If I Can't Die
Excerpt from The Alarian Crisis
By Jessica Levine

Slaphrase and the like, as well as all characters, unless listed below, are copyright by the author. Please do not use them without permission, alter them, or submerge them into liquids. If you have a question about use of one of these characters or ideas, feel free to contact the author via e-mail (QueenElfEmily@aol.com)

Ahmash approached Wendel and put a gentle hand on the trembling elf's shoulder. Wendel only slightly turned his head to glance at his friend. His face hung heavy from lack of sleep, from battling his mind and body - from tears unshed.

"You're giving him so much, Wendel," Ahmash spoke softly, his rough Alarian accent making it hard to hear in a whisper. "Its about time you let yourself bare emotions."

Wendel shook his head slowly, but dared not speak, afraid the dam would break. Putting a hand on Jacen's forehead, he let out a low and long sigh. The boy's fever had only begun to rise day after day. With the loss of his soul, his mage form, and part of his body, Jacen's levels of sanity seemed to be fading rapidly - as were all the Slaphrans.

Suddenly, Jacen's eyes opened in a feverish haze, and he gently pushed Wendel's hand away. Sitting up slowly, Jacen pulled his long braid away from his body and wiped the sweat away from his forehead. The dream.. a dream so real he could feel the hot breath of those in it on his bare neck.. Everything he had known for his short life had been ripped from his hands, ripped with his flesh, leaving only the bare bones..

"Jacen.. lie down."

Wendel's hoarse voice had no effect on the boy. He started ahead, his wine-red eyes piercing holes into the wall.. then suddenly, jumped up in a flash and grabbed the first thing he could see.

A dagger. T.K.'s dagger. Her prize weapon she had crafted herself. It would have to do. Jacen grabbed it between clumsily clawed fingers and held it.. gazed at it.. and in less than a second his mind was made up.

"Jacen!" Wendel shook his hair away from his eyes, the tears still refusing to fall, but the panic rising. "Jacen, what are you doing?"

Don't think, Jacen told himself, trying to hold his shaking hands. Don't think about it. Just let it happen..

With a loud cry from two people, Jacen plunged the blade into his chest, letting it rip apart his new robes, his pale skin, and the life it shielded. It hurt only for a moment, and he removed the blade slowly, placing his hand there instead, letting the blood drip between his fingers. That's it, he thought, his inner-voice trembling. No more of this pain.

Suddenly, another hand placed over the wound.. a strange one. Jacen looked up slowly into the eyes that matched his own - Wendel's eyes. Wendel once again shook his head, but when he turned back, he had fallen to his own defeat - for this time, the tears fell down his face like the clear water tumbling over the rocks in the falls.

"Jacen, why?!" Wendel screamed between hysterical sobs and tears. His emotions, every ounce of anger, hate, sadness, he had held in since he was transformed were let lose with one slice of Jacen's skin. But most of all, his love. "Why, little brother?!"

Jacen didn't answer, but let out a troubled cry of pain, causing Wendel to howl like an injured animal. With his magic, if he still had magic -- this would be nothing more than a cut received from a jagged rock! A thought and it would be healed.. but nothing this time could stop the flow between brothers' hands and the sobbing that both echoed.

Death, Wendel thought, his mind fuzzy but still able to function. I don't feel death.. surely, Kyu's spirit would have touched by now.. Jacen only let one cry more before he rested his head on Wendel and sobbed like the child he was. Wendel, confused, realized the pain had vanished - these were tears of confusion, of bewilderment. Why..

Wendel pulled his hand away. Bloodstained and tarnished, he knew what had happened had been real.. Jacen had stabbed himself in a final attempt to be.. himself. But.. the pain had vanished from Jacen's face, Kyu had not touched his body..

"Wendel.." Ahmash's soft, sullen, yet pain-stricken voice came up from behind the blue-haired elf. Wendel did not turn, but his ears twitched, showing his ability to listen. "Look.."

Gently, Wendel pushed Jacen away from him to see, and suddenly realized what the boy's sobs were about. Not about being scared of what he did, or being ashamed for having done it..

But rather, upset that the wound had closed without notice, had left no trace of a mark except an already-thin formed scar.. and Wendel shuddered, realizing that Jacen's tears came for a different reason.

They came because he could not die.