You were expecting snow. The forecast called for a good dusting; however, you can only thank one of those ambiguous, over your head factors like global warming on why the snow turned into rain. The cold front that gave your brother snow and ice in his Snapgram has turned into rain, and, for you and Susie that day, it meant being caught out in it.

You two are a bit outside of town today, out on one of the roads that fell by the wayside when the county modernized its roads with the national highway system. It's turned back to dirt and footpaths, and they're dotted with shacks and buildings left behind by modernity. They've always been a good spot for you to scavenge about, finding pieces and bits for whatever contraption you would put together. Wooden stock here, electrical wiring there, tools left behind, and toys that could be taken apart for their pieces. Finding chests in the Dark with loot was easier, yes, but this, in the world of "light," was a little more fulfilling.

Up until it left you out in the rain and frantically rushing for the first building with rain cover in your immediate area:

Susie is swearing up a storm because of the storm, your footsteps making wet splashes against the dirt ground as, finally, you find the patter of rain against your hair is ceased, and you find some relative dryness. The aluminum awning of a boxy bus stop is your reprieve, not used in years. It's barely big enough for you two to stand far enough apart that it isn't claustrophobic, but that isn't much.

It's not an unfamiliar comment to you to say that your hair looks like a mop. Beneath the drizzle of rain, it's more literal now as you take after your family and do the rather animal thing of shaking yourself down. You're a Human, you remember that very well, but goats raised you.

"Ah- Shit! Dude. Really?"

It's a natural impulse of you to try and get dry, your green sweater soaked down to its fibers and your hair sticking together in thick locks. However, your shaking off of yourself has put Susie in the crossfire of another beating of wetness.

She looks absolutely glorious with her chestnut hair, usually propped up shoulder height, dragging down along her back. Slick and sleek, the cut above her eyes from the King taking a swing at her has filled out again, giving her bangs a somewhat aberrant pattern. It fits her, though. She's never been uniform, and nothing about her now is. You're both soaking wet, clothes clinging to your bodies, and you're not quite sure it was worth it to come out today with nothing else to do.

Susie always enjoyed coming out with you to these places. Lots of stuff to break and no one to stop her, and to be fair, kicking in doors and windows never got old when it was with her, even when it leaves you out in the rain, a long way from home. It's not your first time, though, to be fair, being somewhere else, caught with her.

It is still cold enough to cause just a bit of mist to come out of your mouths, and, combined with your soaking; you're both quickly lowering in temperature.

You're coldblooded in the literal sense. Maybe in the true sense, but you don't think too hard about it. If people had called you that, you never disagreed. You are who you are, and it is what it is. What it means now is that you're not exactly feeling the greatest at that bus stop. It's not anything dangerous; you know that, or, at least, overly so. You've been in bad spots before: sprained legs in bad places or cuts that go more than scale deep; you know the pain of an ax through your body and all the pain of someone trying to kill you. You can deal with the cold.

You slide your purple jacket off, hanging it off the green, paint-chipped disintegrating back of the bench there. Your scales shine in the dampness, your hair down to a brown sheen that may or may not have reminded you that you needed to wash your hair more,

Today's tee-shirt is brought to you by the Beatles. You're not exactly a fan of having the bug men on you, but it was the closest shirt to you that morning that you didn't mind getting ruined. In this rain, though, John has seen better days, whisking away the immediate wetness that slicks over you like the mist. Any amount of air running over your scales, however, offers a chill that bites, and it's a chill that might become a little too unbearable.

Kris checks their phone, unable to dry it thoroughly. There's a grimace to their face that tells you all you need to know: The rain won't let up anytime soon, and you're still a good half an hour outside of any real shelter of Hometown. It's not looking good if you were honest with yourself.

