Beta: ei ole
Genre: drama, AU, romance, slash
Warnings: hahmokuolema, väkivalta, kiroilu
Summary: To have someone you'll find in every life, every version of your story, means you'll also lose them again and again. To Glorfindel and Ecthelion it will forever mean choosing duty over love.
A/N: Tää osallistuu Tolkien Secret Santa 2017:n, omistettu sian22reduxille!
it always comes down to a choice:
we will both have destiny, duty, glory, death
over old age and happy endings
not because we want to
but because we are able to
Countryside surrounding Tirion was beautiful as ever, even when it rained. Lush green forests, pale grey skies, the steady glow of two trees making every drop of water sparkle like a rare gem. Ecthelion didn’t really care.
He had been out on an adventure since before it had started to rain, and by now the young elf was miserable. There was still many hours till dark, but with the rain he was surely missed at home. But alas, he still couldn’t leave.
Ecthelion wasn’t lost, exactly. He knew that if he walked past the thicket on his right, followed a river to some fields, then followed the edge of the field and forest to a huge lonely rock, he would get to a path that would lead him to the road back home. It would be a bit longer route than trying to walk straight through the forest to the road, but not impossibly so. But alas, he still couldn’t leave.
There was something he had lost and could not find.
He had been so careful when he was shooting his practise arrows, to never aim his shots so he’d lose sight of the arrow even if it missed its target. And he hadn’t, not while practising. Ecthelion was certain of it, he had counted them all before sliding them back to his quiver. Happy with how the shooting had gone, he had wandered on.
And now one was missing. It must have slipped free unnoticed while he ran through the forest, dragging his bow and quiver behind in a rather (what he now had to admit) careless way. So he had begun to walk back the way he had come, but all the trees were really similar and there was no path.
Now when Ecthelion was almost ready to give up, tears threatening to sting his eyes, he heard someone approach. Curiously, he strained to see who it could be, and saw a tall elf walking through the trees. Once he came closer, Ecthelion admired his golden hair and really pretty features.
“Greetings, young one. Is this one yours?” the golden haired elf asked, holding out the practise arrow Ecthelion had lost.
“My arrow!” Ecthelion shouted, before remembering his manners: “Uh... I’m sorry, mister. I greet you as well and I’m just really happy you found my arrow. I’m Ecthelion and I’m ten.”
“Well met, young warrior. My name is Glorfindel and I have seen summer change to winter twenty one times”, Ecthelion’s new best friend said.
“Uhh, hey. Are you busy?” a blond haired guy asked Ecth, trying to get his attention over the reception desk of orthopaedic ward.
Customers without a queuing number were usually the kind of people Ecth would rather throw in the garbage can than be helpful to, but this one seemed to be a bit out of breath and a lot anxious. So Ecth smiled and motioned for him to continue.
“I was looking for the emergency ward but I think I got lost when I took the lift from the parking area,” the guy told him, and Ecth automatically scanned his face and body for a possible injury.
“Are you the one in need of medical assistance or are you here for someone else?” he asked.
“Friend. For a friend. I got a call, must have been fifteen minutes ago, that there was an accident. I ran. They told me to come at once, you know. Urgent. I think he’ll die”, the blond was rambling, not really focusing on Ecth.
It was heartbreaking to see, even after all the patients and families Ecth had helped in similar situations. He reached for a stack of post it -notes and wrote his name and number on the top one.
“I understand. I’ll give you the directions in a moment. Now, what is your name?” he asked, trying to make eye contact with the man.
“Del. Uh, Del Goldflower”, the man told Ecth, finally looking at him properly.
“Hello, Del. I’m Ecth. Here, take this. Now, you need to take the lift one floor down and then follow the yellow signs to left. There should be a reception desk pretty much like this one. They will help you there. There will be crise counselor on call of course, but this is my contact info in case you want to just come sit with me on my lunch break. Text me if you need it”, Ecth told the man, offering the post it -note to him.
Del looked at it with nothing in his eyes, then looked back at Ecth and tried to smile.
The new… thing was all over the yard when Lion first saw it. Golden fur, excited barking and no sense whatsoever of decency. A dog. A puppy dog.
If the foodgivers had gotten him a rival, at least they could have gotten a proper one. Lion looked at it suspiciously, as the newcomer enthusiastically run in circles before spotting him and charging towards him at full speed.
Lion stepped aside and it went right past him in a fumbling flur of limbs. What an utter idiot.
The small foodgiver stepped forward and took hold of the puppy then. It was presented to Lion with its tongue lolling out of its mouth. Lion hissed.
“When I tell you to go, jump and run. I need you to get behind some decent cover so I can land this thing properly. We have one of ours - Helion - there to provide some land support. Anything else you need to know?” Idri shouts the orders over the roar of the atomcycle motors.
She takes the next turn like all the previous ones, with too much speed to be sane and skill like no others.
“All clear”, Glo shouts back at her, his grip on the gun never slipping a bit.
