(WP) Gray Area

(WP) Gray Area

               It was over, at last.

A war fought across the years, waged with sharp words and secret clashes, ended with one quick twist of a dagger and a raspy, agonized exhalation of breath. With his enemy’s soul moving into the afterlife, his burden and promise both were undone.

What was his life now, after this had finally come to pass? All the years of planning, of nearly killing each other, of agonizing over his inevitable decision, gone. It had been surprisingly swift, lasting, at most, for five minutes. Five eternal minutes of ragged, exhausted breathing, and the slow receding of his body heat, lips moving without sound, blood staining them like liquid rubies.

He walked out of the house on wooden legs, and the houses opposite began to dance and blur; tears dripped down his cheeks, and he was secretly glad that no one was here to witness them.

This was something he had to bear alone, even while his heart tore open.

He heard soft, hesitant footsteps behind him, and he tensed instinctively. What if he’d jumped the gun? What if he hadn’t killed him after all? His stomach lurched with nausea; it would be just like fate to make him do this all over again.

A tiny hand fisted his satin cape, tugging so slightly that he wouldn’t have felt it, if he hadn’t already been aware.

“Have you seen my dad?” The voice was quiet, frightened, thick with tears. “I keep calling him, but he’s not answering his phone.” It trembled, and despite himself, Stormcloud was moved to compassion.

“I’m sorry, child,” He murmured, choking on a sob. “But your father is dead.” By my own hand, no less. It all felt so surreal, as if he were speaking in a dream.

He turned to the child, and looked at them, truly looked at them, and found himself carrying another regret: He looked so like Lava Flow at that age that it punched the breath out of his chest.

“Who killed my dad? Why?” Tears ran down the girl’s face, eyes swollen and red.

As if in answer, the sky darkened, stone gray clouds covering the moon like a mourning veil over a widow’s face, thunder rumbling in the distance.

“It was I. I made a promise and saw it through.”

Years of friendship, rivalry, and then later, something far more complex and unnamed, and it was gone, not without casualties.

**