Various fics for 31_days06
Series: Bleach, Buffy
Character/Pairing: Ikkaku, Yumichika, Faith
Summary: Ikkaku and Yumichika are killing time while on assignment in the living world.
Notes: Spoilers for English-only viewers and watchers. For the prompt, "walking through town is quite scary."
While waiting for the next Arrancar attack, Ikkaku and Yumichika decided to take the night off, and maybe do some sightseeing in other parts of Tokyo while they were on assignment in the living world.
They'd had a blast, partying their way through Shibuya, checking out the scenery in Harajuku (Ikkaku preferred the female scenery, while Yumichika was a bit more equal-opportunity in his tastes), and chasing a Hollow through Ginza.
Make that four Hollows. They ditched their gigai and jumped into the fight. It went pretty well, and they each were able to dispatch one of the Hollows within a couple of minutes. Only problem was, a human woman wandered right into the middle of the fight just as it was heating up.
"Whoa," she said as she saw Ikkaku release his shikai. "That is wicked cool."
Ikkaku stopped, mid-jab, and would have been bitten in half if Yumichika hadn't jumped in with a well-timed swipe to the Hollow's head.
"You can see us?" he demanded.
"Fuck yeah," she said gleefully. "And I like what I see."
Ikkaku could have said the same thing. She had gorgeous dark, wavy hair, a devilish glint in her eye, and although her curves weren't quite as extravagant as, say, Matsumoto's, it looked like she damned well knew how to use them.
Too bad her timing wasn't better. There was one Hollow left, and it must have thought she smelled good or something, because it licked its chops and charged straight at her. Instead of screaming, running, or doing something else one might expect of a human, the woman just shook her head and said, "Damn... ugly fucker, aren't you?"
Then she picked up a concrete trash barrel and casually lobbed it at the Hollow's head. It connected, and the Hollow disintigrated.
"My, my, my..." Yumichika seemed both nonplussed and admiring. Ikkaku was feeling plenty of admiration himself, and not just for her technique.
"Not bad," he said. Hell, even Zaraki would have been impressed by that kind of strength.
She gave Ikkaku a good, appraising look up and down. Something about her made Mizuho look like a freaking nun in comparison. "Not bad yourself," she said with a cockeyed grin that echoed his own. "Seems we like the same kinds of parties."
Ikkaku looked at the space where the Hollow had been, at the fallen, shattered trash can, and then back at her. "Seems like," he said. Even Yumichika looked interested as the woman checked him out.
"Something tells me you swing both ways, pretty boy," she said. She seemed pleased by the propect.
"It's been known to happen," Yumichika said smoothly.
She nodded, satisfied. "Cool. That's actually kinda hot. Anyhow, the name's Faith. What say we go check out a different kind of monster? There's a whole nest of vamps up in Roppongi," Faith said, jerking her thumb over her shoulder in that general direction. "They run this whole gothy 'darker than thou' kind of club--buncha total cliches. Still, maybe we can get some dancing in before we start in with the fighting and the dusting."
From the way she said it, there was no doubt in Ikkaku's mind as to what she had planned as follow-up to a good evening of mayhem.
"When she dies, we are definitely recruiting her for the Eleventh," Ikkaku whispered to Yumichika as they followed her to the lair of whatever these 'vampires' were.
"Oh, absolutely." Neither one could keep their eyes off the sway of her hips.
In the end, the only thing that kept it from being a perfect evening was the way Yumichika kept on bitching about how the dust messed up his hair and clothes.
Title: A sudden change of scenery
Series: Wonderfalls, Narnia
Summary: This time, it's not just talking animals.
Notes: For the prompt, "I am too freaked out to be nice"
Jaye sat down in a snowbank and felt sorry for herself. After a few minutes, her butt was both cold and wet, which made feeling sorry for herself just that much easier.
"Okay, the fake talking animals were one thing. Smoosh-faced lions, monkey bookends, plastic flamingos--oddly enough, that I could deal with."
"Are you all right, dearie?" the beaver--a real beaver, not some jokey stuffed toy--asked her. "We need to get you out of here before she shows up."
