***also can be found on Fanfiction.net under my other alias E.MorrowluvWordz***
This is set in the timeline after Carter's death.
Hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
And twice on Sundays.
On those days it would be mornings and right before sunset. She could set every one of his visits to the antique gold watch that rested around her wrist. There he was. The beautiful, tall and solemn faced stranger.
She would tell her granddaughter during their daily chats that he, the beautiful stranger was slowly becoming a Hollow man. It was a being functioning on just automatic urges and responses.
The living spark which defined the living from phantoms extinguished to not even the snuffed out embers remained.
It was the same grave every time.
Freshly laid flowers every time.
A plush bouquet of rare lilies with a sprinkling of jasmines... every time.
The old woman had connections with many who have been laid to rest here. So her routes through the large, quiet lot often zigged-zagged and twisted and turned between many of marble and concrete altars. His was a solitary path just to that particular resting place. A resting place that sat apart from the others with only a lone cherry blossom tree that gave the gravesite much shade and companionship whenever the living weren't in attendance.
The chilly Fall winds carried the Hollow man's voice across the other headstones. Her sharp ears perked at the softly spoken words. He sounded lost. Out of his mouth was a tortured rasp that had the power to cause her own old stubborn heart to ache. If the current circumstances were different, the old woman would have told her granddaughter that she liked the soft rough power behind his voice. A mixture of sandpaper''s abrasive touch and the smooth dark burn of good rye whiskey. She would imagine many had fell under its spell...including the woman he now mourn.
A handsome covering that held in so much suffering. His tolerance for pain apparently knew no bounds. It intrigued her... called out to her like lost sailors to long ago sirens songs. Deep lines of unrest marred a handsome face. Raging, monstrous shadows bled into his blue eyes. So much sadness bled from him. So much anger ate away at him.
This brought out an almost child-like curiosity, which been growing more and more with each of his visits. It stubbornly shifted her attention to him.
It also made her break one of her oldest rules. No contact with the barely there....
Before the old woman knew it, small booted feet were leading her to his side.
"BlackMoon Lilies are very rare this time of season."She tightened her heavy shawl of white and grey fox furs around her petite frame. Her steps were silent on the fallen leaves that covered the ground. "Its one of the few flowers that can flourish during a harsh winter. Not many know of their existence, those who do rarely part ways without a naming steep price. A bouquet that size must have set you back a mighty penny."
The momentary clenching of his grip on said flowers was the only clue that she did sneak up on him. The old woman could imagine curt scoldings rolling between his ears, harsh words for not paying his surroundings extra care.
She chuckled to herself, amused at his silence.
He watched her from the corner of tired eyes.
After a few stalled moments he gave her a slight nod and returned his attention back to the grave.
She decided to keep him company.
That was the first day of many where the old woman and the sad Hollow man stood together...quietly, anxiously listening for the echos of those who had traveled on.
John never added to the conversations those first few times after the old woman introduced herself, but he never once told her to let him be alone. He really didn't know why exactly. Maybe it was something familiar about the old woman that kept him from running her off. He admit she had a presence about her that demanded undivided attention as soon as your eyes make contact. He knew in his gut that she was probably not of this world. Humans always had a lingering musky meat scent underneath all of the perfumes, deodorants and soaps they used to hide under. The old woman didn't smell of meat, coming from her diminutive frame was something ancient and supreme. Not once did she intimidate him, or cause some suspicion to make the darkness inside rear its gnarled head in acknowledging that he was in the company of someone with a threatening nature.
Today she carried a parasol made of fine aged stitched together dark leather, that matched the color of her skin. It was big enough to cover both of their heads. Hers was wrapped in brightly colored fabrics in a fashion that almost resembled a crown. His head fared well against the elements, his salt and pepper hair was longer now and curled some due the wet weather. She always wore furs or leather and adorning her ears, neck and fingers was jewelry made of wood, bone and metals. On him was his signature black suit underneath a long dark coat.
On this day John surprised her. He spoke.
"Is this your normal routine?"John's asked the old woman. It was the first words he would say to her on a cold and rainy Wednesday morning. He had watched her from his car as she walked around the endless headstones that dotted the ground before making his way to Joss's grave.
"This?"She gave his question a subtle smirk and turned her head to him.
"Yeah, this."John answered as he laid down a new arrangement of flowers. No lilies like before. Today he had orchids. Joss's second favorite flower.
"Well, whenever I travel to this great city, I do make it a habit of visiting the fallen ones. Fallen warriors who have fought so valiantly whether in life or times of war...which is now everyday it seems. Most here are forgotten about after six months, especially those who don't have immediate family. They need to know that they are not forgotten and vanished from our existence. Laying there frozen in death's cruel form of suspended animation...is kind of lonely. Wouldn't you agree?"
