Author: Tony the Tinsel Tiger aka Morgyn (morgynleri_fic)
Written for: sholio (Friendshipper)
Characters: Rebecca, John, Joe, OMC
Warnings: references to canon character death
Author's Notes: I meant for Rebecca to take a greater role in this than she has, but hopefully this works regardless.
Summary: Crouching, he traced the lines of a name that was both familiar and not. It wasn't the name he first knew her by, and he wished it hadn't been the last.
The risk of visiting a grave rather than a person always seemed less with his friends who were as long-lived as he, despite the violence that permeated their lives. They were the best, after all, the oldest, the survivors.
Yet to be visiting this grave was a blow that struck as deep as any loss he could recall over the last two and a half thousand years. Crouching, he traced the lines of a name that was both familiar and not. It wasn't the name he first knew her by, and he wished it hadn't been the last.
He is called barbarian in these strange lands, with their carved and painted stone temples to unfamiliar gods, their cities and settled people. Sneered at for the cut of his clothing, the carefully painted patterns on his skin, the difference of his sword where it's strapped to his back.
Perhaps if he were the wandering spirit he ought to be, instead of the living flesh he has remained despite his death in the spring floods two years past, he might not find their insults such a burden. Or perhaps he would, and would repay them with the havoc only the unquiet dead might.
He is between cities, glad for the relative quiet of the road, when he feels a strange humming creep into his bones. Like a sword vibrating when it meets another, shuddering through him without end. It makes him reach for that weapon, and look for a place where he might put his back to some tree or tall rock, that he will not be surrounded if there are enemies to be fought.
It is a red-haired woman who comes around the next bend in the road, dressed much in the manner of the local men and carrying a sword. He's surprised enough to see a woman in the manner of a warrior this far south that he's silent for a long moment. Silent enough to notice the hum easing off the longer the woman stays still - although it's not something that he's experienced around women before, so it is not that she is a woman. Perhaps something else about her?
"I am Xanthia." She remains out of easy reach, speaking in the language of these parts, though it is one he has yet to fully master, he has enough of it to understand her introduction. She rattles off something else that he doesn't catch, though he expects it's a question of his name or his origins or his business. Any would be suited to this meeting.
"Haerviu, my name." It is the easiest piece of information to provide, and he must learn more of the language spoken here, that he might converse better.
"Of the northern people?" She speaks now in a different language, one more familiar to him, though still not his own native tongue. "What brings you along this road with blade and no trade goods?"
"I go where my feet take me, and wander. I have no home to take bright metal and southern baubles to, so why should I bring goods to trade for them?" He has no home to return to at all, save as a spirit of restless death, and he has no wish to make the tribe think he had died ill.
"And you seek nothing?" Xanthia watches him for a long moment before returning the blade she carries to the sheath at her hip. "Do you know what you are?"
Frowning, Haerviu drew himself up. "A warrior of the People." Her question had stung, and he doesn't know why she asked. It is painted on his skin what he is, who he is, after all. The markings of tribe and clan, of family and role within. Warrior and father, one of the elders of his clan before his death.
"You were, and are yet, but that is not of what I speak." Xanthia shakes her head slightly. "I speak of why you have not remained dead, of why you do not become ill for any cause, and why any injury you have taken since first you died heals swiftly and leaves no scar."
He has no answer for that, and remains silent, watching Xanthia with questions held back though he has many he would like to ask. Waiting for a long moment before he asks the one that perhaps seems most important. "What, then, are we?"
"You're one of her students?"
The voice wasn't familiar, and he took a moment before he stood, turning to look at the mortal and a small smile crossed his face. "A very long time ago. We've kept in contact over the centuries." He didn't add the obvious question of who the man was; Haerviu was certain enough that he was Rebecca's mortal husband. "She was a good friend, as well as teacher."
The world is bathed in the near-silence of a rainy winter day, and the only other sound is the damp squelch of mud under his feet as he trudges up toward the abbey that is his destination. He's not quite to the door when he feels the first familiar brush of his mentor's Quickening, and despite his reasons for coming here, a smile tilts up the corners of his lips.