The constant dripping of the rain above off the roof is enough to piss you off, let alone your dripping onto the light concrete ground, which darkens with every drop. The wetness pisses you off; the cold pisses you off, the eventuality that you have to go home and leave an obvious trail in pisses you off. It's not anything you can lash out at, of course. Mother Nature can't be blunted with an ax or dealt with; she simply is. Not that you are unfamiliar with the concept of things being the way they were and being unable to do anything. It's just how you lived your life.

What you could do, however, first off, is take off your purple jacket.

A gift from your father, a long time ago. It was big at the time, but you grew into it. You still have a little bit more growing to go. Its purple is dark now due to the rain, but it's no matter; it's been through worse and will continue to do so. It's a little like you; you like to imagine: purple, impossible to put down.

A rusty old bike that has been left in that bus stop becomes the impromptu clothing rack as you lay the jacket over its chewed-up leather seat, only to join Kris's green sweater over the handlebars. It's not often you get to see him in just his black buttoned shirt, its collar neatly popping out of the sweater, but when you do, you see it's tucked in neatly into his brown khakis. He dresses very well, almost a little too proper; perhaps it's the influence from his mother that keeps him neat, but you like it. It's very him, even though it wouldn't if you were to describe. This child, who is more pranks and deviousness, looks very well in his prim and proper.

You don't mind it.

Even the layers beneath that are soaked through, and naturally, the next thing to do was take off your tee-shirt. You think better of it; however, halfway up, Kris looking at you with a tilted head, their button-down being wrung out by hand.

Alright, fair.

There's a hint of their abs there as they wring out the water where he can. They're not built, not even remotely like you. Your strength is all-natural; there hadn't been a day in your life where you worked out because you didn't need it. However, Kris might've stood to hit the weights, but they were still deceptive in how they were built. They grew up with a family of monsters, and so they were equipped to deal with it. With just a little more bulk, they might've been a little easier on the eyes.

Not that they aren't right now.

Why did you even think like that?

They catch you staring, and their eyes narrow at you, blue eyes cutting through drooped and damp bangs. You look off, indignant, back at the downpour.

"It's going to be a while, huh?"

They nod as well, annoyed but not surprised. They've never minded the rain, they said, even though both of you are soaking wet right now.

You're cold-blooded and thick-skinned. You can take a punch, a splinter, a scrape of fire, and so much more. The cold though itself? Seeping into your bones? It's not the most ideal. Especially not with town still quite a bit away and the knowledge that, when you get sick, you get SICK. Your body is the type of one that when you do get sick in that rare blue moon, it puts you on your ass in your bed wheezing, with an actual legitimate excuse not to go to school that day.

A pang of fear over your mortality. You've never been one to mind getting hurt, but the inconveniences that arise still sting and annoy you enough to huff.

Kris is putting down their pockets as they usually do, trying to find something, anything to help their situation. But there's nothing there: just phone, keys, and their wallet.

They mutter something beneath their breath, gesturing to the broken wooden bench that inhabits that little bus stop with you two. It's not doing anyone any good just like that, left behind. The idea of going out doing something worthwhile, in a flash, is not something you're unfamiliar with thinking about.

It'd be pretty cool.

"A fire?" You ask aloud.

They nod.

However, Kris doesn't have their lighter, or lighter fluid, or kindling, or anything that could help.

You have a lighter too, somewhere in your bedroom. You didn't buy it or anything; you just found it off on the street one day in its cheap, clear plastic glory. Still quite a bit of fluid in there, and the wheel still struck a spark. It was handy for you to keep a lighter around. Not to smoke or anything like that (the number of times people assumed you were the one who sold drugs in Hometown makes you laugh) but to just simply catch homework on fire when enough of it accumulated in your room.

You had very little in the way of wonderment for this world. However, still, there was a novelty that even you, in your more retrospective moments, were able to identify the ability just to summon fire with a flick of your finger was like magic. You knew it was like magic in retrospective because you've seen actual magic Ralsei is on your mind, and the way he was able just to summon sparks and flame from his hand, but never willing to use it to hurt.

Had you not that same sort of magic in you?

