With the same trepidition that a man facing his execution would show, Bright Heart knocked on Soulful Heart's door. He's never going to forgive me. Bright Heart thought with no little despair. And I can't blame him.

Bright Heart blinked as he saw the lights turn on and the door opened. If Soulful was surprised to see Bright Heart there, he gave no sign of it. He made a short gesture with his arm that Bright Heart took as an invitation to come one.

He felt a little nervous when Soulful closed the door behind him. This isn't going to be pretty…

"Soulful…I want to tell you that—"

"Save it." Soulful said abruptly.


"Save me your apologies and spare me your excuses. I'm not interested." Soulful said bitterly.

"I'm not hear to offer any excuses Soulful…" Bright Heart said, strung. "But I am sorry for what I said…" Soulful shot him a clearly incredulous look. "I am."

"Fat chance. You're just sorry you made yourself feel bad, if you cared an iota about my feelings you would've stopped this nonsense a week ago."

"I-I don't understand…"

"Obviously." Soulful growled.

"Soulful, please! We're friends!"

"That's what makes your betrayal so painful." Bright Heart felt his chest collapse in on itself at the word 'betrayal.' He tried speaking again but no words could escape from his mouth any more than light could from a black hole. In fact that's just what he felt: Like a black hole opened up inside him and was devouring him from the inside out.

He let out a whimper as he sunk to the floor and before he could check himself proceeded to cry his eyes out. He cried about what he had said to Soulful and what Soulful had just said to him. He cried about hurting the people he cared about and he cried about every humiliation, every hurt feeling, every mistake, and every accident…he cried and cried until there was nothing left in him. It was as if a dam inside him had broken, nothing was held back.

The next thing Bright Heart could remember was being helped to his feet, though he could barely stand up on his own. "You okay? Feeling better?" Soulful asked softly as he embraced him, a sharp contrast to his earlier tone. Bright Heart nodded.

"Yes." He croaked a lump in his throat making it hard to speak normally. Soulful gave him something to drink. Bright Heart didn't even look at what it was before he swallowed it. Some sort of tea, he guessed.

"I'm…" Bright Heart began again but Soulful just waved his paw in a dismissive gesture.

"I heard you the first time and I believed you. Repetition is just annoying."

"But, I don't understand—" Bright Heart said, unconsciously repeating himself again. "You said I betrayed you, how can you be so calm?"

"I said nothing of the sort." Soulful Heart said evenly. Bright Heart replayed the conversation back in his head. Soulful explained. "Bright, you betrayed yourself. That's how you hurt me. That's how you hurt Gentle. What you did to yourself…it was just wrong."

"Then you're not angry at me?" Bright Heart asked, amazed. Soulful paused.

"What you said earlier hurt. I can't say that it didn't." Soulful admitted. Bright Heat's face sank. Soulful hastened to add. "But you didn't say anything that was a secret. Everybody knows…what I am." He swallowed. "If you'd just stop this foolish posturing and get back to doing what you love, we can call it a night. Sound good?"

"Soulful…I can't." Bright Heart sighed. "I'm sorry about what happened as a result of it, but I stand by my decision to stop inventing."

Soulful's eye twitched. "Excuse me." He said as he picked up one of his sofa cushions and held it to his face. Bright Heart winced when he started cursing into it, but couldn't really make any of it out. It still sounded bad though. Eventually, Soulful discarded the poor, abused cushion and turned back to Bright Heart. "Now then. We're just going to talk…"

Until you get your head screwed on straight. Bright Heart read in his eyes, but didn't want to argue. "Go ahead."

"From what I've heard you say over the past week is two things: One; you think your inventing hurts more people than it helps, and Two; you think that's all you're good for." Bright Heart nodded.


"That's baloney." Soulful said in lieu of something stronger. "Remember the time I cut my hand on your saw last month?" Bright Heart looked down at the floor and nodded.

"That's the sort of thing I'm talking about…"

"Cut that out." Soulful snapped. "It was my fault, no one else's. I didn't spend years on the run to gain my freedom just so you could take it away from me by saying that I'm not responsible for my own mistakes. I screwed up. Not you, me. Understand?" Bright Heart reluctantly nodded. "Now, after that happened, what did you do?"

"Well, I got you a clean rag to stop the bleeding, then I took you to Take Care's. That's all."

"Why'd you take me to Take Care?"

"Because she has the medical know how and I didn't. She also had the equipment."

"Where'd she get that equipment?" Soulful asked.

"Well, I—" Bright Heart trailed off.

"You made it, Bright. You. So the next time you try telling yourself you do more harm than good, remember that. Besides, no matter what you tell yourself none of your machines ever do more than give someone a scratch, a burn, or maybe embarrass them a bit. From what I understand the most damage any of your machines ever did was to you, when that boiler exploded…and seeing as how that led to you and Gentle Heart admitting how you felt about each other—and since the damage wasn't permanent—I doubt you have much cause to complain."

"When you put it that way…" Bright Heart admitted. "I guess you're right."

"Your darn right, I'm right." Soulful said, not caring in the slightest about the crime he just committed against the English language. "Now then, your second belief, that you're only useful as an inventor and not as Bright Heart Raccoon. Pure bunk."

In spite of himself, Bright Heart had to giggle. The word was so old, so out of fashion and was probably picked up in some book that was old when television was new…and he could tell that Soulful probably ended up refraining from saying something far more pungent than "bunk."

Soulful ignored him. "Bright Heart, a lot of people have talents. Heaven knows I'm not one of them—" He startled a laugh out of Bright Heart, which was the goal he had in mind. "—But those talents don't make up the whole of a person. You're at your best, at your happiest when you're expressing yourself through those talents, but that doesn't mean that's the only reason you're worth anything."

Bright Heart blinked. He knew Soulful could be insightful but he never really saw him use that insight in regards to people, who he—as a rule—tried to avoid.

"Thanks Soulful…I never really thought of it like that." Bright Heart admitted.

"Does this mean you'll start inventing again?" Soulful asked. "Because all this sensitivity stuff is starting to really cramp my style…" He added sheepishly. Bright Heart smiled, the first real smile he'd had in weeks.

"I guess it means I will. That doesn't mean I wont keep trying new things," He added. "But you're right, I love science and inventing too much to give it up."

"Finally!" Soulful exclaimed. "'Cause my microwave's been broken since forever and I have such a craving for popcorn…" Bright Heart snorted and tossed a pillow at him.

"I might've known… Tell you what you go give Gentle Heart a call while I go fix your microwave. Maybe the three of can go out for pizza or stay in and watch some movies. My treat." Soulful smiled.

"Since when can I turn down free food?" He asked rhetorically as he got up to get the phone.

"If the indents in your couch are of any indication…" Bright Heart teased, earning him a fierce—if faked—glare from Soulful. Bright Heart went into his kitchen to fix the microwave and managed it in less than five minutes. It didn't explode or even burn the popcorn. He counted that a success. Gentle Heart came over and gave him the biggest hug ever when she saw him fixing it. He counted that an even greater success. He stayed up all night watching (and sometimes making fun of) movies, eating junk, and getting walloped with pillows with his two closest friends. He counted that the biggest success of all.