He's admitted without comment, and makes his way to the room he's occupied before and is still as simply furnished as before, though the bedding is clearly new, and it appears the bedframe is as well. There had been rope-springs before, and he sees no sign of them now.
A quiet couple hours is spent reminding his muscles that he's Immortal, not the fourty-odd years he appears to be. Warming and letting himself drift, the events that had brought him here carefully distant. Only once he's clad in dry clothing - trousers and tunic that are nothing like what is fashionable now, but warm and familiar - he makes his way to the solar where his mentor is spending the day.
Nothing needs said, and she lets him settle at her feet as she works on some piece of mending. Here, he is Haerviu again, not any one of the lives he's lived in the centuries since he first met Xanthia on a road in Greece. Not the heart-weary Jehan Montjoye King of Arms, bereft of two kings he had always known he would lose. And not yet whoever he would be when he traveled on again. East, he thinks, and no soldier, no herald. The latter is becoming less a role than it had been, and the former only turns his mind to one bright-burning English man now entombed in stone.
The silence is comfortable as the day wears on, and after a while, he finds a shirt dropped in his lap, and a needle passed to him with more care. Mending still needs done, clothing still made, and the simple tasks of the everyday return more easily than he had imagined they would. Thoughts settling into familiar patterns different from those he'd lived with for the last twelve years, ordered by the rote movement of his hands, the neat stitches placed in good linen.
"Will you stay long?" Xanthia - Rebecca, now, he thinks she's called - asks, meeting his gaze when he turns his head to look up at her. There is a small smile on her face, and the same welcome in her eyes that is always there for her students.
"I don't know." Haerviu feels his lips lift in an answering smile, though it only remains briefly before he turns back to the piece of clothing he's mending now. "France is... less than it was, before this last skirmish of the wars between it and England." Less a home, and certainly less populated in places. Too many people have died fighting over the land for him to feel at peace here, now - and that is something he needs once more.
That he can always return here is something that doesn't need said aloud for him to hear the words, the voice in his head echoing in Rebecca's familiar tone and cadence. Often enough said that he can remember them clearly, and in several languages, French being only the most recent one they've shared.
Silence once more reigns, until the daylight fades and the candlelight is all there is to work by. Dinner is a simple affair, bread and apples and hard cheese they toast on the bread. Haerviu stares into the flames on the hearth as he eats, quiet and contemplative. He'll stay the night, and tomorrow; perhaps stay a few days, but he'll travel on before a week's out. The need to travel is tugging at him once more, with most of his ties to this part of the world severed.
"Decide who you want to be before you travel on, Haerviu." Rebecca's voice is soft, and she uses his first-name, the one that has been his since his earliest memories. Easily remembering that he's no longer this life-time, and he's not yet decided on his next.
"I will," he returns as quietly as she, and turns from the fire before levering himself to his feet. He bows over her hand in a courtly gesture, taking his leave for the evening. Sleep calls to him, and unlike Jehan, Haerviu will not neglect to heed that call.
He left the gravesite, the abbey, and Normandy, heading to Paris. That grand city that he was so rarely in these days, and for a moment, he mourned once more the changes that have been wrought in the city he once called home.
A jazz bar suited his mood, and an expensive wine his persona and personal preference alike. A toast for his fallen teacher, murmured in a language now changed past recognizing its progenitor, drew the attention of the bar-tender, though the mortal didn't approach too closely.
"For my mentor and friend," he said, in the modern dialect of the Norman French he so carefully kept up with, in response to a question unasked. "A woman of strength and good heart."
The bartender didn't respond, but kept Haerviu's glass full until last call - and when the tab was totalled, it was less than Haerviu expected. He smiled in appreciation of the gesture, though he was uncertain of the source of it. Paying his tab before leaving, swaying slightly, to walk back to his hotel.
Just one more friend lost to the march of time, mourned and toasted, to be remembered until time blurs the details past recall.