Alone.

His pace slowed. His throat tightened involuntarily.

Alone.

No! He would not give in to this, not again. He quickened his pace, his boots ringing off the black cobblestones of Paris.

Alone.

"N-ho," he fought for his composure. The lump in his throat was so big he could scarcely breathe.

Alone.

"No!" His cry echoed through the streets of the sleeping city. He slumped to the ground, blessing the darkness for hiding his tears.

Alone.

He sat in the cave, staring out at the bay. The sun was rising over the sea, spilling a garish shade of orange across the sky. But he softened a bit, remembering that she had loved the sun.

Alone.

He covered his face with his hands in agony. Nothing could appease the voice, nothing could stop it. He had tried for months and nothing could be done. The only one who could have stopped it was Christine, indeed she had stopped it for a time. When it had stopped he had felt such bliss, such peace.

But Christine had chosen another and left him with this voice. The toneless, emotionless condemnation of his life.

Alone.

His hand brushed past his face. Under the smooth, porcelain mask, he knew what was there. Through the thin facade he felt every mound, every crevice and unnatural sag in his features. His cheeks were wet with tears.

He flung himself to his feet and screamed at the sky, "All I wanted was someone to love me! To see me inside! Was that too much?"

Alone.

The word dropped him to his knees again as it pounded through his head. He gasped for air, suffocating under his grief. Nobody wanted him. Nobody knew what he felt. Nobody even knew he still lived.

"In that case," he rasped, "Nobody will care if I'm not here anymore."

Rising to his feet he grabbed length of rope. Seizing his quill, he penned a quick note on dried parchment, then laid down his mask. Reconsidering, he snatched it back up and donned it again. "Mustn't let them all see what you really are," he laughed sardonically. He disappeared into the depths of the cave.

Scratched in black ink on the brittle parchment was one word.

Alone.