A/N: Thanks for the lovelies. THis one's a bit.... pointless, but I hope you like it anyway. Happy Sunday.
PS: What's your favorite (complete) fic? I'm out of stuff to read and B.O.R.E.D.
The church is quiet. But then it usually is these days. Faith in invisible things has no more room in the hearts and heads of mortals. If they can’t touch it, they do not care for it. It is a sad truth, but truth nonetheless. Darius accepts it and spends the additional free time reading books not nearly as old as him. It is comfortable, if not exciting.
Still, for an hour every day he sits in the confessional, waiting for burdened souls seeking relief. Sometimes, one of them finds their way into his little refuge. Sometimes he sits alone.
Today the lost soul comes in the form of an immortal, their quickening rushing along his spine like snow and fire. He will never admit it out loud but sometimes he misses the rush of the Game. The heady smell of ozone and your own sweat, of knowing that it is your muscles and skill that keeps you alive. It is not more satisfying than this way of fighting he has chosen for himself, but a different kind of satisfying.
The wood creaks softly as someone slips into the other half of the confessional and he waits silently until they speak.
“Forgive me father,” they start and the voice is achingly familiar, “For I have sinned. Since my last confession it’s been…well, if there ever was one, I’ve forgotten when. It happens I guess.”
There is a desperate sort of amusement in that voice and he asks very carefully, “Summer?”
Sometimes she asks why he still calls her that when she has had a hundred different names since they met. And this name is no more real than any other she ever wore around her like a cloak. Cover, nothing more. But he looks at her, at the gold of her hair and the fire of her skin, the light in her reflecting green eyes and Summer is what he sees. Heat and grass and desert winds.
He has never asked if she has ever been to the desert, afraid of her answer. Some things just stay with them, no matter how much time passes and there is a stain of sand and blood about her that makes him sad at times. Because it implies things that do not bear thinking about in the dead of the night.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
There is a sense of surprise to him that doesn’t reflect in his voice. He is good at what he does. Still the question is obvious. “What are you doing here?”
“Uhm, confessing?” Unsure. She sounds unsure. He’s never heard that from her before.
“You don’t believe in God, Summer.”
A stretch of silence. Then, “You’re right. I should go.”
“I didn’t say that.” She reminds him of a wounded animal and it makes him wonder because never, never before has he seen her like this. Never has she been unsure of herself. “I just wonder. You have never felt the urge to confess before and I’ve been a priest for a thousand years.”
“I was there,” she reminds him. “I just feel like it, I guess.” Something wrong with her voice.
A sigh. “No.”
“Then what is it?”
Silence. “Today… today a bouncing baby girl was born in Los Angeles, California.”
“I don’t understand.”
She laughs and it sounds bitter. “I don’t either. Not anymore. Things used to be easy, you know? But I guess this really was a stupid idea.”
Too much. There is too much in her words. So he picks at the smallest bits first, trying to find the string that will unravel the whole. “Why?”
“You know,” she suddenly demands, chipper as a sunny day, “I hate it when you go all insightful on me. It’s annoying.”
He can’t quite keep the smile out of his voice, “Yes, I do.”
An amused groan and then, “You still don’t deserve to have all my sins in your head.”
So serious. It is not like her.
“That is what I am here for.”
He can hear the soft rustle of fabric as she shakes her head. “Not this, old friend, not this.”
He refuses to back down. “If you can tell it, I can hear it.”
She huffs and he just knows that she is running one hand through her hair, frowning. “You can’t know that.”
“You are here. You want to talk. I will listen, Summer.” There, that should end this dance.
“I don’t want to talk.”
This time he just waits. There is need for more talk. He already knows she will tell her story. It will only take a minute now.
“Alright. Any advice on where to start?”
Familiar ground finally. “The deadly sins are usually a good place to start.”
He leans back, trying to get comfortable. He doesn’t know her exact age but he knows that this will not be the brief confession of a troubled mortal mind, easy to soothe with a few words and a few prayers.
“Not envy,” she decides as a start, “Not really. Greed…only if it pertains to people. I’m obsessive. I’ve never given up those that belong to me.”
He knows that. He is one of those people after all. He belongs to her as a friend, a confidant and sometimes a shoulder to lean on when she forgets who and what she is under all the masks and layers. She wouldn’t let him go without a fight.
“Sloth….Nah. No more than anyone else. I like action too much. Can’t sit still. Gluttony isn’t my style either. And I refuse to see lust as a sin.”
He bites back a very un-priestly snort. “I know.”
By God, how many times has he caught her and that husband of hers in compromising situations? And they strictly refused to share his embarrassment every time, telling him instead that it was time he got some for himself if he blushed like a school boy.
She interrupts his thoughts with the question, “That’s five. What’s left?”
He takes a second to remember what they are talking about. “Pride and wrath.”
