"we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time and be bored all the while"
- Don Marquis, "the lesson of the moth"
To the Flame
Chapter#1: A Prima Vista
(At First Sight)
She sits at the same bench, in the same park, every night.
Sometimes it rains, every now and then it snows, but the clear, cloudless nights are her favorite. She has made friends with the stars, has made a father out of the Moon, and she greets them all like the old friends they are. When the leaves begin to fall she admires Aquarius's beauty and Capricorn's determination. When ice begins to spider web over the earth she looks forward to basking Aries' warm smiles and Taurus's passion. In the spring, Leo winks at her and sends her budding flowers and serenades her in birdsong. She accepts it all with a smile.
She tracks time by the length and frequency of their visits. She no longer uses words like 'years' or 'weeks'. She used to make notches on the wooden slat of the bench every time Cancer visited her summer sky (he likes to remind her that she is beautiful) but while she was asleep the bench was replaced and she has since lost track. Now, instead of using visits, she measures in written pages.
In an abandoned room, in an abandoned building she calls home, she keeps shelves lined with the broken spines of adopted books and spiral bound journals full of stories she has painted. She treasures the books because they are her only link to worlds outside her own, and she cherishes the words she's written because they are the only thing she is able to give birth to. They are her only family.
Her friends in the night sky come and go, the blank pages of journals fill and get filed away on the designated shelf. Around her things are always changing. Buildings grow higher and trees fatten. Sometimes she thinks she recognizes a boy in the face of a man. Time does not touch her. Her hair stays blonde and does not lengthen farther past her shoulders. Her hands do not wrinkle with age. She is the pin holding the hands of a clock, watching them all move around her as she remains unchanged and constant.
So she sits, the worn bench welcoming underneath her and the lamplight overhead illuminating her blank pages with artificial warmth. Every night she waits for inspiration to find her. Sometimes she sees it in the face of the rare stranger, other times it is in the shadow of the children's playground slide in the form of an abandoned Happy Meal toy. Last night she wrote the story for the coke can that was left half full and teetering on the lid of a trashcan.
Tonight she spies an empty pack of cigarettes half buried at the base of an ancient oak tree. Its label has faded, but she can see that once upon a time it bore the proud Morley logo. Words flow from her ball point pen as she imagines the owner of said box. A man, she decides. A man with bleach blonde hair slicked back, blue eyes, and cheek bones that could cut glass. He is impulsive and crude, with a sneer that could either terrify or draw women closer. He is all hard angles and roughened edges, and he would have tossed that little scrap of cardboard over his shoulder without second thought or a moments regret.
She lets herself become immersed in the story, intent on discovering why such a man of leather and whiskey would come to the park, when she hears the soft sound of rubber soles shuffling against the paved pathway. She doesn't spare the intruder a glance - she has already found tonight's inspiration and she will not abandon it until the story is told.
In all two hundred and thirty-two bounded notebooks she has always sat alone and undisturbed, so she is unprepared when she feels the warmth of a blood filled body brush against her shoulder. Her spine stiffens at the foreign feeling and she looks at the perpetrator in confusion.
The face of a young man fills her vision. He is grinning at her, his lips pulled so wide that his cheeks dimple at the edges. His skin is tan from his time spent under the suns warm gaze and his unusually colored hair piques the interest of her writer's heart (she has never seen pink hair before and knows there must be a story behind it). His eyes are so dark she can barely make out the green hiding in his irises. She finds it strange that his eyes can be dark when his gaze is so warm and inviting. "You don't mind if I sit here, right?" he asks, and she feels his voice slide against her skin. It is not uncomfortable, she decides, but it is foreign.
She isn't sure if she does or not so, for now, she only answers back with her own question. "Why are you here?"
He blinks, momentarily surprised, and then his wide smile sinks into something softer around the corners. She thinks she might see a dusting of pink at the ridges of his cheeks, but under the warm glow of the lamplight she couldn't be sure. "You, uh, looked lonely."
Lonely? She does not remember the last time she felt lonely. She thinks it must have been around the same time when the sharp, stabbing pain of hunger became something normal. Something numb. "I'm not."
He seems confused by this. "But you're always out here by yourself." His fingers loosen the white scarf around his neck and gestures to the tall building on the other side of the park. "I always see you from my apartment."
She really isn't sure what he's asking (or if he's even asking anything) so she merely nods. "I come here every night."
She blinks, because to her the answer is obvious. "This is my bench."
He blinks back. "Um, ok." He rubs the back of his neck, awkwardly fishing for conversation. She wonders why he hasn't left yet. "So, what do you do at ... your bench?"
