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to be young (is to be sad)

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You tell him, "this conversation shouldn't be happening, you know."

Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry the Eighth, bastard of England, Duke of whatever-- and why, you think to yourself, does everyone you meet look so damned young? Henry slaps the bar, and with a sharp smile says, "welcome to Toronto."

-

You spent a little time at the court of Henry. It was always full of intrigue and the smell of lilacs. You don't remember Christina until Henry takes you to his apartment and shows you her portrait; then you remember the pale woman's eyes, dark curly hair, and the odd smell of death around her.

"Yes," you drawl, "now she's familiar."

"Yes," Henry says, as if to illustrate those stories, but doesn't continue. He comments instead, "I don't remember you there."

You shrug. The woman stares out from the canvas, bleak eyes. Henry may have lived almost five hundred years, but he still has unnatural urges hidden beneath his skin, has instincts that human beings can't quite fathom. "I was a minor poet," you tell him, "probably below your notice."

He smiles. It should be predatory, but instead all you feel is old. "Quite," he remarks. "Why stay in a minor role in history?" he asks, suddenly.

Henry Fitzroy. You've heard rumours about his recent brushes with death, about the taint on his territory - the blonde and the demon. No vampire wants to take on something that-- complicated. Inwardly you applaud their sensibilities. A demon is nothing to be toyed with. You've seen that enough. "I learned a long time ago to keep to myself for survival," you say.

"I've lived nearly five hundred years already," he says to you. There's a bit of indignancy in his tone, as if you're not taking him seriously.

"Call me when you hit a thousand, son," you say, "and then we'll talk."

-

"So why leave now?"

Someone who ran a country shouldn't have to explain themselves. You pick up your empty pint glass - something this century does right is a good Irish pub - and swirl the dregs. The beer's warm, and you won't drink warm beer now that humans have invented refridgeration.

"It's time, that's all," he says shortly. So the girl does figure into it. Henry turns to you. "Why ask, Methos? Aren't you above the concerns of mice and men?"

"The inevitability of life is death for some, suffering for all," you tell him. "I find myself fascinated with someone nearly five hundred years old still controlled by his passions."

"Aren't you?" Henry asks.

You consider it for a brief moment. You can remember fires around countless sieged towns. You can remember the taste of salt air in the Spanish Armada. You can remember the excitement of the steam engine, and how it changed the face of the world. So can Henry. But you can remember so much more than that, too. You knew the first printing press, the first gunpowder experiments in China; the fall of Rome. The taste of the Mediterranean before the birth of Christ. You still burn incense to pagan gods and figures from myth no one has even heard of, much less remember.

The bartender comes up to the two of you, hunched over the slick wood in the corner. "Get you another?" he says.

"One for me," you say pleasantly, "and another horrid local brew for my friend here."

Henry snorts. "Thank you," he says.

"The longer you live," you tell him slowly, "the more passionate you are in one moment, and the easier it is to sweep that passion clean."

"I'm trying to leave," he tells you, irritably. And it's true; Gus, who takes care of territorial problems for more than just vampires, is a friend. The rumours are Henry Fitzroy is all but running out of town. Henry sighs. "No one wants Toronto."

"No one wants Toronto," you agree. "You could go somewhere fresh," you offer; some territories are free of charge, even if they're undesirable. Henry could leave his life, even with the blonde and the demon around his neck.

Henry could, but Henry won't.

-

"Is it hard?" you ask, just before the sun's coming up. "To create a home, then have to leave it?"

"Is it hard not to have a home at all?" he fires back. it's ridiculous, is what; home is the possibility, the blank slate, of love and relationships, not the realization of it. Henry just needs reminding.

You're a little unsteady as you get up off the bar stool. You can see the bartender eyeing you as you stand, ready to make sure you're not going to fall flat on your face. You want to tell him that if he added up the hours you've spent over the centuries passed out in a back alley flat on your face, it'd span longer than his entire life. "How many people have you met that you wanted to keep, Henry Fitzroy, first duke of Richmond?" He doesn't answer; you say to no one, "everyone always looks so young." He helps you to the door. "At first," you say, "it was because people died young. now it's because they pay to look young, even after they're not."

He holds the door open for you. "It's over-rated," he says.

"I don't even remember them all," you mumble. "so many people, and I don't even remember half their faces. Until photographs--" and then you laugh, a harsh rasp. "I don't keep the photographs anyway."

"To remember is bittersweet?"

Your face is permanently lined, permanently you, forever and ever. Henry Fitzroy holds you up; you can see his features in the dark window glass as he pulls you along the street. Immortal. So damned young. "to forget is divine."