Some emotions aren't meant to be understood. Ramirez, Fina, Galcian. Alternate ending. No pairing. References to scenes I believe are included only in SoA Legends.
February 24, 2007
The final blow struck, and he fell. The air seemed to hang, still and heavy, as the metallic creature around him disintegrated, and it seemed for a moment, that he, too, would dissolve, as if he had never been.
But time took its course again, and he only fell, his consciousness stolen from him even as his head struck the deck.
The three stood there for a moment, each still staring and standing at the ready, half-expecting their opponent to spring back into action. Then the one clad in angel white let out a cry, and she fell to her knees with her face in her hands, and her friends rushed in on her to find that she was laughing. She was laughing in relief, and her laughter marked the end of the long battle, even as her tears soaked the fabric of her dress.
She was by his side when he awoke, and she bore the anger in him that he had awoken. He had not wanted to. He had wanted an end. He screamed at her, his limbs and his heart and his soul too weak for him to wage physical war, and she looked upon him sadly until he had spent all that he had in him and lay back in the bed, gasping heavily. He twisted toward the wall to hide the sadness streaming relentlessly down his cheeks, but she saw, and with the softness of one delicate hand, she wiped it away, and in that moment, he wanted both to jerk away and to lean into her touch. So he lay perfectly still.
She tried to remember the last time he had screamed or cried, but she could not. Even when they were children, he had been obedient and reserved, never wanting to disturb others with his own trivial emotions. He had smiled, and he had laughed, but he had never let sorrow or anger show on his face or in his demeanor.
She realized that something must have broken in him.
When he awoke for the second time, she offered him water, which he stubbornly declined, despite the raw ache in his throat. He surprised himself with that; he was not used to being unreasonable. He did feel a thrill, however, at the way she sat helpless beside him, before he was reminded by the flaring in his limbs that he was the one who was helpless and she was the one who was help.
She offered him water again, and he knew it would be foolish not to accept, but he couldn't bring himself to do so. Instead, he whispered, "You killed him."
And again, "You killed him."
She began to wonder if Galcian had been more to him than a superior.
She asked him the third time. She wanted to know why he had followed Galcian and what he had seen in the man whom she saw only as a murderer. She wanted him to tell her all the qualities that redeemed Galcian, for she didn't believe any person could be all bad.
But he didn't tell her.
He didn't tell her about the time he had stood over the two men begging pitifully for mercy, for him to spare their worthless lives. Galcian had looked over at him then, no doubt expecting him to soften at the sorry sight. With a flick of his wrist, both men had been dead. Galcian had clapped him on the shoulder at that and had remarked, "Like the son I never had."
That had filled him with joy.
He didn't tell her about the time he had come down with a vicious flu. Galcian had ordered him to stay in bed, and out of the three bowls of soup brought to him each day, one had always been brought by Galcian himself.
Galcian hadn't had to do that. It had made him feel special.
And he didn't tell her- and would never tell her- about the time right after he had sworn himself to Galcian, when he had stood in a dark corner of Upper Valua, leaning over the city's railing to stare out into the blackness of that superficial world. He remembered thinking how fitting it was that the city was shrouded in black; its selfish, arrogant, simple-minded people could only see themselves.
He had cut his palm open on the end of his rapier and held it over the railing. He'd watched as a drop of blood fell, and he'd wondered what would happen to that drop, how far it would go, if it would simply vanish when it touched the Deep Sky. What lay all the way down there anyway?
The dangerous thoughts had only just emerged in his mind when Galcian had found him. He'd grabbed his bloody hand and squeezed it until the pain had darkened his vision. Then Galcian had said to him, "Don't blame yourself for another man's failures."
Galcian had understood him better than he'd understood himself.
He didn't mind if Galcian had seen him only as a loyal and skilled soldier, a powerful asset, a useful tool. Galcian had made him feel cared for, and Galcian had never lied to him, had never betrayed him, had never pretended to be a better person than he was, and because of this, his greatness was genuine.
That was admirable in a world so full of corruption and ulterior motives.
So, yes, Galcian had been more to him than a superior. He'd been a mentor, a father, a leader, a savior. But he didn't tell her that. She wouldn't understand.
In the next room, her friends were laughing, playing, teasing, caring, loving. They were probably thinking of her now.
Ramirez looked upon his childhood friend, who stared back at him with wide, wondering eyes, and he knew and he was sorry for how different he had become. No, she'd never understand.
He didn't want her to.