John shrugged and pulled the collar of his coat tighter.
"Time doesn't stand still, not even for the dead. If it did then a lot of these graves would be empty. A lot of lives wouldn't be destroyed. I wouldn't be..." She heard the slight crack in his voice.
"Barely here."She finished for him. Her hand gently gripped his in a small display of comfort. If she could offer some of her strength, she would. But that would be meddling in the strange order of things and it was beyond her role at this moment.
"I exist-"A furrow between his eyebrows began to form. "- like I did before. My lungs take in the air around me and my heart pumps the blood where it needs to go. When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm thirsty, I drink."John looked down at their joined hands and cleared his throat. In his left coat pocket was his old friend. He bought a new pint before he drove here. The slight weight of the bottle was now ignored as the warmth from the old woman's hand made him want to get closer to her. Hide in her glow.
Joss had that power.
John could feel that damn itch that always happened before the tears. He went to wipe them away but a small gloved hand carrying a golden handkerchief beat him to it.
"Thank you."He looked at her face for the first time and kind pale eyes sparkled at him. Something inside wouldn't let him look away.
"We all exist to a certain degree, Nathan."
John felt a chill dance along his skin, but he couldn't move. His government name spoke from her lips felt like the ghosts from his past were rising from their forgotten graves. She kept talking while handing him her parasol. The bone handle was cold under his fingers.
" We begin life as automatons before given our true purpose, our true name. Many will continue on putting one foot ahead of the other and will walk through life like shadows. Never having defining features or experiences that will set them apart from the rest. Their life's story a bland workings of ordinariness. I was fortunate to be loved and to lived many times over and whether you believe it, so did you. You can become a new person with every phone call. How many beings on this Earth can say the same?"She dotted on him as only a mother could. He held the parasol as she gave his face a firm patting. She smoothed over the deep frown lines and red eyes that told of his grief. The soft cloth left no evidence behind and was quickly stuffed inside her coat pocket.
"The number is frighteningly small isn't it?"He could only nod his head in agreement. Whatever hold she had on him still kept. The rain pouring down onto them like thick fat sheets, but under the protective covering of the peculiar parasol no sounds of fat raindrops hitting wherever they landed. It was just the ever present silence that seem to frighten him more than anything. It rivaled the day she perished in his arms over a year ago.
"We will all deal with loss, it is inevitable. It is the price we pay in toll for having breath. For feeling the sun fry our skin under his arrogant radiance and feeling the moon's delicate kiss on our foreheads when she watches us as we sleep. Pleasure, love and happiness... all of those things that are bad for us in the end..."She smiled to herself and looked out to the other graves. "This is where the toll bridge ends. In your line of work I'm quite sure you kept a lot of receipts. "
When her eyes left his, the web she cast began falling apart. Their hands finally disconnected and he was the first to let go. She knew some things about him whereas he knew nothing on her. He didn't like the advantage she had on him. Finch, Root nor Shaw could come up with anything on this little old woman, who fancied furs.
Its been almost 6 weeks since she first made herself known to him and he still didn't know her name.
"Who are you?"He turned his body to her, while her eyes stayed on graves that surrounded them.
"Yes, you. Don't think that I haven't tried to learn a little more about you, but it is kind of hard when you don't seem to exist. No kind of paper trail or even a digital footprint."Thin red lips formed a full smile. Pearl white teeth with white gold incisor caps drew his eyes to take in every flaw and scar. She calmly took her parasol back and said.
"I am noone today...vayri mek."
John felt his heart echo in his chest. What did she just say?
That name ...its been years, decades since anyone called him that. It was from a life long ago. One that he kept well hidden in a past where the pains of right now couldn't dirty it. Another name, an old lifetime, a different man. It always reminded him of running under clear dark skies, happiness and being free.
The stuttering echo wanted to cave his chest in. The feeling becoming more painful by the second. It was then he realized that he had stopped breathing.
She called upon those ghosts of his and now they were staring right back at him.
"W-What did you call me?"He couldn't stop the growl that carried the words between them. His eyes snapped shut for a moment as he try to calm the racing heart inside of his chest. The sudden distress caused his beast to rattle its cage. He forced the change back with all of his might and asked her again. This time his voice, a roar, that shook the stillness around them.
"WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?"He opened his eyes and looked her way.
His company didn't answer. She was no longer there.
He was alone again.
John didn't know how long he stood there, staring down at the spot where the old woman stood. Minutes or hours, he really couldn't say.
Time really didn't matter when you grieve.
"vayri mek" means "wild one" in Armenian and also in John or Nathan's clan language.
In my POI fanfics John is more than human.