Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Charcoal pt 19

Just under the wire!  And an end, maybe?  I would love to hear what you think!

Scott started when he realized the skin on the hand he had landed in was warm, he imagined, before he scrambled to the ground, that he could feel a heartbeat.  This place was familiar to him in a way that went deeper than his current life.  He paused for a moment to collect himself when he was standing on the relatively stable ground.  He didn’t spend too much time thinking about what body parts could grow out of.  Scott was in Soul’s hell and he had to get him back.  He began to walk following the thread that would forever connect them.  Scott tried to hurry, he didn’t want to be here any longer than he needed to, and he wanted to get back before anything could happen to their bodies.  Scott didn’t know how long he had been falling, or how time passed here.  Everything was an enigma, except his purpose, to get his arima, his soul back.

Soul turned slowly to look to the owner of the voice, but he didn’t see anyone there.

“Things are tricky here aren’t they, but it couldn’t be that easy to find all the answers could it?”  Soul turned again, but as the voice was behind him again.  Soul hated not being able to see who was talking to him.  He remembered the inky whispers during his fall and the flickering images.  He knew this voice was a continuation of them, and as tempting as they had been he didn’t want to give in.  He didn’t want to give in to the trick of this voice either.

“What a clever boy, though you didn’t come here in a very clever way.  Leaving your body behind, souls aren’t very sturdy when they are untethered, just like those you saw there.”  Soul couldn’t see the gesture or the speaker but he knew that it was referring to the swirls of darkness in the pool, and knew he did not want to become one of them.

“So clever boy what do you want to know?  You must ask the right questions, because as you know there are definitely stupid questions and I hear quite a lot of them.”

Soul stayed quiet.  He didn’t know what he wanted to ask.  He had already found more than he had expected.  He had expected, had wanted, nothing, and yet he could feel that answers he had been waiting for his whole life were at his fingertips.  But he also knew that he could ruin everything with a word, ruin it in a way that went beyond dying, beyond nothing.  He would be trapped in some unknown form, and there would be truly no way out because he was already dead.

Soul thought of his mother, about what Sylvia was planning, about how to get out of here.  There were so many questions that he could ask.  He could ask how Scott was doing, and whether he was going to stay dead.  But nothing seemed like the right questions.  He wished he could draw, that he could be truly alone.  That he could live a normal life.  Knowing he wasn’t going to get any of those things Soul sat down on the surprisingly warm ground.  He wasn’t tired, but curling his insubstantial arms around his fading legs was a small comfort.  He hid his face between his knees and closed his eyes.  He had never been good at asking questions, he was good at figuring things out, find ways to slip through the cracks and avoiding questions, asking questions required interacting, and speaking, two things that were not skill he had developed further than what was absolutely necessary. 

“How do I know what the right questions are?” Soul heard a laugh and could almost feel the warm breath brush the back of his neck.  He suppressed a shutter and closed his eyes tighter.  He imagined a face for the voice, a person he couldn’t see was somehow better than a person that wasn’t there.

“That is dangerously close to a stupid question, and not deserving of a clever answer, so I will tell you an almost stupid answer to match your almost stupid question.”  The voice seemed to come from changing directions, as if its speaker was pacing.  “There is no way to know the right question, you must simply trust yourself.”

Soul sighed, he could argue that his question was slightly better than the answer but he stayed silent.  He had to trust himself to get out of this.  His last few choices had helped him in unexpected ways.  He could do it again; maybe he would find some unexpected answers.

“Who is watching through the eyes in the gate?”  Maybe a question he didn’t particularly want the answer to would throw the invisible speaker off, Soul felt that the creature was bored.  Boring it more would definitely not be beneficial to him, and would not lead to him getting anything out of their encounter. And as disturbing as the voice was, Soul really didn’t want to be left alone here.

