Everlasting Life
by elynross

 

Disclaimer:  Highlander and characters belong to Panzer/Davis Productions & Rysher Entertainment. No infringement of copyright in intended.

Author's Notes:  Thanks to Killa, rac, devo and Rache, for reading, encouraging, and being there. And for the muse himself, who had something to say.

Feedback please!  Send to elynross

 


 Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light.

Lord Byron


 

You spend whatever time you have left dying, or you spend it living. With me.

I never told her who I really was, you know? All she ever knew was sarcastic, cynical Adam Pierson: a man who alternately made her laugh and made her want to shake him. It's ironic that she was the one who started out hopeless about herself. In the end, she thought that I was the one wasting too much time, that I didn't know how to live.

Maybe she was right. So much for practice makes perfect.

You're a little young to be so cynical, aren't you?

Oh, I'm sure she suspected there was more to me early on. I mean, where does your average grad student get the money for world tours? But she never asked, and I never answered. We just both grabbed at the possibility and ran.

Because the alternative is unthinkable.

I wanted to tell her. But I was too...

Afraid? No, not that she'd reject me. She was so much stronger than that, stronger than almost anyone I've ever met. I never doubted that if I told her, she'd be able to accept it. Once she accepted someone, that was it. She was very cautious about letting people close, but once she let you in, she'd fight tooth and nail to keep you. It was...nice. That
kind of acceptance...I felt both that I could tell her everything, and that I didn't need to tell her anything.

You can tell me.

Funny, that. She never considered herself strong at all, used to apologize for her weakness. But it was the very things that she saw as weak that awed me. She was so fragile at the end, so physically frail, but that intensity of hers just shone through her, and she pushed
herself so hard not to give in to the weakness. She learned all the nurses' names, talked to them in fractured French, asked about their families, made them forget that she was the one being cared for. She cared so damn much. She spent far too much of her strength trying to
make sure I was going to be okay. She didn't know that I always am.

Girl like that, you're lucky if you find one every ten lifetimes.

And courage? I've never seen such courage. I should have such courage. Facing another Immortal? That's nothing. They're tangible, beatable. I may lose, but I may win; there's always a chance. She had no chance, and she just kept going anyway.

I used to call myself Death; I thought I knew it pretty damn well, living it for so long, but all I knew was how to deal it. She lived with the real Death day in and day out, eye to eye, and toe to toe. You get to know someone so much better that way sometimes, from the outside, if you're perceptive. You can see things that aren't so obvious from the inside. When you're the victim, rather than the violator.

No, that's not right; she was never the victim. She learned to see Death as a friendly opponent rather than an enemy. Even knowing the inevitable outcome, she fought back with everything she had in her. She wanted to live, right up to the end. And she lived harder than anyone I know. I don't know if she was always like that, but once she knew how limited her time was, she felt things more: more deeply, more fiercely, more passionately.

Whatever you would like.

It wasn't that she filled her days up with activity or tried to do more. She paid attention to things. It's as if dying opened up a new way of seeing to her. She was forever pointing out things that I hadn't bothered to notice: colors, the way light fell, how things smelled, how
people acted. She saw with a voluntary innocence where I'd gotten too used to seeing through the eyes of paranoia and distrust.

No, it wasn't fear. I thought it would be too cruel, you see. To tell her that she had to die, without even having the benefit of a normal life span, while I was going to go on, and on...whether I wanted to or not. I would have given anything to give her more life.

Is that supposed to make it easier? Is that supposed to make it okay?

She asked me once if I'd ever wished that time would stand still. For a moment, I couldn't even think. Always, was my first thought. They live such a very short time. I wonder sometimes if they aren't the ones who are blessed. Living forever isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I was waiting for you.

There was something about her: her spirit, her grace, her life-force. At first, before I knew she was dying, it was simply that light in her eyes when she laughed and her uncynical outlook. It was so unlike my own. I wanted to just sit and watch her enjoy life and make her smile.

Mind you, I think I've always been like that. I'd like to think that it's advanced age or numerous betrayals that have made me so self-protective and cautious, but I suspect that it's just my nature. I don't easily trust, and I don't readily care.

Once I knew she was dying, it seemed so important to help that spirit continue to live as long as possible, to keep that childlike wonder intact. It was sort of like seeing the world through new eyes. Every place we went, I watched her looking at everything, and it made it clean and new for me. She baptized places for me, gave me a new vision of them.

You look beautiful to me.

I'm always surprised. You'd think, having had so much death in my life, that it would cease to surprise me. But she was so alive, right to the end. Frail, wasted, but her eyes. They never died, not until she was gone. She always looked to me just as she did the first time I saw her. I just wasn't ready, yet. I just needed a little more time.

I didn't want her to be so far away.

You know, when I try and picture her, I can't? If I sit and try and remember her face, I can't do it. The nose isn't right, or the eyes are wrong. But then I'll be walking along, and I'll see the light reflecting off the water, or hear a bit of laughter from around a corner, and she's right there, seeing it for me again.

As much as I can for as long as she lives.

I was right. It wasn't long enough. And never seems much longer now.

Do you ever just wish that time could stand still?

The spirit lives as long as someone who lives remembers you.

Forever isn't long enough, either.

But it's a start.


The End