Break the Chains of Reality
Notes: The characters are not mine and the ficlit is! Nuitsongeur won a story from me in the Gulf Aid Now auctions and requested something with Fakir and Rue interacting. This plunnie started to develop. The prompt Regret at 30 Deathfics assisted. I think it can easily stand alone, but it does take place during my carriage disaster saga, specifically during Your Presence Still Lingers before the final scene. This is post-series, Ahiru is human again, and she and Autor have become close friends.
Both Mytho and Rue were stunned when they received the anguished phone call from Ahiru that Autor was dead. Rue, who took the call, demanded to know how it had happened (Autor had rescued a child from a runaway carriage, but could not save himself), when the funeral would be (she could not make it, but she promised that she and Mytho would send flowers), and how Ahiru was doing (Ahiru tried to be brave, but then broke down and admitted how devastated she was).
Rue felt horrible to think of Autor being gone. The news left an empty hole in her heart. Even though she held no romantic attachment to him, she cared about him very much and thought of him as a friend. She had believed that he would live for a long time, perhaps even get married and have a family someday.
But as terrible as she felt about Autor, she felt even worse for Ahiru. The innocent duck-turned-girl had never experienced losing a friend to death before. She was confused and heartsick, not knowing how to handle it or what to say or do. Rue wanted to be there for her. But as she could not, she had to hope that Fakir would be.
The letters she received over the ensuing weeks let her know, unfortunately, that Fakir was in no shape to be there for anyone. Ahiru wrote in her sloppy, misspelled scrawls of what a blow Autor's death had been to him and how he could not come to terms with it. She confided in Rue that Fakir had escorted Autor home that fateful night and had only later learned that Autor had been a wandering spirit at the time. Fakir could not get over that Autor had not told him the truth about his state of being.
The rumors circulating around the school about Autor's ghost haunting the library and the music building had only accentuated the problem. Fakir had become increasingly obsessed with catching Autor in one of those locations and demanding to know the answers to the questions that were haunting him so badly. But he could not, and both he and Ahiru were nearing the end of their rope.
"I don't know how much longer we can go on like this!" Ahiru wrote in despair. "I want to talk to Autor too, but if we just can't, then I want to try to move on. And I'm so afraid I'm losing Fakir, Rue. I don't know how I can stand to lose him and Autor both!"
That was the letter that caused Rue to stand up, call out orders to the servants, and immediately commence packing her bags. She and Mytho could not both go, not with all the duties and things to be done at the palace. But she was going to go regardless of all of them.
Ahiru was thrilled and surprised to see Rue when she arrived. As soon as she opened the door of Charon's kitchen and saw Rue there, she launched herself at the older girl, hugging her close and babbling something about having missed her so much and she was so lonely and how long would Rue be able to stay?
Rue did her best to decipher and answer the questions as they were flung at her, before inquiring as to Fakir's whereabouts. Ahiru grew sober then, glancing in the direction of the stairs. He was in his room, having gone there immediately after the end of the day's afternoon classes.
"What are you going to do, Rue?" she asked.
"I'm going to talk to him," Rue announced, gathering her skirts as she gripped the wooden banister and began ascending the stairs.
Ahiru was left staring after the Princess in amazement and awe at her determination.
Fakir's door was closed. Rue rapped on it sharply, but not overly loud.
"What is it?" he called.
Rue opened the door, mentally bracing herself for what she might find beyond. But Fakir was sitting at his desk, still wearing his school uniform. As he turned to look, his eyes widened in utter, absolute shock.
"What are you doing here?" he burst out, leaping up so quickly his chair crashed to the floor behind him.
"I came because Ahiru is worried about you," Rue said, her tone matter-of-fact as she stepped into the room.
She pushed the door shut behind her, taking in the sight of Fakir's room. Crumpled pieces of paper were scattered on the desk, the floor, and even on the bed. Some, she noted, had actually made their way into the trashcan. Several books were open on the desk, with more on the bed and on top of the low shelves.
Fakir himself looked as frazzled as his quarters. His eyes were bloodshot and his hair was sticking out at all angles. He fumbled with his already loose scarf, pulling it farther away from his neck.
"So you decided to barge into my room," he said darkly and unimpressed.
"Only because you were in it," Rue hmphed.
