So this note was completely superfluous when I started writing this series, but this is set before that whole fiasco at Gargantua (Volume 3) and is just supposed to be silly and fun, not referencing all of that heavy stuff that happened later. Also, I don't really write much of this stuff anymore 'cause I'm working on my own novel (!).

Chapter IV

Today, she was going to brush his hair. She'd declared those intentions loudly and as soon as they'd occurred to her, unlike other notions concerning...other issues between them. Not that they had issues. Or anything between them. Except air, of course, and...

It occurred to her then that when you were telling your own brain to shut up, it was probably time for a nap.

He had looked down at her (from what other direction could he look at her, really?) and asked her why, of course.

"Because it's tangled." She'd answered, refusing to give him more words.

So he sat cross-legged and she stood straight up with a purloined comb and started at the very tips, the bits of hair he'd nearly sat on.

She gave it a good yank and he'd winced, slightly, despite the fact that absolutely none of his internal organs were pertruding that day. "Sorry," she'd whispered, despite herself, and blushed to realize that one of the very last things she wanted was his pain.

He'd shrugged.

"Shut up, brain, shut up," she'd muttered then.

"Did you say something?" He'd asked.


"Are you sure?"

"Yes." His pants were going to get dusty, sitting on the ground like this, out in the desert. Was she really and truly incapable of thinking about anything else? Well, there was also that her knees were against his back. He was warm and...

"Machika, how do you think that you'll kill me?" Her current train of thought was derailed violently.

She thought for a moment, her hands on his locks paused. "I don't even know how to shoot a gun, so not that."

He nodded his agreement. "It's quite painful and messy."

"Do you think you'll want an open-casket funeral? Because we might have to think of something unconventional, then." She went over the words in her head again. Someday, he was going to die and she was going to have to keep living. She found the notion insufferable and immediately forced her brain to think about pastries instead.

"No, I don't think that matters at all. Who would come to my funeral, anyway?" His hands were stroking his chin pensievely.

"Me," she said ignoring the image of herself in a black dress and him in the ground with all of her might. Chocolate eclairs, she thought, pumpkin tarts. "Ayla. The doctor."

"Under no circumstances allow him to have my body."

She smiled a bit, his hair she had brushed his hair up to the nape of his neck. Which, unfortunately for her sanity, involved touching the nape of his neck. Cream puffs, she forced the image on her brain, apple pie. "Done. Do you want to be cremated?"

"Yes," he nodded thoughtfully. "If it's not too much trouble, maybe you could sprinkle my ashes somewhere warm? Maybe somewhere with flowers?"

Baklava. "I'm sure I'll manage," she told him and then repeated it, for her own benefit. Then, without her consent, her mouth continued speaking. "I suppose I might miss you."

"Really?" His ears were lightly tinged pink.

"It's possible, certainly."

"Huh. Why is that?"

"Dunno. I suppose...that I'm just used to having you around."

"Would you like to know something?"

Machika shifted uneasily. "I guess."

"I might just miss you too."

"Hunh." She choked on air. "Your hair is brushed."

Maybe it would go away. Soon. It had to.