“They waste their lives,” Lucifer said.
Serendipity watched the fire reflect in his eyes as he stared into it. The night around them was quiet. She looked up at the stars, thoughtful.
“Maybe that was the point god was trying to make to you,” she said.
She turned her gaze back to Lucifer, who continued to watch the flames. One of the logs broke into the fire and sent sparks up into the air. He shook his head, then looked up at Serendipity.
“I’m tired,” he said. “This world keeps catching fire – everything goes wrong.”
She searched his eyes and could see the truth in them. She could always see the truth in them, but this time it scared her. He had never seemed so empty.
“We can’t give up hope,” Serendipity said.
He sat thinking for a few moments, then turned back to the fire.
“Hope is what fuels it,” Lucifer said. “The more hope, the more to burn.”
She kept watching his eyes. They always possessed something in them, something very similar to the flames they now reflected. Whatever it was, it was dim now.
“Then will you give it all up?” she asked. “Leave this world to god?”
Lucifer kept his eyes fixed on the fire.
“When I reach this point – I remember that I didn’t choose this path because it’s a happy one. There’s no glory in it. Nothing comes easy,” he lifted his head and met her eyes again. “But doing anything else would betray my spirit. I would rather die than do that.”
They sat, the campfire illuminating their faces inconsistently. Waves of light and shadow washed over them.
“Is that not enough this time?” Serendipity asked.
“There are times I can’t even feel my spirit enough to betray it. I said I’d rather die, maybe I already did. Maybe that’s always been my only choice.”
They sat in silence.
“Even if we meet an end we don’t want, at least we never chose it,” Serendipity said. “You’re not dead yet, that’s been your choice. And my life has been my choice.”
He looked up at the night above them.
“Life has been like staring at the night sky and watching the stars go out one by one,” he said, then lowered his gaze to meet her own. “Someday it will only be darkness.”
They stared at each other.
“I won’t blame you if you go,” she said.
“Are you willing to let me go?” he asked.
“No, I’m not willing. But I’ll never keep you here against your will. Your will is your spirit, and like you said, you’ll never betray it. I’ll never ask you to.”
He sat, quiet.
“What if one of us is the next star to go out?” he asked.
“Nothing is certain. That’s why I hate my sisters. No matter what they say, nothing is truly fated for good or for bad,” she said.
Lucifer grabbed a small stick from the ground and tossed it into the fire.
“Sometimes I wonder if things are fated. Anything I do in this world is like trying to lift water in my hands, and it just runs through my fingers.”
Serendipity sat silent for a few moments, thinking about what he had said.
“You care about them – that’s why it hurts,” she said.
Serendipity saw the twig he tossed into the fire suddenly ignite.
“Not all of them,” he said. “But enough to notice when the sky is a little darker.”
Serendipity moved closer to him, her arm against his. For all the intimacy they had shared with each other through the years, sometimes the most meaningful was simply being present. She took his hand, and squeezed it, then nuzzled her head against him. She felt him lean into her, and felt his breath as he buried his face in her hair.
“We can’t control how long the people we love are with us – only what they mean to us,” she said. “This world might catch fire, but that doesn’t destroy it – it only transforms it.”
He moved his arm and wrapped it around her. She took a deep breath, appreciating this moment together despite its heaviness. She lifted her head, and looked up into his eyes.
“I feel like we are pretending there is some magic way to spare ourselves pain in this life. But I’ve never seen anyone spared. We certainly haven’t been. But we still have these moments. We have each other.”
He stroked her hair, then leaned his forehead against hers
“We do,” he said.
She sat still, accepting his warmth, and sharing hers. She lifted her hand to his face.
“Our paths would never have crossed had they not been exactly what they were,” she drew back, looking into his eyes. “And that includes everything that hurt along the way.”
She moved to face the fire, leaning back against him. He wrapped his arms around her.
“The only thing I’ve found is that when I venture out with everything to lose, life rises up to meet me, as if it was waiting for me all along,” she said.
She felt his embrace tighten around her.
“I was waiting for you,” he said.
She smiled as they sat staring into the fire.
“I watch this fire and think about how it can’t help but grow. No apologies, no doubts, no plans. It just … burns,” he said.
“And if you could just burn – what would you do?” she asked.
“That’s my dilemma. I feel like I’m down to embers.”
“Well, then your embers have nothing to do but grow.”
“Or they might go out.”
“I don’t believe that’s possible. You’re not like this fire. You’re like one of those,” she said, then raised her head to look up at the stars.
They sat in silence, then saw a streak of light cross the sky in an instant,
“I guess another one just went out,” Serendipity laughed.
“I never liked that one anyway,” Lucifer said, smiling.
She felt him breathing. She could feel his strength. Closing her eyes, she smiled. He was still alive, and always would be.
She opened her eyes again.
“Do you mean what you said – that they waste their lives? The humans?” Serendipity asked.
“Sometimes. More than I want to believe.”
“What makes it such a waste?”
“How they choose to live, how they choose to die. They kill themselves over nothing.”
“They always have reasons. They never do something for nothing.”
“They fool themselves thinking they’re living and dying for a cause, for a religion, for love …”
“All these things that make a person give themselves up – give up their spirit,” Lucifer answered.
“Is that what love is?”
“To some people.”
“To you?” Serendipity asked.
He looked down at her, then lifted his hand and ran it through her hair, stroking the side of her face.
“No. Love makes a person richer, not poorer. But so many invert it. They think love is sacrifice.”
She looked back up at the stars.
“And you don’t think so?”
They sat together, staring at the vast night sky.
“What if it costs everything?” Serendipity asked.