Post Storm Breaking, Firesong has a conversation with an inanimate object. Written to the tune of Matchbox Twenty's "All I Need." Characters and situations are taken from the book Storm Breaking and are the sole intellectual property of Mercedes Lackey. Used without permission and for no profit. Wow. It's been so long since I wrote one of those without trying to be funny…
Okay, so the summary is slightly misleading. I was trying to not be redundant. Based strongly on a personal experience, when I lost something very dear to me… And the feeling that Firesong got the brush-off at the end of Breaking with the little powwow that happened on the Moonpaths. Seriously, he doesn't get to talk to dead people? Why not? Whatever… In my world he does. Heh. Enjoy, and review!

"All I Need"

It had been awhile in his world, the real world, but to her time meant very little. She thought it was about time she dropped in to check on him. For all that she was enjoying her rest, things got boring at times. And she had always been a meddler.

Not to mention there was that message that she hadn't ever delivered. There was no time limit on it, but the addendum "as soon as possible" had been implicit. Well, if he wanted it done right he should have delivered it himself, she grumbled to herself, but she knew she would make sure it was heard. She closed her figurative eyes, reached out a metaphorical hand, and brushed against a familiar mind.

She opened those eyes, which felt more real now, and looked around, taking in her surroundings. The dreamscape was generated by a combination of his mind and the very same hand of the goddess that held her here. Everything was green, grass and trees, with the bright shades of flowers decorating all like a dreamer's vision of a perfect Vale. Perfect except for one thing; it was empty of people. All people, except one. Ahead of her, a waterfall fell into a pool of rippling silver. A figure sat beside the pool, his knees pulled to his chest and his face buried against them. His hair fell like a curtain of silver all around him, shrouding the lines of his body.

"Hello, boy," she said.

He jerked in surprise, but did not speak or make any other movement.

She sighed. "I'm sorry." They both knew that it was not surprising him that she apologized for. If any such thought entered his mind, the deep sorrow in her voice dispelled it.

He looked up then, looked at her, his face revealed to her, and still he said in a soft voice, "It was not your fault."

She sighed again, and came to sit beside him, her eyes watching the pool of water. "Guilt is the least logical of all emotions. Trust me; I've been on the edge of a lot of it." She looked at him sideways, judging his reaction to her words. Here, in the dream, all masks fell away. But he clung to his mask, as he always had, even when it hid nothing physical.

He sat straighter. "Truly enough, but the laying of blame does little. What has passed has passed. It cannot be changed." He reminded her of a child pressed almost to his limits, and trying so very hard to pretend that he still had enough strength left for whatever else came. "And I was lucky compared to some. In the scheme of things, what I have lost is nothing." Was it her imagination, or did his voice tremble on those words? "I have thought about it, and truly there were many ways things could have gone worse. It was… good that things happened the way they did." These words… words he wanted to believe, that part of him knew were true, but which found so very hard to swallow.

"Horseshit." She took him by the chin and turned him so that he was looking at her. "Belittling your pain will not make it go away. Forget the scheme of things. How do you feel?" His body trembled and she touched his face gently and opened her arms to him. Already shaking with suppressed sobs, he fell into them. She held him as he poured out his frustrations and fears, and when the storm had passed, she asked him again softly, "How do you feel?"

"I…" He turned in her arms so that he too could look out over the water, and she held him as she would a child, giving comfort. "It's not so bad now. It doesn't hurt anymore. Not like it did when…" He broke off, his face growing slightly puzzled as if he could not quite remember how bad the pain had been in the past. There seemed to be a wall grown between him and that darkness that had once threatened to consume him. "Not like it did," he repeated.

She stroked his hair, rocking him gently, murmuring softly, "Don't try to remember. Your mind forgets, to keep you whole. Don't look back, go forward."

"Forward…?" He reached out a hand before his face as if to touch something she couldn't see. "Him…" He breathed the word like a prayer, and she didn't have to ask who the pronoun referred to.

"Forward," she said again. "All the steps you've taken in the past have led you here, but you are no longer the same person who took them. Each step you take changes you, for better or worse." She paused. "I have to say in your case, only for the better."

He chuckled dryly. "Was I so horrible?"

"Never, boy. You've always been a diamond; just now that the outside's chipped a little, people have to look past the shininess to see the facets of light inside the jewel." He contemplated that.

"I have a message," she said, changing the topic somewhat but determined to discharge her duty. "From you ancestor. He asked me to pass it on after that whole mess, seeing as he had to leave fairly quick and couldn't tell you himself. I was going to pass it on, but then… we were both a little busy. And you weren't in the mood for listening. Not to me, at any rate." She grinned; he flushed slightly, not with embarrassment but with the warmth of memories, and he smiled a secret, content smile.

"What does Great Grandfather Vanyel have to say?" he asked, some of his natural aplomb returning.

She looked out over the water for a long moment. "You did the right thing." She turned his head so that she could look him in the eyes. "Vanyel wanted me to tell you that he said so. And Tre'valen says so too." He stiffened in her arms, his eyes growing large. "Aye boy, Tre'valen. What you did back then, protecting the Heartstone, instead of Starblade… It was the right thing. Tre'valen… You didn't kill him. He wanted you to know that. I reckoned you'd figured it out by now, but… All of them agree with Vanyel too. Stefen, Yfandes, Dawnfire, Florian, and myself as well. It's not your fault," she said,tossing back at him the words he had told her earlier. "You made the best choice you could, and they all chose as well. I made my choice too, boy." She touched his cheek, sorrow written on her face. "I can't say I don't regret it, but I made my choice."

He turned away, listening to the waterfall. It was several moments later when he turned back to her and said, "No. Don't regret. Vanyel… Vanyel is right. We chose. All of us." His head came up a little, and a wisdom shone in his eyes. "And… it is for the best. I think I… I needed this loss, to see what it was I really had." He frowned; that made too much sense for his liking. "I don't like it, but… that is life. And it is not all bad."

"No." Her fingers stroked soothingly, needlessly now, through his hair. "It's not." Perhaps her fingers moved now to reassure herself. He took her hands in his own and looked her in the eye. She smirked. "Let me guess. 'Him'?" she said, repeating his word of earlier. "He has been good for you."

He smiled. "Yes." The word was spoken like a promise of the future. "Thank you," he told her. "It was good to hear your words, and for the others as well. I think… yes, part of me fought all reason and I blamed myself, that somehow I should have known what was going to happen…" He shook his head. "It has been hard these past few months, but…" A glow, a fire, seemed to light his face from within. "Being with him makes it better." Squeezing her hands reassuringly, he smiled- an honest and warm expression. "For now, he is all I need."

And all around the world
There's a sinking feeling
Out there right now
Someone's really down on themselves
And don't know why
Every night
That's all that I need, yeah
Someone else to cling to
Someone I can lean on
Until I don't need to
Just stay all through the night
And in the morning let me down
Cause that's all that I need right now