“Much, much better, that question is almost clever.  They are my eyes, the hands are my hands, the fingers and nails and lashes and feet- all of it is mine.  I have been here waiting for longer than you can know and I have grown, I have swallowed countless souls and given them form, I have spat them out, shat them out, thrown them up and eaten them again.  Some grow and some stagnate.  Some float in pools of my stomach and some rest in the hallows of my teeth, but they are all a part of me, just as you will be some day.”  Soul swallowed.  Information yes, but not really anything he wanted to hear, and nothing that he knew what to do with, nothing of what he needed to know.

“Is my mother here?”

“She is, because she is a part of you, she is here because she is in hell, but she is not here, because this place, well, it’s all for you.  Your personal slice of eternity.  You will end up here alone, but with everything and everyone that created you and will come after.”  There was a small pause, if the speaker had a body Soul would have placed a shrug in the space, he almost could feel a small ripple under him, if the whole landscape had lifted a shoulder.  “It’s rather complex.  Language is not good for explaining.  You can only really understand once you are a part of it.”

“Is my mother dead?”  Soul felt another laugh against the back of his neck. 

“Oh that is such a long story my clever boy, but you will hear it, because you have nowhere else to go, at least not yet.  You have asked a clever question but I do not think you will like the answer.”


Scott walked as quickly as he could, he was aware of the way he was not quite here.  It was very clearly a place for the dead and it would not be a good place to be lost, or stuck.  He focused on the fragile thread holding him together, connecting himself to Soul and to his soul.  He passed from the mostly open landscape into deeper and deeper forests of- body parts.  He wondered what was in Soul’s mind to produce such a place.  Scott tried not to look too closely to anything he saw, but as the forest got deeper he began to stumble over obstacles he didn’t want to touch with his bare hands.  He was forced to slow down, to look where he was going and what he saw did as much to disturb him as the warm soft skin he felt every time he fell.  Scott began to imagine he heard voices whispering to him, promising him a break from the dissembled parts, a break from the almost heartbeat he couldn’t quite ignore.  He saw shadows out of the corners of his eyes, slithering through his legs, almost brushing against his face, promising answers, comfort, Soul.  Scott flinched away from them and even though he never felt them he tripped over them, tripped trying to avoid them.  He knew they lied, but the deeper he went the better their promises sounded. 

The thread seemed to be fading even faster than his willpower, and each whispered thought that breezed through his mind held a deeper compulsion.  He could stop for just a moment, retreat from the skin, the heartbeat, the horrible living warmth.   He could always begin again.  Time began to have no meaning, he would find Soul eventually, did it matter if it was in the next moments, or in the next lifetime?  Scott tried to hold onto his determination to reach Soul as quickly as he could but each time he fell he got up less quickly.  Closer to the ground the heartbeat seemed almost soothing, the warmth like waking with Soul wrapped around him.  The shadows whispered that he was already with Soul, that all of this was Soul.  That the heartbeat was Soul’s, that the hands that grasped at him through the dark were Soul’s hands, that each scratch he got from unseen fingernails were the same as Soul scoring his back in the midst of an orgasm. 

Scott finally saw a break in the hands, in the shadows.  He had made it somewhere, he felt his determination return but as it did the last pull of the thread disappeared.  Scott had lost his Soul.  If he would have thought about the end of their bond he would have guessed there would be intense pain, desolation, even death, but he hardly noticed its absence.  He reached a gate covered in rolling lidless eyes, and as he gingerly pressed it open, wincing at the smooth slippery, and altogether too yielding flesh of the eyes, he realized he had no direction, nothing to follow, and for the first time in his life he had the opportunity to choose his next action based solely on what he wanted. 

Scott was through the gate and he wanted back in his body, back in his house, in his bed, but the homey image was incomplete, what he really wanted, compulsion or not, was Soul.


“And so you see, the question of if she is alive is an altogether more complex question than one would imagine.”  Soul stared into the swirling darkness in the fountain, and wondered if that fate, or the fate of his mother sounded worse.  She had found a way to hide, but at what cost, her personhood, her peace?  Soul was still angry with her for leaving him with a shadow, but the alternative?  To be in pieces so small they could never be assembled, to be scattered bits of shadow aware and incomplete, without direction?  Soul couldn’t imagine the feeling and didn’t want to.  Pain was one things, stagnation was another, but the deep incompleteness of no longer being one entity? 

