Beauty Never Fades
by Pirate Turner
"No. I . . . I can't! I'm sorry; I just can't!" Chloe stammered as, shaking her head, she pulled away from her friends and started to make a run for it. She'd barely taken a few steps, however, when she saw Alek standing in her pathway. She looked up fearfully, expecting to see condemnation, but instead he greeted her only with a calm smile and knowing gaze.
"You're not going to stop me," she whispered.
Confidence oozed off of him as he replied simply, "I wouldn't dream of it." She shivered as his eyes lifted and met hers. "But I will ask you this. Will you regret it later if you don't tell him goodbye?"
She hesitated. "I already said goodbye," she spoke bitterly, "when I kissed him."
"He kissed you," Alek corrected.
Her green eyes widened. "How'd you know?"
"Because I know you. You did everything you could to protect him, but it wasn't enough." He shrugged as he whispered, "The human was determined to get himself killed."
"Alek!" Chloe growled, her eyes flashing in warning.
"I'm sorry, but he did. You're not a monster, Chloe." She stopped in shock; he watched as tears welled in her eyes. He touched her cheek. "You're a hero. You're here to save us all, and beauty doesn't fade."
She blinked back her tears. "Alek," she whispered his name hoarsely.
He grinned. "I was talking about myself with that last bit, of course."
Though her eyes rolled, his grin charmed her. "Alek!"
His grin widened. "That's my name," he teased. "I think you're trying to wear it out tonight." She laughed hollowly.
Pressing a rose in one hand, he took her other. "Come on," he urged, knowing she'd regret leaving. He led her to Brian's casket, holding her hand and whispering, "We'll get through this together," and they did.