"You're supposed to be more cryptic," Jaye snarled, "but that last part? Is pretty close. Anyhow, talking animals were one thing. Opening my closet door and finding myself in the middle of the woods? In winter? Seriously, I need a lot more to drink if I'm going to cope."
"Come along then," the beaver said. "I'll make you a pot of tea."
"For the last time, I don't want tea." Jaye squeezed together a handful of snow and chucked it at the beaver. It took off back into the woods. Of course, a big wodge of snow chose that moment to slide off the top of the nearby lamppost and go straight down the back of Jaye's shirt.
As she shook snow out of her shirt (and felt even more sorry for herself), Jaye mentally kicked herself for scaring off her best chance at figuring out what the hell was going on. She also wondered if this particular misadventure had anything to do with what the little wax lion--who had started speaking in a different and much deeper voice for some reason--had said about going "further up and further in."
Title: Housing shortage
Series: Sandman, Yami no Matsuei
Character/Pairing: Konoe, Tatsumi, Death
Summary: The dead have to go somewhere
Notes: Set during "Season of Mists." For the prompt "a million angry citizens"
"What do you mean we have to take them in?" Chief Konoe blustered. His temper had risen to the point where Tatsumi had taken a careful step back, but the young woman who was perched on the edge of Konoe's desk wasn't the least bit perturbed. She simply sat there, casually propped up on one hand, and smiling sweetly.
"Oh, it's not permanent. It's just until the whole Hell situation has been straightened out," she said cheerfully. She was nearly as sunny as Wakaba, but there was something deep in those kohl-circled eyes that would give even Enma Dai-o serious pause. "All the major underworlds are doing their bit to take in the overflow--Valhalla, Mictlan, Annwn..."
The implication was clear: and so will Meifu.
"This is going to make it nearly impossible to keep track of who is still supposed to pass beyond and who has already passed," Tatsumi protested, but those who knew him could hear the defeat in his voice.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll get it straightened out. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a crowd milling about the Place de la Bastille that needs to be straightened out." She faded out of sight, her silver ankh and the curving line beneath her eye being the last things to disappear. "Oh, and remind Tsuzuki he still owes me a cup of coffee!"
And then she was gone, and Konoe and Tatsumi could hear the rising babble of the innumerable souls, many still clamoring for their punishment, who now gathered among the ever-blooming sakura.
Tatsumi sighed and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "Why am I not surprised that she knows Tsuzuki?" he muttered as he jotted down a note on his clipbard.
"It's not his fault," Konoe pointed out. They could now hear screams from down the hall; Hisoka's empathy had apparently taken a big hit when all those tortured, wailing souls had appeared at once without warning.
"No, I suppose not."
Konoe shrugged. "Dock his pay anyway."
Title: Who Are You? (in same continuity as "Not your average Kelly Girl," and "Agony Aunt," but stands on its own)
Series: xxxHolic, Doctor Who
Character/Pairing: Yuuko, The Doctor (8, 10)
Summary: Yuuko must cope with the effects of a war that raged throughout time.
Notes: For the prompt, "I can hear forever calling out to me"
She had told Watanuki she was going on vacation.
While that was true, it was not the whole truth. She had not corrected Watanuki when he had combined her statements of "I'll be on vacation" and "I'll be gone for two weeks" into one slightly inaccurate belief that she was taking a two-week vacation. Yes, Yuuko would spend a good fourteen days of her time away from the shop relaxing and sleeping sixteen hours a day. She would need to.
After all, she would only be spending a fraction of her time away from the shop in what Watanuki would think of as 'time.'
Time needed repairing. Holes between dimensions required patching. And always, always, there were the echoes of a war that had been over in an instant and that lasted for an eternity, a war that had never happened and a war that still raged.
