kiev4am: (underwood)
[personal profile] kiev4am
So, yeah... first RicStar fic.


Title: Rules To Live By
Fandom: X-Factor
Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar (Marvel Comics)
Rating: PG-13 I think.
Warnings: No obvious ones for violence, sex etc. Possibly triggering for bereavement, though.
Words: 974
Comments: Inspired by this comment thread about Shatterstar's healing factor meaning he ages more slowly and could potentially outlive Rictor by quite a margin. This is a really weird choice for my first RicStar fic; I've been poking around the thought of writing fic for them for a while, but my natural writing inclination is towards X-Factor-style snark and comedy rather than the darker, emo end of the spectrum, so I have no idea how Rictor's last letter to Shatterstar became lodged so firmly in my head that I had to write the bloody thing. In my head this is like the last scene of a Peckinpah or Eastwood western: an old hero at the end of the line, love and endurance and the importance of dying well and (in the words of Annie Proulx) if you can't fix it you've got to stand it. I think it's more affirming than depressing, but your mileage may vary.


The man in the bed is very old. His hair is a mop of dirty silver, his hands are maps of veins and dreadfully still, worn gold embedded in wrinkles on his left ring finger. His eyes - vivid dark brown, sly and gleeful to the end - won't open again. The man in the chair looks considerably younger, grey hair just starting in the red, the star-mark around one eye still a rich sharp black. He is holding a sheet of paper. It trembles very slightly as he reads.

*

Hey.

If you're reading this... well, you know. In case you're wondering, I wrote this the day we got jumped by muggers coming back from that movie and I had a dizzy spell after decking that guy with my stick and got all pissy with you for protecting me. I'm sorry about that. I just can't get used to it when people, even random goons like those three, assume I'm your father now. I should be grateful every day that neither of us got killed when we were young and stupid, that we got to have this much time. And believe me, I like you not ageing. I don't resent it at all. I like looking at you, I like holding you, and I like knowing you've got a good, long time to go. The mere theory of outliving you scares me to death.

That's partly what this is about. That I understand.

It's five a.m. and you're finally asleep. I muted the TV and the light's flickering over you and you ought to be out cold after mainlining bad cop shows for six hours solid, but your foot's twitching and your breath's shallow and all night you had that numb we-who-are-about-to look on your face that means you're staring through the screen at nothing. And I know why. I know you didn't really get that I was old, until today; I know you didn't really think my age made a difference. Don't think I'm not flattered that you've somehow managed to unsee the sorry details all this time - the stoop and the stick and the hair and the glasses and the busted veins and the tiredness and the weak earth tremors when I dream. But I could see it in your eyes when you picked me off the pavement - you were terrified and, man, you still do really dumb things when you're terrified, and when it finally happens, I don't want to spend my last breaths in the world worrying about you. I'd rather spend them saying goodbye properly. So I've been thinking about it, thinking about you without me, trying to come up with something that'll help. I know you didn't just fall to earth, I know you haven't needed my advice for years, but you've never lived through this so humour me, will you? Think of it as rules to live by, short term rules for getting over the worst of it so you can have the rest of that good, long life I want you to have. I need that. I need to know you're gonna be okay.

1. Don't get drunk and watch the flashbacks in 'Highlander.' Seriously, don't. Not just because it'll upset you, but because it'd be corny. You're not living for ever, just longer.

2. Let people help you with the funeral and stuff. I don't know who's going to be around then, but somebody will and they'll want to help, so let them.

3. I guess I'm really saying, let them in. Don't shut down on people, don't go back to that place I found you at. It wasn't good for you then, and it won't ever be good for you. Keep in touch, talk to them, go and see them, let them take care of you. Don't lash out and don't let go, even when you feel like it's killing you. They love you too. Yeah, they do.

4. Trust me that you will be okay. Please, just trust me.

5. Don't self-medicate by getting into fights. You know what I mean. You'll get hurt, or you'll hurt a bunch of people weaker than you and it'll make you feel dishonourable and sick. It's a bad drug.

6. On the other hand, if somebody really needs to be stomped then I am counting on you to do your thing and gracefully beat the living crap out of them. I'd hate like hell for my death to change you that much, dude. You're a hero, you're a goddamn warrior angel and don't you forget it.

7. Always remember that I loved you, all the time, even when you didn't know it - even when I didn't know it. I remember the first words you ever spoke to me, and I can't remember a time when I didn't feel this way. Doubt anything else you want when you're going through the wringer, but not that.

8. This is the most important one. Live for me. Live as long and as happily and as much as you possibly can. Do all the things we never got around to, see all the places, meet all the people, grow and change and carry on and be alive. And don't be alone all the time. Find someone to share it with; it's okay, it really is, it's what I want. Live for me, 'Star. Use every goddamn second as if it's mine.

*

For a moment, the man in the chair doesn't move. With aching slowness he folds the paper, puts it very carefully in an inside pocket. It's hard to stand up; he's been sitting there for four days straight. He leans over the man in the bed, rests his forehead on the cold forehead beneath him, and he stays there for a very long time.

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kiev4am

May 2012

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