Something To Live For

Emma and Matti's last fight.

Follows Even Heroes Throw Temper Tantrums

Outside in the woods…

Emma skis away from the cabin. Perhaps not the smartest of moves, given the whole 'war' thing, but she's upset and not really thinking about much other than getting away from all those people. She doesn't go too far. Just enough to find a little stand of trees where she can kick off the skis, sit down on a stump, and cry in peace.

Matti is skiing nearby, having made a rather short circuit, and is now on his way back. He's wounded enough to make a long trip impossible, and is already suffering from shortness of breath, and difficulty moving with his recent injury. As he hears the sound from the woods he freezes, hand automatically reaching for the rifle. But then he realizes the source of the noise, and his face darkens - this time with the flush of shame, not anger. He skis closer, calling out, "I didn't mean to make you cry." He looks like an elephant in a porcelain shop, seriously ill at ease with people crying near him.

Emma practically jumps out of her skin at the sudden call, jerking back and slipping off the stump to land rather inelegantly in the snow. Fortunately it's snow, no harm done to anything except her pride. She draws herself back up again, dusting off the snow. "You didn't," she lies, denying the obvious.

"Look, it's… I don't know." Matti falls silent, staring sullenly at the horizon. Finnish men aren't raised to talk about their feelings - or much of anything else, at that - and he's no exception. It takes him a long while to muster enough social force to continue, "I know hot it hurts, to hear her name. But I can't help it. I can't stop thinking about her, remembering her. Missing her." The slender hunter falls silent, his jaws flexing as he chews on unsaid words. Finally he lowers his eyes, his lips pursed in a straight, bloodless line.

Emma plops herself back down on her stump, huddled miserably in the cold. Ghastly war wounds, no problem. Flight from Russians shooting at them, she barely bats an eye. But talk about her dear Anna, and she's a mess. "I miss her too," Emma says with quiet sadness. There's a long pause, and then she adds, even softer, "And I know you look at me, and you see her."

"I don't know. I mean…" Matti kicks off his skis, looking away for a while as he steps closer. He stops about ten feet from you, staring in your direction in the dusk, "Sometimes, I get confused. It's so easy, to believe that she's still there. But I know that you're not her." He smiles, an odd, bitter expression, "I honestly don't know whether it's worse this way."

"You keep calling me 'Anna'," Emma points out. Less accusatory now than before. She looks up at him, and the tears fall again, chilling her cheeks in the frigid cold. "I wish she was here. It's so… empty without her."

"I think a part of me wants to believe that you're her. But I know you're not." Matti speaks bluntly, matter-of-factly, his own pain stifled and unexpressed, showing merely in the tight, careworn lines of his angular face. As you speak of emptiness, he shakes his head, looking, for a moment, truly miserable in a way that the controlled hunter rarely, if ever, shows. "I know."

Emma sniffles, giving a slight nod to acknowledge his words. But she doesn't say anything else to them. His misery is echoed far more openly in Emma's features. "I wish she was here for you, too." A slight pause. "She loved you very much." Then a longer pause. "She would want you to make it through all this. Sometimes… sometimes it seems like you don't even care, if you get killed."

"Why should I? I didn't care much before I met her. I guess it felt like I had something to stay alive for, when she was alive. After that, I've cared even less." Matti speaks in a grim, toneless voice, the core of the dreadful fatalism visible on his angular, sullen face. He shakes his head silently, grimacing.

"She wouldn't want you to just give up on life, Matti." Emma shakes her head slightly, still teary-eyed. "You have your family. And you're important to my family, too, because you were important to Anna. Can't you see that?"

"I'm still here, aren't I?" Matti mutters this rather roughly, glancing at you from the corners of his brown eyes. "One day, this war is going to end. Antti and Aila have their own life; maybe I'll find another war. I hate fighting, but it's the only thing I can do right." Matti's muttered words are bitter and angry in equal measures, bitten off from between clenched jaws. It's quite clear, that the anger is directed elsewhere - either at himself, or at the greater currents of fate that have shaped his life.

Emma frowns, a long sigh causing a haze in front of her mouth. "That's not true, Matti, and you know it. Anna would never have married a man who could do nothing but fight. You're just feeling sorry for yourself. And maybe you have a right to be, but you're not the only one who misses her," she says tersely.

"I felt this way before I met her, and I sure as hell feel this way now. Life seems to be meaningless, and the world is ripping itself to pieces around us." Matti grimaces. He had at least some kinds of ideals once, but the events of the 30s have wiped out his belief in solidarity between peoples and the brotherhood of man. "I figure it's better to die doing something worthwhile, than just become another layabout drunk mooching off his relatives." Matti's lips tighten into a straight line, as he starts putting on his skis once more.

"Life isn't meaningless," Emma insists. "You only feel that way because -you've- given up on it. Anna wouldn't have." Her chin raises fractionally, certain of her pride in her sister even if frail little Anna possibly couldn't have borne the hardship of this war.

"Anna's dead, Emma. Dead. Gone. You may find in that some added glory in the greatness of life, but I think that's just absurd, and meaningless." Matti's words are harsh, even if a good deal of that is caused by self-directed bitterness. It's quite clear that he hasn't even started to come to terms with her death. "I'll see you back at the cabin, Emma." Matti turns away, skiing towards shelter, favoring his right side due to the wound.

The words do sting, particularly since Emma hasn't really come to terms with the loss either. "I don't need you to remind me," she says sharply. She watches him go, and then goes back to her sulking.

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