“You little boyfriend might be able to explain the feeling- well that is if he remembers it, you were quite the naughty boy weren’t you.  Clever though, using your body to get what you want.  Though you still haven’t quite managed to find what you really want have you?”  Soul didn’t respond, but the voice seemed to like talking, and Soul realized that he was a better captive audience than digested, dissembled, ancient bits of souls.  The creature must have gotten so bored waiting for him.

“I wasn’t just waiting for you, you know.  I am waiting for many, many things.”  Soul had gotten used to the sharp changes in subject during the story of his mother, but he didn’t think he would ever get used to the bits of his thoughts being pulled from his mind into the conversation.

“Well it sure sounds awkward if you think about it that way, so try this way.  We are essentially in your mind now.  And you, well you aren’t quite anything right now, your thoughts are just out here in the open, diffusing with the atmosphere.”  Soul looked down and found he had faded even more, his edges were gone and the color that tinted the air around his consciousness was wavering, like it couldn’t quite tell where he began and it ended.

“You don’t want to stay here much longer, free thoughts are one thing, but to be only an assemblage of thoughts?  Not really anyone’s favorite.  Though your boyfriend is quite slow.  I think he must have gotten distracted by the sudden freedom.”

Soul looked up from his fading being.  Scott was there and-

“What do you mean, freedom?”

“Oh stupid boy, that is really not a clever question.  I was beginning to have such high hopes for you.  I suppose a bit more time in the world might help you.  I will be lonely waiting for you to return, but the time will pass quickly before I see you again I think.” 

Soul stood, and the feeling was so strikingly similar to sitting he almost fell, his molecules were spreading and instead of feeling the ground beneath his feet he felt only the different temperature, the steady thrum of what he had though was his heartbeat and its absence. 

“But you have been so fun these few days, I will answer it.  The Gifts as you call them fade here.  They are nothing more than beliefs and impressions, and as you fade what holds them together fades as well.  The bond is gone, and will never be again.  Your boyfriend is close, but you will have to find him on your own, go quickly if you want him to leave with you.  His hell is a very different place than here, and if you don’t find him quickly he will find out what it is like before his time, and wouldn’t that just be so sad?”

Soul tried to gather himself, but only felt his being diffuse more.  He needed to find Scott.  He had no idea where he was, or what would happen if they couldn’t find their way back, the creature was gone, though he never saw it his diffused being felt the change in the atmosphere distinctly.  Soul looked around and noticed he was sensing more than seeing and his urgency ratcheted up another level.  The creature had said it had been days and his body was waiting for him, Scott’s was as well and Soul knew that if their bodies died they would be trapped in another way, even if they made it out of this hell.  He choked back a laugh and searched again.  This place was endless and time was nearly gone. 


Scott stood inside the gate and stared.  A ghoulish shadow creature was wrapped around Soul’s crouched body, whispering in an unknown language.  Its head turned to face him, its eyeless face smiling through Soul’s fading body.  It wrapped itself tighter around him before vanishing.  Soul stood and Scott watched the impression of his love shiver in the air, fading and diffusing slowly, bits of him drifting away, fading and settling into the soft skin of the ground.  Soul looked around, his almost face desperate, Scott tried to walk to him but was unable to get any closer no matter how he tried.  It was like a nightmare, he could run but he didn’t move, he could circle around or stand still, but he could only watch as little bits of Soul faded. 


Soul spun fighting to feel Scott, searching inside himself for the ache of Scott’s mourning, for his pain, his love, for the small thread he had felt while falling, but the only thing he could feel was the fading of his imagined body.  The creature had been right, the bond was finally gone, and Soul could only wish for it back.  He had to find Scott, and they had to figure out how to get out of here, and both were things he had no idea how to do. He stopped moving and called in his voice that was not a voice.  He pulled everything that he was, everything in himself that called out to Scott and yelled.  There was no sound and the effort caused even more of himself to fade, but he felt something.   A pause in the constant pulse.  A stutter of thoughts, or the whispering he had become so accustomed to.  Everything was still and silent, and in that missed heartbeat there was a glimmer of something that did not belong.  Soul started toward the spot he had seen.  It was gone but Soul trusted what he knew he had seen and reached.   He felt nothing, saw nothing, but he knew from the place inside his heart that was no longer his own that he had found Scott.

