Actions

Work Header

Love Undead, Love Immortal

Chapter Text

“Di... hea... sked?”

The ringing sound in his ears just wouldn't stop. It swam around in his head like the passing siren on an ambulance, wailing against the dizzy highways between his brain and his cochlea. The office around him was hazy – not because there was something wrong with his vision, but because his bleary mind glossed over all the details that he knew were there from his past visits. The succulents on the middle shelf of the bookshelf, and the yellow box-knit throw blankets that were folded over the deep blue couch.

“Eli...?” What was that? And then, clarity. Alfrida Larson's steely eyes pierced through to fog to bore into his own blue ones. “Elijah, did you hear what I asked?”

“What?” Elijah Kamski shook his head in realization, blinking rapidly as the angled chin of his therapist came into focus. “I'm sorry, what did you say?” Alfrida sighed gently.

“I asked how you were feeling today,” she spoke again, her voice soft, yet clear and firm. “Have you tried the journal exercise like I suggested?” His mouth felt dry – he – he... He couldn't look her in the eye for too long, so he stared down into his fidgeting hands. The pads of his fingers rubbed over his pointed knuckles. It wasn't the same as when someone else did it – it didn't have the same foreign feeling of small piano fingers sliding across his skin when it's spent too much time over a keyboard.

“...No. I haven't done it yet.” he admitted, pulling his hands apart and sliding one through his greasy dark brown hair.

“Is it that you aren't sure how to do it, or that feel that you can't do it yet?” asked Alfrida.

“Look, I just forgot, 'Frida,” he grumbled. Alfrida nodded, but didn't react to Elijah's frustration. He wasn't surprised – he was hardly the first person to come in for grief counseling. “...Sorry. I just don't feel like writing. It uh...” She egged him on, able to push him to speak while barely moving a muscle. “It was too hard. Reminded me of her.” Alfrida waited a moment before leaning forward in her plush lounge chair.

“Could you tell me more about that, Elijah?” A glint of light flashed past his face as she pushed her red glasses up. “You don't have to if you don't want to – we can focus on something else.”

“No, it's okay. It's just... I used to write letters to her all the time,” said Elijah. He chewed the inside of his cheeks, blowing a lock of scraggly hair away from his brow. “With me at Colbridge, and Chloe at NYU... She liked the feel of pen on paper. Wanted to have some physical keepsakes before it gets too expensive to send letters back and forth in the future.” His hair was getting longer now, his bangs poked his eyes and the sides slid over his eyes uncomfortably. Chloe would cut it for him if she was here – she was always stressing the importance of frugality, and when Elijah would complain, she'd tease him with a quote that she pulled from one of her books or classes.

Elijah snorted as he thought about Chloe's letters again. It was so old-school, and he laughed about it at first. But now... Her letters were precious. When letters took too long, or when one of them needed a kind word, they'd call each other and spend hours on the phone. Neither of them had many close friends at college – that's what happens when you skip ahead a few grades and make it to University before you're eighteen. Chloe had a slightly better time of it – she was less than a year to being legal, after all, but Elijah wasn't that far into his sweet sixteenth year.

“There are a lot of things I miss about her,” he wiped at an eye. Maybe he could push the tear back in if he wasn't so fucking ham-handed. “It's hard to keep track of what's changed the most.” 'Frida was a sweet lady. She rubbed a nude painted thumb across his forearm. Slow, and kind, and patient.

“I want to try an exercise with you,” she said, reaching behind her to pull a clipboard and piece of paper from her desk. “Let's make a list. I want you to list everything about Chloe that made her unique. One list has everything that you adored. One list has everything that might have bothered you. How does that sound?”

“Yeah – that's,” Elijah swallowed around his dry throat. “Let's do that.”

 

Chapter Text

Elijah started his grief journal. 'Frida hadn't mentioned it at all in the last few bi-weekly sessions. Probably because she wanted to wait until he felt up to writing letters and continuing his therapy outside the office. But he started it anyways. After all, there was no time like the present.

Today, I miss... is how the entries usually started. They were always written neatly, as Elijah had been hard trained by his parents to keep his notes in an illustrative cursive. His words looped softly across the lined pages in his black moleskine.

Today, I miss Chloe's cooking. I miss how she would let her hair down with cooking instead of putting it up, because a ponytail combined with the strong scent of her family's old fried kaszanka recipe gives her a headache. But then when she sits down to eat, she pulls it up into a bun on top of her head like it was a spherical hat.

Today, I called her phone four times so that I could hear her voicemail. “Hello hello, this is Chlo!” is how it starts. “This is Chloe Novak, leave your message at the beep.” I think her parents keep it connected because they listen to it too.