Literally, that is.

You're a dragon, you remember, and like many monsters, your features grow in with age. Not that you had someone around to teach you how best to utilize yourself.

You know you can do it theoretically: what you understand, at the very least, what you're not supposed to do in polite company or the unfamiliar. Kris is neither, however, and as you drip drip drip onto concrete flooring, the cold seeping through, you consider that maybe you should try it out.

Your mind is entirely made as Kris wraps their arms around themselves, a sniffle out of their nose.

Susie is clearly thinking about something. The way her eyes look around in their sockets, or the way she twitches her mouth as if talking to herself, it's a tic you've long since recognized. She's thinking about something now, and it's certainly a thought. You really can't afford to think as you just let yourself soak out, down to the bone. Mom would probably give you hell for being out like this, but that was for an occasion for later you to worry about.

Eventually, she makes up her mind, brushing her hair behind her pointed ear.

"Hey, dude, can you like, start breaking stuff down for a fire."

You're never one to question her as you proceed to do just that, going to the bench and, with your foot, snapping pieces off and piling them into a neat assortment. Moving and exerting do enough to keep you moderately warm as Susie stands there and breaths into her cupped palms. You might think of her just shirking work of this plan, but, for a moment, you wonder…

You ask her what's she's doing, point-blank.

You haven't told her about the fact you've met her father, but you carried his advice about her still. That question hasn't been popped: about whether or not she'd want to go with you to the Sadie Hawkman Dance, but there are other things gleamed. Like being upfront with her as much as she is with you. You've never really beat around the bush with her anyway, but you're less hesitant to hold off ideas to her now that you might think annoy her. Little things, like dragging her places, asking her if she could carry some stuff for you for some greater goal, or just stupid questions.

You've cut the bullshit with her, and initially, there was a hint of suspicion behind her with you in the week following. But now it's just a breath of fresher air. Almost as sweet as rainy wind. She appreciates it, you think.

Not at the moment right now, however, not as she is intent on almost exhausting her lungs right into her hands as if warming her palms.


Warming her palms?

"If I can… Hold on. Lemme…" She reaches deep inside herself. Not literally, but in her mind. There are instincts to her as a Monster that you could never understand as a Human. Instincts and natural urges call upon the animal kingdom and evolution that those like you are not involved with. For your family, it manifests in the shedding of hair every season, the manicuring of their horns, and really good dental health. For Susie, it manifests physically, in her form and fit, scales, and eyes. Though there is more: "God dammit, I've almost-"

She's puffing in and out, her chest rising and falling, the air coming in and out. It's hypnotizing to you in many ways, but there is a factor that sticks out: She is a monster.

"Shit. Just. Shit." Eventually, after a few minutes, winding herself out, she stops.

Can you breathe fire, Susie? You finally ask aloud as she drops her hand and leans on the wall of the bus stop. With another huff through her nose, she nods. "Yeah, I can. Or at least, I should. Around my age, yeah. Dad told me he used to start fooling around with fire at this age… It's how he impressed Mom on their first date."

You can't help be coy about it even as your teeth come into a chitter-chatter. Trying to impress me?

Her eye twitches at you. "Shut up."

You don't mean that.

She doesn't, which is why she looks away down at her moist palms. "Just trying to help." She says a bit lowly, a bit wounded.

A twinge of regret bolts through you, and you're quick to follow up that mean nothing hostile by your quips. It was easy to be snide, to sneer, to be a smart ass when you didn't care for the itch and the hurt your words were able to do poking fun. Here and now, it matters.

Your apology makes her look at you again with a relatively soft look as if she's trying to tell you no apology was needed. There is a language between you two that now goes beyond speech, and you wonder if everyone had a relationship like this in their life. You wonder if Azzie had many, that he was spoiled for it.

But you would know best, wouldn't you? About speaking without words.

The rain continues its mist outside, and occasionally, a droplet is thrown in the wind against you. It is so easy to imagine Susie breathing fire. She does in every way but the literal sense already.

