Confessing what he's doing makes the sting of it sharper.
"You need a partner."
He'd put mortality on hold for a blissful year in Northrend; the snow and ice kept the rot and degeneration at bay and he didn't have to think about second death. No considering animal mindlessness and death pacts and eventual oblivion, the scent of grief and the ache in his partner's voice whenever the topic came up. There had been fear and arguments and doubt and pain but it had not been so bad given he didn't awaken to a miasmatic gray confusion and no memories of what he'd done the previous day--mostly.
Then he'd ruined fucking all of it with one stupid little stunt in Silithus, and didn't even have the energy to be angry at his own stupidity anymore, let alone anything else anyone could do to him. A death knight who wasn't a seething ball of rage and hatred under his skin--there was a real joke for you. Couldn't be angry, couldn't hate, couldn't rouse much more than a specter of his usual interest in anything but the drive to kill.
And Krenyn. Of course Krenyn, always Krenyn, and isn't that why he's marking out the youngest of the Blades as if they were beasts at market to be assessed on their gait and breeding and the color of their plumage? Because the thought of leaving the senior knight alone leaves him so desolate it cuts right through all his normal objections to the idea that you don't just march up to someone and tell them that in a month or two months or ten months or however long it's going to take for him to finally die, they are going to be Lord-Commander Krenyn Bloodflame's new partner and subordinate, and they'd better fucking measure up to the job and not say the first feldamned word about how they didn't want it because Bloodflame is among the best of men on Azeroth, let alone the Blades in service--
It's a terrible idea. He knows it's a terrible idea, knew from the start Krenyn would have nothing of it. Because it's wrong, and even the shreds of morality he has left after the Scourge were through with him know that. You can kill people, you can eat them, torture them, rape their daughters, destroy their livelihoods, but that's all honest destruction and when you come in and start shoving them around like they've got no say in what they're doing because they're too sweet and dumb not to "sir" you despite you never having held a rank above knight, it's wrong, it's all bloody wrong to start pushing them around like pieces in a stupid game.
"What do you think I would need a partner for, after you are gone?"
"What do you need me for now, while I'm here? Someone needs to watch your back."
He's doing it anyway, terrible and wrong or not, because being dead puts you on the other side of "wrong" and "terrible" and you stand around in public talking about what it's like to eat the living. Because while it's easy to imagine a world without himself in it, it's heart-breakingly hard to imagine one where there's not someone dogging along behind Bloodflame like a loyal shadow; Light only knows how long it would be before Krenyn shatters from the task of trying to keep under his perview from flying apart if he didn't have someone to talk to, or take it out on. Or--there is no further or because some death knights it seems mate for life (undeath) and there's no patching some kinds of holes no matter how much wishing is involved.
"Don't train them for intimacy. Don't lead them to expect any sort of emotion...it will not be returned."
"No, no...I wasn't--I just can't control my fucking impulses sometimes. You know that."
Perhaps some kinds of holes don't need patching. Just because Mornherald's one of the ones who finds it difficult to kill and has problems with momentum and his friend Haken is still half-Scourge and Frostscribe's about as dumb as one of his own sculptures and--fuck--you can't throw your runeblade these days without hitting a death knight who isn't some sort of basketcase doesn't mean Bloodflame needs another life-long project under his wing. But then none of them really need that much fixing to function, do they, not with a superior who's willing to set them straight, not when they learn their lessons the right way the first time, rather than being stupid stubborn bastards who pick losing fights with gravity and make the same mistakes the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time because they find it funny.
Stupid stubborn bastards who die with even less dignity than the mindless beasts they're turning into because they can't just crawl off somewhere and let the elements finish them; oh no, there's the months of terror and hand-wringing and shame and begging for reassurance that they weren't just meaningless little blips in history, that they were important to someone, somewhere. And then the dying, after all the awkward failures at goodbyes and trying to patch the stupid ragged holes they'd leave behind because apparently some people are stupid enough to care about dead traitors who are failures enough to be dying a second time, and it was all going to be a fucking terrible mess.
Maybe in the end it would be better this way.
"I wanted you to have a friend."
There'd been a silk ribbon tucked into Lark's usual hideaway beside the runeforge at the Shadow Vault.
It was too dark for him to guess at the color, but it was cool and smelled of holly, and slid easily in his hands as he practiced tying bows with it. Too late for Winter Veil this year, and he wasn't likely to see another, but it was the thought that counted, right?
I wanted you to have a friend.
He hadn't been able to find the words then in Acherus, not then or later when they'd retired to somewhere less public to discuss the matter (though very little discussion was had) before Bloodflame had had to leave again. But now they were all there, of course, as he made a careful count of how many loops he was putting into this bow. Now he had words, and he'd forget them as soon as he slept next, and that would be the end of it because what he'd forgotten was gone as the tissue all rotted away.
I want you to have a friend, Krenyn. I want you to have someone who knows us both well enough to grieve with you when I'm gone, who can bear the horrors of the Scourge the way Embersong won't. I want to know someone will be there to take care of you, not need to be taken care of, like your brother. Or me.
Carefully, Lark slipped the loops of ribbon from his fingers, cinching the bow tight. A laugh caught in his throat as he did; it was more sob than humor, and he bit it back.
You're not going to let me give you a damn gift because you don't want anyone else; you want me. I already gave you me, you bastard; I'd give myself all over again if I could after second-death but there's not any fucking chance of that and we know it.
He crushed the bow between his hands with a hiss, then caught himself, unfolding it and smoothing the rumpled loops penitently. It wasn't its fault, after all... Satisfied after a brief preening, he caught up the loose ends and tucked it all into one of his saddlebags, before slumping down onto it, unreasonably exhausted by so little exhertion.
I just want you to have a friend. Someone to be happy with, and make up for all the time you've lost with me.
He'd start making a list of possible candidates in the morning.