A/N: I blame this on my father who gave me the first three seasons of Highlander and then left me with nothing else to do for a week. My brain speaks no other language, currently.
As for the story, it's going to be a wild mess of chronologically messed up ficlets that will - hopefully - at one point, form a somewhat coherent universe. Until then, hold on for the ride. Unbetaed.
Her garb is not that of a nurse or nun, yet she walks unchallenged between the rows upon rows of rickety cots, stopping here and there, humming softly under her breath.
She wears all black, the better to hide the blood but even in the abysmal lighting he can see the wet patches and stains on her dress and the vivid red smears on her hands, face and neck. Her skin has the pallor of sickness, or of someone who has dwelled in shadows for centuries, almost perfectly white, blue lines tracing beneath it, making her more than a statue. But despite the gruesome picture she makes, her hair is the gold of sunlight caught and spun and the dying lads’ faces contort into approximations of smiles when she passes them by.
She holds their hands for a moment or two, whispering, sometimes singing softly in a lilting language he cannot identify across the space of the tent. She traces the outline of their faces, wipes their foreheads with the sweetness of a lover. Yet she brings no salvation.
Her path through the tent follows the doctor’s loosely, marked by those beds he does not stop at anymore. There is a bag softly swaying at her side whenever she walks, small and as black as her dress but filled with death.
Her small hands stroke over lax red hair as she takes her leave from a lad that cannot be older than sixteen. Her circuit of the whole tent takes her maybe an hour. As she leaves his bed, she leaves him with another hour to live.
From the entrance of the tent, he watches as she takes a few steps to the next bed, coming closer to his position and suddenly her quickening races down his spine like ice water. Blonde curls shift as she peers up at him through dark lashes, meeting his surprised gaze with her own cool green one. Her thoughts are hidden behind her eyes, her face blank except for the weariness that has long since crept into everyone here.
War is no place for women. But even less is war a place for humans. All this death and pain and blood. These days, he wonders how he could ever look upon a field of mud and mangled corpses and see glory and honor.
Then she breaks away from his gaze, focusing on the soldier beneath her smooth hands, singing again, loud enough this time for him to hear. It is no language he has ever spoken or heard but there is an undertone of ancient tribes and the wilderness, of desert and sunburned skin. From her bag of death she draws a syringe filled with clear liquid and – never stopping her song – plunges it into the lad’s arm, pressing down.
He closes his eyes, refusing to watch the young man’s death. It is not salvation she brings but mercy to those who can expect nothing else anymore, a last relief in a world that is without.
The doctors are gone for the night, the nurses turn their heads away and so, he has been told, she walks every night through the infirmary tents, taking with her those lads that have no hope of recovery. An immortal gatherer of souls. He almost laughs at the irony but before the bitter sound can interrupt her gentle singing, he spins and leaves the stifling room, deeply inhaling the cold night air.
Even out here he smells the blood and antiseptic and it makes his stomach churn. War is an abomination, killing
is an abomination, a perversion of nature, he has learned that by now. Animals kill to defend themselves and their young, to feed and survive. Only man kills for land and riches, for honor and faith and nothing but meaningless rhetoric. Whether that is scratched into clay tablets of written will ball point pens really makes no difference.
At the soft rustling of the tent flap he turns, not really surprised to find her tiny form outlined against the infirmary lights.
Hand on his sword he nods his head at her and introduces himself, “I am Duncan Macleod of the clan Macleod.”
Her smile is the exhausted, indulging one of a parent as she remains unmoving. “And I am tired, Duncan Macleod.”
She walks soundlessly to stand next to him, turning her face to the clouded sky as if she could see the stars beyond. Maybe she can.
They stay there until dawn brings new light and new wounded and nothing more is said.