12 November 2012 @ 11:46 pm

o’ death, won’t you spare me over another year?

He made a deal with the devil. It wasn’t technically so much a deal as a ‘you were given my soul far before I was given the chance to sell it. You owe me this much.’

So he has a fright with tuberculosis in his forties, but it passes. He watches his children grow up, watches himself age, and adapts with the rest of the world as it changes. The children leave and go their separate ways—he and Luxiette know that most of them have his sense of adventure and allow them to follow those desires, only insisting that they write once a year.

after year, after year, after—

After a while, Shasta has to give up on his inventing. He supplied the framework. Now that the world is evolving and technology improves, others will expand upon what he has provided. Even then, he cannot help but feel a little sadness. He has passed the torch on to the next generation. Now his time has also passed. His relevancy is tapering off the frayed edge of a tattered life. Yes, he is still revered, but as a thing of the past; not the present.

Luxiette remains, his light and love, but he is more suited to a quiet life. His adventures are over and the world is supplying newer heroes.

He comes to the conclusion that he was not meant to live a long life. But he made a deal, and that’s all there is. Besides, he has Luxiette.

She is his constant companion, she and Matthew. Luxiette is his warm presence at night when he feels lonely; his control, his calm, his complement. She keeps him from losing his mind and his hope. He depends upon her, and as long as she’s around, he cannot complain, not really.

They grow old together, and it’s exactly as he imagined. It’s peaceful, if slightly boring. She enjoys the domestic life, and well, if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for him. Probably too good, in fact.

More time passes. Luxiette wakes one day and he does not. She brushes a kiss across his cheek and recalls something he told her years ago.

“I made a deal with the devil, my darling. I told him he isn’t allowed to let you die before me. I couldn’t bear losing you again.” He was always so certain she would be able to survive without him. He was right, of course; she didn’t mind because he was nearly always right. Oh, it hurt, of course. It hurt every day, but she managed. She had the children and the house. Matt and Mitsuki visited nearly every day, and their children—who stayed much closer to home than hers ever did—would come and talk to their godmother. Together they made sure she was never alone.

She loved it, but it did not mean she was never lonely. She felt it the most when they left and the house was empty. There were photographs everywhere, and the ticking of the grandfather clock in the living room. Their clocks used to be precisely on time when Shasta was still alive, but when he passed, their timing went off. Matthew tried to fix them, but only succeeded in throwing their timing off even more, and Luxiette didn’t have the heart to tell him. She feels it when she scales the stairs, remembering a time when it didn’t make her joints ache or, if she was tired, how Shasta would sweep her into his arms, laughing, and carry her up to their room. She feels it when she goes to sleep in a bed that is too large for one person, when she feels no warmth beside her.

They were never very physical; theirs was a different sort of intimacy, communicated through thought and intuition, through affection and gentleness rather than the heat and passion she sees in most young loves. She no longer sees his smile and the gleam in his good eye, hears his voice and his laugh. She’s surrounded by him at all times; the house was something he designed, and though they both decorated it, his technology is everywhere. His books are everywhere. He made her a library, and picked out each book by hand because he knew exactly what she would like.

Now, the house is empty, but still filled with his ghost. It would have to be a large house to fit such an ego. She thinks this with a measure of fondness as she slips into bed. It’s been years since Shasta died, and she thinks she’s ready to go, now, too.

Because she made a deal with the devil, as well:

Please, when it becomes unbearable, let me join him.

She dreams that they are young again, and that they have all the time in the world. She almost forgot how complete she felt when she was with him. It’s so natural, as it always has been. Time could never really keep them apart, it would seem. He takes her hand and their favourite song starts playing, so he leads her in a dance.

Eventually, it stops being a dream. They find her body cold the next morning. Matthew removes his hat, a tear slipping down his cheek. Still, he can’t help but give a wistful little smile, because he knows that she’s happier now. “Be good to her, Shas,” he whispers, even though he knows it’s unnecessary. He always will.

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