The Body Fragile Yields

by llamajoy

author's note: got a new videogame for christmas, we did! once again, square owns the world; these guys aren't mine-- though i still wish. some spoilers for the end of the game... and if you haven't played vagrant story-- go play it! if you're wondering (and I just know you are) the title is the name of one of the rooms in Undercity West, and the story is told from an unexpected pov. (any snide comments about me and bearded minor characters... will be true. ^^)

you're an angel, you're a demon, you're just-- human
now your world has turned to trash, broken windows on the past
take that child and teach him senseless...
in this gloomy, haunted place, all the feelings are of shame
all the windows have been broken by the children
the magic is broken, the house is in ruins
we feel nothing at all
--james, "lullaby"

I can see you falling.

Such timing, my friend, sending me away just when I was beginning to understand. I suppose you would say I have always had too many questions, and too little faith. But the Sight has ever been my own, even before you spoke my name and made me know it.

The air around me changes swiftly, from the thin sharp breath of that high Cathedral room, to the wine-aged smell of these toppled understreets, the buried chambers. Lea Monde is ripening, poured too full of souls, of suffering, and above our heads the streets are full of grieving.

Your transport spell has barely the strength to carry us; when it is spent, there is still a far way to run, and surely the whole city is collapsing. The Inquisitor, hands to her mouth, turns back-- I know she is afraid though she will not show it. You have taught me much of reading people's hearts. The boy in my arms clutches my tunic with small cold hands, but still has made no sound, and I can feel his silent trust.

Even as the city churns and we are breathless in our headlong rush, I can see you still. There on one knee, on two. Falling. The fresh stain of blood upon your back, the hollowness in your eyes. I see you, and I am falling too, unsteady on the crumbling staircase. For your brother's sake, though, and for the fate you have spoken to me, I dare not turn back.

You have always been so, tumbling down thus, light hair like fallen angelfeathers on your troubled brow, your too slender shoulders bowed like unfolding wings. The wound, too, is nothing new, watching you bleed an unbridgeable distance from my fingertips. Familiar, the song of your Blood-Sin was fierce when it was new, and fierce again in dying. You have never been close enough for me to heal, I'm afraid; my hands could never touch you.

No kind of gift, this-- watching the shallow rise of your pale chest, watching it fall. Watching the anger turn to surrender in your stained-glass eyes, blue burning into grey with the screaming Dark behind them.

And yet I cannot wish away this Sight, all I was given. You never could scry as I could, and you owe your life--

That life which is not mine to save.

We clear the wine cellars, panting in the raw unmagic air. The boy holds fast to my arm though I set him down, and I might believe he is-- grateful-- even for all that I have put him through. His eyes are wide, and I can see your reflection there, this younger blood, my charge.

Now, free from the murmuring Dark at the heart of Lea Monde, I remember the hurt-- and a depleted store of magic not enough to fill the widening hole, the Dark-wound hungry to eat me outside in. Perhaps I stumble, perhaps I only think I am, as you are.

What now? Will your Riskbreaker wish the city silenced, will he seal the tombs and topple the gravestones, bringing surcease to the endless muttering? Him I cannot see, though I suspect he is there. My Sight is faceted with you alone, a hundred radiating images of now, of present pain.

All around, mighty Cathedral ending in a scattering of stone and shattered sigils, all yearning downwards like dusty tears. The paling is coming away, the sweet sickly air of the atrium bleeding into the violated sky. It may be raining, for the marble floors are slick and bright, and your face is--

The very air is singed with your profile, terribly pale against those soaring golden walls, your eyes half-open as you pant apology to another. You close your eyes, and for a heartbeat you are a pale fragile thing, alabaster doll-face nearly translucent by the candle circle. Young and frail, like the soul-children in the undercity, your strings cut at last.

And then the hands in my vision are not my own-- broad hands, scarred and capable, firm and warm and real against the ghostly silent shivering of your shoulders-- though they could be mine, touching you as I wish to touch you, making you open your darkening eyes.


The boy is shaking me gently, and I open my eyes to look at him. It makes me smile, though my chest aches with the motion. You should know that he is safe, my friend, we brought him through safe. Is not this what you requested of me, as you taunted your successor on, as you risked your own fate to seal another's? Perhaps you meant all along to die here, to invite the end.

I could not have stopped you; I have tasted the cup of destiny from your hands often enough. How it is, it must be. And no one, knowing what I know, could blame you.

There, before, in the Cathedral-- how I asked a question of you, and you met my eyes, and in doing so you turned your back on the enemy, on the broad Cathedral dome behind us. Your only answer was the final breathless phrase of your dark-wing moving spell, as the sweet damascus blade found your Blood-Sin, sang a spell of disaster and drank your soul from between your shoulderblades.

Long have I learned that it does little good to wonder, but you know I must. I always ask just one last question. Were I there, would you hold out your hand to me, let me lift you free and carry you home? Such a touch of those ersatz fingertips, hard as hagane, soft as unspoken promises. Would you breathe a word to me, your prophet-lips flushed and cold as berries caught in the frost, would you whisper to me of understanding?

I cannot wait, Sydney, not any longer. This body fragile yields, forgive me. I thought to have learned something of faith after all these years. I have bled all I can for you, there is little enough in my veins to keep me whole.

Submit to the Dark once for all and perhaps one day you will See and my hands will be the ones to touch--

leave the shadows dancing, dancing on their own
let the moment free you now
leave it all behind you, i'll know where you've gone
take me as i am-- i may disappear
fade into the night
--october project, "take me as i am"


b i s h o n e n i n k