Try again, for me?

She takes in another breath, considering you with eyes that hide behind her bangs. How earnest you sounded. How sincere you are.

She owes you this much, at least.

Perhaps there is a blocker between her faith in herself and what she can do, having failed at this very moment. So she's stuck there, same as you, considering what she should do. She wants to get pissed off, but after enough time with you, she knows now that perhaps it was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

It was time to ACT.

You told her you believed in her.

You did. This wasn't some cheap compliment, but you did believe in her.

You trusted her with your life, and although it might've been a bit dramatic to admit that here of all places, you did, and had been proven right once, down in the Dark.

Any aggravation in her draws off, like the drip of water off of her features: her snout, the bangs of her hair, her lashes, culminating on the concrete below in a dark spot. Licking her teeth with her tongues, she closed her eyes again. This was the opposite of peer pressure. Peer reinforcement.

You believed in her because, of course, there was a fire inside of her, you've seen it all her life, and honestly, just her trying is enough for it to warm you.

You believed in her because she was Susie.

"Shut up. Seriously." She tries to raise her voice but can't get it over the rain, avoiding eye contact with you. She might mean it, but it's her natural response to being flattered. For all your flirting down in the Dark, you can get a rise out of her. Maybe that was it?

You both take a squat at opposite ends of the broken-up wood of the bench, and she starts doing it again, breathing in, breathing out, and you can smell her breath of that CC's breakfast you had shared earlier that day. Chocolate is on it, and you are more fond of it than you'd ever care to admit to her face. Like so many times in the Dark when it came to pacifying the Darkness down there, encouraging them, complimenting them to do what was best for themselves (and more often than not leave you all alone), perhaps she needed that little encouragement?

A silly bit of it may be, so you looked for why you believed in her.

Was it because in certain (almost every) light, she was like a monument to herself?

Was it because you knew she was a complete person that was more than just a mean girl?

Was it because she is the closest thing you've ever had to a real best friend outside of Azzie?

No, no, all those might be true, but a bit too heavy. So naturally, you chose to tell her something a little more base as she huffed and huffed, blowing down onto the wood.

You believed in her because she was hot.

She chokes the second she hears that, stumbling in her squat.

"What's your problem?!" She half screams, stopping herself from reaching across the pile out of fear of losing her balance. "You can't just say that!"

It's true, though… You know. You're hot. Like fire?

"Shut up, dude, I get it!" She's blushing, or maybe it's working. You're not quite sure. "Keep it up with the patronizing act and I'll light you on fire next!"

Any reprisal or counter from you in your witted snark doesn't come out, however. You were just fine leaving it as it was and not giving her any more awkward fuel. She was heated enough already, and, maybe, just maybe…

Try it again now.

She's looking at you with a leer in one eye. "Freak." You blush at the word nowadays. It's the closest thing to a pet name from her, and you're not that ashamed to admit you like it.

"Seriously if it was that easy I'd-"

A spark out of her mouth.

Well. I guess it was?

Her eyes go blank as her brow furrows, trying to look directly in front of her for an empty second. "Was that?"

I dunno, you tell her, try it again. Once is a chance, two times is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.

She coughs up her throat again and the tiniest wisps of something bright, something hot, move past her lips.

"Shit. Okay? Uh…. Give me a second."

She's down on her knees, snout basically in the woodpile as you; instead of being directly across from her as she's trying to blow fire, opt to rather be next to her. She doesn't mind, and the heat you two radiate together is better than what you have alone.

Her frantic breathing comes out more in pop, pop, pops, but akin to a newborn animal trying to find its bearings by instinct, so to does something pop in Susie.

"Oh. Huh." Clearing her throat, her ancestry talks to her in the very ferment of her, and she breaths.

Smoke. It's not mist; it's not evaporation. It's smoke, heavy and whispy, out of her nose and mouth. The sound she makes seeing it drift in front of her eyes is the cutest you've ever heard from her: it is her sound of victory and the smile that spreads in front of her face.

