Author: Juxian Tang
Disclaimer: No infringement of copyright is intended.
Summary: Gathering story
Notes: the quotation is from William Shakespeare's "Antony and
Cleopatra", act III, scene XIII.
Thanks to Awena for infinite patience and support! I would be lost without you,
my dear friend.
I am sorry. I am not strong; you thought I was - and there was time when I
thought it, too. But I lost too many - and every one of these losses wore out a
bit of me - until almost nothing was left.
I know it is normal for us to outlast; I am not the only one who has to live
with it (although speaking about the only one hits absurdly close to the aim
now) - so, there is no reason to blame life for what is my failing. But the
truth is that my limit of resistance almost ran out. I think I can't handle
losing any more.
It was going on for years. I already had something fractured in me when we
met; but then I thought it would mend. You were the one who could mend it, no
matter how reluctant to admit it I was in the beginning. And eventually you did
do it, as soon as I gave you a chance. You made me feel everything was as it
had to be; made me whole again.
Only it was probably too late because we had so little time together, so
little time that meant so frighteningly much for us.
Then it came.
The road is empty but I drive carefully trying not to forget about the
left-side traffic. You are sprawled on the seat next to me, your body chilly
and angular as usually in the mornings but your shadowed eyes are grave and
intense. You don't look at me at all, you look at the dunes and the hills
Do you wonder why it has to be here where everything will be finished? I
did. Perhaps it is the beauty of this place - fragile, unpretentious and
addictive - that made him choose it. Anyway, he can choose. He is the last one
except us. And he waits for us here.
I didn't know it would be like this. Well, I didn't think much about it at
all, not during last months, anyway, when I was just too happy. And at first,
when we still could deny it, we did our best not to let it enter our lives.
Others fought but we secluded at the barge, having each other in our arms.
Well, at last we had to admit it all the same, there was nothing else left.
I remember how vulnerable you looked then, on my bed with your arms folded
around your knees, wrapped in the blanket, your hair the usual mess, and your
lower lip was slightly down and pouting - as if life was so mean specially to
disappoint you. It looked childish - but your eyes were serious and sad - and
"I stopped to believe in it two thousand years ago," you said.
The Gathering. Local Apocalypse. About 6 milliard people won't notice. Just
the personal matter of those who had special relations with death for too long.
Amanda... It was a shock when Joe told me about her. I never thought she
would be one of the first; she was strong... and smart, she knew how to
survive. It happened somewhere on the other end of the world - and I felt so
bitterly robbed that I couldn't see her just one more time, would never see her
again. But later I thought that, maybe, it was good that she had left, that there
had been these thousands of miles between us. Because what if I had to cross
the swords with her... because I can't say I wouldn't do it.
Do you know - the moment when I understood it was the right time for us to
part. To run away from each other, hoping that, maybe, it would be somebody
else who would solve the riddle for us. Now it is too late. We would be driven
together anyway. Just like now we are driven to the only other one who stays.
It is wrong that someone has to come to the Gathering. It comes to us
Remember Gregor? He was not evil, just broken more than some others. I had
fought him once and hoped that I had spare him. There was a flicker of sanity
in his frantic eyes when he attacked me - and do you know what I saw there? It
was sorrow. He didn't want to do it.
And this sorrow mirrored in your eyes when you had to kill Steven Keane. I
know you remember his trapped look when he stood between us. He had hated me
for ages; he probably had no fewer reasons to be angry with you. But do you think
he would ever return if not the Gathering?
The Gathering. Old resentment re-surface and old pains hurt again.
Everything that can drive us together and throw us into the fight. Do you think
I wanted to kill Kiem Sun? Or Walter? Or Annie?
Nobody could be spared.
They all are gone: Cassandra, Gina, Robert, Grace, Michelle, Ursa, Carl
Robinson, Kyra, Katya... Frail and strong, young and experienced, kind and
violent. The ones I didn't see for years - now I don't have to wonder where
they are. All dead.
