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Vigil

by Jayne Leitch

Rating: PG
Spoilers: it's a 'Tempest' coda, so...'Tempest' Disclaimer: nothing doing. But if Lionel dies... ::shaking fist:: Notes: more thanks to MaryKate for yet another beta. Also, I'd just like to point out that there is precedent for the Whitman...

VIGIL by Jayne Leitch
Copyright 2002

"Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the

battlefield spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent

night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh..."

--Walt Whitman


"There were flowers when your mother died."

Lex's head thudded with pain, and he didn't bother to raise it from where it rested on his arm, soaking blood into his sleeve. "Don't try to talk, Dad," he muttered, dully surprised at how rough his voice was, a rasped croak in the post-tornado quiet. He tried to clear his throat, and ended up coughing against breaths full of dust.

Across the room, his father stared up at the sky, hazy and grey through the broken wall. Something shifted--not him--and debris skittered down the beam pinning him to the ground. "I don't want an overabundance of flowers at my funeral, Lex."

"Dad--" Lex raised his head and winced, as much at the sudden wave of nausea as at the feel of caked blood cracking along his skin. He tilted his head back until his skull hit the underside of the overturned couch he was sitting against; then he slowly straightened one leg and pulled the other up to support an elbow, letting his hand hang limp in midair. "You're not going to die. A lot of roads are torn up or blocked by debris, but the paramedics will be here as soon as they can."

"I like flowers." Lex's vision was blurry, but if he tried he could see the rhythmic, relentless movement of his father's fingers drumming on the beam. He hadn't known any of Lionel's extremities were free to move; he couldn't hear the fingers land. "Carnations, eglantines, lilies, for your mother--" Lionel paused, absently, then continued. "They smell sweet, they look lovely. I am not opposed to flowers, Lex."

A moment passed. Lex's thoughts were slow; he stared across the dusty room at the ripple of activity that was his father's fingers, still trying to hear them patter when they landed on the wood. "So why don't you want them?"

"There were so many when Lillian died," came the response, perfectly reasonable, in a voice that sounded nowhere near as used as Lex's. "Everyone sent them, enormous bouquets and arrangements overflowing with blossoms. White, mostly--orchids, roses, lilies. But there was--already--such a scent. The room was...redolent of flowers."

Lex's eyes were drifting closed. With an effort he raised his head again, blinking against dark spots and the temptation to nod off. Adrenaline worn off, what seemed to be a very bad concussion... "I remember," he made himself say.

"No, you can't." The sudden edge to his father's voice caught Lex's attention; he forced himself to focus on the face across the room, watched as it turned--as much as it could--toward him. "You can't remember that, Lex. You weren't there."

Something twisted in Lex's stomach. He swallowed. "Yes, I was."

Lionel's eyes glinted--fever, maybe, from shock. "No, son."

"Yes, I--" Too strong; his voice broke, pain scraping his throat, and Lex doubled over in a coughing fit that left him gasping. When he could, he sucked in deep breaths and made himself relax back against the couch. "You're confused, Dad," he said roughly, after a time. "I was at Mom's funeral."

"Of course you were. You wouldn't have been anywhere else." His father's head turned again so he could stare at the sky, and his fingers drummed on the beam. "You weren't there when she died."

Lex watched him, his eyes burning. "No, I wasn't," he said finally.

"I sat with her all that night," Lionel mused, and Lex thought he might have seen a smile pass over his father's mouth--but then he blinked, and there was no trace. "I had a business meeting in Stockholm scheduled, and I didn't even bother to call and cancel. We talked for hours, but at some point I fell asleep, and when the light woke me up--" Another pause, and his fingers stilled on the beam before rising once more and deliberately resuming their drumming. "She was cold, and the room smelled of flowers."

Lex was silent.

His father took a deep breath, and more dirt brushed across the beam. "I've had enough of flowers, Lex," he said.


End.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Jayne Leitch

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