Yuuko stood in a lonely place outside of space, her eyes closed, and her hands palms thrust out in front of her as she felt for the cracks between worlds. The barriers between worlds were there for very good reason, and it normally took unimaginable power to break through them. Even a magician as powerful as Fai could only manage such a stunt once in a lifetime, under normal circumstances. But the final--or perhaps initial--blow in the Time War had left those barriers cracked and crazed almost past repair. Aftershocks from that blow continued to cause rifts between universes and still sent anomalies swirling within universes.
These aftershocks had appeared tomorrow; they would appear a million years in the past. The repair work had been completed a century ago; it would still be underway a century hence.
And now--if such a word could be applied to the non-time and non-space where Yuuko stood--she was repairing yet another breach and, as she always did in these circumstances, thinking about the one who was responsible.
It could have been worse, she told herself. The shells between realities could have been shattered, not merely cracked. Entire universes could have been erased from existence rather than just two civilizations, but one man had made a wish, and she had granted it.
The price will be high, she had warned him. Higher than you could possibly understand, I think.
I'll be committing genocide and wiping my entire world from existence--future, present, and past, he'd answered with courtly bitterness. I can't imagine any higher price than that.
She could. And she knew that he would willingly pay it, and that she would grant his wish. She had known this would happen, because she had already been repairing the effects of his wish since before she could remember, and she could already feel the annihilation of the Time Lords and of the Daleks rippling through all of time.
As she repaired this particular breach (it was both the first and the last) she felt something trying to get through. Yuuko paused for a moment, considering whether or not to grant a small favor to a man she had once thought of as a friend.
She wasn't sure what she thought of him, now, after everything that had happened. (The strain of containing the damage had halved Clow's life-span, she was sure of that, and she had not been pleased by what she had heard of this version's demeanor.)
She wasn't even sure what she would call him, if she saw him again.
There is one thing you will need to give me before I can grant your wish, she had told him. She had smiled sadly when he cast a nervous glance at the blue police box that waited faithfully outside the door to her shop. No, not that.
In the end, she simply cast a fond thought towards a man who had once spent long, happy hours joking and drinking with her and Clow, and she let a farewell message pass through from one universe to another. It passed through, and then with a twist of her hand that only looked effortless, the rift closed, leaving a young woman sobbing at the edge of Bad Wolf Bay, while in a sister universe, a man once again undertook his lonely journey.
When she returned to linear time, Yuuko slept for seventeen hours. Then she went down to the bar in her little resort hotel, and ordered two drinks. One was for her, of course, and one was for the man whose name she had taken and hidden away so well that no trace of it existed in history or memory, not even her own.
Title: When opportunity knocks, bar the door
Series: Wonderfalls, Angel
Character/Pairing: Jaye, Sharon
Summary: Sharon is pondering a change of scenery
Notes: For the prompt, "world domination and a whole lot of money to spend"
"So," Jaye said, trying to sound interested, "you have a job offer? In California?"
Sharon took a drag on her cigarette, then held it out at a rakish angle as she smiled smugly at her sister. Jaye suspected her of using the cigarette to accent the smugness. "Signing bonus, all moving expenses paid, everything."
A man wearing a Timberwolves tee shirt walked by. Of course, the cartoon wolf on his shirt had to have its freakish say on the matter.
"Keep her home," it said.
"But it means you'll be leaving." Jaye tried not to sound too upbeat about this. "And soon."
"Oh, I'll spend a year or two in their LA office, and then maybe I can transfer to New York." Sharon shrugged. "I'll hate being away from family..."
Sharon's smile sharpened for just a second, and then the smugness was back, gale force nine. "But time in the LA office is part of the deal. Non-negotiable, apparently."
The television over the bar displayed the logo of the St. Louis Rams. Jaye braced herself for the inevitable.
"Baaaaad deal," it bleated.
"Oh that's just pathetic!"
"Excuse me?" Sharon asked.
"Oh! No. Sorry. I was talking about the play. In the game. It was a pathetic play. So... it's a good place to work?" The animals that kept harrassing her obviously didn't think so, and if Jaye tried to ignore them for too long, they'd only find some other way to get her attention. So, for her own sanity, she had better find out what was going on with this deal Sharon had been offered.
