If I could make you notice the bleeding – you might {tm}


And I will keep your warm, if you keep me grounded

”Thank you,” he says humbly, unable to hide the pleased crinkle at the corner of his eyes. He is not the type of man to preen. Ever a good soldier, it is not in his nature to make boastful declarations of his accomplishments. He is happier with feet planted in the background, a part of a whole taking pleasure in doing his duty to the best of his ability but never pressing to gain ground into the spotlight. But it’s different this time. He has freely stepped up into a position that holds some power, under no orders and at the call of his own free will. It is exhilarating and he’s left to wonder how much death changes the character of a man. He cannot remember ever being so bold. He would like to say the strength of his own resolution is alone responsible. But it would be a lie. ”As am I. I have been without purpose for far too long.”

And this - this is for what he’s been secreting longing. This act of initiative, this newly discovered ambition and resourcefulness, it satisfies her. He’s ashamed to say her approval warms him, sends a giddy thrill through his being like a long awaited shot to the veins of something dangerous and addictive. He recognizes the accuracy of the comparison, because immediately he craves it again.

Which is why he is appalled to have her turn from him suddenly, the room gone tomb cold in the wake of her discontent. Jack reels, blinking dumbly at the space where she previously stood. His brows draw together in confusion.

”I wouldn’t know, my lady. It’s been too long since I’ve abided in the timeline of the living. I have no memory of it.” he struggles to answer, the distress in his tone quiet but palpable. ”The clocks have no hands in my realm. Just empty faces.” She’s accusing him of something, but try as he can to rack his brain, he can see no cause for it. Has he said something to offend her? It is rather inappropriate for him to be here in this setting, he realizes as he pieces together her location from a quick scan of the room. He has intruded into the personal retreat of her bed chamber and if he had blood left enough flush, his face might have colored in embarrassment. She is a well-bred woman of class, so it only makes sense she would expect a proper sense of decency about such things. He leans back on his heels, letting some of the candlelight slip from his hold, chiding himself for his carelessness, considering retreat back into the grey until a more befitting venue can be selected.

But then she’s returning to him, hands outstretched and beckoning and he curses himself a fool because he’s much too weak to decline such an invitation. In a soft shower of glitter, he steps fully back into the light, watching her more cautiously before as he tries to gauge her intentions. She’s giving him the half-truths of a politician, a hidden agenda trailing like a shadow behind every word and he can see them but not process them.

He worries his jaw thoughtfully, regarding her in neutral silence a drawn out moment.

She is asking him to abandon the hunt for this threat against her and the protective flame at his core flares in vehement protest, writhing and casting his vote toward rebellion. He is at war, instinct urging him to give in to it’s discord and revolt against her simple request. If she has been unnerved by his findings, it pales in comparison to his own worries for her safety, what it could mean if he simply throws all caution to the wind and ignores the rise of this nameless threat altogether. It could be gaining power as they speak, seeking ways to spill it’s evil intent over into her world of life. If he accepts her terms and gives his word and something were to happen to her that he could have prevented…

But there’s a tint of fear in her plea, just there in the negative space between syllables. It harrows him. As if he can deny her anything. His resolve crumbles, and it’s with a heavy sigh he steps forward, layering his palms beneath her hands. He cannot touch her, but he imagines the gold of her skin would be soft, that she might run hotter than an average fairy being so sunkissed.

”You have my word,” he murmurs deeply, breaking the hush befallen the room in the time she’s given him to consider. ”I will not actively seek it out. But I can make no promise to ignore a fight if it comes to me first. I cannot step aside if I am the last barrier between you and it. How could I live with myself? Do not ask that of me, please.”

She holds the jewel aloft in the pairing of their hands and his gaze zeros in, recognizing both the color and the distraction it’s meant to present. The smile that breaks his face is indulgent, amused. ”I’m a dead man, Electra,” he chuckles, not unkindly, ”not a naughty toddler in need of redirection.”

He’s meeting her eyes now instead of tracking the lightplay on her face, his own silvery and earnest. ”I am allowed to have more than one thing important to me.”

Then, feeling lightened with no more pretenses between them, Jack tilts his head, turning his attention to the scatter of tiny halos the emerald casts about the room. Like individual sprites, each prismatic pinpoint of light dances and shimmers in illuminated flurries, looking like a golden snowfall within her bed room. He brings a hand up and with a twist of his wrist, let’s the power ebb across the veil to slowly morph them into raindrop size lorses. With a flick of two fingers, he sends them in a rocking canter around the room. A carousel of whimsical light to shield her dreams. A paltry gift perhaps, but it’s meant more as a peace offering. And it’s about all he can offer being a ghost as he is.

”My familiar, Phoebe,” he explains. ”She came back to me not long after you vanished. Beyond her, I have not remembered anything else from my previous life. Nothing has changed, lady. I'm afraid your quest is in vain.”

”Instead, tell me something about yourself. Anything, it does not matter. I like the sound of your voice. And having no history of my own to share, I will have to relish in yours.”

We will never burn the light out
Luke Stackpoole


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