Kickoff written by fefedove

The Siren's Song

How can you resist such a beautiful song?

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Xavier's last memory was him by the beach.

He lived near the sea, but never felt the need to visit it until today. It was an aching need that pulled him to the seaside. The sun was beautiful, droplets of light falling on the deep aqua waves. The wintry wind was soft, gently bringing to him the fresh and salty scent.

He distinctly remembered the feeling of the grains of sand that had made their way into his shoes, more and more getting through his socks and in between his toes as he walked. The little pricks didn't hurt -- they were just annoying enough that he couldn't ignore it.

And then he turned and was walking into the sea. The water moistened the sand and he made wet squelching sounds with every step. The rolling waves filled the imprints his feet had left and he felt cut off from land and he found himself surrounded by the deep dark blue. It was as if he was alone in the world, alone with the waves. He could feel their beckoning, as if they were welcoming him, waiting to embrace
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They lapped playfully at his ankles, then his calves, and when they were at his knees, numbing the joints, he suddenly questioned why he was in the middle of the sea during the winter. He couldn't feel his toes or the annoying bits of sand anymore and he wasn't even sure if he was still moving.

But then the water was at his thighs and the roaring waves thundering in his ears suddenly and unknowingly silenced, muted as a . . . something floated above. It was melodious yet tuneless, wordless yet meaningful; it was a ghost lamenting to his heart; it was beautiful and painted the end of the world, and as the spirit crooned, he found himself wanting to weep.

And then he was crying, the tears rolling down his cheeks and falling silently into the sea that was up to his navel. The ripples reached the shore that he would never see again and he wanted to wonder at the drops that crystallized and froze in the winter air, but he couldn't. He tried to imagine his family, his mother, his friends,
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his home and the images blurred and wavered in the distance, tauntingly out of reach. He tried to imagine his own face, he tried to do something, anything, but his thoughts were broken and sluggish, strewn across the ocean.

And then the waves were at his chest.

He gasped for breath as the realization hit him with the icy shock. But it was too late because he was too far gone.

He tried gasping again -- he tried breathing -- and the salty seawater entered his nose and began to fill him.

And then he was drowning, the freezing waves batting him effortlessly from side to side as if he was a mere plaything, and the memory flickered and faded. Consciousness escaped him no matter how frantically he chased, slipping through his fingers like the fine grains of sand that were still in his shoes and weighing him down.

The water reached his lungs, forcing out the oxygen and letting numbness seep in.

The water licked at his cheeks, washing away the tears and burning his eyes.

And darkness.


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woke up disoriented.

He was certain he had died- he had drowned- he could remember the salt and the pain and the cold and the spots in his vision when he couldn't breathe and the song.
The song.
He shuddered at the memory of the eerie music that had taken him over completely and if he tried, he could still hear it- faintly, tauntingly and beautiful. His slight movement sent ripples through the water and he froze. He really hadn't felt the silky smooth water against his skin until he had moved, and it was unsettling. He was still wearing the clothes from before and they felt dry.

Slowly, cautiously, he stood up and walked- floated? waded?- to the one source of light that seemed so far away and found himself in a cage.

"Welcome to my empire," a voice said.
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