The Pattern That Was Meant to Be

By Chessidy

"Destiny struggles to reassert the pattern that was meant to be."
--Dean R. Koontz, Lightning

He called me Elly, even then, though that was not my name. The first time we met, he looked at me, and I looked back, and I knew. Even then. When he called me by my true name. But there was a shyness in him, something I hadn’t comprehended. He was a grown man, after all. Why would he be shy? And why around me?

I took him with me one night, when things were nearly at their worst, near the breaking point. I went to his door, and I didn’t let myself be afraid. My fingers curled my hand into a fist, and I knocked slowly, or perhaps it only seemed slow. First one fist, then the other. He opened the door almost immediately. It was a soft knock, so he must have been awake, and I didn’t feel quite so bad about disturbing him. I knew he hadn’t been sleeping lately, though I’d heard that from Krelian.

He never told me. He never would have told me.

Lacan, who shone like a light to so many, was always his own darkness. He lived in midnight because he chose to. I don’t think even I could pull him free. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. I did try, because I had to. What he chose to do and what I had to do…I don’t think the outcome would have been any different.

His hair was in his face. That face, etched like a sculpture—I wasn’t a painter, I wasn’t him, but I painted it across my eyelids every time I closed my eyes, so that I would never have to stop seeing him. This night, there was a somewhat frightened look in his wide eyes, and he looked at me for a moment without recognition. Haunted, or hollow, something—there was a difference in his face. I’d memorized it; I knew. Maybe he had been sleeping.

He lifted his left hand and brushed his hair back, opened his mouth to speak, and I knew he would call me Mother Sophia, as my followers did, as though I were someone to be worshipped. Worship was never what I wanted. I wanted to help; I wanted to heal. I did not want reverence, to be placed upon a pedestal so high that no one could ever touch me. But if it helped people, perhaps it was my duty. But I never wanted to be worshipped. Especially not by him.

So I lifted my hand, put one finger over my lips, to silence him. Then I took my other hand, moved my arm forward, clasped my fingers around his wrist. He looked up at me with an unspoken question, but I’m not sure that my eyes answered him. I had to look away. I had to take him with me.

"Elly," he whispered, not the words I’d been dreading. I brought my eyes to him, then I brought my arm back toward me, drew it against me, and dragged him with. We stood there for a moment, with his fingers grazing my throat, mine wrapped around his wrist.

"Come pray with me."

He nodded.

Our feet were bare. I can see us, walking like ghosts through the sleeping cathedral, speechless but filled with thoughts. But I could not see us then. All I could do was feel, the floor beneath my feet, rough and scraping my bare skin, the feel of my nightgown’s cloth against me, his warm wrist in the circle made by my fingers. I felt human in that moment, more than I ever had. I felt alive. I felt time slow down and swallow me, swallow us both as we moved down the stairs, one step at a time, fast or slow I cannot recall.

But then we were there, at the altar at the back of the cathedral, where I’d led him. I lowered to my knees. I loosened my grasp, let his wrist slide slowly from me, then caught his fingers with mine. He knelt across from me, and I found his other hand; I twined his fingers with mine.

"What do we pray for?" he asked me, and I could tell that he knew it was a silly question, but he asked it anyway. I do not know where the light came from, but there was light, splashing upon his face, upon his shoulders and his hair. Moonlight, perhaps, climbing through an unseen window.

I smiled at him. I bowed my head with my eyes closed, and didn’t answer.

I’m not certain how long we were there. It could have been hours, or it could have been only moments. Moments no longer seemed separate—we no longer seemed separate. One entity. One existence. And it seemed I had been here before. It seemed I had been with him like this before, long ago, on our knees, hands clasped. But then we had not been praying. Then, there had been something wrong, some strange cloud of fear hanging over us. Our fingers woven together, we were at the edge of something terrible. But I was not afraid.

Whether it was hours or seconds later, eventually, he asked me, "Elly—how long have we known each other?"

I looked up at him then, our spell broken, and I knew he’d felt it, too. And he was afraid. Because we were, again, at the edge of something terrible, and it would happen as it always happened. It could not be changed. What was meant to be would be, and we both knew it.

Even if we did not know what it was we knew.

How long had we known each other?

"Forever," I told him, standing as he stood. And my eyes caught then, standing in the shadows, silent and brooding, Krelian. I don’t think Lacan had noticed him. If he had, he’d said nothing. "Let’s go back," I told him, and he nodded. Saying nothing, we returned as we had come. When I had left Lacan in his room, I moved slowly back toward the stairs, feeling afraid for a reason I did not know. I stood there silently, at the top of the stairs, fingers clasped around the banister as they had been clasped around Lacan’s wrist.

He stood at the altar, back to me. But he knew that I was there.

Shivering, I wrapped my arms around myself and ran quickly to my room. But even inside of it, I did not feel safe. For the first time in my life, I barred the door. In the morning, the nuns would ask me if something was wrong, and I would shake my head and say that I’d simply felt afraid.

But it was not Krelian I’d feared.

It was something else.

A premonition, perhaps. I knew that it was almost time. I’d seen him standing there, but it was not an altar I’d felt in front of him. Not an altar.

A grave.

No, it was not Krelian I’d feared.

It was something else.

"Elly! Are you coming? It’s almost time."

Fei. He is the same, and I am the same, but the world around us is different. I still see the light in his eyes when he paints. But he’s painting a different world.

"I’m coming," I say, and I stand. I move away from the altar, and I am not afraid. But I feel it again, that premonition.

I think Fei is right. It’s almost time.

--BJF 6/8/99

Afterword: Okay, so I completely stole the title from Dean Koontz's Lightning. And I do feel bad about that. But I like the title. So it's staying. Anyway, I was sitting at the computer, trying to write part of another fic, when a line from one of the songs from The Last Unicorn popped into my head. (Likely since my sister let me order the soundtrack for my birthday, and it arrived today, and I've been listening to it nonstop.) "Once..I can't remember, I was long ago...someone strange. I was innocent and wise, and full of pain." And that reminded me of Sophia. And so I started typing this thing....And it's pretty short, so, for once, I actually finished something. Wow. Don't I feel productive? (Yeah, except that I only wrote a paragraph on the fic I was TRYING to write.) Then the line from Lightning popped into my head...and presto. Yeah, mmmhmm. Right now you're hating Dean Koontz for causing me to write this, right? Anyway, I think this might become a longer fic. In which case, I would transform this into the prologue or whatever. But for now, I'm pleased with it only being two pages long or however long it is. Chessidy out.

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