“He was the best coward I knew.” she whispers to the moss covered statues that perch silently next to her as she slumps down into the pew of the forested chapel. They, predictably, didn’t respond. She had found time to step away from the crowded Post now that the trade weekend was over. The sounds of the caravans pulling out echoed out into the small clearing just outside of town. She knew she had paperwork that needed to be seen to, and reports to collect, but this was her time.
So much happened in just a few days. She needed time to process it all.
She rubs the exhaustion from her face, the lines of her faith remaining as bold and bright as any newly inked tattoo. The movement has her hood falling from her multi-hued hair and the breeze cools her skin.
She is grateful for the small things.
Doc Victor is well and truly gone. The friend she never had. He had been so worried about getting folks killed that he hadn’t given himself enough space to actually _live_. He had been a professional companion, a good doctor who had taught her as much as he had worked with her to treat the people of the town. He reminded her in ways of the Pure who had trained her up at the hospital in Rail City. Distant, dignified, unable to defend himself from the worst that life threw at you but damn willing to try. Yet he differed in all the right ways. In the moments of silence he was kind, and willing to put up with her crass ways. He would lend a helping hand when the Post was overrun with wounded and sick and was gentle to his patients as much as he could be given the poor resources of the area. When he took the position of mayor it was clear he truly wanted to help the town, even though he knew it would be his death in the end.
Fear never left his eyes except in those rare instance of honest laughter. She will cherish those memories, his smile was a gift to those blessed enough to receive it.
As usual, she missed everything. She had heard second hand about his assassination as she was scrubbing the poison from it’s most recent patient. He had told her he was chasing the ghost in an odd moment of silence a few months ago, so the news had dropped her heart into her stomach. Then the news got to her that he had been patient zero for the poisons. She was again too busy to let the news affect her overmuch. People needed her, she was a Doctor, her emotions were secondary to the health and wellbeing of the town. It wasn’t until the caravans had pulled out that she truly had time to herself enough to understand what that really meant.
She had desperately wanted to be there during his last walk, to help put him down for the final time. The gravemind gave him back to them as a lost boy, and how right it was. He was never a fighter, he struggled constantly for acceptance and understanding. She knew his family had been killed, the whens and the whys a distant memory and ultimately unimportant to her, but she remembered the pain in his eyes as he told her his story as they huddled in the cold twilight that seeped into the Last Shot. His past spilling from his lips in hushed whispers, as if the killers would hear him and remember he had escaped their clutches.
She supposed they did. Making him the Mayor of Fort Seymour garnered some attention in the Ironworks. Enough attention that the Purebloods that wanted him dead drew their garishly colored eyes back his direction to make sure they had finally finished the job they started all those years ago.
She had asked him once if they were friends. He wouldn’t answer her. Normally such evasiveness from Pures indicate they are trying to be nice, but don’t want to lie outright.
For him, it was more like he wanted to say yeah, but he was afraid it would be the death of her if he did.
She understood that in a way.
She called him a friend, even if he couldn’t, and she had been too busy doing her job to see him off as friends should. He would understand…wouldn’t he?
She sighs, closing her eyes as the low filtered light from the setting sun spilled the summer’s last warmth across her upturned face. The sounds around her became distant, melting into indistinct murmurs that gave way to the music that thrummed constantly in the back of her mind. Notes and melodies growing louder as everything else started to fade away. The music was a constant, even as peopled came and went, the music would always return.
Yes. It was a constant. Sadly it wasn’t always that comforting.
Her thoughts wander again and she contemplates the New Model Army and her new position within it. Captain Walker was her senior officer, but with him spending most of his time down at the Walker Ranch she was effectively the highest ranking officer in Fort Seymour now. She wondered if this position was as cursed as the Mayorship was. Hopefully she wasn’t high enough rank to go out like Tucker, or Mercy.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Her soldiers depended on her and she depended on them. She knew she would be held responsible for any mistakes made and there would be mistakes, she held no doubts about that.
A small smile flickers across her lips, “They are good folk, if a bit undisciplined right now.” She tells the statue, it’s uncaring eyes gazing out, away from her. “So long as we can hold together, learn to work as a team, we should be good. If we can’t… well… ” she shrugs, not wishing to give voice to the consequences of failure. She would accept no failure.
A noise catches her attention, something different than the usual rustle of leaves and birdsong, and she turns to watch her Primus approach with a lumbering roll. “Alice, why are you alone?” his voice was gruff, the massive bone he had wrested from the carcass of a frighteningly large zed held firmly in his hands.
“I’m not alone.” she murmurs, “I have you.”
He snorts, “No. I just got here. How long have you been out here without any protection? Don’t you know there are still dangers out here?”
His reprimands continue, but she stops paying attention and pulls him down onto the pew next to her. It shows how much he loves her that he lets her do it.
Resting her head on his shoulder she closes her eyes, the tears of the weekend finally streaming down her cheek.
His arm snakes out over her shoulders, resting heavily, a comfort she welcomed gratefully.
“Are you crying?” he asks, his voice softer than before, gentle with her like he is with few others.
He nods and looks out over the clearing, letting her have her moment while he watches over her.
Yes, he was gruff, but sometimes she wonders if he was the only one who truly understood her. She looks up to see Kai approach with a concerned frown on his brow, Armani following closely behind, moving carefully so as not to snag her expensive skirts on the underbrush and knows that no matter what happens, she had her family, and in these dark times, that was more than some.