As the bridge draws near, he can almost feel the water rushing from the underground pipes. Atomcycle whines with the stress Idri is putting on it’s engine, air is screaming fire around them. The three drone guards are advancing far enough that the shots aren’t really dangerous, but the moment Idri would slow down to land, they would lose that advantage.
On the other side of the bridge a few ugly, abandoned apartment buildings stand silently waiting for them. Idri guides them closer to the ground, still not losing any of the speed. The bridge is flying past. Glo’s world narrows down to only the most important points of focus: Speed. Pursuers. Target. Gun.
The atomcycle slams to the lowest height of flight with a screeching noise. Idril is slowing down, but they are still going faster than a normal regulation allowed vehicle. They slide sideways to the end of the bridge, drone guards nearing. Glo detaches the magnetic security strap, pulls down the heavier visor. Shots are getting closer. Less than 500 meters to the first building.
“JUMP NOW!” Idri screams, at the same time as the first shot grazes the side of their ride.
Glo jumps. The speed of the atomcycle throws him forward, even as Idri suddenly cuts to the left and takes off at full speed. Ground is not too far away, but it’s covered with rusty crap and broken glass. Glo hits the wasteland with a graceful roll, that still hurts like a bitch.
Gunfire is closing on him, but while he is still getting up he can hear return fire answering it. Finally. Then he just runs, focuses on moving his feet faster and faster, towards the gap between buildings.
Explosion behind him is likely to be one of the droids. Lucky for him it’s still distances away, and when Glo finally reaches the half cover of concrete buildings, he sees the shooter. Wasting no time to search his environment for a better place to hide, he turns around to fire on the two remaining droid guards. One is still chasing after him, while the other flies at top speed after Idri.
Too far away. After a few useless shots Glo puts aside the pistol he started with and begins to unwrap his quantum rifle. The other guy, Helion, is pretty good at this, but he is equally unequipped to handle the distance between them and their targets. Things are starting to get messy, the fight going on too long. The droids will keep out of the range of fire, but only so long.
After some really tense 50 seconds Glo feels the familiar weight of the weapon settling in his hands. Aim. Breathe. Find clarity, see far. Shoot.
The two remaining droids get taken down almost simultaneously. Two explosions rock the sky, framing the atomcycle and it’s driver as Idris turns the bike towards them. Everything is suddenly very silent, and Glo wants to sit down, run a marathon, or fuck someone unconscious. Preferably himself.
“Nice one, boys”, Idri calls as the atomcycle finally comes to a stop next to Glo.
Helion appears from underneath a heat signal cloak, an ugly grey thing he rolls up to a bundle before walking over to them. Glo takes in the other one with more care this time: tall, wears a mismatch outfit of military and mercenary gear with his own modifications, no helmet, goggles, dark hair bound with elastic straps and metal clasps. East Asian, judging by shape of face, skin and hair colour. Male. Dangerous.
“Thanks, Id. Nice driving as always. Hi boss. Damn impressive shooting. Any problems on your way out?” Helion asks, throwing a halfway there salute to Glo.
“The usual. Tu took care of the hacking, so our trail is covered the best we can. For now let’s get out of here. Where’s your transport?” Glo answers with a nod to acknowledge Helion’s greeting.
“We made a temporary entrance a few streets away to an old tobacco shop. We still have time to get there before it closes”, Helion says, gesturing behind himself.
“Lead the way”, Glo tells him.
and here are the bittersweet things
the ones we call endings
the ones we might regret if we had the chance
the ones someone else will sing a song of praise
the same ones
one of us will call a new start
They leave the command room together, walking back to their shared one quietly. Glo closes the door and stands in silence facing it, while Helion sits down on their bed.
“There is still a chance that”, Glo begins, with a voice that hardly sounds like his own.
He doesn’t continue. There are no words, they have no time. Helion sighs, and rises up to walk back to his partner. Carefully, he takes Glos hand in his.
“Tu used to keep us a secret, to make sure that no information about us ever bled to outsiders. We can’t protect ourselves without him. This is the right thing to do”, Helion tells him.
It’s not like Glo doesn’t know that. It’s not like he didn’t know that back when he first chose to cut out his chip, when he decided to become more than just a Citizen. It’s not like he would hesitate to die for their cause.
But sacrificing himself is entirely different from sacrificing Helion so he himself can escape.
Glo breathes slowly, carefully, and raises the hand in his to cradle it close to his chest. They should be preparing, packing what little can be saved, taking up arms. Always running faster, trusting less, shooting better.
“It never seemed too high, the price we pay. I thought anything, everything would be worth it, and, forgive me, I still do. You’ll die or go to prison with your conscious mind erased. And I still believe we are doing the right thing”, Glo says.
There is peace between them, so unlike the panic and chaos in the base around them.
“That’s not quite what I meant, but I’m happy you do. You are our leader, if you lose your faith what is there left for us followers? Dust and horror, dreams to never come true. We sacrifice our dreams so that one day others may live theirs. And I’m thankful, Glo. I love you for sacrificing your happiness, for finding the strength to leave me to do what only I can, so you may do what only you can”, Helion tells him, stepping even closer and touching their foreheads together.