But today, his daily entry was a little different. Because today, he tried to speak to her. He never spoke to her grave like her family members did after the funeral. He never whispered into the corners of his room as if Chloe's spirit floated nearby just to listen. Elijah was an atheist, tried and true. He never bothered to entertain anything like souls, the supernatural, or destiny. Chloe did – she was mildly religious. A Christian with no real denomination – just enough faith to believe, but fairly private, as she kept her prayers and musings to herself and Elijah, who never would have deigned to talk about metaphysics or theology if it weren't for Chloe.

Today, he tried to pray to his late fiancée, because she was his goddess. Elijah Kamski sat in his off-campus apartment, thinking loudly with clenched eyes into his clasped hands. How would he hear Chloes voice again? To look her in the eyes, to kiss her on the lips? If Chloe was right about the afterlife, would he have to wait until he died to pick up where they left off?

“What the fuck are you doing?” asked an annoyed voice. Gavin, his ever so lovely cousin, leaned against the door frame with crossed arms. Although Elijah was a rising senior at the University of Colbridge, Gavin recently finished his sophomore year of high school. And they were born only a few months apart. Gavin ended up moving in with him due to... family circumstances that lead him to get legally emancipated.

“What does it look like I'm doing, fuckface?” Elijah growled back, not moving his face from his interlocked fingers.

“It looks like you're crying, Eli.” Gavin sighed. Elijah's bed creaked under the weight of his younger cousin. “You know, you can take senior year off if you need -”

“It's fine, Gavin,” he cut him off. “I'm fine. Just leave me alone.” Gavin frowned, the skin of his nose wrinkled in frustration.

“...Just stop cutting yourself off from the world,” he lightly shoved the older boy's shoulder. “You need to talk to more people than a therapist and the wall, you dipshit.”

Elijah rolled his eyes. He scrunched up his nose to muscle his glasses into place before hunkering down into his journal again. It felt too awkward to resume his pseudo-prayer to his girlfriend with his cousin in the room – this was private and Gavin didn't need to witness it. The soft peal of Chloe's voice tiptoed on the edge of his imagination. There was something that he knew he should be getting from her – a... a word, a sign, something! Nothing that she'd told him directly, but a suggestion... a peaceful tip onto the scales of his attention and fervor.

He shook his head as the harsh light of the desk lamp burned into his eyelids – exhaustion pulled on him neck and brain but he knew there was no point in trying to sleep. Gavin opted to lie on his bed anyways, since Elijah's room was decidedly lacking in terms of seating space.

“Can I help you?” he questioned Gavin in annoyance. “I'm trying to think here.”

“You're muttering again.”

“That's what I do when I think, Gav,” Elijah moaned. His wrists popped as his hands waved around in the air, their forms stuttering under the soft yellow light. “Geniuses are weird. Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu held his breath underwater and Tesla did toe exercises. It's normal to not be normal.” Gavin sighed, but otherwise didn't say anything. Mattress springs sang under the teenager's shifting form as stretched his limbs across the plush queen-size.

“...Whatever,” he grumbled. “Prick.”

“Jerk.”

The gold fountain pen drifted lazily across the dotted graph-patterned pages, wasting ink as if each cartridge was infinite. It wasn't long until Gavin dozed off – on a bed that wasn't his, no less. Without looking, Elijah knew that Gavin rolled to the left side of the bed. It was two birds and one stone – the left side was his cousin's favorite, and he didn't have to look at dearest Eli while he mumbled and scribbled in his notebook. (The left side was also Elijah's favorite, and he knew that Gavin intended everything – including taking his favorite side – as a “fuck you.”)

Today... He asked Chloe what she missed most. Was she at peace with her death, or did she wade into the rivers of Styx and Acheron to swim back to shore, her thighs battered by the water that Charon slid his boat across? He couldn't know. Elijah turned off his desk light, relying only on the standing lamp in the opposite corner of the room. His eyes screwed up into tight wrinkles as the fading heat of the lightbulb searing a red glow behind the eyelids.

“I'm so stupid...” he whispered to himself. Maybe to Chloe. What was the point of this prayer? Of calling out to someone who you knew couldn't hear you? She was dead and in the ground, and he couldn't pretend to believe in something he's never bothered to entertain except for philosophical discussion with his professors and semi-colleagues.

It didn't matter if Chloe was an angel now. Or some sort of spirit that hung onto his every word. In the end, the dead don't talk.

Elijah stalled his pen.

The dead don't talk.

But that didn't mean that Chloe had to stay dead.