And do you know? For the first time I felt somehow glad that I had killed
Richie. Because, maybe, I would have to do it anyway - but this time in my
Could we stop it? How could we stop it if the point of what happens is that
we don't want to stop it? This mental disease corroding our brains that turns
our affections into hatred made my friends kill my other friends. It made me
kill those I never thought my enemies. It makes me crave to feel your
Quickening ripping through my body.
I already lost almost everybody I knew. But what is left for me, of me -
there is one thing I can't ever stand. I can't lose you.
On the ferry you grabbed my jacket and pushed me against the rails. Your
face was so white and swept with hatred as you hissed at me. It was just the
map I forgot to buy! It was just one more time during last weeks when you gave
in to your outbursts of rage... sometimes slamming the door behind yourself -
or hurling a string of remarks, caustic and rude, at me. You didn't try to
reach for you sword yet. Yet.
But sometimes it comes to my mind that I don't need to wait until you reach
for it - because I always can reach for mine first.
I looked in your narrowed eyes and read hatred in them - and the truth was
that it didn't shock me but something in me echoed to it eagerly. And I thought
I could knee you in the groin and throw you on the ground, hit you heavily
enough to knock you out - then I would have time to yank out the katana and
take your head.
The image was intoxicating. I licked my lips drawing them apart in a cold
smile - and you stopped abruptly. There was fear in your eyes, fear and guilt,
because you started something you wanted to stop but didn't know how.
I pushed off your weakened hands from my jacket and you stepped away from
me, not turning away until you reached the car. There was dismay laying on your
features as you shook your head without looking at me. You locked the door. I
didn't move after you, didn't say anything. I looked at your pale profile
behind the glass - and then I turned back to the rails.
I couldn't kill you. Repeat it, MacLeod! I couldn't. But the truth was that
I could - and I will - and there will be nothing to stop me. If you don't kill
me first, that is. And will you?
Grey water was sliding backwards under my feet and the splashes of little
waves hit my face. I breathed in the moist air and it felt icy and thick,
filling my chest - but I couldn't try to take it for the vast coldness that
spread inside me.
It was when the idea came to my mind.
* * *
The north coast of Devon is empty in this time of the year. The hotel is on
the cliff that cuts deeply into the dunes but they are impossible to see now,
the same as the pale-yellow sandy beach turning into the dim sea far away. The
fog, thick and white and wooly, covers everything.
There are preciously few people at the hotel. The buzz warns us about the
other one - and for once we don't need to wonder who else it can be. He is a
tall handsome man with a dark face. We don't nod, don't introduce ourselves; it
is not necessary any more, so much everything is clear. He gives us a measuring
look and I can't help thinking how many lives of those I knew are written
behind him. Does he wonder how many of those he loved I killed?
You know - now when we face him, I feel peace. I know it is the same with
you, too, I can see how this small tension that made your movements stiff, this
edginess in your eyes is gone. In our room you snort at my remark about taking
off your boots and toss the pillow at me and your eyes are like crescents of
amber, light and laughing.
With him around we are not locked on each other any more; we don't have to
fight ourselves not to fight each other. We see the enemy. And do you know? I
almost love him, whoever he is - because he is the last barrier between us;
because he is the one who gives us a little more time to be together.
Just a little more time before we part.
We meet him again in the dining room; it is the only place around to dine,
so, it is inevitable. The wood is cracking in the open hearth and there is
slight scent of melting resin filling the room. The wine casts a flash of red
on your pale face as you bring the glass to your lips. You are playing with
silverware, the long bony fingers lazy, casual. It gives me a small pain in my
chest to look at them.
Soon I will not be able to look at them any more.
kiss them kiss your hands hold you never let you go live for me please
live my dear never called you that never told I love you never never will
Peace. I want to feel it and I set my mind on feeling it. We still have
enough time, enough for almost anything. For a dinner, a walk, a kiss, a silly
fuck, a vow of faith. The decision is made.
You can't see him. He is sitting at the hearth, behind you. But I see him
smiling and dropping his napkin and showing the number on his key, they have
these old-fashioned brass keys in the doors. It looks ridiculous but we
understand each other.
