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And The Stars Remain

Chapter Text

The early dawn hours spilled unto us a new horror. Danger. There was danger everywhere. My husband was trying to help me up as were the guards. It was happening all over again. I was reliving my nightmare. I was not out yet. I would never truly be out.

The guards pulled us out of the house. The village was under attack. Assassins attacking Assassins. I hovered near my husband. I would not let him be hurt. He had just escaped this. They would not hurt him. I refused it. My husband appeared to be thinking the same, throwing his good arm in front of me.

The guards led us away from the village. I did not know where they would take us, but as long as we were safe, I was not going to complain. I could see Eagle Eye flying and clawing his way through the masses, murdering one after another. He would survive. He and his wife.

We made it out of the village, down a steep incline. My husband and I clung to one another, trying to hold the other up. It was the least we could do. The guards were on high alert, anticipating anything. All we could do was anticipate.

We were in a meadow, fog rising from the ground. It was difficult to make out anything on the horizon. We could have been walking into a trap. But staying behind in the village where we could easily be slaughtered was too dangerous. It was eerily quiet. The commotion at the village was just a distant hum. The hairs on my neck were standing on end. The whole situation raised our anxiety. The guards circled around us, and even Malik, as frail as he was, was watching, checking all sides, the instinct to fight ingrained in him.

We had to get out of there. Get out, to Jerusalem. Far away… Far, far, far.

The ambush came out of nowhere. They were born from the mist like ghosts, figures shrouded in evil. They were quick and nimble, like my demons, who had taken leave and vanished. Our guards were overcome instantly. We were caught unprepared. We all panicked.

Swordfight was exchanged and a flurry of upheaval erupted. A knife was dropped to the ground and I made for it, keeping my husband behind me, as I was stronger than him at the moment. I would protect him. He would not die, not today.

I was a savage. I knew then where my demons had gone. They had become me. I was them. We had always been bound together. They came out in the forms of snarls and screams as I unleashed my pent-up fury. Die, all of you bastards. Die…

I couldn’t tell friend from foe. They all looked the same, blurry and white. My husband and I were the only ones to be trusted. We were being backed up the hill, towards the village. We were simply overwhelmed. There were too many.

There was a roar from behind us, unearthly. There were more of them. They were going to flank us. We could not run back. We could not fight our way out of it. We had no more options. We had to hold our own, but there was nothing to hold. We would just not go down without a fight.

I heard him scream from behind me. I turned to see him go down on his knees. He wasn’t going to get back up, not with a sword about to impale his skull. No… He would not be hurt. Not him…

Not… Malik…

I sprinted towards him, diving down. I intercepted the blow. The sword was shoved clean through my middle. All went silent. All went dark…

“And what will you do, Rajah? Sacrifice yourself?”

The words echoed from another place and time. Back when I was myself. Back in Jerusalem. Back home. When we tested how far the other would go. Back when I knew I loved Malik. I knew my response.

“Yes, I would.”

The answer had still not changed.

The flashback snapped back to the present by the sound of screaming. Howling. A man calling out what I thought was my name. I searched for the source, somewhere above me.

There. There he was. Malik. My Malik…

It was just him and me. Everyone had disappeared and died. This was how it was. He was crying, tears slicing through the blood on his face. Those eyes I had seen alight with so many emotions over the years. I’d been with him for so long. I knew this man, inside and out. I loved him, for all that he was. I remembered. That first moment, back in the Bureau, when I swore I was going to figure him out. I had done that, and yet I had never paid him back for his debt that I owed him for saving my life.

I supposed this would do. It was the only way to fully pay it back. I knew the price to pay was death. I had known it all along.

I felt him heave me onto his lap and I felt no pain, oddly. In fact, I felt disconnected from my body, even with the ugly sword still buried in my stomach. I trembled, hugging as close to my weeping husband as I could. The darkness of my mind was gone, relieved of me, fading like the fog in the morning sun.

“You will be all right, young one. You’ll be okay…” He cooed, his voice breaking as he tried to hold back his tears, trying to keep me alive and knowing he couldn’t.

“Malik… Don’t … be foolish.” The blood was rising in my esophagus. I did not have long. When the blood reaches the mouth, it is too late for the victim.

“Don’t leave me here, Rajah,” He begged, “Don’t leave me alone. Don’t go where I cannot follow. I won’t be in a world where you do not exist anymore.”

I had failed him. We had come so far, only for me to break his promise. I was dying.

“I am sorry I could not keep my promise, Malik. I tried… But you – you’re far more important to me. Give Tazim my love,” I shifted, trying to push away my own grief at the fact that I would never see my son grow up, touching Malik's face that was bent close to mine, trying to wipe his tears, my heartbeat faint, “Malik… I love you. I always have. And I always will.”

Malik frantically shook his head. “No… No. Don’t say goodbye. Please…” He was clutching me hard enough to leave bruises.

“Malik…” My voice was weak and there was a distant tugging on me from something beyond our world. My soul wanted to leave. I did not have much more time. I needed to hear him… Just once…

He understood. “I love you too, young one. More than anything. Inta hayati, habibti.” He smiled gently, tears trickling down his chin.

I wiped them away and pulled myself to his ear. “Be brave…” I felt liquid iron dribbling out of my mouth and I pressed my lips to his cheek weakly, feeling his warmth against my now frigid skin. I could not move anymore. My strength was gone. I slid slowly to his shoulder, the sun shining on a bloody trail flowing down his cheek to his collarbone.

Suddenly, I was no longer tethered to my body. Everything was clear and painless. I was staring down at what remained. My demons were still around, but they had a new subject of interest. They took to Malik like they had always known one another.

My poor Malik… His begging began softly, murmuring over and over for my return, like a prayer. When I didn’t, he began screaming and wailing at the top of his lungs, cradling my lifeless body to him, protecting me still. The howls of a broken man who could not be fixed. He pleaded for anyone or anything, for Allah, to help. I had ruined him. He had nobody, save for his son, who was hundreds of miles away. I asked the stars to give him peace. I would always be there to watch over him and my son, wherever I was, and someday, Malik would join me…

I turned away as I felt myself being pulled from the earth, into the stars. The transition between life and death was fast and pleasant, relieving. I was sucked into a vortex, spinning at otherworldly speeds, twisting and turning in a void of lights and sounds. Wherever I was going, I was ready.

It all went silent abruptly. It all went black, like a lantern being blown out. It was like this for what seemed like forever. Floating endlessly. Was I in Heaven? I opened my eyes to another abyss, this time gray. It ebbed and undulated like the waves of an endless ocean. Everything was here. I had become the wind, the stars and the universe. I was anything and everything that made up the world that I once knew. And I was not alone.

When I came about, there was someone standing above me. I glanced up to find dark hair, copper skin, a man dressed in Assassin robes. A novice. He was young, in his late teens. He held his hands behind his back, grinning down at me.

“Hello, Rajah.”

He had my husband’s grin, his voice.. He even looked almost like him… My husband… I missed him so much..

“Malik?” I pondered, reaching for him. The young man smiled sadly and shook his head.

I had the spine tingling feeling I was staring into the blue-eyed visage of Malik’s dead brother, Kadar al-Sayf.