contains some serious emotional content.
main characters: Joyce, Edward
disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to Joyce from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon. I hold no legal rights to Edward, from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books.
distribution: Jinni, Paula, anyone else ask.
note: Jinni's weekly poetry challenge #9.
"He was my north, my south, my east and west;
My working week, my Sunday best;
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
I thought that love would last forever, ... I was wrong. "
-- W.H. Auden, 'Song IX' from 'Twelve Songs'
* * * * *
Tears blurred her vision as she tucked the last letter into the shoe-box. She sniffled a little, trying not to break out into shuddering, sobbing tears again. It wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't bring him back. And she was out of tissues anyhow.
Her hands were shaking as she picked up the last picture, having planned to pack up everything, every note, every photograph, everything that would remind her of him. Maybe if she didn't see them, didn't have the pictures out, it would help with the pain. Help heal the pain of him going away.
She didn't even know why he'd done it. Why the boy that she'd given her heart to had left. But he hadn't just left her, he'd left town. And nobody had any idea where he was going, or why, or if he'd ever come back.
"Why did you have to leave me?" The anguished question hung in the room.
She looked at the picture, seeing the two of them smiling at the park, the sunlight shinning on their blond hair. Everything had been wonderful that day, they'd had a picnic, and kissed by the pond. His blue eyes looked so content, just like her eyes seemed so happy.
If she'd had any idea then that he would leave, would she have ever got involved with him? Would she have ever asked Ed if he'd like to catch a movie with her? Would they have ever kissed by moonlight, or held hands as they walked down the street? Would they have ever.... would that night, under the willow tree ever have happened?
She'd been daydreaming about them getting married, and having a family. A son with his eyes, a daughter with that dimple that only showed when he smiled. It should have been wonderful, and happy. Not this heartache.
Her mother had teased her, saying that she'd found herself a perfect blond, blue eyes man to have darling little Aryan babies with. But that hadn't been why she'd liked him. She'd liked his smile, the way that his eyes could laugh without a smile, the way he could figure out what was going on just like that. And he'd made her feel special.
But Edward was gone now. And he wasn't likely to come back. Why else would he have returned the pendant that was half of a heart, the one that fit perfectly with the one that she'd worn? He was gone, and he wouldn't come back to her.
Joyce's fingers touched the picture, covering their smiling faces. "Is it worth it, Ed? Is whatever made you leave worth breaking my heart like this? Does it make your heart ache too?"
But she'd never know the answer to that.
* * * *
Miles away, Edward tried to keep his face expressionless as he stared at Van Cleef. Everything had been taken away from him. His family had been killed. He'd had to leave Joyce, before whoever had killed his family targeted her as well. No more dreams of becoming a history professor and teaching. Only this.
"You will either learn to become efficient killing machines, or you will die trying." Van Cleef's voice was calm, almost reasonable sounding, which somehow made everything worse.
If he'd shouted, he could have tried to pretend that it was just boot camp, only different. If he'd threatened and insulted, he could have focused on the goal of hating Van Cleef and proving him wrong, like that annoying math teacher. If he'd been able to stay, if he could have tried to build a future with Joyce...
No. No more dreams of Joyce. He had to try to protect her from these people, even if only by his silence. They weren't the United States military, despite the way things suggested. Part of him wondered if they might have been responsible for his family's death, all to get him here. But why go to so much effort?
A little piece of Edward died.
These were not nice people. The more he listened, the more he learned of them, the less nice they seemed. There was a thin veneer of control over savage monsters. He wouldn't, couldn't let himself become that.
Another little piece of Edward died.
He learned about guns, and how to tend and rebuild them. Calibers and firepower, and muzzle velocity. About the penetrating power of different bullets, and what other factors to look for in certain circumstances. Explosive bullets, tracer rounds, mushrooming shells... And just where to shoot to kill someone quickly or slowly. Where to shoot to drop them but leave them alive for interrogation.
Another shred of Edward died.
He learned about knives, and all the things that could be done. Big knives, little knives, serrated ones and dulled ones. Killing, wounding, maiming and what was politely called 'questioning'. He learned to torture people.
More of Edward died inside, though the outside was growing lean, all muscle and sinew.
Edward was drowning in death and killing. In ways of violence and pain. He was becoming the efficient killing machine that Van Cleef had demanded.
But still, a tiny corner of himself locked away remembered Joyce, and dreamed of what could have been.
Slowly, he became numb, not letting himself care about the people around him. They would die, torn apart by the monsters of the world, most of which were as human as their victims. They didn't know how to defend themselves, and so they went on their oblivious way.
Slowly, slivers of his soul died inside of him, and Edward became Death.