"When?" his lips articulate.
You take me outside after the dinner. The dusk is coming early in these days
and the hotel is the only lit-up place but even it has just a few windows
aglow. The mist is all around, we are inside it and it is prickly with tiny
cold drops of water. You wrap yourself in the coat tighter.
"Let's reconnoitre for tomorrow?" you ask. Not a good idea, is it?
You know your teeth are chattering? I put my arm around you briefly.
"Let's go inside."
"I want to."
Your face is covered in the thin film of water - and I stop on the stairs to
turn you and wipe it off with my hands. You skin is cold and your eyelashes are
wet as you blink against my palms. I'll kiss your eyes later.
"Have a hot shower. Quickly."
I dial the number while you are in the bathroom.
"Tomorrow at six, on the beach."
He doesn't answer; he doesn't need to. You come out of the bathroom, the
terry robe is white and your skin is pale-pink, with the darkness of your
eyelashes and brows and hair - and your eyes are so light and shining and just
a tiny bit questioning. Do you sense that something shifted? Or do you wonder
if you already have the enemy in your bed now, for the minutes when you were
Our lovemaking is slow at first, my touches almost reverent. I linger with
my hands on every inch of your body, as if my palms could have the memory of
their own, keeping the feeling of you with me. Your skin is cool and my hands
seem so hot on it as I slide them over your collarbones, their lines so ideally
straight under the smooth thin skin. Your eyes are smiley looking at me. You
don't hurry me up, your thin hard fingers with the gentle tips travel over my
back, up to my nape, stir up my hair. You don't push my head down but you open
your mouth slightly and lick your lips - and I wish I couldn't stop looking at
you - but I want to touch you too much. So, I lean down and lock my lips on
You arch towards me, your mouth is merged with mine and your chest is
pressed to mine, your hands start moving feverishly, going down to my ass, and
your hips rise towards me, too, brushing against me in feather-light but
insistent motions. There is more smile than passion in the curve of your mouth.
You sigh softly as I slide down to your chest, your skin is warm but your
nipples are hard, pink and vulnerable - and my mouth is burning and greedy as I
clamp it on one of them. You thrash slightly because I am too ravenous - but
you don't push me away, not at all, your elbows clutch around my head, pulling
it closer as you push your chest up to me. I feel how the muscles of your belly
dance under mine with the tension.
I free myself almost forcibly; your eyelids blink and tremble absently as if
you don't care what you see, as if you are swept off with what you feel. I kiss
your nipple that is very bright now and I chuckle as you try to push to me
The pulse is beating under your skin when I kiss you where your ribs join
above your belly, I kiss you down to your navel and my tongue goes to circle
it. Your hand that is buried in my hair grips tighter and you purr very
quietly. Do I love to hear anything more than that? I spread your legs, about
to bury my face between them - and I kiss the insides of your thighs, so smooth
and white and so sensitive that I feel every little quiver of your body, the
smallest muscles tightening and relaxing under the silk of your skin. Your hand
in my hair trembles slightly and then falls on the sheet, the fingers curled
slackly. I look up to see your face - but I see only the white arc of your
neck, your head tossed back languidly. I breathe in the scent of soap and water
from your pubic hair, trying to sense your own smell under it - and I can catch
it, I know what I am looking for. I kiss the wispy soft curls but I don't touch
the silk of your upright shaft. I crave for it in my mouth - but I am afraid it
will end everything too soon - and you don't do anything to insist.
So, I go for your balls, the lightest dark fur on them like sable as I rub
my cheek against it and you moan something in a low incomprehensible voice,
some words and I understand only one of them - my name.
I would like to lie like this for all my life, tasting you, sporting my
erection. I push my palms under your ass-cheeks and raise your ass slightly and
trace along your perineum to your tiny shut opening. I can feel it pulsing as I
touch it with my tongue.
