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Perfect Hostage

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As ever, it hits him with all the terrible clarity of a lighting bolt: he will not storm heaven for her. But while it’s not a new thought, it’s one he’s tried to put away. Unsuccessfully.

It returns with a vengeance in the moment after their escape. He’s fled for the roof, and he’s so sure, he’s so sure for a moment that it’s only to watch her die. But it isn’t and she’s not, and he can see just how very close it came. Stupid, brave, foolish, headstrong. Too vulnerable. Too mortal. There’s a bullet, and it’s not even a matter of inches. He’s not sure what notion frightens him more: that his father had a hand in that near-miss...or that he didn’t. But she’s fine, she will be fine.

(And chasing on the heels of that thought, not banished quickly enough: when she dies, it will be the end. He will not storm heaven for her. He watches her wake, and it’s all he can think.)

Humanity lives, humanity dies. And then...they continue. Their souls, after all, linger forever, preserved eternal as anything else above or below. But for a brief handful of years, they burn like fireworks, free to shape their own fates to a degree granted to nothing else in creation. Mortal lives are brief, bright sparks, and he’s never once minded the way they can’t be long grasped. Their lives entranced him, their souls did not.

But hers…but hers. One day she will be as eternal and unchanging as the rest, and yet... The more he treasures her mortal days, the more he cares for the fate of her immortal soul. She’s heaven bound, and he will destroy hell before he sees that change. She will find happiness, and she will find peace, and her soul will shine so brightly among all the uncounted number of the righteous dead.

In her, heaven has found its perfect hostage. One day she will die...and then? He will sue for peace without reservation, conditions, or hesitation. 

She blinks up at him. He traces the hole the bullet carved in her shirt, and thinks of the inevitable brevity of mortal days, and the eternal salvation that follows.  

"What happened?" she says, and the words are small and unnerved and unsure. 

"You're safe," he tells her. "That's all that matters," and he means it. It's a thought as cutting as the first time, and as final as the last.

 He will not storm heaven for her.