Day One: Holding Hands
"Putting Out the Light"
Sabin knew he was twice as lucky as most ‘normal’ people. On some level, he knew in the grand scheme of the Universal Truth, he had no real reason to be upset. He was blessed in so many ways that were virtually unattainable, if not plain incomprehensible, to the normal folk that walked the earth.
Being immortal seems exceptionally appealing on the surface. Actually, being completely honest, even with all the extra pains and complications Sabin’s long life gave him, he still wouldn’t choose differently in the end. But while he got to experience life in a ways most people wouldn’t dream, the mountains may be high but the valley’s were soul-crushingly low. Indeed, an immortal experiences such pains in their life that there would have to be centuries between them, else they wouldn’t have any hopes of coping.
Samantha was the first. Most people are lucky if they manage to find love even for a little while, Sabin got over a hundred years. Prime years, even. Over a century without having to ensure the pain of sickness, slowness, dementia…. no, though she was gone she was as young and beautiful and lively on the day she died as the day Sabin married her.
Sabin had known the chances of finding something like Samantha’s unconditional love again were not in his favor. How selfish could a person to be to ask the unseen forces of the universe to grant him this level of happiness again in a life that already got to experience the wonder of love for ten times longer than that of the normal human? Sabin couldn’t even in good conscious claim to ‘deserve’ it. No, he was no monster like he once was, but he was no saint, either. He didn’t dedicate his hours to some greater purpose, or pour all his wealth into humanitarian efforts.
But, after many years, it had come in the most unexpected form. One that should have been an enemy. Completely different than Sabin had ever imagined - the Eldhe Borderguard gentleman named Den Maurlias. The story of how would-be mortal enemies became lovers throughout the ages is a long one, but like all masterful stories, this one, too, was coming to a close.
Once again, the crushing, unstoppable, unending forces of time had been more kind to Sabin than most. Eldhe, being of the Fae realm, age significantly slower than humans. Indeed, Den was over 700 years himself. He had seen the world change into nearly unrecognizable versions of itself nearly three times over. And even aging Eldhe do so in a way unlike humans. People grow old quickly, their bodies and minds crumbling away; slipping into death like sands through the hourglass. Thankfully, Eldhe do so with much more grace. They grow grayer, and slower, as time goes by. But it’s a creeping, building, steady decline. Their mind stays sharp, and to a good deal their bodies become only slightly more frail than in their prime. But there is a weariness that begins to show in their eyes; their souls grow old faster than their mortal coils.
An Eldhe knows when it’s their time, and Den was no different. His body had grown weaker so slowly over the last several decades, Sabin would have hardly noticed had he not had the photographic records to be able to compare the years against each other with such harsh reality. But even now, he didn’t look like an “old man,” more of a tired one. He slept for long periods of time. He barely ate, and even then food that would barely be considered a meal; nuts, fruits, and veggies at most. When he was awake, he was quiet, reflective.
Sabin had been sitting in his room for hours. A stack of books and takeout boxes beside him, he was sitting up in his bed reading a novel. Den had been asleep for the better part of the day, but Sabin had refused to leave his side. After all, he had all the time in the world.
But still, Sabin found himself jumping a bit when he felt Den’s hand reach out to grab his own. He had been so still, Sabin didn’t know how long he had been awake. He set down his book and smiled down at his husband. “Hey,” he said quietly with his trademark, lop-sided grin. He squeezed his hand, “Can I get you something?”
“It’s time,” Den said, reaching his other hand over to grasp Sabin’s own.
Sabin felt his chest seize up. “No…” he whispered. He knew this time was coming, but nothing can prepare you for having to face such inevitability.
Den smiled, a gesture he only saved for when he meant it. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“Den…” Sabin felt his eyes immediately start to sting. “I’m not ready… please, hold on…don’t thank me, what are you thanking me for?”
It wasn’t as if Den wanted to die. But life and death is different for Fae than it is for humans. They aren’t shadowed by the looming fear of the great Unknown. They don’t try to bargain with some unseen God, nor do they spend their last days regretting everything they didn’t do. Their last hours are spent in quiet reflection, and acceptance. “I never thought my life would be like this. That I would be this happy. That I would have had this… love, a home, children…Sabin, when I was a young man, before I met you, these were simply dreams.” He paused, “No, not even dreams. I wouldn’t have even dared to hope.”
Sabin squeezed his hands, harder than he probably would have had he been more aware. He learned down and pressed his lips against Dens’. What do you say at a time like this? This had been coming for years, but still Sabin felt as desperate and angry and scared and devastated as when he had learned Samantha was gone. After several moments of silence, silent tears pouring over his face he choked out, “I love you.”
Den freed one of his hands and gently touched Sabin’s face, rubbing his thumb over his cheek. He felt the familiar twitch, triggering Sabin’s four solid red eyes to open from their concealment. Sabin’s face - his real face - was the last thing Den wanted to see before he Slept. “I love you, too,” he said. His eyes closed again, the ghost of a smile still on his lips, and his grip slacked on Sabin’s hands. He was gone; Sabin didn’t even need to check. The last of his fairy glow faded, and he slipped away.