“Lets go home.”  He whispered, and even though there was no sound, he knew that he had been heard.


Soul felt like he had been burned to the bone, he felt like he had run a marathon in his bare feet and that he had not eaten in days.  His soul hurt, his blood hurt, and his lungs felt like the air was razorblades.  He wanted to throw up, but the thought of that much effort hurt not only his body but his thoughts as well.  His body wanted to die, and each breath was an exercise in masochism.  Soul focused on the solidity of his pain and told himself with each razorblade breath that it was better than feeling himself fade piece by piece. 

“It makes you think dying maybe isn’t worth it doesn’t it.”  The sound of Scott’s voice was almost enough to motivate Soul to open his eyes, but the burning he felt from remembering he had eyes was enough to deter him. 

“If you ever want to look that deeply into you subconscious just ask, there are much easier ways than dying.  You almost started rotting.”  Soul couldn’t stop the dry heave.  He felt decomposed, but he would really rather not think about his body as literal dead meat.  “That was harsh, I’m sorry.  I would give you some pain meds, but well you might die for real so you are just going to have to deal for a few days.”

And so Soul dealt.  He was conscious of pulling each breath through his lungs, he was aware of the water being dripped slowly down his throat and the balm that was dabbed on his lips almost constantly.  And after an age Soul felt secure enough in his body that he let go, and slept with only the lightest suggestion of dreams, there were lights and colors and whispers and almost sensations, but each faded before he was fully aware, and when he woke he opened his eyes in a field of poppies.

Soul blinked a few times, caught off guard by the lack of pain.  And realized that he was not really seeing flowers, but a painting of flowers.  He was lying not in a bed of grass, but in a real bed, with arms wrapped around him and a hand brushing his hair out of his eyes.  There was a strange lack of pain, Soul almost though he had died for real, but, he thought slowly, if he had really died he would be back in hell and this was entirely too nice to be hell.

Soul sat up slowly and turned to look at Scott, his face was the most wonderful thing Soul had seen.  All his odd feelings were gone, his worries about the truth in them was gone.  He was finally able to look at Scott and feel what only he felt, and what he felt was a strange fluttering in his stomach, and heat in his cheeks like he had fallen asleep in the sun.

“Um hi.”  Soul said, then looked down at his hands.  He felt, shy, but more than that he just really hoped Scott still liked him.  Scott had never felt ambiguous toward him, Soul knew, but he had never seen Soul without the oppressive bond telling him that Soul was his everything.  Soul knew he couldn’t be everything for Scott, but he really, really wanted to be something.

“Hi to you, I love you.”  Soul looked up sharply.  There was no way it could be that easy.  He had to be dreaming, alive but dreaming, there was no way he could be in heaven so soon after all he had done.  He hadn’t been alive, awake, long enough to make up for even a tiny bit of what he had-

“Stop thinking so hard.  I had a lot of time to think while you were trying not to die.  I had a lot of time to tell you all I need to say.  I was waiting for you to see me for real.  When I was stuck in the disgusting hell that is apparently your mind ,I felt the bond break, and really nothing changed.  They whispered that I could have anything that I wanted and all I wanted was you.  I think I found my hell there, I could have had anything I wanted but you, you couldn’t see me, and you are the only one that ever really has.  It was torture and it wasn’t even a moment compared to forever.”  Soul wanted to frown and roll his eyes, it was entirely too sappy, but he could still feel the butterflies trying to claw their way out of his stomach with their tiny harmless feet and he sighed instead.  