"What else do they want? I mean, what else besides you moving to LA? And by the way, you are going to tell Mom about that part. You. No way are you foisting that little job off on me."
"I do not foist." Sharon waved her cigarette through the air, trailing ash and smoke. "As for what else they want, there's some nonsense about my soul. They're taking a lien out on it or something. Can you believe it?"
"No!" Jaye leaned forward, halfway across the table. "I mean, you actually have a soul? Really?"
"Please, Jaye. You can do better than that. Anyhow, joining Wolfram and Hart is an excellent career move."
"Tell her about the vampires," said the deer head mounted over the bar.
"He's not kidding." The man with the Timberwolves shirt just happened to be walking past them again.
"Oh yes. Vaaaampires," said the Ram.
Jaye could have sworn that she saw the deer nodding solemnly.
She let her head rest gently on the table. "My life does not need to be any weirder," she whined. "It really doesn't."
Title: Blood ties
Series: Friday Night Lights, Angel
Character/Pairing: Tim Riggins, Lindsey McDonald
Summary: Tim used to have bigger dreams, bigger goals.
Notes: Many thanks to sathinks for the beta. Written for the prompt, "you're just fiction, and I'm a twisted boy"
Tim knows exactly what he wants to do with the rest of his life. He's going to stay here in Texas, probably not all that far from Dillon. Yeah, that thing about going in on a ranch with Jason most likely ain't gonna happen now, but something else will fill its place. He's not exactly sure how it's all going to play out, but in his future, Jason is still there, somehow, and everything's pretty much okay. Tyra's there, too. So's Lyla. Maybe he'll settle down with one of the girls, maybe he won't. Maybe it'll be someone else--not a stranger, but one of the rally girls or maybe even one of the cheerleaders.
Or hell, maybe twenty years down, he'll still be stuck here with Billy in this rat-trap of a house, the two Riggins brothers, legendary drunks and whoring fuckups. That's fine, too. He can live with that. He can live with that just fine. He can go into town, go hang out at one of the bars around playoffs time, and people will see the State Championship ring on his finger and buy him drink after drink so he can go on forgetting what happened that one summer.
And in the end, that's all he wants. Going nowhere, nothing happening, and never being more than a few hours away from a comforting alcoholic haze.
He used to want something else, not too long ago. He wanted to get out of Dillon. He wanted to go somewhere where people wouldn't hear the name Riggins and immediately think trash. He was going to show that he was better than that, that he was better than his daddy, that he was better than Billy, that he was better than the rest of them.
Of course, that was before the short but jagged scar right above his collarbone. Most people think it's from when he fell off a bike and into a barbed-wire fence when he was twelve. Hell, Tim's told the story enough times that even he sometimes thinks it's true. He even has what seem like memories of the actual event. When he feels like bragging, he sometimes points out how close it is to some big old vein or something in his neck, and tells whoever's listening that he came real close to bleeding out, and woulda done so if his cousin hadn't been right there. He'll tell them that, and then he'll go off and get throwing-up, falling-down drunk, because that part of the story's just a little too close to the truth.
See, Tim has a cousin who made it big, and made it out of his crappy hometown. Not Dillon, no, just some other crap town in Oklahoma. From what he hears, it was a bigger jump out of there, but it's hard to tell. All he knows is that his dad used to talk about how his older sister got knocked up by some shit of an Okie and her life had pretty much gone down the crapper because of it. But he also said her kid--who was clearly nothing like his no-good daddy--was going places, even managing to get himself into law school.
Billy never liked those stories--Tim guessed they made him feel small--but for Tim, they were a lifeline. They showed him that there was a path out of there into something bigger and better. And for a little while, he would look at his report cards and dream that even though it was mostly just B's, his teachers were talking behind his back about how they'd never guess that Tim was a Riggins, and about how he'd be going places-- places that weren't Dillon. Hell, maybe he'd become a lawyer just like his cousin, and wouldn't that be something?
