Author's Note: This is set a few days before the start of Code Noir, and written from Teece's point of view. I own none of the characters.

I watch Parrish sleep, raised up on one elbow to study her irregular features. She'll always be beautiful to me, no matter how crushed her cheekbone gets, no matter how many scars she collects.

She mumbles something in her sleep and flings an arm out. I fail to dodge it, and cop a flailing fist in the face. "Shite, Parrish," I whisper, rubbing my nose. She curls up into a foetal position and begins to snore lightly, as though her night's mission had been accomplished.

Sometimes I wonder, despite myself. Our relationship, if we can even call it that, is as painful as a blow at times – most of the time, even. Parrish loves me, in her own way, I guess.

Just not the way I want her to. Not the way she loves Loyl Daac.

I know Parrish isn't the type to settle down. I made my peace with that a while ago, when I asked her to move in with me for good, help me mind the biz, everything but marriage, really. It scared her way off. I won't be making that mistake again.

Though I can't help but wonder what she'd say if Daac asked the same thing. My jealousy is paramount.

I should cut her a break. It's just the way she is. I'll be there for her when she needs me, and back off when she doesn't. I know that's the fast-track route to being taken for granted, but it's the only way Parrish will have it.

Bitter? Me?

This Eskaalim thing has me more than a little worried, too. When that thing has a grip on her, she's vulnerable. Not so much when she's angry – she thinks I don't know, but there are whispers… whispers that she can fry someone into charcoal if they cross her – but when she's horny. Most guys would be delighted. I guess I am, too, in a way. But she doesn't want me because I'm me. She wants me because she has to want somebody, and I'm the one she trusts.

I know, I know. To be trusted by Parrish is a huge honour, and I'm grateful. She doesn't trust Daac an inch, I can tell that. But trust isn't enough. It's a hopeless dream, but I want her to love me the way I love her.

Yeah. And then I wake up.