It's finally here, the unintended conclusion! The italicized parts were originally meant to be crossed out - but FF doesn't support the strikethrough formatting, which makes me sad to no end.
Epilogue title is taken from Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Princess'.
Epilogue. Let Darkness.
As long as you are getting older
Always look over your shoulder twice.
'Milk and Honey', Delain
I don't know when this became a strange habit of mine, to check up on him every now and then, every month or two or maybe three but not less than twice a year. But knowing that he is safe and sound was kind of… convenient, I guess.
It would be such a shame, after all, such a waste of talent if something happened to him. I don't even mention that my life – and my work – would become much more difficult. I don't want to admit it, but I think I'd miss him as well. He is so fun to watch, confused, a little bit naïve, and I find myself wondering how he even made it so far.
I guess I'd miss him.
I'm standing in front of this apartment building for the third time over past two weeks. The last two times I checked, no one was home. Can it be another assignment already, that soon? Or can it be that the evidence wasn't enough? I'd bet on the former option, though.
The hookshot successfully grabs at the balcony and I take off into the air. Several moments of weightlessness - and I land on already familiar balcony. I don't know if there is someone inside, so I'd better be careful.
It's the dead of night and the lights are out. Somewhere in the downtown the city is overflowing with light and colour, but closer to the rooftops it's dark, and it's my comfortable surroundings.
I peek into the window and see what I probably expected to see the least. There is someone in the bed, sleeping, but I can tell it's not Leon. I look closer and see that there's a woman – a girl – and looking a little bit closer I realize it's the girl I saw in China. There is someone's arm – someone's, come on – around her and I like the scene less and less with every passing second.
Why am I even here?
I am ready to go away, but then I hear a scream and duck, praying that she – that they don't see me. They don't, obviously. It's not like they'd expect someone to appear on the balcony out of nowhere. Even if this someone is me.
I take a look into the window again – just one look and then I'm away, I'm persuading myself. And then suddenly I'm paralyzed and I feel a strange sting and I don't like it at all. The girl is shaking, and Leon is holding her close to himself and her arms find their way around him and she buries her face in his neck, and all of a sudden I hate how familiar they are with each other.
Get away from here.
When it's safe again, I go up to the rooftop and sit down. Now that I think of it, maybe I expected something like this; I should have, at least. I know the way you fall in love, Leon, slowly at first, never really trusting yourself, and then you dive headfirst. And I know the way you love, generously, burning yourself from the inside, giving everything you have. I've seen it myself. I have no doubts that you'll protect this girl – what's her name, once again? – and you'll gladly give your life up if it saves her.
But I know – I'm almost sure, I think, I hope that maybe, just maybe – you'd still do the same for me. Because I just happen to be that only memory you love to hate.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (because I can).
So here goes a short, or not so short, or maybe it could be longer, if I had a better memory, list of people to whom my gratitude knows no limits.
First, to TechnoGecko1826, who saw my cry of 'Holy crap, I want to write' and gave me a good moral kick in the ass to get me going, otherwise unwritten words would haunt me forever. I know things were kind of tough for you recently, but I hope everything will be okay in a blink of an eye!
Second, to Warbird571, who for some still unknown reason took her time to read this despite not being much of a RE fan. Also, I'm happy I made such a nice friend!
Third, to miroia, for her mixed English-Russian reviews. It was fun!
Overall, of course, to everyone who commented and bookmarked the story. Thanks a lot! You're still more than welcome to leave a review - even a couple of words - and don't hesitate to write if you saw a mistake, a typo or whatever.
Thank you and see you! *curtain falls*