AN: So, I've recently gotten back into writing. That's pretty good. I'm not ready to dedicate myself to any larger project, but I am writing quite a few short stories and drabbles. This story, right here, will be a collection of drabbles that can't really stand on their own. They all take place within the same universe and will probably connect to each other in some way.
Each chapter with have three short drabbles each. Anything I think might be confusing I'll explain at the very end of each chapter.
(These are all cross-posted to my DeviantArt, JR-Max, and my AO3, JRMax.)
On their way to the Great Spyre, Cyrus and the Savior of the Spiral pause to take in the devastation of Dragonspyre.
"That used to be an antique shop."
The words left Cyrus's lips on their own volition, and it was a single, solitary movement as he nodded toward the skeleton of a building. Only three of its walls remained, all of them exterior, the stone that made them scorched black by raining fire. Aedan and Jacqueline exchanged curious glances before walking over to the ruin in a fruitless search for...something. Anything.
Brecken lingered at his elbow, her cold aura a welcome reprieve from the oppressive heat that now dominated Dragonspyre. She was silent for a few moments, appraising as she watched her friends pick through rubble.
"Do you miss it?" she asked eventually, frowning when Aedan seemed to grimace at something unpleasant. Probably bone fragments, or charred remains of a corpse newly discovered. Cyrus tried not to think too hard on what it might have been.
"I suppose," he said. Brecken inclined her head slightly to the right, probing. He elaborated, "I have no love for Dragonspyre, not after my mother passed, but still. There used to be buildings here. Lives. Color. Now it's…" he waved a dispassionate hand around.
Brecken understood. She didn't nod or say a word, but she understood, and something twisted in Cyrus's heart. He looked away from the desecrated building his charges looked through and turned toward the street itself. The stone that made the road was splintered and cracked, upturned and desecrated. The buildings that remained were burned, inhospitable things, and there was nothing where homes and shops had once been in the distant memory of his youth.
He remembered parents and their children, neighbors and their pets. He was certain that spot once had the house of an elderly couple, the ones who sat on the porch and passed out cookies to students as they came and went from school. He'd liked that couple. And that spot over there had some of Sylvia's favorite flowers; Malistaire would pick some for her before every date, without fail.
He hadn't loved Dragonspyre, but it had been his home once. Now it smelled of sulfur, and the sky would never be blue again.
*I Love The You That You Hate*
Cyrus, against all odds, has become friends with the Savior, and he notices something's not quite right with her.
There was a pattern, Cyrus was beginning to notice.
Out in the public in the light hours of the day, Brecken was energetic, happy. She socialized and handled the praise of her heroism with gracious and humble aplomb, and she walked like a woman who could take over the universe if she wanted to.
But then she came to his home, where she studied and researched ancient texts at his side, and suddenly she was a collapsed young girl with tired eyes and frown lines, studious and jarringly silent. He hadn't noticed it at first, but now it struck the conjuror like a kick to the teeth whenever he saw her curled in on herself, a little ball wrapped in a blanket sitting on his couch.
It was a shocking contrast to say the least. It made him wonder.
"Is this how Marci usually is?" he asked her one evening at dinner.
The teenager looked up from her meal and blinked. "What?"
"Whenever you pay your visits, you're so much quieter than when you're out dealing with the public. I was just wondering if this was how you were before everything happened."
Brecken considered it for a moment, eyes lidded thoughtfully. "No," she said, her voice soft and distant. "No, Marci's not - I'm not usually like this. But it's hard being Marci when it's Brecken everyone loves."
There didn't seem to be anything to say to that, so Cyrus settled for extending a hand out and clasping it over her own. She gripped at his fingers tightly, like a child afraid of being pulled away.
*Only By Calling Your Name Did the World Have Meaning*
The Savior reflects on why she does what she does.
Cyrus's home smells of books and tea. It's grounding, really. Warm and familiar. It's…
Well, it's good to remember what I'm fighting for.
Most people think I fight for altruistic reasons, you know. They think I fight in order to protect the lesser man from a greater evil, but I don't. Not really, anyway. I fear the moment that I start telling myself that, then I'll actually start thinking the men I fight for really are lesser. And no one needs a hero with a god-complex.
They think I fight for abstracts, too. Things like peace, and love, and light. More falsehoods. Fighting for abstracts sets one up for disappointment, I've learned, and I don't fight for my friends either (they fight for themselves, now, and doing quite well on that count). I can maybe say I'm fighting for my family, but it's not exactly my family that's in trouble, is it? And I'm not fighting for my home because the Spiral isn't my home. Isn't, wasn't, won't ever be.
But Cyrus has a home in the Spiral. A small one on Cyclopes Lane, humble and cozy, which you wouldn't expect of a man who's so very particular about his clothes. The walls are lined with numerous bookcases as tall as the ceiling, and there's a roaring hearth in the living room with two chairs sitting in front of it (there used to only be one). There's a cluttered office he always says he'll clean out one day but never does, and a guestroom littered with my own trophies and possessions.
There are pictures of Malistaire and Sylvia on shelves and walls, and there are pictures of me alongside them. There's one from my victory party after Malistaire's defeat, hanging by the window. On the mantle, there's a collage of all the times I was mentioned in the newspaper (I'd given it to him as a gag gift, really, but it's sweet that he kept it). And while he thinks I haven't seen it yet, his newest painting was one of the family - his family - complete with Malistaire, Sylvia, himself...and me.
They're subtle reminders, each of them, that I'm not as lonely as I think I am, and I'm not as homeless as I sometimes feel, because Cyrus has wordlessly swept me up into his lineage, even though he knows I won't stay forever.
So, if I fight for anything, I fight for Cyrus's home.
(I fight for the Drakes.)
** Brecken Winter's real name is Marci McAllister. She had it changed upon her induction into Ravenwood to mark the start of her new life. Only Ambrose, the professors, and a select few others know her real name, and Cyrus is the only one of two who actively refer to her as Marci.