When Tim was twelve, this mythical cousin finally came for a visit. "It ain't fair that I got a couple of cousins I never met," he said, smiling at Tim and ruffling his hair. For some reason, Tim had imagined that he'd be all polished and city-proper like the lawyers on the TV shows, but Lindsey seemed ordinary enough. Flannel shirt, jeans, and a smile that marked him as a Riggins even though his last name was McDonald.
Tim grinned up at him and decided right then and there that Lindsey was his hero. He wasn't just someone who'd made it good, he was a grownup who paid attention to Tim, and acted like Tim was worth something. Maybe later, he thought, he should have noticed Billy's wary glares, or how maybe Lindsey paid no attention to Billy and way too much to Tim.
The second day Lindsey was there, just before sunset, he slung an arm across Tim's shoulders. "C'mon cuz, let's you and me go for a walk while there's still light. Maybe you can show me that bike of yours, and I can tell you all sorts of boring stories about what it's like to be a lawyer."
"It's just a crappy old bike. Used to be Billy's, and it weren't even new then," Tim said automatically, but he smiled and let Lindsey lead him outside. "And your stories aren't boring."
Lindsey laughed and ruffled Tim's hair again. "C'mon. Let's go over there," he said, nodding towards a dirt road leading off from the highway.
"There's nothing over there," Tim protested.
"All the better for walking and talking." Lindsey set off at a brisk but easy pace as Tim rode alongside on his rusty old bike, wobbling from having to go so slow. "Actually, I kind of need your help with something, Tim. There's been a bit of trouble at work, and I need to stop it."
"What kind of trouble?" Tim navigated his bike around a rut. "The kind of stuff you see on TV?"
"Depends on what kind of programs you're watching. Anyhow, they've got the wrong people in charge. There's someone who got the job I wanted, and I want to get it back from him. Problem is, there are some people who really want to keep him there, and they'll do anything to stop me from getting to him."
There was a snap to Lindsey's voice that startled Tim, and he let his bike fall to the side, catching himself with his foot, so he was standing there, straddling the tilted over bike.
"How'm I supposed to help you get your job?" Tim had no idea how he was supposed to help. "And who are these people who're tryin' to stop you?"
Lindsey didn't answer at first. He was peering at the horizon, as if waiting for something.
"Sun's just down," he finally said. And then Lindsey grabbed Tim around the chest and pulled him off his bike. Tim squirmed and kicked, but Lindsey was so strong he might as well have been made of iron, and he didn't even flinch when one of Tim's heels cracked into his knee.
Tim was yelling, and Lindsey was shushing him as if he was a kid who'd just woken up from a nightmare, but the stone knife at Tim's throat wasn't any damn dream. The knife cut into his skin, and Tim went limp, as if all the strength had just poured right out of him.
Lindsey lowered Tim to the ground, and it was worse because he was trying to be nice and gentle to his little cousin. But there was nothing nice or gentle about the way Lindsey scooped up some of Tim's blood on his fingers and drew a strange and squiggly circle on the hard dirt of the road. Lindsey touched his bloody fingers to his lips and then stepped inside the circle he'd made with his cousin's blood.
Tim watched, on the verge of blacking out, as strange black marks began to form and swirl on Lindsey's arms.
He forced himself not to whimper as Lindsey crouched down next to him. Lindsey's elbows rested light on his knees, the stone knife nearly dangling in his hand, he was holding it so loosely. And then he shifted, and Tim's eyes went right to that knife, but Lindsey reached out with his other hand instead, and ruffled Tim's hair one last time.
"I'm sorry about this, Tim, real sorry, but you're blood kin, and that's something I need real bad." Then he smiled, sharp and cruel, and it was more real than any of the friendly smiles he'd shown before. Lindsey looked at the marks that were still painting themselves on his skin, then turned his arms over so Tim could get a real good look at the strange letters that almost but didn't quite mean something. "Good thing you're too young to have done any fooling around with the ladies. Maybe in a couple of years, though. Meantime, I got to seal this up so it works the way it's supposed to."