“I loved you even when I hated you.  Being dead was no fun without you.  I think it wouldn’t have been hell if I didn’t remember you.  But I did and you ruined my peace.”  Soul realized as he continued to talk that his speech was entirely unromantic.  He employed the one tactic that had been consistently effective in his life and stopped talking.  Soul looked at Scott for a moment and just let himself feel.  He could feel a smile trying to sneak its way onto his face, but it was just not going to happen.  He kissed Scott instead, and when he felt the corners of Scott’s mouth turn up he had to smile too, if only to keep kissing him. 

Soul let his hands creep under Scott’s soft shirt, he let them trace up his back and around to the tight nubs of his nipples, he let his nails train down the gentle bumps of Scott’s ribs, he let them feel the goosebumps his touch had caused.  And when they had finished their journey he let them wind into Scott’s hair to pull him closer.

Soul only pulled back when his still tender lungs reminded him that oxygen was a necessity and not a luxury.  Soul opened his eyes to look at the face of his Scott, his love, and saw his own feelings reflected back at him.  He watched love, he watched relief, and finally he watched the spark of lust grow into a fire that matched to one growing inside himself. 

“Please, make lo- fuck to me?”  Soul’s voice was soft and he didn’t know what he was saying and he didn’t care until Scott began to laugh.

“Make fuck to you?  That sounds fun but care to explain?”

“Fuck, love me, fuck me, just do something I love you and I suck at words, I have to show you!”  Soul could feel his flush darken but he paid himself no mind.  He had attention only for Scott and getting his clothes off.  He started with Scott’s shirt because it was already in his hands.  When the shirt was gone he pulled off his own and was reaching for the drawstring on Scott’s pants when his hands were caught in a gentle grip.

“You were literally dead three days ago and you haven’t eaten, and you just woke up-“ There was a hint of worry mixed with the urgency in Scott’s eyes and Soul hated it.  He was alive damn it and he was going to get what he wanted.

“Food will be there later.”  He jerked his hands but they were firmly caught.

“I’ll be here later too.”  Soul wailed in frustration and when Scott let him go he flopped onto his back and pulled off his own pants.  The feel of the sheets against his skin was almost more than he could bear.  It was almost worse than the compulsion from Sylvia because there was no feeling of wrongness to temper the feeling.  He writhed and palmed his cock.  It hurt it felt so good and Soul bit his lip just hard enough to draw blood.  But instead of diffusing the feeling it added to the overload of sensation flooding his synapses.  He froze for a moment stunned by the sudden intensity of his feeling.  And in that moment he could have sworn that a soft voice whispered to him enjoy life, enjoy your body, enjoy love. 

“Soul?”  Scott looked down at him and he reached yanking Scott down for a kiss, determined to get when he wanted Soul flipped them so he was sitting securely on Scott’s stomach.  He ground against the firm muscles beneath him and knew that he could come easily just like this, the warm friction of Scott’s skin almost more than he could comprehend, but still he wanted more.  Scott had finally realized that Soul was not going to take his recent death as an excuse and held him tightly, his fingers digging into the muscles of his ass, it felt amazing and still Soul wanted more.   He ground harder and leaned down for a kiss, he didn’t pull away before asking for lube, speaking against Scott’s lips, hoping that Scott would have some nearby because if he didn’t Soul was going to hope spit worked better than he had heard.  Luckily he didn’t have to find out because Scott was handing him a small bottle. 

Soul growled in frustration when the small cap was too difficult for his shaking hands to open.  He was about to give up again but Scott flipped them again and before he had regained his equilibrium Scott was rubbing a cool slick finger against his hole and Soul was able to breathe.  Finally they were getting somewhere. 

As Soul sighed Scott slid two finders inside him.  The burn was intense but Soul didn’t mind, he loved every moment- but his desire for more hadn’t left him.  He writhed on Scott’s fingers unaware of the myriad sounds he was making.  When he found his voice the only words that he could find were variations on more, harder, please, and Scott. 

When Scott’s third finger did little to alleviate the emptiness that haunted Soul he wrapped his legs tighter around Scott and flipped them again.  The movement dislodged Scott’s fingers but Soul didn’t mind because he was able to, without hesitation, slide down the rigid pole of Scott’s erection until he sat flush to Scott’s hips and he could breathe again. 

