It's in a little cottage in the middle of the woods that their story began. It only seems fitting that it should end where it began. The cottage is tiny, just three rooms. The majority of the house is built of a miniscule dining/living area that splits off to a bedroom, hardly big enough to fit their hard double bed. The bedroom split off to an en suite, if you can even count it as an en suite. It fits a square, claustrophobic shower, a plain sink basin and a tiny toiler in the corner. Yeah, the cottage is tiny, but they wouldn't be happy anywhere else.
The cottage is hidden in a forest, far away from any prying eyes. But if you walk far enough, if you can carry enough water to survive that far, then maybe someone else will enjoy it one day. The cottage is so surrounded with trees that even if you did find it you could walk right by it and not even know. But that suits them just find.
The cottage is old. And when using the word old, it means ancient. The owners wouldn't be surprised if some of the first settlers built it. All they know is that it saved them, from more than they'd ever know. The cottage has bricks cracking off on the outside, the roof falling to pieces. It's not unusual to start eating and find that pieces of plaster have fallen into your meal. It used to cause them laughter, until laughter became too unbearable for her. And when his love was too elderly for the laughter, he gave it up as well.
If you look closely enough you can see the building that the cottage once was. A handsome, classic shape, just four walls and a slanted roof, it has but two windows on each wall covered internally with laced curtains. There's a crippled garden bed at the mouth of the cottage. It used to be manicured and well-tended to, back when she could still walk around, when it wouldn't cause her such crippling pain. He wanted to continue working on the garden for her; he wanted to continue her legacy. But she just wanted him with her. She refused to let him out of her sight, even for something she loves as much as her garden.
It's a simple life; it always has been. Ever since they left their companions it's been necessary for them to have a simple life, one away from everyone else. If they had stayed in the heart of the city somebody would be bound to notice. As it was, it was a worthy sacrifice. They gave up everything for each other's love. They gave up their friends, their family, their hobbies, their jobs. They gave up their lives just for a chance to be a part of each other's. Of course, the sacrifice turned out pretty okay. They lived for a long time, happily, but no amount of happiness would ever keep her from death.
Because at the end of the day she's a human, and he is not. The human girl she used to be was always going to grow old. She was never planning on escaping death; she never planned on holding it away. All she could ever hope for was him; her siren. Life has been gentle on them, all things considered. They had simply packed up and walked away, just disappeared. They left notes to their closest friends, of course. She left a note for Bo and one for Nate, not wanting to break the boy's heart completely, and he left notes for Dyson and Trick. They never talked about it but they knew their friends understood.
If they didn't then they were never really their friends.
Because Kenzi and Hale couldn't live like that. They would rather give their own lives than live in the laws of the fae. The would have rather live on the run for the rest of their lives than ignore the feelings that grew between them. Ever since the first time they met there were sparks. She was never just another human to him, and he was never just another guy to her.
The connection was instantaneous; he fell in love with a glance. She's not the type of person you meet every day. Something about Kenzi was almost off, but in a way that draws him towards her. Her eyes were always wide and open, completely readable. He has seen her through every emotion. He saw her through fear when they confessed their feelings to each other, he's seen her happy the day they found the cottage, he's seen her depressed when she had that miscarriage. Hale was there every step of the way in every part of Kenzi's life that ever mattered to her. Through the good times, like the water fights in the garden and through the bad, the day the lake by the cottage ran dry.
But their relationship wasn't just Hale comforting his love. They were equals, the two of them; outlaws until the very end. She sheltered him when they discovered her cancer, the day he felt his heart being ripped form his chest. The days where he broke down confessing to detest himself for taking her away from everything that ever mattered to her. Hale was always going to love her, but Kenzi is human. No matter how much she says she loves him if he walked away she'd forget. It might break her heart but she would forget.
Now instead he lies in their stone-hard bed, his body cradling hers. Her face, elderly and wrinkled, protected by his chest. What an odd couple they would be if anyone could see them. Hale still appeared to be no older than 24 whilst the women he cradles in his arms is at least 70 years of age. Just one more reason for them to stay in the cottage, refusing to move. There's no judgement there, they can be who they are and neither of them cares. They love each other for who they are not what they look like.
She lets out a quiet sigh and nuzzles her nose into his chest, inhaling deeply. Tears streak his cheeks but he doesn't dare let her go to wipe them away. He knows that they're in their last hours now. He can feel it in the way that her arms loosen around him; in the way she's silent. Even in her sleep Kenzi is never silent. His love always has something more to say, something else to add. His unofficial wife has never gone so long without speaking as she has in the past two days.
Even though they hadn't been to a medical clinic in decades they knew that it was cancer just because. Hale's supernatural senses gave him something more; they told him what was wrong. He refused to believe it initially, when he started hearing the diagnostic whispers three weeks ago. But after a week of seeing her fall apart he couldn't deny it anymore. He begged her to let him take her to the hospital, but he knew she'd say no. The fae would find them if they ever went beyond the boundaries of the small town on the skirts of the cottage. The one thing worse than death would be getting captured. They hadn't fought this long to be discovered, to let the fae know where they had been hiding all this time.
