Author's Note: A pause: Damned if I know where I've been all this time. Er. Cookies if you know what the crossover is with.


Montparnasse prefers himself to girls, and spends more time alone than in the company of the Parisian sluts and whores who love him because they are afraid of him. They don't make him angry, the way they do some men; but he simply likes himself better. He walks alone as often as he can, and works alone, and when he isn't working, he tries to be alone, unless Patron-Minette bring him out. He's had Jondrette's ugly daughter Eponine, but she's ugly, and Montparnasse likes beautiful things. Most of the time he simply keeps to himself. He always has beautiful things. He satisfies himself.

The cat he follows home one night isn't beautiful--she sticks out like the corners of houses, with thin bony hands, thin bony cheeks, wild red hair that sneaks around the edges of her hairpins and the scarf she's wearing over her head. She carries a bundle pressed close to her chest, and it's that that Montparnasse is really following. It's the promise of a prize, something that somebody treasures. He's always had an unshakeable longing for the things people want to protect.

He follows her until she stops in front of a beautiful house, far from the nasty part of the city where he picked her up. She knocks on the door, and hands the bundle to a servant, and then stands in the doorway, lit up in places by the lantern in his hand, so that her corners and bones show even more and make her look sharp enough to do injury to a person. Montparnasse shakes his head, grins, and pities the man who decides to make a night of her.

But the treasure is gone. He waits as finally another servant arrives and presses coins into her hands, hears the sharp sound of her leaving. He saw her hands as she gave up the bundle--to him it felt, through the distance, in her hands, as though she clutched at it before it went, and he feels a trace of annoyance. He had meant to find out what it was. He had meant to steal her treasure, even if it were worthless, even if it were something only a penniless, stupid beggar-girl found wonderful. She has let somebody else steal it, and he still means to have something.

When she steps away from the door, as it closes behind her, he slips forward on the shadow and catches her hands, twists them around. They're strong hands, and the hard bones are strong ones, pressing into his palms, sliding beneath her skin. Montparnasse laughs.

The girl laughs too.

Montparnasse twists her hands again, a little further. He's never liked the girls who pretend to love him, but he's always liked that they do it because they're afraid. He likes people to be afraid of him. He likes the smell it leaves in the air.

The girl smells of burned things, of smoke and bitterness; but not of fear.

Something tightens, something between them: perhaps his grip, perhaps her little furious grin. Montparnasse is growing angry, and anybody ought to know that he's dangerous, that he kills. He is beautiful and carries a knife. He wears his rose and allows it to wilt under the hot breath of men who are dying, panting. It amuses him. It amuses him, and now he is angry, and the girl laughs again, and her sharp cheeks are still visible in the pale odd colour of night. It is wrong.

Montparnasse lets her go.

"What were you carrying?" he asks in Argot, and the girl shakes her head.

"None of your damn business."

He strikes her, across her pointed face, and it knocks her sideways, but she pushes up again. She smiles.

He wants to accuse her of being simple-minded, wants to say something wicked and cruel and snaking to her, wants to hurt her; but he knows she isn't, knows she'd laugh, knows she wouldn't show him even if he managed. It wouldn't give him any pleasure, even if he managed.

"Done now?" she asks.

"Get out of here."

She turns, but suddenly he darts forward again, feet in a shadow, catches her wrist, turns her around, and kisses her, kisses a thin-lipped mouth that he can't see. He can't see her eyes, and he kisses her again. The girl waits.

"I said, are you done?"

But her voice isn't exactly the same. It isn't exactly as hard. She isn't laughing at him now. Montparnasse laughs instead, because now he isn't angry, now he is pleased, now he is amused. He has still stolen something. He hurt her after all, and she wasn't as strong as she'd thought. "Get out of here!"

She slides into the darkness differently from the way he does it, not silkily but in sharp angles, like a coin in a crack, like the blade of a knife in a lock. Montparnasse almost hears a click. He smiles to himself, and walks away, walks back to his part of the city a different way. He likes the sound of his footsteps, hushed, footsteps only he can hear. He can hear them because there is little other noise.

He is entirely alone.