Character: Mal with a little Zoe
Author: shanaqui/edenbound (ficjournal)
Theme: Painfic, #6 "The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath."
That's it, then.
Mal moves his foot quickly when he realises he's standing on a corpse's hand -- not creeped out, exactly, but at the same time not wanting to keep standing there even it can't possibly hurt a dead person. A few metres away -- a few rows of dead bodies away -- Zoe straightens up, pushing her hair out of her face and giving him a look. Once upon a time, it'd've been a smile, but now --
He volunteered for the army because it was the right thing to do. So he'd thought. He'd thought that words and arguments could do nothing against the slow creeping influence of unification, but now he stands on the battlefield and knows that war didn't work either. It's taken him this long to realise it. All this long hard slog, the wounds and the dressings and the people dying, killed by him and for him and beside him, and it means nothing. Even that didn't seem as real and immediate as standing here in a field of dead.
All that was a struggle to survive, and now what's left...
The man coming towards him fought for the Alliance. Mal might even have shot at him once or twice. But now he grins the empty thing that passes for a greeting these days and steps over a corpse to meet the man. "There a problem?"
"One of your men told me that you're willing to share with us."
They've both been abandoned here. Mal ain't as Independent as he was, and he's willin' to bet this guy ain't as Alliance as he was. For now, here, they'll meet in the middle.
"What've you got?"
"Precious little. A few prisoners from your side, some food, water 'n' supplies."
The man nods. Mal motions for Zoe to come over and together they walk with the man who fought for the Alliance, walk through the field of death, and talk supplies and releasing prisoners, living and continuing, when inside, Mal would just like to lie down and give in to the feeling of numbness that's been in his fingers and toes since the first chilly night here, the feeling that slowly spread inwards as the death toll spread outwards.
Zoe's voice is gentle. "You okay, Mal?"
"You know I ain't," he says, simply, and passes her one step to kneel down and close the eyes of just one more dead man on the field.
It hurts more, chills deeper, for every day they live among the dead.