So he gave in. He let her have her last two weeks doing what she wanted. He let her sit on the porch and look to the sunset, he let her write letters to Bo that she knew she'd never see, he made promises to her when she asked, like when she begged him to go home and be with their friends after she was gone. Hale wouldn't refuse his love of anything, not while she was on her deathbed. Even if it ripped his heart right out of his chest he'd do anything for her.
So the past two weeks… He wasn't sure how to describe them. He wasn't sure how to sum up the way Kenzi's eyes always lit up at the exact moment the sun crawled behind the clouds, tugging them up like a blanket as it hid through the night, letting the moon have its spotlight. Sometimes she'd just sit there through the whole night, watching the stars dance in the velvet of the sky. Hale would crawl outside with her on those nights. He'd bring their thickest blankets and tug them around the couple, hug his unofficial wife to his chest and simply let things be. He'd pretend he couldn't hear it when she started sobbing, because he's always known how much she hates it when people see her cry. "Tears are a weakness." She had told him once when she was in her 30s, a playful spark in her eyes.
How he longed to see that spark, just one last time,
But his beloved was in no state for playfulness. She struggled to breathe most of the time, now included. Hale could actually feel it as Kenzi's breathing slowed, as her pulse weakened. The tears pour down his cheeks more profusely now and he doesn't even try to push them away. What's the point? The only person around to see him cry is his Kenzi, his dearest. He doesn't care what she sees of him because he knows she'll love him anyway. "I'm never going to make it, Siren," she had joked years ago, her eyes sparkling with delight even in her late age. "But I'll still love you. Even with the Big Guy, you won't be rid of me yet." A sob shudders inside Hale's chest as he relives the moment, wishing nothing more but to be back then.
Unfortunately, the sound awakes his darling. Kenzi's eyes flutter open, filmy and gentle but still ever so Kenzi. The one thing that hasn't changed is her eyes, the passion within them. The way with just one glance she could make even a vampire wet himself. His love is fierce, the strongest he's ever known. It's one of the reasons he loves her so.
Right now though, that stare is focused on him. A near angry glare, but Hale sees past it. He can see the pain of the tumour eating into her, stealing her life. He can see how she longs to let go, how she holds on only for him. The one thing she's lived for all these years is her siren. They live for each other. Nothing else is worth it.
"Don't you dare get soft on me now, Hale." She spits, her voice only shaking slightly. It's softer than he's ever heard her, and he can hear her pulse continuing to weaken. Her breath is raspy by now, like she's tried to turn her throat into a glass blender and still has shards stuck. Hale's chest hitches as he half chuckles half sobs. She's stronger than he, she always has been. She's on her death bed and she hasn't complained once. His dear has always fought. Even now when death would be so much easier to grip, she holds on without saying a word. He can see the battle in her eyes and it tears him apart, it really does. "I need you to be the strong one. Please. Just tell me it'll be okay. Tell me everything will be alright. Tell me Miracle survived. Tell me our baby's sleeping in a cot in the corner. Tell me I'm young again. Tell me we have decades in front of us, just for us. Lie to me, Hale. Please." Her voice chokes out and she is robbed of the ability to speak. Twins tears dribble down her cheeks and he squeezes her tighter to his chest. His chin rests against the roof of her head. He can't deny his tears, they continue to fall, but he doesn't let her see. He'll be the strong one.
"Everything's going to be all right, Kenz." He whimpers, clearing his throat gruffly to better convince her. "Everything's going to be all right. You're going to go to sleep now, angel, but when you wake up you'll be young. You'll be young and alive and we'll be back in the city. You'll see Bo. Dyson and Trick will be there too. The fae will have changed their laws and we're allowed to be together, nobody will deny us. Our friends will celebrate our love, they'll celebrate our child. It turns out you never had a miscarriage, it was just a false alarm. Miracle is alive and well. It's her first birthday. Bo brings her a staff. It makes you laugh, remembering the time everyone got weapons for Bo's birthday. Everyone's laughing now. You're in my arms and we're happy. We're happier than we've been in years. We have all the time in the world. You feel no pain, you feel no regret. Everything is right. And we know that one day you'll be gone, but we don't have to worry about that, not yet. We have years…" His voice trails off and he glances down, his heart catching in his throat.
Kenzi's eyes are shut, her lips twisted into a peaceful smile. Her skin is pale, paler than normal, and even her lips are white. In that moment he sees just how hard she's fought all these years to keep up with him. How even in her 60s she was quite capable of keeping up with the physically 24-year-old. A sad pride soaks through him, and he knows it's time. It's time for his Kenzi to give up the fight.
"Go to sleep dear. It won't hurt so bad in the morning." He whispers, kissing her forehead ever so softly.
"I love you, Hale. My siren." She whispers, letting her body relax into the familiar shape of the bed. "I always will, no matter where I wake." She adds before letting go of her final breath.
"I love you too, darling. Forever and always." He sighs, his entire body shuddering. He opens his eyes and looks down on the peaceful expression of the love of his life. A million memories etched into the wrinkles upon her face, a million words passed between the two of them. His heart thuds awkwardly as he feels the last of her life drain away.
And then she's gone. The love of his life has lost the war with death. She's content, with Miracle now.
Hale folds over, holding the body of his one true love as he lets the tears stream down his face and the pain cripple his entire body. Of course, he intends to follow out his promises to her, and he'll never get better.
But for now, grieving is the closest thing he'll get to being healed.