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Would Die a Hero

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Maybe if he lived long enough, there would come a day when he wouldn’t wake up cold from the memory of her swallowed into darkness.

If he closed his eyes, he could still see her face, hard and haggard.  He could see the grim determination as she shoved Reina into his arms.  He could feel her fingers slipping from his hand as she simply let go.  He could feel her blood on his skin, and the sharp pang of loss.  The crippling numbness came later, when reality set in.

He was sick of the memory.  His head was pounding from a night of trying to forget.  Maybe if he lived long enough, the hangover would subside.

A year later, and Butz could still feel her warm breath on his neck in the middle of the sleepless night. 

***

A statue had been erected in the town square.  She stared into the sunrise, defiant and bold.  HeroMartyrChampion of Light.

Lost to the Void, Faris’ memory lived on in whispers of Legend.  Although Legend would never remember how much she enjoyed getting down into the grit of the tavern nightlife, or the smooth curve of her hip, or even the rare, slow, genuine smile that would only appear once in a blue moon.

Hell, Legend wouldn’t even remember the caustic, cynical smiles that were an everyday occurrence.

In the shadow of the statue, Butz shoulders drooped.  He was supposed to be halfway around the world, reminiscing with old friends, but he preferred the solitude.  No one to depend on, no one depending on him.  The townsfolk gave him space, and, if they recognized him, at most their silent pity.

He raised his flask in a half-hearted salute, yet before he could drink from it, it was torn from his hand.  The woman beside him took a generous swig, and he stared, frozen to the spot.

“Ugh.” She sloshed the liquid, eyeing it skeptically.  “Lad, ye need to stop drinkin’ this hog’s swill.” Faris dipped the flask toward the statue before taking another sip.  “S’tell me, when’d this bilge go up?”

When he didn’t answer, she eyed him quizzically.

The shock wore off.  All at once, he swept her into his arms, while the flask hit the ground, forgotten.

Hey!”

Twirling them both about, Butz’ laughter echoed through the square.  “Oh, Goddess, you’re alive.”

“No thanks to the likes o’ ye,” Faris snarled, shoving him back a step and landing heavily on the balls of her feet.  Undaunted, Butz pulled her into a tight embrace, lips finding first her cheek, then her mouth, picking up where they left off.  She met him halfway, clutching at his collar and the back of his head, and grunting when he pulled away to study her face.

He buried his face in her shoulder, half giggling, half sobbing.  Faris’ hand came to rest in his hair, fingernails scratching along his scalp.  Breathless, she scoffed, the familiar sardonic lilt straight from his fondest dreams.  “Pleasure t’see ye, too.”