You're not quite sure what compels you to reach out a hand to hold her arm gently as if beckoning whatever is happening forward, but you do, and she doesn't mind as you lean in.

Her birthright as a dragon has come forth, and it is in embers of fire.

Like blowing daisies, she realizes what she has, and she blows out slowly, something like a butane torch coming out from her lips in a puff. She looks as surprised as you when it comes forth, and, making sure it wasn't a fluke, she blows again, and again fire is born.

It's the Human inside of you that is pleased to see fire as you get to it immediately after, a wide grin on her face as she experiments more, as if this was her first lighter, flicking on a flame, on and off with her teeth. "Hell yeah." She is very proud of herself, her teeth steaming, looking down on you with a smile. "Guess I am hot."

Always, the flirting side of you that has been slick so far for some reason with her just says, and you let go of her arm before you overstay your welcome

You didn't mind Kris's touch. Not really. It helped.

The rest, it's too easy, as, in one huff, Susie blows right into the bench pile and sends it alight.

Wedging the bike between the back wall of the bus stop and the bench remains not taken down, it serves as a drying rack safely above the fire as it goes on for the top layers. You two also don't mind the extra heat as you inch closer than is strictly safe.

The problem is, though, you're both soaked down to the bone anyway—all of your clothes.

It's not exactly an issue for you to do what you did next: the way you took off your shirt, draping it over the bike with your sweater to dry it out. You're shirtless, and Susie stares.

Puberty is/was being kind to you. You've shed off most of the baby fat, and the amount of walking that you just do has helped you remained fit enough to put you above the "wouldn't have guessed" in terms of your body. The point is, you're not too sedentary, and it shows. Perhaps though what Susie stares at, even as you are no more than a foot or two away, are the scars.

Before the Dark World, you had none that hadn't been extraordinary. Scuffed knees here, glass cuts there, maybe a harder patch of skin from a bruise after roughhousing with Azzie during your youth, but nothing as extraordinary as the scar of the King, spades through you, leaving their mark. If you had any doubt that the Dark World had been real, it had been on what is left behind on you.

It wasn't particularly ghastly: the way the piercing spade of his had pierced your right pec and into the divot of your arm by your armpit, but it was a scar nonetheless that healed over.

Like what you see? You finally lock eyes with Susie after letting her get her fair share of you. It's only right after you peered down her shirt the other day.

"Dude. That's pretty badass." She's impressed. "Not as good as mine though."

The hem of her shirt is pulled up, and she has far more scars on her than you, most of them not from the Dark. You've caught them before whenever she rolls up her sleeves or when her shirt just flutters enough to show off her stomach, but she is marked up. Knots of her skin/scales left behind from stories you know or have yet to hear. She motions to a rather jagged line with what appear to be the remnants of holes in a somewhat uniform pattern.

What was that? You ask. You try to remember any attacks that hit you all in the Dark, or, even worse, whether or not any attack you've hit her with would've left that connect the dot pattern, but she affirms pretty quickly as, all at once, her Beatles shirt is off and thrown onto the drying rack.

"Fell on a rake. Was pretty gnarly."

She wears her scars with pride, for where she has been harmed, she has grown stronger. She has no bra on today, so you see all of her (as if you haven't seen more of her than most anyone else in that world already). As she beams with pride, you know that look on her face, and it's of careful judgment. It's a judgment not unlike she gave you before you fell into the Dark, thinking nothing more than you as a quiet freak, but there's purpose in it, hidden by a smirk.

If you're not going to be weird about this, she won't.

Because that's how you two are. Assumptions and a comfortable realization that a lot of what you've done apart feels pretty good with company.

You're not going to make this weird, and she's okay with that.

As you both lean back, looking out toward the rain.

"Does your mom know about that scar of yours?" She asks the side of your head, the dry warmth of the fire's heat on your bare skin is somewhat prickly but pleasant.

