The idea for this one just popped into my head when i was reading the last book of Keys to the Kingdom. Leaf is older in this one, in case you don't realize. Read and Review, please :)
disclaimer: i dont own anythin'
"I'll be leaving today."
"I won't be returning."
"Won't you miss me?" she whispered.
He hesitated. "You are a mortal. Mortals cannot remain in the House for long. It is better if you go."
Leaf had had it. Enough was enough. She whipped her hair back angrily, turning to face him. Or at least, towards him. He was so much taller after all.
"What is wrong with you?" she said with exasperation.
He looked taken aback by her sudden outburst. "Pardon?"
"Sorry, that came out wrong. It's just that… I don't think I'll ever get why you people act the way you do."
He was silent, musing this thought to himself while absentmindedly stroking the black blade of his scythe. "I'm not sure I quite understand."
"You Denizens, you're all the same." Leaf rubbed her eyes tiredly. "You do what others order you to, never really thinking or caring about yourselves. Or about others." she added.
She stepped forward, reaching up to place a delicate hand on his green-skinned cheek. His features no longer held such inhuman perfection, nor was he as tall as he once stood, but to her it seemed that now his face held a rawer, gentler beauty. Perfectly imperfect.
She dropped her hand down to his chest, letting it rest where once she knew there had been a gaping wound, now only a fading scar.
"Fighting battles you know you can't win, goddammit. Getting hurt for people you hate. Why?"
Leaf thought back to when they first met, she a frightened young girl, and he the dark servant sent to take her away. Meeting for the first time in the midst of a war. It sounded almost like a fairy tale, even. And it may as well have been; with his pale green skin and dark eyes, Reaper looked as though he had just stepped out of storybook. Sometime through their journey, they had bonded, or so she had thought. She shivered as she recalled the one other time he had abandoned her- when they were not friends, but enemies. And now he was abandoning her once again.
"Leaf." She looked up, feeling a thrill as she heard him say her name. "I don't think you realize what the Denizens truly are." He took a breath, inhaling deeply. "We were created by the Architect to be servants, no matter what some may think. That is our sole purpose. We are not like you people, who live happy, fulfilling lives simply for the sake of living. We feel, but it is unnecessary to us; whatever emotions we have often hold little meaning." He held her eyes in his steady gaze. "We were never meant to be happy" he murmured, sending chills up her spine. There was silence as he waited for it to sink in.
"Do you hate?" she whispered. "Do you love?" She held her breath as she waited for a reply.
He sighed. "Perhaps. For us, emotions are always difficult to comprehend. How do I know, if what I feel is love, hatred, or merely indifference?"
Leaf was almost afraid to ask. "But do you care about me?"
He glanced at her, taking an infuriatingly long time to consider.
"Certainly. If someone was to ask me whether I preferred you alive or dead, I would much rather you be living and well."
"Oh, that's a real comforter." she snorted.
"It means something" he replied earnestly, "With most people I wouldn't care either way."
She laughed then, a warm sound, though it was laced with sadness too. "But really Reaper, do you, well, um-" She brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes, and tried again. "Do you think that, um, maybe you, er," she paused, "love me?" As soon as the words left her mouth, Leaf regretted it. She felt the blush creeping up her cheeks as she tried to glance everywhere but at his face.
The Reaper, naturally, was slightly surprised to hear her ask. But only slightly. "Leaf, I care about you, do I not?"
She was still looking at the ground, cheeks shining pink. "Yes Reaper, but do you…Do you feel anything…deeper?"
He considered this. He had lived a long life as Sunday's Dusk, following orders, obeying, never stopping to think about what feeling really was. What is love? What is hate? Does he feel either? How do you know if you can love, if you do not know what love is? She is lovely, yes. Soft hair and long limbs, and bright eyes that are sharp and clever. He feels pulled to her, wants to touch her, to make sure she's real. She is so delicate, as easily crushed as a rose. Maybe that is why he cares for her, in the same way he cared for the roses he once tended to in Lord Sunday's garden.
Leaf was still looking expectant, rocking nervously on the balls of her feet. He could do it. Tell her what she wants to hear, make her happy one last time. But he wants to know the answer too. Wants to know if he does hold any feelings for her.
"I don't know." In that moment, he felt hideously torn, for bringing down her hopes with three small words. Yet better that lying, surely.
"That's okay." she sighed. "I was just hoping. Wishful thinking." She offered him the shadow of a smile. "Wishing that maybe you felt the same."
He had upset her. He was choked, unknowing of what to do next, when suddenly she leaned in, pulled him forward, and
At first he was puzzled. Then, "A kiss. A sign of affection" his brain told him. Affection…this complicates things. Part of him wanted to reprimand himself for being weak, and to stop this behavior immediately, but more of him wanted to simply wrap his arms around her and hold her tight and to pretend for the moment that this was really love that he felt. So he did, almost trembling at the alien sensation of having another close.
They stayed like that for a long while, each taking comfort in the other. She, who loved someone who couldn't love back, and he, who desperately wished that he could. It was Leaf that broke their embrace.
"I have to go now, Reaper" she said softly. "Reaper…that's not your real name, is it? All this time I've been calling you by a title."
He blinked, lost in thought. "As I've said before, Reaper is fine."
"What is your name, though? I won't tell any-
He laughed then, the sound of silver chimed in the air. "It isn't a matter of secrecy, Leaf." His voice was tired, broken, yet wistful. "If I ever had a name, it has been long forgotten."
"Oh." They stared into each others eyes, both withholding a thousand things they wished they could say. Once again, it was Leaf who finally looked away.
"I should be leaving." She stroked his cheek one last time, and without a further word she turned and left, averting her face and clenching her jaw so that he wouldn't see her tears. Separation. This wasn't a happy ending. It wasn't supposed to end like this.
He was left staring at the space she had stood only moments before, clutching his scythe in one bony fist. She was gone.
"Goodbye" he whispered, but no one heard.