Andromaquynh, Lykon & grieving
“Hey, you.” Andy kneels, needlessly dusting off the stone. She leaves the too-long blades of grass, the dandelions and wild garlic scenting the air. He’d loved late summer evenings, get lost in them, their scents, their stars. “I didn’t mean to be away so long”
She’d visited not too long ago, in her year off. But so much is different now, she needs to catch him up.
Andy traces a thumb over the weather-worn engraving of Lykon’s name on the already smooth stone. It’s so faded now, but still legible, just. She doesn’t want to replace it, doesn’t want to have to. She’s conceded so much already. Nobody comes here, except herself. And Quynh now, maybe. No, she thinks immediately. Quynh will definitely have been, even if she’s never spoken a word of it to Andy. There was a time when they needed to say so little, they were so attuned to one another. Now… there are things they can talk of still, others that they can’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever. But this was always one of the things they never needed to discuss, would just take themselves off to Lykon and sit with him awhile.
Andy’s owned the land here ever since they buried him here, all those years ago. And she’s made sure that he actually gets to rest. Amid that long grass and those stars. There’s nothing around for miles. No roads. Just the forest, the village a few leagues away, that’s a village still. Lykon had loved people, loved travelling. Loved helping. So she sits, crossed knees aching in a way they never did before, besides the smooth stone, one thumb rubbing affectionately at the rounded corner.
She drinks in the warm scents, the heavy air. Takes an actual sip of water from her bottle and sighs deeply. Then,
“There’s a new one. Her name is Nile, Nile Freeman. She’s 26,” she chuckles softly, “You’re still the youngest, that way at least, sorry” Lykon would scrunch his face up and stick his tongue out at her, for that. She can still see him doing it. Impossibly, wonderfully. It’s a memory she’s managed to cling to, stubborn as all hell. “You’d love her – she’s so damned kind, so strong and clever. She’ll be the best of us. Shake the dust off us lot”
A proud smile tugs at the corners of Andy’s mouth, thinking about Nile, at the way she was burning through their training programmes diligently but would dig her heels in and demand to go and do fun, modern shit – paintballing, theme parks, the beach. Bowling last week. Nicky is a sore loser, though he’d borne it well.
Another breath. Another. Andy rolls the kinks out of her neck. She hates beating about the bush but—
“It’s my time. I got my mortality back” She wishes she didn’t have to say it. Still remembers the look on Quynh’s face. Can see the look on Lykon’s even now and… She rushes it a little – not that Lykon would judge her - she tells him all about Merrick, that little bastard weasel, about Copley and Booker. Talks till her throat is aching, voice dry and creaking. Her eyes are stinging.
Andy flips her hair out of her face and tilts her face back to the sky. The sun will dry her tears before she has to go back and face the others. Not that she’d mind them seeing but – not today. Not this. This was just for her and Lykon and the answers she sometimes wishes they did have.
There’s the rustling of the wind in the grass, and the cool shadow of a cloud lingers just a tad too long.
“Oh, Andromache” the unbridled gentleness in Quynh’s voice pierces like one of her finest arrows and that’s when the tears slip down Andy’s cheeks. Quynh slips to her knees, and gently brushes them away, tilts Andy’s head in her hands.
“I’m sorry,” Andy whispers, “I-“ she sucks in a breath, horrified and desperately trying to control herself. Quynh doesn’t need to see this, Quynh needs her to be the strong one, until the end. And oh fuck –
“It’s alright, Andromache, it’s alright.”
“It isn’t” Andy retorts because they’ve never bullshitted each other, not once. But she knows what Quynh means. “We had time stolen from us. And-“ another breath sucked down, and the former goddess gives herself a little shake. It’s been a while - what a fucking understatement, but Andy can do this mortality shit. She needs to remember what she told Nile, in London. It’s still true, she knows how she wants to spend the time she’s got left. She just never thought she’d get to spend it with Quynh. And she can do this, for Quynh.
“It’s not fair.” Quynh acknowledges and gods, but there’s such a weight to that, a weight there shouldn’t be, in Quynh’s voice. Andy can’t help it, though she isn’t sure if Quynh will welcome it. She lifts one arm, in invitation. Quynh catches sight of her and quirks an eyebrow at her. She shirks out of her fitted jacket – fashionable regardless of the century and leans in, fitting her head into the crook of Andy’s neck.
“We’ll just have to tip the scales,” Quynh says, without looking at Andy, staring straight out at the wind rushing through the grass. Her voice is firm, sharp. Pointed as an arrowhead.
It’s an echo of the time before, of one of the things they used to say to each other in times gone by. Something sharp and soft, cutting for the time they lost everything flashes through Andy’s heart, slowing to a lingering ache, the balm of realisation that they haven’t lost everything. It’s the things time leaves behind. Sometimes that can be a good thing.
They sit there, she’s not sure how long, just tucked together.
“It’s you and me, my heart,” she says because she can’t not say it anymore. Quynh plucks up her hand, presses a kiss to the back, and when she replies it's pressed tight to Andy’s skin.
“Until the end”