A/N - I've been getting a lot of anonymous reviews lately, and I just wanted to say thank you! I love getting feedback on my writing (although good feedback is loved a little more) and a review in my inbox never fails to make my day.
This is all a dream.
Frederic looked down at the void beneath his feet, blue-gray clouds swirling against the darkness. His perch was high enough to make it impossible to see the earth—or perhaps there was no earth to see. Frederic would never know.
Behind him the others were arguing, but here on the edge of existence it was quiet and calm as the winds tried to bowl him over and pull him back at the same time. He was sure this was a dream. He took another careful step forward, staring into the nothingness that would consume him should he slip.
And if he slipped… then what?
It was entirely possible that there would be nothing there to catch him, no trees or earth or sky to break him as he fell. It was possible that he was looking into the void of Chaos itself, the epitome of hopeless darkness that went on for as far as the human mind could conceive. And he—they—were suspended above it by the frailty of a bridge created from the patchwork of his delusion, stepping on something that did not exist.
Such a beautiful parallel to the metaphor of his mind. Frederic was wandering though the dark maze of his own soul, desperate to awaken or to die and escape the terrible limbo of this pseudo-reality. He was aware that this dreamland was not true, but still he stood on the precipice and wondered what they would do if he jumped.
If he jumped, would he finally awake?
He stretched his arms out a little to feel the wind, swaying dangerously where he stood. Would he land somewhere—in Paris or Warsaw or Vienna—or would he fall forever at the mercy of the air? He let his eyes slide shut.
"Frederic!" Someone had finally disentangled themselves from the argument long enough to realize what he was doing just a moment before it had been done. Frederic smiled to himself; there was probably symbolism in that, too, but he didn't have time to dissect the thought before he was stepping off the bridge entirely.
If he died, he could see his father again.
He could see his sister again.
He could be alive.
There was a split second of terror as his feet left the ground, and he had only just begun to enjoy the sensation of standing on absolutely nothing before an arm wrapped around his waist and yanked him back. He slammed against someone's chest with enough force to make him wonder if he really had been falling, and another arm wrapped around his shoulders and held him there.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jazz's voice hissed, but Frederic's ears were still ringing with the impact of collision. He'd struck his head against the heavy plate armor Jazz wore, and he wondered for a moment what his subconscious was trying to tell him by dressing his saviors in breastplates that wounded as much life as it saved.
"I think you knocked him out," Viola said quietly, and there was a softness to the words that betrayed concern. Frederic watched Allegretto shake his head through blurred eyes.
"How stupid is this guy, anyway?"
"I don't know," Polka murmured. "I think I understand him."
And yes, Frederic thought, she did understand—but then the revelation was gone and Jazz was laying him down on the hard packed earth to examine the bruises on the back of his skull. The pianist could see darkness creeping in along the edges of his vision: the void that he carried with him, carried around inside himself at all times. As he closed his eyes and let the abyss come, he could have sworn he heard someone whisper, Stay adrift in the boundaries of nothingness. He wasn't sure if the words had come from his own mind.