Disclaimer: Don't own them.

i.

He lies stretched out on the windowsill, basking in the sunlight, his eyes closed and his hand halfway in a bag of chips. Ever since Mark received his first paycheck for his newest film there was a good supply of food in the loft. And ever since the food appeared Roger shamelessly set to work on making it disappear.

"You're like a fat, lazy cat," Mimi whines, but Roger simply yawns to make clear the fact he's ignoring her.

When she doesn't shut up he lethargically sticks out a socked foot, prodding her teasingly in the belly without even opening his eyes. He can practically hear her pout as she stomps off, and he smiles deviously with the satisfaction of knowing he's won. Stretching, he sits up, dusting greasy potato chip crumbs off the windowsill and himself and calling to Mimi before she wanders out of earshot. She reappears before him, a baggy tee shirt concealing the lingerie she had failed to lure Roger off the windowsill with.

Opening the window wordlessly, he tugs the billowing white bed sheet hung out to dry on the fire escape inside. He swings his legs over the sill and throws his garments aside, allowing them to fall in a heap to the loft floor, then wraps the sheet around himself and draws back into the corner, creating room beside him. With an aphrodisiac smile of understanding Mimi sheds her tee shirt and skirt as well, climbing beside him. Gently he pulls the sheet around her shoulders and cradles her against him, their bodies close beneath the white fabric and their lips pressed together.

For once the air doesn't seem choked with pollution as it drifts breezily into the loft, slipping under the sheet and chilling their unclothed bodies. Clean as the air is, Roger still finds it hard to breathe. Sweat dappling his bare skin, he brushes the side of his face against Mimi's neck, his forehead pressing against her bony shoulder. Amidst the staggering rapture a thought pokes around in his mind.

She's become too delicate. Despite the heightening pleasure he feels he must maintain his self-control, afraid that one wrong move will break her. They have food readily available now yet Mimi doesn't eat any of it. She insists that they need it more than she does, though it's obvious that there's plenty for all. Roger wants to tie her up and force-feed her spoonfuls of that strawberry yogurt she used to walk around in her underwear eating in the early hours of the morning, back when it was only a rare luxury. Now they have four containers of the stuff and she won't even look at them.

Suddenly the sensation is heightened, and his mind returns again to the present. It's just her and him, him and her, the two becoming one on a windowsill at the edge of the world beneath an ivory cover that Roger likes to believe protects them from all harm. A pair of doves flutter noisily past the window and Roger doesn't flinch but holds Mimi closer. He feels that had he wanted to he could reach up and grab hold of the sky, touch heaven with his fingertips, but right now he is with Mimi.

Once the sky darkens to dusk she is fast asleep against his chest, the slender fingers of her left hand still clinging longingly to his sun-bleached locks, her other hand resting comfortably just below his abdomen. He decides he'd choose a mortal moment with Mimi over eternal life any day.

ii.

Together they walk in the park, side by side with fingers entwined, matching vanilla ice cream cones in their unoccupied hands. He ignores the haggardness of Mimi's fingers as she swings their clasped hands playfully between them. Still sprightly despite the vague weakness eating away at her. He's happy that she's at least eating, and ice cream of all things.

With one of those unexplained bursts of energy that she always seems so full of she releases his hand suddenly and takes off down the path, her laughter shattering the humdrum atmosphere of the park. She's dying yet has more vitality than the healthy men and women that lounge lazily on the grass reading books and picnicking. Roger could never understand how that worked.

Mimi's dark caramel curls bounce tauntingly with every bound, almost challenging Roger to just try and catch this nimble spark of life. He feels she's running out of his life and quickens his pace, but he always ends up gasping for breath when he's a mere arm's length away. She always turns around and comes back for him anyway, and laughing the two collapse onto the nearest park bench, disregarding the sign that reads 'Caution: Wet Paint' and earning stares from the elderly joggers.

Once Roger can breathe normally again Mimi drags him to his feet and pulls him along, but at his pleading returns to a civilized pace, holding his arm and nuzzling her sun-warmed head against his neck. He sees the young men playing football stop to stare and is proud to have such a beautiful creature beside him.

iii.

"I don't want you to go to work tonight."

