Author: Lferion lferion
Summary: The man who fell to earth.
Spoilers and/or Warnings: None
Title, Author and URL of original story: Memory by sidhe_woman
Notes: Thank you to antennapedia for aiding, abetting and cheering me on, and to auberus for being an excellent second pair of eyes.
Immortal but un-winged, of human flesh but not the fruit of human congress, thought made real and given form, and old, old, old -- and yet, paradoxically, impossibly young. Embodied. Born yesterday: the sun has slipped below the sharp-cut edges of the distant hills and it is tomorrow. He cannot hear the song of the twilight, the emerging stars, his ears no longer tuned to the music of the heavens. His very name is a roar, a whisper, meaning lost in sound beyond sense.
There is sand under his cheek, warm from the day. Dirt under his fingers, gritting at his knees, elbows, rough against tender places that had never felt anything at all before. His hands curl in the dust, missing what they have never held. A beetle scuttles past his nose, wings a shimmer of gauzy black flicking out neatly from under a shining carapace. He watches it throw itself into the air and buzz away. Gravity presses him inexorably into the earth. The skin between his shoulder blades aches with loss. He cannot follow. He can no longer fly.
Other tiny winged creatures dance in the air and the last of the sunlight burns red and gold and royal purple in the high, thin clouds. It should be beautiful, the slow turn of day to night, the interstitial time between, as he is between – no longer what he was, not yet what he will be, or even if he will continue to be, in a form or mode or fashion he can recognize as him. He knows he chose this, but cannot remember what or how or why. The sky darkens, the beetle returns to whir about his head and is joined by another beetle. He can almost sense the spark of life that dwells in them, that binds them to each other and to the earth and air wherein they live. But it is a terribly dim spark, more knowing that the life is there that a true awareness.
He realizes that he is alone. No sense of Presence laps at the edges of his mind, no brush of wings and warmth in the spaces of his heart. Emptiness echoes around him, loud with the hiss of sand in the rising night wind, the thin vibration of tiny wings. Where is the brother at his back? Where the blade that his hand was made to wield?
In Ending is Beginning, for there to be Life there must also be Death. One becomes Many becomes multitudes, and all are yet one, being and becoming, dying and living, endlessly turning, spinning and stilling, the breath that becomes the word that becomes the silence into which the word is spoken, the ear that hears. Without darkness there is no light. Without Death there is no Life. Without life there is no love. Go forth o messenger, go forth and harrow the earth that love may have a place to flourish. Go forth, o dark one, Azra'el, that there might be light. Go forth and walk the world, and learn the temper of the blade you are given to bear, the name inscribed in fire: One in mercy, many in love.
Motionless in the cooling sand, he tries to catch and hold the truth of what he was, make sense of whirling light and color, majesty and music, potency and connection with all that is. The silence in his skull beats at him, a pulse that echoes at wrist and throat and pounds desperately in his chest, battering at the cage of bone and flesh, dust and ash and clay that is his body. Without wings he is too small to hold it all, too separate, too singular. Under the cold and distant stars, on the unforgiving earth what he was and what he is cannot seem to coexist. He is a paradox, a thing impossible, and yet, he is. A being, embodied.
As the sand chills beneath him, he struggles to fit himself into his skin, finding the length of his bones, the shapes his hands make -- fisted in the strangeness of his hair, splayed flat on the hardness of the ground -- the angles of elbows and ankles, astonishment of toes. He maps the jut of his nose, the curve of ear, the hollow rush of breath that fills his chest. Beneath his belly (another cavern, an emptiness, a wanting-to-be-filled that tells him what tongue and teeth and stomach are, smells and tastes and beetles can be food) is that which touching kindles a different flame, a different, deeper need. Heat, hardness, pressure, friction, a drawing in and a reaching up and out and almost reaching remembered ecstasy in the convulse and pulse and spurt of what should be living seed.
There is no spark of life in what his loins have spilled. He is alive, but cannot generate life; a mimicry, created, not creating. There is dampness on his cheeks, hot and strange on his tongue; the tears more alive than the fluid on his thighs, his hand. Yet pleasure still shudders through him, an echo of completion, of connection, of immersion in the infinite.
This is his body. This is his life. A discrete and single soul, a one and not a facet of a multitude. Desolate, he curls into the hollow in the sand his body has made and covers his face with his fingers, blocking out the aching brilliance of the wheeling stars. Musk and salt mingle bitter and sweet in his mouth as he trembles and rocks, alone, uncomforted.
When the sun rises, flaming like a sword, the light burns his fair skin red. He can smell water and green growing things nearby, and in the mud and shadow of the small oasis, the quick fire that burns within him flickers over the damage, leaving only smooth golden-brown. Floating in the pool that mirrors the dazzling sky are the jewel-black shells of drowned beetles. The water lapping at the edge murmurs what might be a name, a threnody. He does not listen to the song of the wind, the water, the sand, flinching from the music. He drinks, and starts to learn to survive in this smaller world.
When he sleeps, his spirit huddles in his heavy flesh, building walls, bastions against too-bright memory: he does not yet know that dreams will give him wings.