"I tell stories," she says simply, and is reminded of the notebook on her lap. She taps the pen against the page, trying to decide if the man with the Morley smokes would have come to the park for a brawl or for a girl. Maybe both, she thinks.
Her companion frowns, glancing around the empty park skeptically and his brows drawing together. "To who?"
For some reason the way he says it makes an unfamiliar emotion stir in her chest. It's hot and makes her hands itch. Again, she wonders why he is still there. "Just because they aren't shared doesn't mean they don't exist." The point of her pen indents the paper but her voice remains the same neutral drawl. She is constant, unchanging, even if this boy tries to make her be otherwise.
For a moment his eyes flick to the wire bound paper in her hands and comprehension seems to light his eyes. "Oh! You mean you write stories."
To her it is the same thing. She gives stories - gives a history - to the aluminum can, the broken toy, the empty package of cigarettes, and she archives it in her pages. She investigates and finds details of their past and tells it in ink so that a piece of them will live forever in the form of words. This boy next to her, full of bright enthusiasm, doesn't understand though. She can tell.
She doesn't offer to enlighten him.
"Will you read me one?" he asks. His voice sounds hopeful.
Frowning, she looks at the half filled page on her lap. "I don't know if they want to be told."
His nose crinkles in confusion but there is laughter in his eyes. "Of course they do! What's the point in writing stories if you're never going to share them?"
She hesitates, eyeing the boy carefully. Is it selfish of her to paint a picture only for herself? Yes, now that she thinks about it, she decides it must be. Still, she eyes him uncertainly. "I don't think they are the sort of stories you like." He seems like the kind of person more interested in action and adventure, she feels that her stories will only bore him.
She expects him to assure her, she sort of remembers people doing that a long time ago, so he surprises her when he tilts his chin and eyes her curiously. "Why? What are they about?"
She doesn't answer, her eyes are trained on the steadily lightening skyline. Dawn is hesitating at the horizon and she knows she can not be caught in its grasp. She closes her notebook and hugs it tightly to her chest as she stands. "I have to leave." Then, as an after thought (because she is not used to having to mind her manners) she adds a brisk "goodbye" before turning to leave.
"Wait!" His hand encircles her arm and she can feel the heat of his palm through her jacket. "What's your name?"
Her name? She thinks of her rows of notebooks, neatly organized from oldest to newest. The one at the very beginning - pink with red splotches that look like stains - has a name on the cover. "Lucy." The moment the it leaves her lips she is sure she is right.
Above them the lamp hums and somehow the artificial light makes his smile look even brighter. "Hi Lucy. I'm Natsu."
Natsu. His name sounds like summer, and brings fragmented images of carefree days splashing in cool lake waters with the warmth of the sun on her shoulders. It suits him.
"Would it be ok if I, uh, you know." He gestured to the bench behind them, his face nervously hopeful. "Saw you again tomorrow?"
She agrees with a nod before she can give herself enough time to really think about it. Lucy blames the distracting warmth of his hand and the impending sunrise for the hasty decision, but doesn't take it back as she walks away towards the place she calls home.
The impression of his warm hand lingers on her arm long after she places her notebook on the shelf.
AN: For anyone waiting for the next chapter of Ignite, please be patient with me. On Monday I lost nearly all of my writing - over 10k words - because I'm a moron and didn't back up my shit. I'm now forced to rewrite everything, including some chapters (including the next one) that were complete and only in need of editing.
Needless to say, rewriting is painful. I cried my good cry and am more or less moving on (but damn does it hurt whenever I go to rewrite the scenes). So, like I said, PLEASE be patient with me. It WILL get done, but it's going to be an agonizingly slow process. If the next chapter isn't out next week it WILL be the week after. I figure the pain isn't going to go away until I've caught up to where I was so I'm going to be working my ass off this month to get there. I've gone a good 12 weeks uploading something once a week and I'm not going to let this setback fuck that up for me.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this. Chapters are most likely going to remain fairly short and sporadic. It kinda started when I realized that no one ever made the female characters into the vamps ... and it just ... kinda ... grew.
Lucy is going to be a bit OOC to start. There is a reason that will be revealed later (you know, other than the psychological repercussions of completely shutting yourself off from society ... we'll be exploring that too though (because damn it I'm feeling angsty)).
And yes, the blonde character with the killer cheekbones is Spike from Buffy. He's just so yummy I couldn't resist.
Please remember: If you like it enough to fav/follow then please like it enough to spend the extra minute or two to review! Especially since, you know, I'm kinda crying inside and could seriously use the pick me up.