“Oh fuck.”  Soul would have been satisfied to just sit for a moment and process the burn, the pleasure, and the soul deep completeness he felt, but Scott had different plans.

“Potty mouth.”  Scott said, and thrust up, he couldn’t go deeper but the movement shifted their position so he ground against Soul’s prostate and Soul gasped- a breath away from climax.  He leaned forward to rest his hands on Scott’s chest and when Scott repeated his action the sensation was even more intense.  Soul flinched and tried to conceptualize the feeling but Scott wasn’t giving him any time to think, he kept thrusting, kept grinding and Soul’s ability to even try to think fled, all he could do was hold on and try to breathe.  He saw lights floating in front of his eyes but it was nothing compared to the fireworks that were building to an incomprehensible climax.  Soul’s muscles were clenching and releasing almost randomly, his legs shook and if his elbows weren’t locked he would have fallen forward into Scott, he gasped as the feeling grew larger than his body and in a moment he was sure he wouldn’t survive, the fear only made the rapture more complete and in a moment of clarity Soul knew that bond or not he would never be able to live without Scott.

The feeling of physical release was almost secondary to the release of emotion.  Soul was gasping and tears were falling down his cheeks as he laid his head against Scott’s chest, the warmth of his seed between them and the feeling of Scott’s release inside him soothed his burning skin.  His muscles were like water and he couldn’t have moved for anything.  Soul felt the hand on his back begin to move, stroking his sweat soaked back, soothing his breathing, but not his tears.  Soul let himself feel the anguish from the whole year, the confusion, the relief, the fear and the pain.  He let himself feel how tired he was, from uncertainty and from death.  He had slept for days but his body had no fuel.  He had burned more than he had in reserves and he was completely empty.  He had only tears left and in a few moments even those were gone.  Unable to do a thing more Soul passed out completely.


Soul woke again hours later and felt exactly how expected to feel.  Revived, but sore.  He could feel his death and revival in his bones.  The need to experience life as intensely as he could was no longer sustaining him and his stomach gnawed at him.  His eyes opened to an empty room.  And fear flooded him.  He was alone in a room painted with poppies too familiar to be safe.

Before Soul could work himself into too horrible a panic the door opened and the room was filled with the smell of chicken soup and warm bread.  His stomach gave a roar of approval.  Scott put the food on a side table and pulled Soul into a sitting position against the pillows before placing a pillow on his lap.

“I couldn’t find a tray so no spilling.”  And even though the soup was from a can it was the best thing Soul had ever tasted.

Soul wanted to discuss all that he had learned, but after he had finished the soup he couldn’t stay awake for a moment longer.  He knew that Scott was probably tired of just watching him sleep but he couldn’t resist his body’s demands.  He only had the presence of mind to hand the empty bowl to Scott before sliding back under the covers and falling asleep again.


Soul opened his eyes and for a moment he thought he was blind.  There was no light in the room, and he knew that he was alone.  He remembered after sitting up that he was not in the scarlet room and decided not to try and find the door.  He still wasn’t feeling himself and he had no idea how to get anywhere from where he was.  It was difficult to wait, but he did.  There was a feeling that something had changed in the house, something significant.  It felt new but not entirely, something had been different since the first time he woke, he just hadn’t had the time to consciously think about it. 

The house was dark, silent, as it had been before Soul’s attempt to leave this world, but this silence was different.  There wasn’t the feeling of oppression; it was as if the house had released tension.  Soul had never felt entirely comfortable in the house, and he didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the darkness, alone, but it was a different unease.  It was anticipation instead of dread.  Soul sat and felt, and looked for the words to recount his experience. He tried to remember the invisible being’s words exactly and found he could not, but the impressions he was left with were strong.  Soul was confidant he knew what Sylvia was trying to do, and he was confidant that she would not be able to accomplish her goals. 

