, of decay had faded from him; a deep breath, drawn to fill her unnecessary lungs, brought with it the sharp odor of the storm, the crispness that filled the air in the aftermath of lightning. She had read of this phenomenon in the books Wesley had kept in his apartment, during the long nights when he slept the sleep of the self-poisoned and she had paced the roof with nothing else to keep her company. Yet she had never seen such signs in him before.
Gloved fingers slipped through the slit in his stiffened shirt, pressed close to trace the shuttered mouth of the fatal wound. Dried blood flaked beneath her fingertips; she brought them to her mouth, touching the crusted fluid to her tongue. Heartsblood, it had truly been; there was a vital richness to it that a mortal exuded at no other time. Death, exhaled out into her arms, even as his lover had once expired in his-- only to rise again, infused with a stronger and more powerful spirit.
The symmetry appealed. A smile as chill as the stratosphere curled at the corners of her mouth; she lifted his head once more to her lap, prepared to wait for his awakening.
No hunter of heads would claim this infant Immortal's power; no mewling, morally encumbered mentor presume to teach him the ways of eternity. The afterlife he had so assiduously sought had rejected him, but she would not. He was hers now, her last Qwa Ha Xahn; though he worshipped her not, she intended to have no other.
There would be time now, after all, for him to learn the error of his ways; for that which was broken in him to mend to her guidance.
"Wake, my Wesley," she murmured, tracing her fingers along the planes and angles of his face.
"Wake, and grow stronger."