You shake your head, looking back at her face. She doesn't need to know.

"And if she finds out? Isn't she the type to like, freak out or whatever?"

You shrug. You'll tell her you fell on a rake.

That gets a chuckle out of her that's genuine and almost self-satisfied with herself. "Man, I can't believe I can do this shit now."

The roar of a flame beside you, and she is experimenting with the newly discovered butane torch in her mouth. Fortunately, however, it smells like what she last ate, which was breakfast. Did it convert food or calories into flame, you wonder? How did her lungs work again? Was that too personal to ask? You're pretty sure Alphys was a lizard, too, so she would probably know.

"Dries the hell out of my throat though."

Yeah, you tell her, it's pretty cool. She flashes a thumbs up at you, pride on her smile. Pride in her work. It's nice. Today was nice with her. She hadn't been too aggressive today, her shoulders less heavy, her voice a little softer. You like it when she's like this.

You like days like this.

With her, yes, but also with the rain.

You longingly gaze out at the rain, legs tucked into your chest as you rest your head upon your knees. The world goes into its muted color, and in the distance, you can see another abandoned house left by the wayside by a different type of Hometown than the one it was built for. Eventually, everyone leaves home, and you wonder if that is true for you.

You like these days, you say aloud, and you explain. It's soothing; it's nice to wake up to weekends around this time of year, where the rain is gentle and soft against your home, and you can sleep until noon and not feel like you wasted the day.

Her breath hitches, catching herself trying not to call you a wuss, but she considers your words first and decides, in a grunt: "Yeah. I guess sleeping in on rainy days is fun. Snow days too. Any days really."

It's different though, you tell her, that gentle patter of rain.

You blurt out words, straight from Azzie himself: Rain is good for the SOUL.

Azzie, he used to play in the rain all the time over Mom yelling. His snow-white fur coat was drenched down in a way that often made you jealous. You wish you had that same beauty to yourself. But no, you were only Human.

"Good for the soul, huh?"

You nod. It's what you believe.

You might not know if you have a SOUL or not, but I like it, I'll tell you. Azzie always knew what he was talking about.

I miss him.

The fire cackles in the silence as she, again, goes into her thinking look. You don't want to look at your phone for the time, enough so that you take it out and just put it asides. This is a nice moment where no one can reach you, and you'd rather not reach out to anyone else but her.

It's almost like being in the Dark again.

Seconds, minutes, time goes by.

Her eyes, she looks between the fire and the rain outside, two forces, always in constant conflict in meeting. And yet, here they can co-exist. Much like herself in a way.

What conclusion she comes to about what mystery thoughts she has seem to be answered as she looks down on you, and you return her gaze.

When she stands up and takes off her pants, you, for a brief second, believe that this is going to get weird. However, she allows no opportunity as she folds her pants over the rack and heads out into the rain again.

She goes no more than a few yards out, out to the middle of the dirt road, no tree cover above to stop the rain from touching her, drenching her again. The rain is not beating her down. However, it is covering her in the way a blanket does, and a bit of steam comes off of her, residual from the extreme heat from the fire.

You can only look on in awe as, finally, you can admit this: She looks beautiful like this. She looks gorgeous in many ways in many different places under many different conditions. Though there is mysticism here, a pretty picture in your mind that you have to keep as she decides, in her mind, it seems that yes: Rain is good for the SOUL.

Monsters don't have them, but I won't ruin the moment.

She's very comfortable with herself in a way you could never fathom. She exists in her own skin, in nature, and she finds her peace there. Water runs down her form, and you cannot think of her dirty. Here she is pure, amidst rain run down her purple scales. The beginnings of her tail are there above her butt, poking out, maybe as large as a hand. She never cared what people thought of her, and nothing changes now. Still, she looks back at you through heavy, wet bangs, and her eyes are half-lidded. In them: expectations, questions, all of you.

