sleep-comes-after-death

inspired by this painful post.


Killian Jones learns very quickly that the wait is the worst part. It’s a sickening knot deep inside him, the knowledge that he has made a mistake, that punishment is coming. His heart races. His stomach churns.

The first time he faces the whip, he almost throws up from the fear of it. Afterwards, as Liam cleans the gashes and tries to soothe him, he thinks that it wasn’t so bad. He survived it. He’ll survive it next time, too. It never lasts long, after all. And the sooner it’s over, the sooner he can heal.

But he hates the wait.

Waiting for the storm to hit. Waiting for the whip to crack. Waiting for the first blow. His imagination always seems to make it worse than it is, and even if it matches, it means he experiences it all twice - once in his head, and once for real. (And the reality is always so much worse.)

He learns the art of goading, of provocation. He finds out that there are ways to hurry things along and shorten the wait. He learns that most people who enjoy hurting others also have short tempers, and he learns to take advantage.

It gets worse, later. When he’s waiting for sleep to come after Liam’s death, only to drown in nightmares. When he’s waiting for his chance at vengeance, knowing it will cost him his life. He’s not afraid of pain, he has become used to it. It’s a part of him. But waiting, oh, the waiting is still torture.

He shortens the hours as much as he’s able, with clever words that hit exactly where they’re aimed. He stirs the tension into full-out fights as quickly and as brutally as he can. He falls, flat on his back, and taunts his opponent - hit me, hurt me, kill me. Put an end to the waiting. Get on with it.

But there is a time when he waits of his own volition, and gladly. There is a time when he meets a woman with fire in her eyes and fear in her heart, and feels his own heart stir.

He waits for her. She betrays him, she beats him, she leaves him lying on the floor and tied up and chained, but he doesn’t goad her. He never tells her to get it over with. He waits, gladly, because every moment of waiting is another moment spent with her.

He waits, because he knows that she needs time - to know him, to trust him, to trust herself. He knows this because he knows the look in her eyes, knows how it feels to live in a world that seems set on betraying you. He knows it because he knows that she is waiting for him to leave, to give up, to walk away. Every harsh word, every eye roll, every challenge, is a test, an attempt to shorten the wait.

Get on with it.

He doesn’t. It isn’t his decision to make, but he will be here, waiting, while she makes it.

And Killian Jones learns that waiting is not always torture. Sometimes, waiting means little moments of warmth in his chest, a smile that reaches her eyes, a look that cuts to his core. It means fluttery anticipation that curls deep in his belly and soars, all at once, when she grabs him by the lapels of his coat and kisses him. It means heated looks across the table at Granny’s before heading home. It means time to sneak downstairs and prepare coffee in that infernal machine before she joins him, sleepy smile and tangled golden hair, gratitude in her kiss when he offers her the mug.

It means he experiences it all twice - once in his head, and once for real. (And the reality is always so much better.)

He finds out that waiting isn’t so bad, really. It all depends on what you’re waiting for.

And some things - and some people - are well worth waiting for.