Mimi looks up from applying her lipstick, her eyeliner already runny with the heat from her skin after being applied only five minutes ago. She looks nothing like herself when she dons the guise of a common whore. It makes Roger angry; he didn't fall in love with a whore, but Mimi, his beautiful Mimi. Turning she watches him crouch in the corner with his guitar and stare straight back at her austerely. The last thing she should have to do on her birthday is touch herself and make married men horny. On top of it all she has a high fever and her body is so ravaged with sickness she looks as though she will fall apart limb by limb if she even tries to dance.

Omitting a little cough that progresses into an inclement convulsive hacking, Mimi can barely manage to shake her head. The virus that butchers her from the inside out has left dark spots under her eyes. Her unhealthy appearance, coupled with the cheap make-up, reminds Roger of his aunt. She only came to visit every other Christmas, always smelling of cheap liquor, tobacco and sleazy sex. His mother never spoke of her often, but when she did she did so with shame. "Rog, we need money," she croaks, immediately embarrassed at her effort to speak.

"Mimi, we have Mark for that."

"Why should Mark waste his paycheck on people who will be corpses before the year's end?" Mimi insists, and to Roger it sounds as though she's finally given up on life. "I don't know about you, but I'd like to make it a little easier on him."

At her tone Roger's insides turn to scalding lava and he can't bite back the explosion of words that erupts without warning from his mouth. "I may not have a job, but least I have enough fucking dignity to not parade around naked and fuck strangers for money!"

The ensuing silence is just as bitter as the stare Mimi gives him. Roger begins to wish he were a mute so the next time he loses his temper he could just hit her. That would make life much simpler, as sometimes he feels his words are more hurtful than any physical abuse he could ever muster.

Mouth gaping, her lips chapped and raw behind that shitty inexpensive lipstick, Mimi is silent, but her eyes say so much more than words ever could. She stands up, knocking her chair boisterously to the floor, and makes her way towards the door, stumbling like a drunkard and clinging to every nearby object for support. Before leaving she blatantly flips him the middle finger, which only succeeds in encouraging his temper. "I hope you fucking drop dead on the stage!" Roger screams after her, hurling an empty beer can at the closing door, his anger not yet quelled, though through his rage he regrets the words the second they leave his mouth.

iv.

He's chasing her again, and this time he's not going to succumb to the stinging in his chest. She staggers like a wounded deer down the sidewalk, the headlights of frantic taxis and tourist buses piercing through the dusk and illuminating her wan figure. She fades in and out of sight, a fluctuating lacuna in night's thick hide. Occasionally he's convinced he's chasing an illusion, but if it's the real thing, he's not going to let it slip through his fingers and out of his life without a fight.

She passes under a streetlight and briefly he catches a glimpse of his glimmer of life, though she's gotten fainter since the last time they ran like this. Forget running, walking left her hopelessly exhausted, and she could barely make it to the park just down the street to perform such an effortless task as feeding the pigeons. He still went for walks, just alone, and the young men with their grubby skin and their football would sneer at him. Without the luminescent Mimi at his side to lend color to his image he was just as average and bland as a black-and-white photo.

Now she's running but this time he catches her, physically catches her, before she has the chance to fall and crack her skull on the pavement. Nocturnal crowds jostle past without concern for the young man with a dying girl in his arms, for they're the nightlife, numb to this sort of thing. He knocks a couple of forlorn tourists aside and rushes down the sidewalk, the loft his destination.

He can feel the spark of life flickering, on the verge of extinguishing, and he can't help but feel as though he's the wind responsible for blowing it out.

v.

The lights went out at midnight.

The artificial lights he had to dim to appease her sensitive eyes, the candles that tainted her flawless image with twisted shadows, the headlights and stoplights of the congested city streets below, even the moonlight seemed to fade to darkness when her heart stopped beating. She took her last gasp of air breathing in his scent as he cradled her tremulous body on the windowsill.

Even after she had died he refused to let her go, still clutching, with whitening knuckles, the vaguest hope that she would wake up again. But she had already had her little miracle, and it would not be fair if she got a second chance when more unfortunate people never got their first. She finally managed to run out of his sight, out of reach, and he knew this time she wasn't going to turn around and come back for him.

The light of his life went out at midnight.