She tilts her head, and you see her eyes, and that is that.

You join her because this is what you are now.

Your shirts are drying, and your pants go too, and, with a bit of trepidation, your underwear as well as you step out into a cold that doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Susie, she curls her hand to you, but before you have any idea to grab it, she rolls it back. Her eyes roll to herself, chiding whatever thought came over her. Whatever that thought was, you didn't think it was so bad as you bridge that watery distance and touch upon her arm.

The response of contact. She's been filing her claws down, for your sake, and you notice now as she gives your hand a tap, a press, as it falls back to your side. She freezes as the world in motion around you continues on, and the rain suddenly doesn't matter anymore as that hand returns to touch upon yours, touching her arm.

You're not the people to dance in the rain, and if you could, why would you dance? How could you dance? Pirouetting doesn't seem like the call here, but your hands are working on their own as they go to Susie's hair instead. She freezes as if your hands had roamed elsewhere, but she says nothing, looking at you with the side of her eye in trepidation as she allows it, jaw clenched tight.

Don't worry, you tell her.

"You should be the one worrying." She tries to put up that act, but it washes away—tears in the rain and all that. However, there is no worry as you simply let your hands drift along her arms as you step, slowly, behind her, your fingers tracing her skin until they come to her back plainly. It's almost like your own skin, her scales in micropatterns that give you the impression of skin. You don't dare push your luck, but you can't help but wonder as your hands roam up her back to the bottom of her scalp. You had to stretch a little, but it's a movie you've known all your life.

Mom and Dad, when they were still together, often did this. Mom had groomed herself fairly stringently; however, Dad had kept golden locks long. On idle days on the front porch or in the living room, you'd see in sickly embarrassing fashion the way your mother would thread her fingers through your father's hair to straighten it out. And further, when Asriel tried to do so, you were the one that had to do the same. It's been a long time since you've done this, but ever since you've come to know Susie like this, you had wanted to run your hands through her hair just as you had done with your family, what felt like a lifetime ago.

She stiffens as your hands move up the back of her neck, but it dissipates as she feels a soothing feeling, lost to her by age. Your digits move through her unkempt, now wet hair, and they follow along in between like a comb. You go slowly not to pull on any knots you might find, but it's not as if you'd like to speed this up. You are enjoying this, and she is too. You know by the way her shoulders slump, and a breath she was holding let go, its sound lost amidst the pitter-patter of rain.

The rain spares you grease, sweat, dirt, and grime that her hair usually accumulates, and it washes her clean as she, after a minute of it, leans her head back to give you a little more ease of access. You take it wholeheartedly, slowly rolling back and forth through her locks of hair, occasionally touching your fingertips into the back of her head and dragging down. You can't see her face, but she seems content.

She does nothing when you reach up and over, toying with her bangs, only before going back around the long way, your fingers daring to graze over her cheeks on its way back to her hair.

A thousand generations of Human predisposition and instinct swell up in many places right now.

There's a word for this as she, in the most minute of steps, moves back further toward you:


You can't ever fall in love with a perfect person.

That wasn't how love operated. Love is felt despite imperfections, and you know, deep in your bones, that Susie is imperfect.

You pause, and she feels your absence as her right hand moves up to rub the side of her neck, imitating your movements as she looks back at you with the side of her eye.

You look back at Kris, and they look up at you, waiting, hoping, patiently for what your honest response to all this is.

All you can think, though, is this:

What have you done to me?

Stuck in the rain, you feel as hot as you ever had as she finally, after unbearable moments of stillness, reaches out to you and places her hand on your shoulder. Her bangs cover her eyes, however, as her hands shift up your neck and into your hair.

It's only fair.

You know what their skin feels like after all this time. You've manhandled them enough to know. But this touch, this feeling, is different as your palm moves over smooth skin, unlike your scales. You feel their natural warmth, basically radiating from them, and for a moment, you think you're not the only one able to generate fire. You take your time, slow; eventually, your hands finding their way to their scalp.

