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vixys

"the call of the sea, upon deaf ears"

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Oct. 28th, 2011 | 12:17 pm

Title: the call of the sea, upon deaf ears
Fandom: The Eagle.
Characters: Marcus&Esca, plus an OC.
Word Count: 1118.
Rating: 12.
Summary: Marcus doesn’t remember his dreams.
Warnings: pass.
Notes: Written for the Fanmedia Challenge over at ninth_eagle, based on the image of the ocean.





the call of the sea, upon deaf ears


Fever burns across his skin, and Marcus dreams of waves, crashing on the shore.



At heart, he’s a country boy—he’d take a golden, breeze-ruffled cornfield in summer over the sea’s ever-moving wintry plane any day—but, in his dreams, there’s something about the shore, about a beach, sand thick with stones. Land merges into sea under the froth of the surf; white horses surge, out in the depths.

In his dreams, Marcus stands barefoot, ankle deep in chill surf. He spins an eagle in his hand, but it’s not the golden standard that he marched beneath for so little time (dreamed about for so much more). Instead, it’s the wooden toy he’s had since he was a child, an empty effigy, grooves worn smooth by the caress of his fingertips, time after time. It’s warm in his palm; the sea is cool against his ankles.

Waves crest and break in the distance, tossed by the pull of the gods.

The sky is heavy and dark, in the dreamspace, bloated with thunderclouds. There’s a storm coming, held delicately back by the thin line of the horizon, but it won’t break just yet; it’s not its time. Whose time it is, Marcus couldn’t say – all he can do is stand and watch the water, thumb caressing grooves in the bird in his hand. He doesn’t mind.

There’s a ship on the horizon, sails white and fat with wind. He watches it lazily, watches it scud across the whitetops, spray frosting the air around its wooden sides – and it gets closer, closer, approaching faster than any ship built by human hands. He thinks about mortality, and there are only two figures in that ship, clinging to its fragile self.

Water laps around his bare ankles. If he’d care to look, he’d see that his sandals, worn smooth by the miles, are piled atop one another on the beach behind him, tangled around seaweed and each other. They’ve been carried by the waves, around the world and back, and now they’re returned to the beach they set out from, crabs nestling in the leather and salt crusted on the sole, now – and all the time, Marcus has stood on this beach, waiting for the ship that won’t take him home. He thinks he’s aware of this, but he’s not really sure.

The ship’s keel crunches up onto the beach, gouging the earth with the gore of a blade, spreading the sand like a whore’s thighs. The figure on the prow throws Marcus a rope, cries, “Tie us up!” – and that voice is so familiar, oh, Mithras, who is it?

Marcus catches the rope, but there’s nothing to tie it to, so he stands, feet hazy beneath the water. He doesn’t look down. The hemp is waterlogged; it drips between his fingers, and the water is warm and thick. It feels like blood – and if he doesn’t look down, doesn’t think about it, he can imagine himself on the battlefield, drenched in the blood of the innocent. Sword hanging from his fingertips, spring air filling his lungs. Everyone’s innocent, in the end.

The figure on the prow is him. It’s not obvious, not really, because the other him’s cheeks are wrapped in silver, closed in metal; the centurion’s plume nods from his helmet, and his armour gleams under the dull skies (gleams so bright it feels like fire). His lips are smiling, wide and red and gaping. “Come aboard!” he calls, piercing through the wind – and it’s only then that Marcus realises that it’s raining, pouring down, plastering clothes to skin and hair to skull. The storm is breaking. Crabs scuttle beneath the shelter of his sandals; he goes aboard, climbs the ship’s sides like a spider crawling up a wall.

His double helps him aboard, and his touch is firm and slick with rainwater. “Marcus,” he says, warmly, and then, “You look cold.”

“I’m not,” Marcus says, but he knows he should be. He’s burning; he always is.

“True,” his double answers. “But you will be.” And he doffs the helmet, tucks it under his arm. “You will be,” he repeats – and there’s a coldness in his expression, a whisper of foreknowledge in the line of his shoulders, and it blazes. The eyes are green-brown, deep and homely, but the mind behind them glimmers ice-white.

Marcus thinks, He cannot be a man.

Ravens circle in the skies above, dancing with the lightning-cracks. Marcus can’t hear their cries.

He says, “Who are you?”

His double’s expression glitters like starlight. “Question is,” he answers, “who is he?” And he doesn’t look, doesn’t point, doesn’t even shift his laughing gaze from Marcus’, but Marcus knows who he means. After all, there’s only one other person treading these decks, rain-slick and dark.

The other man, Marcus doesn’t recognise, but he’s battening the ship down, slowly and methodically. He’s Briton, Marcus can tell that at least – tattoos are etched across his skin, patterning his arm in swirls of blue. Marcus wonders why, but knows that he’ll never ask, because there’s a defiance in the way his fingers tug at the sheets, in the way he steps across the deck, light as a butterfly, never slipping in the deluge. He faces away; Marcus never sees his face.

The rain pours down, unquenching.

The being that wears his face says, “You’ll understand soon enough.”

“No,” Marcus finds himself answering, quite unbidden, “I don’t think I will.”

His double laughs, and it’s dark and dangerous and so trippingly light. “No,” he agrees, “I don’t suppose you will. You are Roman.”

The man with blue tattoos steps away, into the stormclouds, and he’s gone, vanished into the not-night. Marcus wonders if he blinks the rain out of his eyes, if he dances with the lightning. The ravens shriek overhead, and he can hear them, now, over the crash of the waves and the thunder of rainwater against decking. He doesn’t understand, but, then again, he never really expected to.

“Don’t be afraid of him,” his double says, and he’s touching Marcus’ arm, now, his palm burning hot. “It’s what he wants.”

“Who is he?” Marcus asks.

His double shrugs. “Hope? Honour? Glory? A quick fuck in the night? You decide. Or—” And his lips split in that grin again, teeth white as death. “—let your heart do that for you. odi et amo. People’ll sing that one for years.”

Marcus looks out, looks out at the sea and the land, sand and surf, and sees his sandals, weather-beaten and brine-stained, and watches as the crabs knead the leather into dust.



When he wakes, riddled with frailty in his uncle’s villa, he can taste salt, crusted on his lips.


finis

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Comments {10}

sea-sky

from: vixys
date: Oct. 29th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
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not entirely sure Marcus succeeds at that, in the end Quite. ;D Thank you! ♥

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