She regarded him with her unwavering crimson gaze. "I won't waste your time or mine. Ahiru says you've been obsessing over making contact with Autor's ghost."
Fakir's eyes narrowed. "That's none of your business," he said. "Ahiru shouldn't have told you."
She fought to control her emotions. Just being in the same room with Fakir was enough to make her blood boil. Actually trying to talk with him when he was being stubborn pushed her very swiftly towards snapping. And when was Fakir not stubborn?
"She told me other things too," she said. "I've made it my business because I don't like what she had to say."
Fakir was growing less pleased with each word. Keeping his voice dangerously level he said, "What else did she say?"
"That's not important." Rue stepped closer. "What is it you think you can accomplish by chasing after spectres?" Her eyes flashed. "Autor is dead, Fakir. Nothing you say or do is going to bring him back."
Fakir's eyes flashed as well. "Don't preach to me like I'm an idiot!" he retorted. "I know Autor's dead. That's what all of this is about."
"Do you really know it?" Rue said. She gestured to the crumpled papers. "Or have you been trying to figure out a way around the Story-Spinners' inability to bring back the deceased?"
Fakir stiffened. "That isn't true," he said. He turned, snatching the wads and bunching them into a larger wad in his hands.
"Then what are you doing?" Rue pressed.
Fakir threw the papers into the trashcan. "That's not your business either," he said.
Rue stormed over next to him. "I know we don't see eye-to-eye," she said angrily, "but we're both supposed to care about Ahiru. Are you so blind that you can't see what your behavior has been doing to her?"
Fakir whirled so fast that Rue took a step back. For a long moment he searched her eyes, his own burning. Rue held her ground, a dark challenge in her garnet orbs.
"Ahiru misses Autor and wants to talk to him too," Rue said, her voice low, "but that isn't why you're doing this. Oh, maybe at least in part it is, but your motivation deep down is to satisfy your own anxiety and unease."
"You're one to talk, after everything you did in the name of your own selfish desires," Fakir spat.
Rue fell back, her heart beating faster. Fakir had hit the worst possible sore spot. And, as much as she hated to admit it, he had a point. How could she accuse him of selfishness after what she had done to hurt Ahiru and the others, even Mytho?
She looked away, feigning haughtiness. "At least," she said, "I've learned from my mistakes." Turning back to him she went on, "What about you, Fakir? Will you learn from yours? Will you even realize you've made mistakes before it's too late to fix them?"
Fakir's frown deepened. "I was going to do something about it tonight," he said. "You wasted a trip."
Rue was not impressed. "We'll see," she said. "Just what were you planning to do?"
"If it works, maybe Ahiru will tell you all about it," Fakir grunted as he stepped back.
Rue frowned. "Don't be angry at Ahiru for telling me what's been going on," she said. "She's only worried about you. Her exact words were 'I'm so afraid I'm losing Fakir, Rue. I don't know how I can stand to lose him and Autor both.'"
Fakir stared at her, unable to hide the shock and horror in his eyes.
Satisfied that she had made her point, Rue turned and walked back to the door. As she turned the knob and stepped into the hallway, she glanced back. Fakir was sinking down at the desk, overwhelmed.
"Maybe you should consider that the real reason Autor didn't tell you he was dead is that you're impossible to talk to," Rue said.
Fakir's head shot up abruptly as he fixed Rue with a stunned and then a cold glare. She merely pulled the door shut as she walked away.
Ahiru was standing at the bottom of the stairs when Rue came down. Her blue eyes were wide and alarmed.
"What happened?" she gasped.
"Everything should be alright," Rue said. "But I'm going to stay for a while to make sure."
Ahiru managed a smile. "I'm glad," she said. "So you got through to Fakir?"
"I should have," Rue said. "If he isn't completely stupid."
Ahiru hesitated, shifting her weight. "So . . . Fakir's okay then?" she wondered, placing her hands behind her back.
"Why wouldn't he be?" Rue shot back, her tone sharp.
Ahiru looked embarrassed. "Oh . . . well . . ." She rubbed the back of her neck. "I know this'll probably sound crazy, but . . ." She glanced up at the ceiling. "It kind of felt like the whole house was shaking there for a few minutes."
Rue relaxed. "Is that all?" she said. "Perhaps it was."