I really don't know where this came from.Well, okay, maybe I do, but it's a long story. *Deep breath*
I never really intended for Lark and Pitch to be anything other than just friends. Just goes to show how little control I really have over my characters, right? The main thing is actually Pitch. He simply never does anything by halves- he'd rather go all the way. This wasn't a problem when he was chasing after Skyborne, but when Sky kind of took herself out of the picture, there was only Pitch and Lark left.
Really, I should have known it was coming.
Lark loves Pitch, really, but she's already lost so many people she's loved that it's become old stuff for her. If Pitch dies, she'll mourn for him (and hard), but then she will simply pick up what's left and get on with her life. But then I started thinking.... what if the opposite happens?
Lark is Pitch's first love. Oh, he's had a mate before (long story that I have no intention of writing, sorry), but that relationship didn't have much to do with love. With Lark, though, every now and then he will surprise me with how deep his feelings really are. She is his mate, his partner, and his love. He gives her everything he's got.
More simply, he's not going by halves.
So if anything ever happened to Lark, I really wasn't sure what he'd do. Go crazy? Go feral? Or maybe just deal with it and move on, like Lark herself would do. I apparently was in a morbid mood today (let's kill off one of my main characters and see what the other one does, muahaha- kidding), and I did eventually finish the whole story.
Which was fairly awesome, because I've been in such a slump lately. >_<
So what would Pitch do if Lark died? Read on and find out.
I AM NOT KILLING OFF ANY OF MY TOONS.
So don't worry about that. This is strictly a "what-if".
That being said, I will warn you that I had to make myself stop thinking about it a few times, because I was about ready to break down bawling in the middle of the aisle at work. You might want to grab a kleenex.
It was a beautiful day. The air was rain-washed and clean, the worst of the storm having passed. A few threatening-looking clouds still hung in the sky, but above them the sky was clear and blue. Pitch circled around Lark's gryphon, then did a few flips. He followed them up with an attempt at a backwards flip, but wound up having to catch himself after nearly falling out of the air. Lark laughed at him from her gryphon's saddle, and he laughed with her, unable to be angry or upset on such a perfect day.
The wind picked up, scudding a few of the clouds across the sky. Lark's grin dropped. "Maybe we should head back," she said doubtfully. Pitch did a bird-shrug. "Race you," he offered, then took off, his wings sweeping him along furiously. He barely heard her indignant "Hey!" as she sent her mount after him. Grinning to himself, he looked back over his shoulder.
The lightning came out of nowhere, the accompanying thunder crashing around them. For one brief, horrible instant Lark and her mount were lit up like a Winter Veil tree. Then, as Pitch watched, frozen with shock, they plummeted out of the sky. One of Lark's hands lifted as she fell, as if she were reaching for him. Her expression had no fear or pain, only a terrible surprise. Pitch abruptly found both his voice and his will to move. "No! LARK!!" he screamed, then folded his wings and dove after them.
It took him a couple minutes to find where they landed. Finally he spotted the gold-and-white mound of blowing feathers and fur and came winging over to the fallen gryphon. Lark lay near her mount. Pitch unshifted a few feet short of the ground and fell, scrambling to her side once he hit the ground. She lay motionless, the surprised expression still frozen on her face. "Lark," he whispered in disbelief, gently touching her shoulder. Then, as the full realization of what had happened dawned on him, he grabbed her and shook her, hard. "Lark, no!" There was no response. Feeling like the world had suddenly decided to crush him like a bug, Pitch gently cradled her head in both hands, then bent over her body and began sobbing.
Hours later, dry as the desert and worn as an old rag, he changed to cat and curled himself around her. As night fell and the rain started again, gentler this time, his mind mercifully fled down into darkness.
* * * * * *
She came to him in the darkness, smiling, but with a touch of sadness. He couldn't think of why she should be sad. Before he could say a word, she was kneeling at his side. "I'm so sorry, Pitch," she said softly. "I was so sure you would be the first one taken. I never wanted to leave you alone."
He reached up to touch her face. "Alone?" he asked, slightly confused. Some part of his mind was trying to tell him that this was all wrong, that she wasn't really here, but he refused to listen. "But-"
"Pitch," she interrupted gently. "I want you to promise me something, babe." She waited for his nod before continuing. "Promise me you'll go on. Don't let yourself pine away just because of me."
He blinked at her. "Lark, I-"
She interrupted him again, this time with a finger on his lips. "We're here, and we're alone," she said softly. "Let's enjoy this night together, hey?" She kissed him then, and he let himself forget everything else. There was only her.
* * * * * *
Waking was a cruelty beyond imagining.
Pitch sat and stared at his dead mate, the morning breeze ruffling his muddy fur. His mind and body felt numb. He couldn't make himself think beyond each particular moment. He didn't want to live without her.
Finally he stood and began walking. After a few dozen steps the walk turned into a run. He didn't look back.
* * * * * *
Alanon knelt next to Lark's body, closing her eyes as he offered a brief prayer to Elune. He scanned the ground, finally spotting the tracks of a large cat heading off into the distance. He sighed, suddenly feeling every one of his ten-thousand-something years.
The air shimmered in front of him, and suddenly Komah was standing there. Alanon blinked in surprise. The spirit-cat was several times larger now, his eyes and markings glowing fiercely. The druid suddenly understood what was happening and bowed his head to the loa-creature.
He heard a faint chuckle in his mind. None of that, please. Alanon raised his head to look the cat in the eyes. "So this is it, then," he stated, rather than asked.
Komah nodded. She was good to me, and I'll remember her always, but my mate's debt is paid and my time with her is now over, he said simply.