“And I’d never be me if I chose my own heart over duty. Still, I’m sort of terrified. I’ll have to shoot you”, Glo whispers, his voice breaking.
“I’m aware, and I prefer it that way. I trust myself to you, so trusting my body to you is minor. I know you: you won’t hesitate, your aim is fucking perfect, and like hell I’d let anyone else take me down”, Helion smiles.
Glo tries to smile back. Instead, tears finally come spilling over.
Lion always knew when something Was Up with their foodgivers so when each of them except the one that used to be small was hugging and petting Fin, he got worried. The one with no fur was getting all silent and wiping his face, and that was not supposed to happen.
Fin seemed to sense the mood as well, licking faces with care and pushing back to hands petting him. Then the no-longer-small-one came to the room with a collar, and Lion knew.
He meowed rather loudly, to get Fin’s attention. Fin was leaving. Fin was not coming back for a long time. Lion was not leaving. This wasn’t… pleasant. Fin was supposed to be with Lion, so they could sleep together and compare toys.
Fin looked up at Lion. Lion knew Fin loved the sort-of-still-small-if-not-in-size foodgiver the best and would follow him to anywhere. It seemed this would have to happen. Lion blinked once, very slowly, and walked back to his bed.
Fin wasn’t an idiot anymore. He would know what it meant.
“I’m sorry. I’m taking the job”, Del told him miserably.
They stood in silence, watching the river flow, the cars drive by, and all those damned yellow leaves fall and spin in the sunshine.
“We could still try the long distance thing”, Ecth said, more because it needed to be said than because he actually meant it.
Del considered it for a while, tilting his head and playing with the strap of his bag. A dog ran past, chasing after a bright red ball. It was a really nice evening.
“Nah, it’s better this way. You get to keep that goddamned beast of a cat, I get to do my dream job as a captain of the air force. We are going to be miserable for some time, hopefully still be friends at the age of seventy. Like it or not, others need us to be separate more than we need to be together”, he said, turning to look at Ecth.
“Excuse you, Gothmog is perfect. And they say the time to marry for financial benefit is over. I’d say at least the time for financial break ups is still alive and going strong”, Ecth smiled.
“It’s super weird, I feel like I’m not upset enough about this. My heart should be breaking and I should be fighting for you with everything in me. But no, I just feel like this is how we are supposed to end. Incomplete, and waiting for something to happen. Something bigger than just us”, Del answered, taking Ecth’s hand in his.
“Oh you, such a poet”, Ecth teased gently, “ always so dramatic about things. But yeah, I know what you mean. I can’t really explain this, but it’s like this would have happened anyway. Not because I don’t love you more every day, but because there is a script we have to follow. A plot, a quide, a warning or maybe even a song.”
“I know. Now, please. Kiss me once more, love.”
And he did.
The Halls weren’t actually dark, not in the way a moonless night or an underground tunnel might be. It was more the sort of darkness that came with the lack of things to see, the lack of needing to see anything at all. There was no light, there was no darkness. Time and space weren’t quite the same as they were in the world of living, either.
For one taken down by flame and violence, Glorfindel shone too bright. In his steps, the floors remembered green grass and yellow sunlight. In his songs, evergreen trees were in full bloom with gold and silver flowers. In his laugh, everyone could hear clear skies and a challenge.
Yet the soul he stayed by was dim, broken and slow in healing. There was sense of a fire burning deep underneath dark water, memories of screams and smoke fouling the air of a lovely valley clinging to the fëa of Ecthelion.
Some years were spent walking in the memories. A day went by, a night too. An eternity passed with a whisper. And just a moment, perhaps a heartbeat later, it was time.
Námo had summoned them, as there was no use in summoning only one. And as one, they arrived, the bright one who carried the brother of his soul in his thoughts as if they were holding hands.
“The day has come”, the vala spoke.
And that was when they knew it for the first time, they both felt it in the words of the mighty judge. For even as they had once parted in life, they had not yet truly understood what was to happen.
“Yes, my lord. We know now. I will do as you wish, I will carry the duty with no bitterness, no hatred”, Glorfindel spoke then.
“Yes, my lord. We see our path now. I will let him go, and I will bear loneliness, I will wait until the ages of all realms have passed”, spoke Ecthelion.
Námo bent his head briefly, knowing as well what was to be done.
“It shall happen as you have been told. But you shall meet again, for you are one even if you stand apart. Take what strength you may in that, for you will need it. Now, it is time”, the Lord of the Halls spoke, and the power of foresight spoke with him.
Ever the one destined to leave, Glorfindel turned to his friend and love, kissing him for the last time in this form.
He had no words to give, but Ecthelion spoke in his stead. The words were told as if they were still in memory, caught in one clear moment between battle and peace as Gondolin went down in flames around them both. Then and now the moment broke and healed something in them both.
“Go now, and know my soul is yours. Our duties lie apart, but we will meet again.”