by The Lost Girl
SPOILERS: DAA and DA2.
SUMMARY: Justice's thoughts and musings as Anders lay dying…
DISCLAIMERS: All the characters in the story belong to David Gaider, Bioware, and whoever else has the rights on everything Dragon Age.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a short fanfiction that I initially wrote for DA2 Anders Prompt Group on the BSN. That week's prompt being "song fic". http:/ social. bioware. com/group/4488/discussion/15995/
Usually, I am not a big fan of reading, and especially writing song fics; though some of them out there are simply amazing! The problem is that I often find that the song is distracting me from the story itself.
However, I recently found this song, called "The Voice" (by Queensrÿche), that I thought would be a perfect song for Anders' thoughts as he lay dying... So, I began writing it with Anders in mind... Until Justice suddenly appeared, and completely took me over!
The words of the song are from Anders' point of view... And the rest is from Justice's.
For a moment, Justice was confused… Moment… Time… A concept that, despite all of what he and Anders had been through together, still baffled him. Everything in the Fade happened at the speed of will. A world of waiting seemed senseless… Wrong… Why wait when the construct seemed so clear? When problems and solutions were there, within grasp… When every cause carried an action, and its corresponding effect. Time was a waste… Or was it a waste of time? He wasn't sure anymore.
At first, his joining with the young apostate had been… Difficult… To say the least. Nothing the spirit could ever have dreamed of, no amount of experience in this world, while inhabiting Kristoff's body, could have prepared him for the amount of information and emotions that had assaulted his consciousness when their merging had been completed.
He had foolishly believed that carrying Kristoff's memories, and the feelings associated with said memories, would be similar to what he would experience from Anders, but he had been wrong. Maker… So very, very wrong. The mage's feelings weren't some distant echo of things that had come to pass. A ghost of events lived… Anders' needs and emotions had a life of their own. They burned within him with such strength, will and passion that the only thing Justice could ever have experienced worth comparing them with was the way a spirit felt about his own purpose.
Human feelings were a force that assaulted the conscious mind and asked for attention, demanded satisfaction. They tainted their thoughts and took hold of their souls… But the strangest thing was that not all of them were granted their demands, no matter how strongly said feelings could scream and rage, and fight their own master.
Humans often kept resisting them. Either pushing them aside until "the right time", or "the right opportunity" to address them came to pass… Or simply finding other ways to calm the beast inside.
At first, this had presented a major problem for both of them. In the Fade, every compulsion that spirits felt had a corresponding impact on the world around them. The spirits' world kept changing in order to accommodate their needs, which, in turn, remained pretty stable.
How could Justice ever have expected things for humans to be so different? How was he to understand that the world and its people around them were not to be the ones needing to adapt to Anders' pain and anger, and change according to his host's (and now his own) expectations?
Am I still alive?
I think I've got it right.
I'm, I'm made of light.
And so they had been fighting each other for control, Justice vehemently so. Anders always trying to calm and soothe the spirit from within, help him understand. How strange that it only occurred to him now how very patient, compassionate, and selfless the mage had been when it came to him… And Justice had let his host take all the blame, often making it worse by sending him his own frustrations in waves. He had felt so lost in that sea of never ending internal changes that he'd never really taken the time to consider what effect his behavior had been having on his friend.
Only now, as they slowly began to regain their own distinct identities… As Anders' own thoughts and emotions didn't appear the most pressing matter demanding all of the spirit's attention, was he allowed some perspective on their situation. And it broke his heart…
Before I leave and go away,
I have some things that I must say.
Before I am gone.
Finally now I see,
there's so much inside of me.
Yes, it broke his heart… Even as they both drifted away from each other, Justice felt himself being irrevocably changed. Not by Anders' anger and hate. But by his love, gentleness, and never ending compassion towards those that were surrounding him. The young apostate had made him more « human », in a way. Through him, he had experienced the best, and sometimes the worst that the mortal world had to offer. And now, he had come to understand the notion of sacrifice, and what it meant to gave one's life so that others might be given a chance at a better existence.
Over the course of the years, Justice had learned to listen, and to trust in his host's judgment. Not that they never fought anymore, or tried to pull each other in a certain direction. But they had learned to combine their respective thoughts, wants and impulses in order to think and act as one. They had found a balance, sometimes a terrible balance between the spirit's cold pragmatism and need to influence the world; and Anders' patience, tolerance, and empathy for his fellow mortals.
Is everyone innocent?
The blood on the ground is almost dry
I'll take this chance, I'll try...