Alanon quirked an eyebrow. "That's it? No grief, no tears?"
The cat gave him a look of mild reproach. I am not a person. We don't do things the same as you. I will mourn her in my own way. Do not think to judge me, druid.
Alanon bowed his head again in apology. Then he looked up, a new thought crossing his mind. "And Pitch? Do you know where he's gone?"
The loa blinked at him slowly. Finally, He said he was going home. With that, Komah turned away from the druid and faded away.
Alanon sat where he was for a little longer. Then he levered himself to his feet and changed to a bird, heading back towards Stormwind. The rest needed to hear what had happened before he set off after Pitch.
* * * * * *
His sisters and Windstar took the news about how he had expected. Shaurria, of course, was the hardest hit. She dissolved into sniffles, sitting back a little away from the group. Loren was no better. The young druid simply sat in shock, eyes wide but unseeing. Windstar and Jahira sat on either side of him, trying to provide reassurance.
Kel was the first to speak. "Now what do we do?" she asked her brother.
Alanon sighed. "I have to go after him, there's no question of that. But I have to go alone." He looked at the others firmly. "We have no idea what he's feeling like right now, and I want to take no chances."
The others agreed, Kel grudgingly, and he turned to go. He hadn't gone far when he became aware of Shaur dogging his heels. He looked at her sternly and opened his mouth, but she gave him a look of mute appeal, and what he had intended to say died in his throat. He turned and went on, permitting her to follow.
* * * * * *
Ashenvale was much changed from its "glory days," as the humans liked to call it, but it was still home. Alanon kept his hope buried deep as they approached the weathered house. Pitch may have moved on by now, or he could be in no shape for them to be safe around him, but he was Alanon's brother. He had to try to do something.
There was no sign of the druid around the house, and Alanon felt his heart sinking when he finally spotted a dark shape at the edge of the clearing. Pitch was sitting still and silent, his tail curled around his feet, looking out into the trees. Shaur gave a wordless cry and launched herself at him before Alanon could stop her, but all Pitch did was turn to nuzzle her as she threw her arms around him. Alanon approached more slowly.
"Shaur," he said quietly. "I know how you feel, but I need to have a word with him, okay? In private." The little druid nodded as she wiped her face, then turned cat and trotted back to the house. Alanon sat down next to Pitch.
Pitch spoke up softly before Alanon could say a word. "I see her in my dreams. I can still feel her next to me." He turned to look at him briefly before returning his attention to the forest. "How do you deal with it?"
Alanon was glad that he still spoke clearly, and he at least sounded sane. He answered slowly. "You remember the good parts. The bad parts will come as well, but they will stop eventually. And then... the good parts won't hurt as much, and you'll know you're on the way to healing."
Pitch took a deep, shuddering breath. "Do me a favor, brother," he said softly. "Take care of Loren for me. And don't come looking for me, or let anyone else try. If I'm able, I will come find you."
Alanon didn't like the sound of what he was saying. "If you're able? Pitch..."
Pitch turned to look at him again, and Alanon felt his heart fall at the sight. Pitch's eyes were empty of everything but pain, balancing barely on this side of madness. Then Alanon saw something else, and his blood turned cold. Something else looked at him through Pitch's eyes, something feral and wild. He realized that Pitch had released the cat.
"Pitch, no," he whispered. "Don't do this."
Whatever sanity was left in Pitch's eyes was slipping away, even as he watched. "I don't really care, Alanon," he replied. "I don't want to live anymore, not without her. Maybe with time that will change, but for now this is the only way."
"Pitch, please," Alanon said desperately. "You know what they'll do if they-"
Pitch stood up abruptly, cutting off the rest of the sentence. "Goodbye, Alanon," he said. "Gods willing, I will see you again someday." He started trotting, heading into the deep woods.
Alanon watched him go. "Goodbye, little brother," he whispered, although he was no longer sure if it was his brother he was speaking to. "Elune guide your path." He felt Shaurria come up to stand beside him, and they both watched the big black cat as he disappeared into the trees.
Shaurria broke the silence. "Should we go after him?"
Alanon was silent for a long minute. Finally he shook his head. "We can't help him, little one," he told her. "He needs to do this himself." He put one arm around her and started guiding her back to the house. "Come, let's go home."
* * * * * *
The cat was free- really, truly free- for the first time in its existence. It hunted when it was hungry, slept or wandered when it was not. It guarded the territory it had staked out, driving out the rival predators it found. Sometimes, rarely, it remembered the elf it had once been. But the elf had been hurt badly, and had gone into hiding to wait for healing. He rarely bothered the cat, so it was able to do as it wished.
Everything was not perfect, of course. On occasion invaders came to the cat's realm, sometimes stopping to hunt and sometimes simply passing straight through. Not animals, though- people. The cat would watch them, angry at the intrusion. It wanted to attack them, to drive them off or kill them, but something held it back each time, so it only watched until they left.
And sometimes the cat had dreams of another elf, a female with a pretty face and laughing eyes. But the dreams were... painful, so the cat shied away from them.
Someday, maybe, the dreams wouldn't hurt so much, and then things would change. The elf might return, and then they would go back. But such things were beyond the cat's comprehension, so overall, it was fairly happy. It hunted, and slept, and wandered, throughout the Ashenvale forest.
For anyone wondering, Loren is Pitch and Lark's son. Yes, I know she's supposed to be barren, but there is actually some RP starting soon (I hope) that may change that. So since this would be in the unspecified future anyway, I figured that it would have worked. Hence Loren.
And naturally he would be a druid. His father and half his aunts/uncles are all druids, so why not?