“Oh,” she whispers and he knows that this is where the hard part starts, “Those. Plenty of those. And the dead. So many dead.”
“We have all killed many times.” It is the best comfort he can offer, warrior to warrior. Even if one of them hasn’t seen a battlefield in a millennium. But he remembers the feel of mortal bones breaking under his sword, of skin giving and blood gushing. It is not something that will ever leave him. In that, all immortals are the same. To live, they kill.
She refuses the straw he offers, “Not like this, Darius. Not like this.”
“Tell me then.” Gentle now, and soft.
“I’m trying.” That edge of hysteria is back suddenly. “Gods, Methos… has Methos ever…has he told you what we were?”
Over the years they have both told him many things, things so fantastic he sometimes had trouble believing them. When drunk, Methos talks too much. But never this. He hears it in her voice now. No-one has ever told him about this. Or rather, they have never talked about this with anyone.
“We were gods. Gods among insects.” He should take offence to that, should protest. This is a house of God, not gods. But she is older than this God he worships and he is old enough to know that narrow lines make for bad faith.
Instead he asks, “Benevolent gods?”
She laughs. It is a sound too loud for the cavernous room. “Benevolent. That word wasn’t even invented then. We were vengeful. We were angry. Even bored and wild and…never merciful. Not to anyone but our own.”
“Did you,” he is afraid to ask but more afraid not to, “Did you kill for fun?”
It is something he needs to know. He was raised for honour and dignity and this is the one thing that to him, is truly a sin.
Her answer comes quick enough for it to be truth. “No. Not…It’s complicated. And some things aren’t mine to tell.”
Again he faintly hears her nod. “His. And Kronos’s, Silas’s, Caspian’s. They and me, we ruled the world. And the boys,” her breath hitches just a bit, “They were mine. And I let them do whatever….whatever. I didn’t kill for fun or pleasure. I mean, it was fun sometimes, but not the reason. I… I’ve killed so many. To keep what was mine. To protect. Or for revenge on this god damned world because….
“The boys were different. They were products of their time, their world. They were what I made them. And I let them kill just because it pleased them, because…. That’s wrong isn’t it? You aren’t supposed to put a few people over the rest of the world.”
Honesty is all he can give her at this point. Honesty for honesty. His wisdom has left him in the face of her words. Not the horror of them or the crime but the strangeness. He could live to be ten thousand years old and he would never know what she knew, would never see what she has seen. He would never understand the world she remembers like it has ended only yesterday. He was born in an age of order, of numbers and smooth words, politics and rules. Laws.
Where she comes from, the only law was Darwin’s and those that lost never made it into history. They say that the beginning of the world was full of cruel people. Knowing Summer has taught him that it was a cruel place and those that survived needed to be just as cruel. Everything soft simply died. Brittle, things must have been so brittle then.
So he says, “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows that. I am old, Summer. But compared to you, I am a child.”
“Circumstances don’t excuse,” she refuses any justification he might offer.
“No,” he agrees, “But I have never known you to need excuses.”
A beat. “I didn’t. It was…it felt like a dream. Year after year, it might all have been a dream. Nothing was real, nothing mattered. I was free. Until today.”
There lies condemnation in her words.
“The baby,” he guesses and guesses right.
“Who is this child that she is so important to you?”
She laughs. “Me,” she breathesgaspswhimpers. “She’s me. Today is the day I was born. And twenty-seven years from now I’m going to condemn myself to the dawn of time. I’ll turn myself into this
For a thousand years she had come and gone from his church, his life. She has spent decades in these walls with him. But he has never seen her cry. Until today.
Suddenly she demands, “You won’t tell, will you?”
“I’m a priest,” he rebuffs gently even as his head spins and his hands shake in his lap.
She laughs through her tears, “I feel guilty for telling you all this shit.”
“You shouldn’t.” And she shouldn’t. She needed to say them and he can live with knowing. “Even if I don’t understand. It’s okay.”
Maybe one day he will ask what she is talking about, what she knows about the future and the past. Maybe he never will. Some things are better left unknown and this… he is almost sure that this would scare him if he knew. He is a priest now, not a warrior. Fearless stubbornness is not a trait he retained. All he wants is peace. He hopes she can find hers.
“You know, Darius, you really are special.”
He smiles at her compliment and gratitude and refuses it as always. “No more so than you.”
“Thanks.” She offers as a goodbye. Nothing is solved but in her head, things appear clearer now. Sometimes the lost souls that find his church just need an ear to listen to their troubles. Sometimes, there is nothing else he or anyone can do for them. Summer will sort this out and soldier on. She always does.
And as she rises from her seat and leaves the confessional he watches from a slit in the curtain as she passes the altar. She stops in front of it and tells Christ on the cross, “I fucking hate you assholes.”
Then she drops a few francs into a box and quietly lights a candle.