Your fingers reach to me again, you brush them against my face that is
buried in your groin, pat my hair almost too lightly. I lick you, just circle
around your anus, the tender skin is so soft there - and when I dart my tongue
inside it, you push towards me involuntarily, your palm on my temple goes
You are opening for me as my tongue is going deeper and your entrance
slackens with my spittle. You are warm between your legs but it is hotter there
and the tight ring clamps on my tongue as I thrust it in. I want to lick you
inside, to get every bit of your taste - and as I do it, the tiny movements of
your taut body tell me that I do it right.
I wish I could taste you forever, have your trembling legs against my
forearms, feel the light musk blend of your groin. Then you shudder, the hand
hooks on my hair almost painfully, tugging it, as your cock twitches spurting
the white liquid over your belly. I gasp. The sight is so enticing that I can't
help it - I feel my own balls going up and shooting, without me even touching
myself, over the sheets between your legs.
I tremble holding you. Your body gets heavy as you relax but I am slow
lowering you down and meet your half-closed contented eyes, smiley again. I can
see my reflection in them as I lean to you. I try to let you go as little as I
can; my fingers touch the strings of white on your belly and I put them in my
"Did anybody tell you not to pull to your mouth everything you
see?" you ask me in a faint laughing voice.
Do you want me to let you go? I can't let you go. I push my arm under the
small of your back and lick you belly, cleaning your sperm from it. Your taste
- how can I take it with me? I know I can't but I still try. You tug my head up
to you, lazy as you are, and kiss my mouth slowly, your arms move gently,
pulling me over you, covering yourself with me. My spent cock is wet and sticky
as it touches your belly.
"Heavy?" I ask breathing against your cheek. You shake your head
bravely. Your fingers glide against my back again, as if you are touching the
strings. Your eyes get wistful. It hurts to see it; I know the reason and I
don't want to see it.
trust me please please forget it for now don't worry I made my mind I'll
take care I know what to do
Shall we make more sex? Mind-blowing sex because it is the only thing that
will make you stop thinking. The night is long, we have time for it. And you
won't have to wonder how many nights like this we still have. You comply
eagerly when, after a while of resting, I rise on my elbows over you and lock
your face in my palms to kiss it. Your cheeks flush slightly as always in these
moments. Your passion is almost somnambular as you melt into me, opening for me
completely - but only completely can be enough for me.
never never enough
How can it be enough? There is so much more I want from you. I want to
repeat everything, every night we had together for these months. I want to feel
your mouth on my cock. I want to see your absorbed expression, your whitening
lips when you speed up fucking me. I want your silky cock in my hand as your
jerk off mine at the same time. I want to see how you push your fingers up to
your ass and tweak your nipples with the other hand and your eyes are laughing
and teasing as you look at my shaken face. You know how I love to look at you.
Yes, you know it. Your eyelids are too heavy now but I know you feel my eyes
on you as I slowly enter you. Your passage is opened for me and the entrance is
smooth. Your long arms are like boughs wrapped around me, holding me close to
you - and my movement inside you soft and easy, just the angle shifting
slightly until I find the most impressive one and can feel every my stroke
reverberating through your body.
You know your mouth is quivering as if you are going to cry, a weepy child -
and I bend down to kiss the trembling lower lip, my own smile is just
transcended tears. I wish I could leave something inside you, something that
your body wouldn't dissolve.
But, maybe, in the end - in the very end - you will have something of me.
Later I settle you against my chest, in the crook of my arm, your head on my
shoulder. Your hair is slightly wet and I kiss it again, can't stop kissing all
of you. I don't want to switch off the light. The night is long and I want to
look at you. But I do switch it off when I see how your eyelids flutter. I can
feel you, after all. I know that even in my sleep I will feel you - because
there is so little to feel left for me.
* * *
The fog is white and fluffy behind the window. The glass is outlined with
the slight trace of hoarfrost. You shiver when I untwine my body from yours
carefully. I hate to leave you to be cold like this, even though I pile the
blankets over you. Your narrow hand appears over the edge of the blanket
pulling it closer and you shift minutely settling more comfortably. Poor dear
of mine, you are always cold, the world seemed to be warmer to you when you
Who will warm you now?