You run your freshly manicured claws through Kris's hair, and it's soft and a little like Asriel's blanket, even in its damp wetness. For as careful as they were to comb your hair neatly with their fingers, massaging your scalp over in the rain, you don't return the same gracefulness. Not that you didn't want to, but that was some over-emotional shit, and honestly, Kris didn't seem to mind the way their head broke out into a mess of a wet, fluffy cloud. It was a glorious mess that your claws get lost into, Kris holding their head back, savoring the sensation before you draw away, and they again shake their head like a dog.

Rain, it's good for the soul. You've know this now life as it cascades down your form, washing cleaner than any shower might. You didn't quite mind the feeling, the wash. All you feel is good.

With your head hung back, you open your mouth to drink from it, and it quenches a thirst you had as, dreamily, you look back down to Kris. They're enjoying themselves, truly, just existing. You are, too, your free hand going off long, trying to catch the rain on your scales and the way they seem less oppressive and purer.

It's not quite the Dark, and it's not quite the Light, but with the rain misting over the land, the trees in their pitter-patter chorus filling in the silence, you are at peace, even if you were caught out in the rain.

There's a song you and Mom listened to a lot for that very brief period where you did go along with her and sing to her violin.

It's your favorite band still, not that you'd admit it, but it's one whose songs you know by heart and one that Kris pulled out to on the piano when you visited the hospital with them.

You cannot bring yourself to sing, but you can bring yourself to sub-vocalize, to ghost the lyrics on your lips:

Now here I go again

I see the crystal vision

I keep my visions to myself

It's only me who wants to

Wrap around your dreams and

Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?

Every song has its hidden depths, its analysis yet to be made by every person who comes to sing and comes to listen to them. For you, here, however, this is something literal in the way Stevie Nicks spoke to you through song. You remember her very well, after all this time removed from singing her songs.

Dreams of loneliness

Like a heartbeat, drives you mad

In the stillness of remembering what you had

And what you lost

And what you had

Ooh, what you lost

Kris closes their eyes, and they trust you to do what you will. So you keep running your claws through their hair, straightening it, putting it into straightness that is so unlike their usual brown curls. They're clearly enjoying it, and Kris reminds you far too much of a goat now as they roll their head gently from side to side, like an animal. They grew up with them, and so those little hints of monster-like mannerisms emerge from them from time to time. You see the way sometimes they lean their head forwards when taking a challenge as if they had horns. You know the way their feet sometimes tap the ground in anxiety or even the way they take a moment when gauging up where you were, to take a few sniffs of the air.

It's endearing.

There is only rain, no thunder, no lightning.

Thunder only happens when it's raining

*Players only love you when they're playing

Women, they will come and they will go

When the rain washes you clean you'll know

You'll know

You will know

Oh, you'll know

The moment ends, however. It always has to.

It's not interrupted, but the absurdity of this all finally catches up to you as, eventually, you're confronted with the fact that you've always been closer to chest level with her than eye to eye.

"What're you looking at?" She sounds just a tiny bit annoyed but beating back a laugh.

You don't miss a beat, keeping squarely focused on her face after that drifting stare downward, which is challenging given the height difference. You tell her frankly that she's the enormous pervert for going almost full nude in public like this, and you're only there to make it seem like she's not insane alone. Maybe it wasn't the best decision to meet her, snap for snap, when she had just recently discovered the act of making fire with her sneering mouth, one which you feel on her breath as the wordless threat finally has you turn away and back into the bus stop, your clothes nice, dry, and even comfortably warm. Sliding them back on the novelty of what has transpired, it fades away, but what remains is a memory you're sure to hang onto for the rest of your life, no doubt.

On the thought of memories and her, you figured, why not make new ones with her?

As you finish putting on your clothes, your eyes catch hers, and she waits, and listen, as the rain finally dims down.

Finally, finally, you tell her your plans for the Sadie Hawkman Dance.