Guardian, Chapter 1
It's not like you didn't know that
And this is how you remind me
I said I love you and
I swear I still do
And it must have been so bad
'Cause living with him must have
Damn near killed you
Of what I really am
This is how you remind me
Of what I really am...
And this is how you remind me
That first glimpse of her tore through me like a bolt though the heart, stopping the breath cold in my chest. I hadn't thought ever to find that kind of beauty in anything again, and found myself dimly surprised that anything had managed to penetrate the numb haze of detachment I now cloaked myself in daily. Regardless, I knew at once that I had reached my destination. Sitting in a large glass window that curved out from the building to form a cozy niche, she held a book in one hand and with the other stroked the sleeping head of a child lying curled in her lap. Pale and regal, her lips moved faintly as she read, and the setting sun's amber light gilded her hair into an almost ethereal halo framing the perfect oval of her face. A warm-looking blanket draped down from her slender shoulders to spill generously around them both. It was an idyllic scene of motherly comfort, imbued with a quiet peace the like of which had been lost to me for many years.
But as I drew nearer, the traces of recently dried tears could be seen clearly upon both faces. I stood for a moment watching them, suddenly reluctant to intrude upon this tranquil scene; I bore no good news. Finally, sensing my presence, she rose and left the sleepy child to stare wide-eyed at me through the glass as she came around to the door. Her eyes were a pale, clear violet that at that moment looked heartsore, bruised. A wayward lock of light brown hair caught briefly in the corner of her mouth before the wind swept it free.
"Can I help you, sir?" She was distantly polite, raising her esteem in my eyes when one took into consideration my battle-ravaged appearance and the large sword that looked threatening, even sheathed as it was upon my back. I still wore the face of youth then, though I chose to keep the scar. I wanted to remember...as if I would ever have been able to forget. Her head barely reached my shoulder, but she didn't look intimidated in the slightest. Whatever kind of woman I might have imagined a boor like Jecht would take to wife, it wasn't one like this.
"I have come at the request of Jecht, to safeguard his wife and child." Truth be told, there had been no mention of her, but I couldn't bring myself to say that. At her dubious expression, I reached into my shirt and procured the necklace. Her eyes widened then, and a hand rose to her mouth, trembling slightly like a frightened bird. Slowly, she reached out to touch it, but as soon as contact was made she jerked back as if the silver pendant had burnt her.
She raised her head, visibly steeling herself. The lilac-colored irises darkened to purple, and her face flushed, bringing a blush to the pallid cheeks and deepening the rose of her lips. "And how do I know that you speak the truth?" She demanded uncertainly. "That you didn't just kill him yourself, and steal this from his body?" The boy, unnoticed, had crept out to join us, peeking hesitantly around her leg.
It seemed callously cruel to speak such words to his grieving widow, and in front of the child himself, but there was nothing else to be done. I said simply, "His words to me were, 'Take care of my son. I wanted to turn him into a star blitzball player, like his old man. But he's such a crybaby...he needs someone there to hold his hand.'"
As I spoke, the fire drained out of her, leaving her wan and colorless. "Yes. That's something Jecht would have said." She turned and drifted unsteadily into the house, leaving the door open, which I could only assume meant that I was to follow. The boy eyed me uncertainly with huge blue eyes. He looked nothing like his father, but there was something in the set of the small shoulders or the stubborn-looking chin that reminded me fiercely of Jecht. I bent and slipped the necklace over his head as I passed, and he wrapped both tiny fists around it.
She stopped at the threshold, but didn't turn around. "He's dead, isn't he?" Her voice was toneless and neutral, but hummed faintly with an undercurrent of barely suppressed tension.
"He's not coming back." My voice agreed with her, though the words did not, not entirely. I couldn't lie, but I could no more speak the entire truth to her than I could spear her though the heart myself. How could I tell her, that Jecht was Sin? And so I settled for a half-truth. Whether or not it was the right decision was something I was to agonize over, countless times afterward, without ever reaching a conclusion.
Jecht. My love. Dead and gone forever. I'd always thought my mind would leave me if he ever departed from this life without me, and it seemed that I wasn't far wrong. Already I could feel my sanity slipping away, like water through a sieve, but I forced my feet to carry me indoors, holding myself together with my arms wrapped forcefully around myself, as though I would fall away to pieces if I let go. I had to get away from the cold gravitas of that man and the dispassionate look in his lone mahogany eye as he'd torn my life apart with mere, inflectionless words.
End Chapter 1
This story is going to be a departure from my usual format in that it will be many small chapters instead of fewer larger ones. Just for something different... *shrug* ^_^
Song quote from "How You Remind Me", by Nickelback