Your face is so startling young like this, so innocent - even though I know
that nothing could be farther from the truth - that I feel scared to leave you.
I stand still, with my heart sinking painfully. If only I could kiss you once
more. I know it is silly. I know that once more won't help, I will still want
for once more.
don't want to leave you don't want to leave you don't
I have my cap in my hands when you suddenly move and your eyes blink
sleepily. I need to disappear before you see me - but I was standing too close
for too long, letting myself look at you - and your eyes snap open when you
register what you see.
"Where are you going?" your voice is slur and disobedient even
when your eyes are fully awake.
"Jogging," I smile apologetically. But you look at my jacket and
then you look to where our swords have to be and you don't see mine.
I wish I didn't have to do it.
Your eyes widen when you see the gun in my hand. The silencer makes the shot
just a clap in the almost empty hotel.
Bad, MacLeod, bad! The flow of blood runs sluggishly from the hole in your
chest and soaks into the sheets. Your body is listless and I cover you again.
So, I can kiss you once more. Your mouth tastes coppery and I feel a pang: it
is not your taste I would like to have with me. But I can't help it.
I am a little late. I know he is waiting for me and the buzz leads me
through the fog. I don't know him - he can be a smart one who will leap at me
from a shelter - and my katana is in my hand, on the alert, as I walk, watching
for a shadow flashing in the whiteness. All these times when I waited for an
attack - I must have thought that it could be the last time. But to know
definitely that it is the last time...
the last one the last one I can't it is for you not for me
The fog blinds me. Then he jumps and I parry and I hear his growl. His face
is dark but his teeth flash. I know what he feels - the relief - I feel the
same relief, too, the satisfied desire of fighting that is probably stronger
than the desire of making sex could ever be.
Do you know - he is not so good, after all. It must have been not only
fencing skills that made him come to the finish. I would be able to take him
off. And you will be able to take him off. You will do it. You
will do it for me, won't you? Even though I failed you.
I parry. He cuts my arm and with the next movement I cut him, too. The smell
of blood gives a tang to the freshness of the air. His dark figure swirls in
the fog. I plunge forward and he parries me.
I know there were some who thought that I was going to make it, to get the
Prize. There was time when I thought it myself, when I didn't care. But now I
know I can't. I think I was never supposed to. I can't see you dying. And I
can't put the weight of killing me on you.
There was time when it seemed hopeless for me but I found the way. And think
about it - when everything is over, I will be with you again. The same as all
others. I will be in you. Even if you ever want to get rid of me.
believe in that
I wish I could thank him for being between us when it still was not too
The joy of fighting carries me away. The sound of the swords clashing is the
music and our bodies dance in the fight almost as if coil in love. The frozen
smile on his lips mirrors my own and I know he recognizes it, too. And I am
almost gone too far into this harmony when I feel the buzz.
You heal too quickly, old man. You hear the clanking of our swords and you
approach us - and that is why I have to hurry. Now, while the fog is too thick
for you to see.
I drop my hand - and his sword thrust in my chest with full force.
no no no oh how hurt how hurt too late
The next time I do fight, I'll make death love me; for I will contend even
with his pestilent scythe...
I cry out as he pulls the sword out of me and I slump on my knees, unable to
stand. I will never stand up again. Blood is thick and salty in my mouth and my
chest is bursting with pain and for some reason it is red I see.
But even through this red I see you emerging from the fog, the sword
dangling in your hand - and you stop abruptly, looking at me, your face is a
mask of despair. Please don't! I didn't want to hurt you. You do know it.
I am going to tell myself that you do know it.
You have to kill him, I want to say, don't let anything stop you. I did it
for you to win, not for him. I want you to live. But I don't have
time to say anything. I have time to hear you saying - and it is not a scream,
it is just a gasp and you don't have breath for more:
Then he swings and the world rolls down around me.
I am sorry. I didn't do it for you. I did it for myself.