Soul was getting decidedly tired of sitting alone in the dark when the door opened. Even the slight illumination from the hall seemed bright.  Soul’s eyes easily picked up Scott’s face in the flickering light.

“The power has gone out.  I brought a candle.”  It would have been romantic if Soul weren’t so anxious to talk, finally.  He patted the bed beside him, unwilling to stand even with the light of the candle.  Scott set the candle on the bedside table where Soul’s soup had rested hours before and sat cross-legged on the bed.

Soul opened his mouth for his carefully thought out narrative, but Scott beat him to the punch.

“Mother, Sylvia, is really not doing well.  She hasn’t been since- well since the bond, and she has gotten even worse since it was broken.  Apparently she doesn’t have that much power of her own.  The bond, or its lack of completion was giving her the power.”

Soul frowned, she had made the bond herself it didn’t makes sense-

“How did she get power from something she created?”  Soul felt the bed shift slightly as Scott shrugged.

“I don’t understand it really.  Something about potential energy, she should have known that he power couldn’t last but she ignored it.  I think so much time passed she didn’t really remember how little Gift she had.”  Soul still didn’t understand but he had more questions.

“Is she going to be okay?”

“She could be, maybe.  But the people she called to help her- aren’t happy.  It seems that her power had greater reach than we thought.  They aren’t loyal to her, not really.  She has no one left.  I don’t think that anyone will take care of her.  I will miss her but I couldn’t- her time has passed.” 

Scott rubbed his face and Soul guessed he was crying. He didn’t mention it, he hated Sylvia but knew that Scott loved her, and would always lover her even when her influence was completely gone.  And with this new information he might not have to share his plan, Sylvia was done and all Soul had to do was make sure Scott would be alright without her.

Soul loved his mother even though he didn’t know her, he loved her for her intentions, and for her sacrifice even if he would have given almost anything to have really met her.  Maybe someday, somehow he would.  He would have a lot of time and many opportunities to ask questions once he died.  And hopefully he would have enough time to come up with clever questions to ask her.

“They want to burn it.”  Scott said suddenly.  “They want to burn the house to the ground.”  Soul looked up sharply, not realizing how deeply he had fallen into his thoughts.


“Because of whatever she was doing.  It’s not safe to leave it here, just in case she does survive, in case someone else wants what she wants, but it’s my home, I don’t know where else to go.” 

Scott was definitely crying now and Soul didn’t know how to soothe him.  He could always go home even if there was no one waiting for him.  He guessed they could go back to school but that wasn’t really a home, and it seemed so unnecessary now, what were they going to do?  Soul wrapped himself around Scott, knowing his words would do nothing to soothe him, and they sat, rocking gently for many minutes, until the smell of smoke curled softly, but persistently under the door.

“Oh no” Scott whispered when it was certain the smell wasn’t an accident.  “I asked them to wait.”  But they hadn’t, whoever they were, and they had to leave, immediately.


Soul had no idea where they were going, it was dark and they had left the candle in the room.  They had nothing but the clothes they were wearing and each other.  Soul followed Scott blindly hoping they could beat the flames, and when they burst through the final door into the garden the soft illumination of the stars was like heaven.  The air was crisp with just the hint of a chill, but the heat from the already burning house was oppressive.  There was already a group watching, and they joined them.

The fire was almost beautiful in its destruction.  The sound of flames roaring and the shattering of glass and loud cracks of beams breaking filled the night, louder than Soul would have imagined, and it was awe inspiring to see how quickly the fire destroyed the massive house and all the misery it had caused.  It had begun to collapse in on itself when Scott broke the cacophonous silence.

“Where is mother?”  Eyes dropped to the ground, and for a moment no one spoke. 

“She didn’t make it out.”  Nova said finally, softly, and even though he sounded almost mournful everyone knew it hadn’t been an accident.  Soul wrapped his arm around Scott, knowing it was an impossible thing to hear, and an even worse implication, but Scott held his head high.

“I guess we are finally free.”  There were nods all around, but Soul saw one wicked smile, almost hidden by soft wavy hair, an expression he had never expected to see on Josie’s face.

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