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24 November 2013 @ 01:43 pm
Celestial Map  
Title: Celestial Map
Characters: Jack, Zachariah
Words: 1,092
Summary: Sequel to nostalchique's Make it Count. Jack and Zach meet once again.

Zachariah towers over him.

It is not so much a physical phenomenon as it is one of gravity. Even though death makes equals of us all Jack cannot help but feel small and utterly insignificant standing in the shadowed path of the son he never watched grow. He barely recognizes him for the small boy he last saw curled up against his side sleeping to the sad lullaby of a heart monitor.

The words he wants to say are lodged in his throat and will not come out. Zachariah smiles wryly and though it seems ironic something genuine reflects in the blue eyes they share.

“Hello Father.”

His baritone is deeper than Jack had expected. It is velvet and deceptively soothing in a way that Jack had come to associate with the occult and the fae. The last time Jack had heard him speak he had not gone through puberty. The disconnection between his memories and reality only seems more prominent now. It is selfish to want the little boy and not the man and yet… Jack has always been selfish.

“My little prince is not quite so little anymore,” he finds himself saying with a half desperate chuckle, shaking his head. Jack steps forward cautiously as Zach stiffens and brushes his cheek with his knuckles the way he once did after kissing him goodnight. “But still my prince?”

He doesn’t want it to be a lie.

“Yes,” Zach says, his eyes alight with something Jack cannot quite place. A frost-scarred hand catches his in a powerful grip, a possessive and frantic motion. It hurts to realize they’re both grasping at something that has been lost. “I’ll always be your little prince… even if all the other lines are blurred and indistinguishable.”

Zachariah lets go of his hand then and sits down on the ground, and though the movement possesses some grace there isn’t enough to conceal the fact that it was partially an exhausted collapse. Jack’s eyes linger on the scarred skin of Zach’s hands that belie the hidden damage within after he follows suit, facing him. They’re so close their knees brush and yet they couldn’t be farther apart.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t in your life,” Jack says though the words feel empty. How can one ever begin to repay that loss and the loneliness it brings? It feels like a mere platitude. Zach rolls his eyes with surprising exasperation.

“Don’t apologize for something everyone does,” he replies, plucking at the long silver grass.

“I could have… I should have been the one to kill her,” Jack tries again. This time the words feel truer, they contain something real and genuine. He was immortal, he could have done it.

“You would have failed,” Zach says and Jack cannot parse whether his words are wise or arrogant.

“You cannot know that.”

“Yeah, I think I can,” Zach replies and Jack feels like he is being talked down to.

“Can you just accept my attempts at an apology?”

“Why the fuck are you trying to apologize?” Zach asks incredulously, blinking. Jack studies his son’s face and sees genuine confusion reflected in those blue hues.

“I was barely in your life Zach,” Jack explains after a moment, reaching out to take one of those hands. He studies the patterns of raised flesh and he thinks of window panes in winter, covered in icy flowers. It’s hauntingly beautiful and yet the reality of it hides darker secrets.

“You were all barely in my life,” Zach says softly. “Immortality is a long time.”

“I know that Zach—”

“No, you don’t,” Zach interrupts gently, leaning forward. There is nothing cruel in his gaze, only unfathomable eons. Jack is old and he knows how cruel time can be but Zach is ancient. Zach is a monolith, a testament to a time forgotten and weathered until it becomes pitted, cracked and near-unrecognizable. He smiles and it is beautiful and it breaks Jack’s heart. “And I am glad you do not.”

“What are we to you then?” Jack wonders, looking away and attempting to comprehend with quiet horror the stranger sitting before him. “Are we just… bumps on the road to you?”

“Hardly,” Zach replies, pulling his hand from his father’s grip and tilting that downturned chin up with a finger so that their eyes—mirror reflections of truest blue—meet. Jack feels so small then, smaller than when they stood before one another minutes earlier. He’s never felt quite as humbled in his whole existence as he does in this one moment. “You are stars.”

“Stars?”

“If my life were the sky it would be the night sky, black and seemingly empty,” Zachariah explains, his hand falling away. That breathtaking smile has not left his face however and a bittersweet happiness dances at the corners. “I was alone so often… a human life is truly the blink of an eye. Yet they burn so brilliantly even after they are gone. You are all stars that filled the celestial map of my life and I count every single one and know that I am lucky to have loved you all.”

Jack quietly lets out the breath he was unaware of holding, suddenly feeling winded. He then chuckles, that same desperate sound from early slipping out from his lips. “I hardly feel qualified to be your father.”

“Perhaps you aren’t,” Zach replies, rising onto his knees and leaning over to place a kiss on Jack’s forehead. The role reversal is lost on neither of them. “But I will always love you. I have never stopped loving you.”

Once upon a time, when he was the ancient one and Zach was so small he could fit into the crook of his arm, Jack had painfully ruminated over the reality of losing the chance to watch his son grow and experience life. Yet now, even though the ache seems just as prominent millennia later, a seed of happiness blooms in his heart.

He knows who his son has become and though Zach is old and damaged he is beautiful in every possible way.

“I am glad to finally meet you again Zachariah,” Jack says when those soft lips leave the crown of his head and though it should be difficult it is surprisingly easy and feels so natural to pull his son into the safety of his arms. Zach is home and while everything is hardly good between them he knows they will be one day. Zach settles his head on Jack’s shoulder, rubbing his eyes against the curve.

“Me too.”
 
 
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