I'll try to tell you...
There's so many possibilities,
that I'm just starting to see.
Still now, Justice couldn't help but begin to doubt… Had they done the right thing? They had both agreed that the world couldn't go on as it did, that things needed to change. But had the price being paid too high? Especially for Anders?
Spirits didn't fear death, for it held very little meaning for them. But humans, elves, dwarves, and even qunaris seemed to value life as being one of the most precious things in the Universe. The taking of one's life the greatest crime one could ever willingly commit; an action for which there would be no forgiveness.
They failed to see that existence didn't stop with life. Beyond the mortal realm, and even beyond the Fade, there were other planes of existence for humans and spirits to explore, though spirits rarely felt the need to cross over. Most of them were content bending the Fade to their will and influencing the mortal realm through the veil. But Justice had always known that there was a possibility for him to move further…
Would the Fade still satisfy him now, after all he had experienced and seen? Could he follow Anders wherever his soul would move on next? Would Anders even be able, or wish to move on?
There was so much sadness and guilt weighting on his friend's soul. While Justice had readily been willing to see the sacrifices they had made as necessary, and the loss of their own lives as an inevitable consequence of their actions; the young man seemed to have accepted his fate more as a need to be punished, "justice" for their victims.
But it had nothing to do with justice, not any more. And it wasn't his life that Justice had sacrificed. How could he have been so blind? The only life lost was Anders', as Anders' life had never been his to begin with. The warden had offered to help him, but Justice had taken his life as his own; denying the young man from many of life's simplest pleasures in order to further their goals.
Anders' need for love, companionship, friendship, worldly distractions… His unrequited love for the man that had now plunged a knife into his heart… So many things that Justice had not only purposely ignored, but made the mage feel weak and unworthy for having been a slave to such lowly impulses. While Anders had tried to adapt himself to the spirit's presence and made more and more concessions in order to accommodate his needs, he had barely been willing to listen and bend his own will to allow Anders a chance to live his life.
And now, it was too late. Even if he wanted to bring his friend back from the brink and give him back his life, it was beyond his power to do so. He could no longer take over his body, and prevent the steel of the blade from hurting or killing him.
All he could do now was to offer him comfort and reassurance. Ease Anders' pain and fear… Try to give him strength, and be there for him now and after his soul crossed over…
It's like the poets that have always said,
when life is hanging from a thread...
you can hear that voice in your head.
"Anders… Dear friend, I'm so sorry… So very sorry… It's not your fault, I'll try to make it up to you, I swear… Don't be afraid, you're not alone… I'm right here…"
Delicately, I try to wrap myself around his soul in a gentle embrace, trying to bring him a sense of peace, and warmth… Shield him from any pain left in his dying body, ease any distress left in his drifting mind. I feel him tense in surprise at hearing the sound of my voice, distant from his own, so soft and clear. After years spent joined together, thoughts and ideas intertwined, he had probably forgotten how my voice sounded like by now.
And then I feel his whole being relax, yielding to my touch. And my own essence almost sings to him in response. I can feel Anders' emotions, but they are now distinct from my own. He doesn't fear me… Despite everything we did… Despite everything I made him do, he still trusts me; he still cares for me… He still loves me…
And… I love him…
I remember now, a decade ago, that a lost spirit trapped outside the Fade met a young man that, despite having faced so many hardships and injustices, still carried within him the will to love, and the desire to care for other people's sufferings as his own. There was so much strength and beauty in this young soul that the spirit found himself attracted to him like a beacon…
How had he ever lost sight of such beauty? How could such an innocent attraction have brought so much pain and destruction to the very soul he had been trying to bring himself closer to? And how now, despite all the damage that had been done, could that soul still find it within his power to love and forgive the spirit?
And now my heart's done bleeding,
but I've just started seeing.
I feel my courage match the tide
as I see the other side.
"I'm right here, Anders, and I finally understand now… I'll watch over you, make sure no harm comes to you… You'll never have to feel lonely again… You must let go of this life now, but I'm right here, I'll catch you… Come now, it's time…"
Gingerly, I tighten my hold on him as I feel Anders slowly surrender himself to the Fade. He is completely calm and at peace now. Perhaps even eager to discover what the other side has in store for us… Ever the curious, impetuous one. And somehow, I know that despite all the mistakes we made, and missed opportunities we've had, we have finally found our place in the world together, and our freedom.
When will we hear this voice all the time?
Just like a child in mother's arms,
I know I'm warm and safe, no harm
from whatever comes from now on.