Then, Lindsey nicked the tip of his finger with that damned knife, and touched it to the cut on Tim's neck, mixing blood with blood. He said a word that hurt to hear, and the wound pretty much stopped bleeding. Mostly. Anyhow, it stopped bleeding enough so that when Lindsey helped Tim back to the house and started spinning tales of bikes and barbed wire, there was no talk of taking him to the hospital. Lindsey left the next morning. Tim didn't bother to say goodbye. In fact, he didn't say much of anything for another three days.
On the third day, he found a bottle of Wild Turkey under Billy's bed and he drank until he puked.
For a few years after that, he thought he could feel people watching him. It was like they were hunting him, sometimes, except when they found him, they always turned away again in disgust, as if he wasn't the one they were looking for. And when the eyes became too heavy on him, getting good and drunk made them seem less focused somehow.
Eventually, Tim began to think that maybe it was safer to be just another Riggins.
And by the time he was fourteen, and he felt a stab of pain just above his collarbone that meant that Lindsey was dead and the eyes would no longer be looking for Lindsey and finding Tim, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
He can't imagine wanting anything else.
Title: Thanks, but no thanks
Series: Neverwhere, (fandom withheld)
Character/Pairing: Mr. Croup, Mr. Vandemar, other
Summary: Croup and Vandemar don't take every job they're offered
Notes: For the prompt, "we don't have the talent and we don't have the time"
Mr. Vandemar cleaned his nails with a stiletto, while keeping a careful eye on their 'guest.' Mr. Croup, as usual, did most of the talking.
"Why yes, while this is a very generous offer--most generous, is it not, Mr. Vandemar?--I am afraid our services are not available for engagement at the moment."
Mr. Croup stood up, and bestowed a foxy, yellow-toothed smile at their guest. You could have greased the bearings of an entire fleet of semis with that smile. "I do appreciate your interest, but overbookings as they are at the moment--petty governments to topple, inconvenient heiresses to murder--"
He kept talking, trying to usher their guest out and get a good read on him all at the same time. People like this normally didn't find their way down to London Below, and people like this made Mr. Croup very, very nervous indeed.
"If you're looking for feathers, well, I suggest you try Old Bailey, although the scrofulous old fool is, well..." here, Mr. Croup tapped at his temple and laughed condescendingly. "A bit too much time around the pigeon droppings, if you catch my meaning. But if you wish to find a way to open passages between worlds, then the Marble Arch family is your best bet, although I will warn you there are certain parties--certain very powerful parties who are interested them at the moment."
"Could be a bidding war," Mr. Vandemar pointed out. It was clear from his voice that in his point of view, bidding wars tended to involve conventional weaponry and have very high casualty rates.
"Thank you. You obviously can't help me, so..." the boy bowed and took his leave, and for the first time in thousands of years, Mr. Croup sighed with relief to see the back of a client.
"That, Mr. Vandemar, was a very strange young boy."
"Hmm." Mr. Vandemar had sliced off the tip of a finger while cleaning a nail. He shrugged, wiped off the stilleto, then moved on to the next one. "Smelled odd."
"Of course he smelled odd, you ninnyhammer--he didn't have a soul!"
Title: Auld lang syne
Series: Highlander, Temeraire
Summary: Methos receives an unexpected visit from an old friend
Notes: For the prompt, "love her almond eyes, they will tell no lies"
By the Age of Steam, the dragons had all but died out. In another twenty years, it would be hard to remember them as anything but legend.
Methos hadn't seen one of the beasts since shortly after he fled New Orleans and Morgan Walker's wrath, and that was nothing but a small Seminole Cutwing, riderless and probably feral. He wasn't sure what had brought dragons to mind again on this particular day, but he had been thinking about them off and on since that morning. And he also wasn't sure why he knew that the small shape silhouetted against the afternoon sun was Vita, but something told him that the speck in the Brittany sky was no hawk. He quickly dismounted his horse.
"Long time, no see, love," he told the aged Yellow Reaper once she had landed and collected herself. It was a heavy landing, with little of the grace of her youth. "Please don't tell me you've deserted your post."
The dragon stepped towards him, flattening the winter wheat. His horse had bolted the instant it had scented the dragon, but that was a small loss in the face of this great and unexpected gift.
The huge, almond-shaped eyes were filmed with cataracts, he noted with a pang, but Vita's impish personality still shone clear. "An old dragon who can't even get a crew of five into the air?" she laughed. "They'll think I flew off to die of plague."
Methos reached out to stroke her muzzle. The scales were no longer as smooth as he remembered. "I'm sorry."
He remembered watching, helpless, as the plague had decimated the dragon population. He'd seen similar things happen to other species, their numbers cut down through hunting, or disease, or loss of territory. And even when the dragon surgeons were still holding out hope for a miracle cure, Methos had known that their numbers had dropped past the hope of recovery, even if a cure could be found. Another generation, maybe two, and these wonderful creatures would be no more than legend.
"I'm glad to see you still have your head." She gently butted him with her own head, nearly knocking him off his feet. "I still remember the war against Napoleon..."
"Yes, yes..." He laughed at the memory. A Flamme de Guerre had an Immortal as a captain, and of course it had broken ranks to come straight at him. It had been quite the duel, the two of them slashing at each other as their crews ducked for cover. Some crew members even chose to plunge into the sea rather than face their captains' madness. In the end, he and the other Immortal (an old Visigoth, he recalled, born in France long before it was France) had lost their footing, plummeting towards the sea and still trying to use their blades. Methos had got in one last swing as Vita somehow caught him and pulled him up and away from what she believed would be a fatal fall.
That last swing was a good one, and the Quickening hit both dragon and captain in mid-air. Through some miracle, they lost no more of their crew.
It had been a cloudy day, and the crew had readily accepted his weak explanation of a lightning strike. Vita, on the other hand, had demanded the truth.
To his surprise, Methos gave it to her, a little bit each night, as they sat together in the covert. He started by slashing his arm open. She'd raised her wings and started to roar in outrage and horror, but then her eyes went wide and she fell silent as the wound sparked and sealed over, leaving only a trail of blood to show that he had been wounded.
Maybe, he thought, he felt he owed Vita the truth because she was the only creature who had never lied to him.
He had no idea how she'd found him now, just as she'd found him all those other times when she could no longer stand having another man command her when she knew that he was still out there, somewhere. ("Why can't you stay with me as my captain?" she'd demanded when he finally had to fake his death before people started to notice his longevity. "I don't want a new captain, not if you're still alive! Can't you explain to the Admiral the way you explained to me?" "No, love," he said sadly, and he told her a story that took place less than seventy years ago, and what had happened when he'd been found out.) "I'm glad you're here, but won't your captain be missing you?" he asked.
She rustled her wings: the draconic equivalent of a shrug. "You're my captain."
"Yes." He had watched her hatch. He had fed her and given her a name, half-laughing and half-crying at this craziness of his and everything it represented. He was her captain, and now she was dying. "Let's head back to the barn, and I can build you a fire. I think I also might be able to spare a cow or two for you."
"Yes. A fire would be good." She had glided down from the sky easily enough, but her gait on the ground was stiff and the motion caused her eyes to cloud with more than just cataracts. "And can I have a story, too, while I eat?"
Methos kept his hand on her shoulder as they walked along. He paid his workers well enough that they would not think to ask any questions about an English dragon or any missing cows. "Of course there will be a story. A new one, or one you've heard before? Whatever you want, you shall have it."
With over five thousand years to draw from, there was never any danger he would run out of stories. Even so, there were some stories that Vita wanted to hear over and over again.
They walked on without speaking for a moment, the only sound that of vegetation being crushed beneath Vita's talons.
"Tell me the story of my name," she said at last.
Methos swallowed hard, but then he began to talk as they walked, and he continued to talk as he built a fire to warm her, only stopping when he loosed a cow into the paddock for her to kill and eat. It was her favorite story, and it was a long one, a good one for seeing her through her last night. It was a story of a man who had once ridden across the land as Death, and who in seeking a way to put that life behind him, had the crazy idea of taking to the skies on a creature named Life.