A/N: I don't know if this was what Kaye had in mind, but I'm a fairly fervent Buddhist, and it certainly reminded me of a certain phrase. (Just to be clear – this is NOT a religious piece. It's just the reason I was inspired to write it.) It seemed wonderfully clever – this description of illusion, though it is only a sliver of the message, fits so very well into the world of Fae.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the air in my lungs and the thoughts in my brain, and both are transient. That, and my computer. Which is not transient. Don't mess with my computer, or I shall bite thee.

"The reflection of the moon in a cup of water is not the moon." – Siddharta Gautama

xxx

Kaye eyed the teary, whispering couple warily. Gossamer wings, glamoured into invisibility, shivered over her skin in agitation.

The girl was falling to pieces, uneven chunks of pink and black hair mussed as she tangled her fingers in the mass. Tracks of violet and black traced down her plump cheekbones from wet eyes, and she struggled to contain the choked sobs which were very, very audible in the small coffee shop.

"What did I do wrong?" she gasped desperately, lips quivering. "I would do anything for you, you know I would! Just tell me what to do and I'll fucking do it, but don't do this to me!" Sobs contracted and expanded her ribs sharply beneath her black corset, playing her torso like an obscene accordion.

With her long fingers digging fiercely into the collar of the scraggly boy's jacket, it was hard to explain that she didn't really remember giving her body permission to hop over the counter and manhandle him. Or to grind words out from behind gritted teeth in a tone that was several miles beyond pissed off.

"Unless you're going to tell her to get you an apple from the fucking table to prove herself, then get out. Now."

It wasn't particularly fair, she reminded herself. Come to think of it, it really wasn't any of her business. But the turn of conversation was following along an all too familiar path, and she'd be damned if she let the end play out in front of her. Again.

Not that the girl looked particularly grateful, but ah well. If she insisted on being the victim (because you definitely handled things better than her, she reminded herself) than that was her business, but they could go about it somewhere else.

"Queenie? Everything kosher up there?" Corny piped from down the hall, causing Kaye to stifle a groan. Right – there was still a real (well, relatively so) world full of asshole friends happy to give you a hard time for all eternity for doing something stupid. Like assaulting customers.

"Everything is fine, Cornelius."

The voice was low, intimately familiar, and immediately recognized. Kaye scrunched her eyes shut without turning to view the speaker, and this time her groan was quite audible. Best possible audience ever. Definitely. Just the thing every not-so-human teenage girl wanted her boyfriend to walk in on. Consort. King. Guy. Whatever.

And damn him for being the only person who could slip in the front door of Moon in a Cup without causing the bell overhead to jingle.

The disheveled boy jerked against her hold, and the leather of his jacket chafed her fingers, but she did not let go. Roiben's gleaming eyes were calm, politely inquisitive beneath arched brows.

"I would hate to find that every creature in the form of a male who passes over this threshold is being punished for my crime." A hint of steel there, a reprimand, even couched as it was in layers of self-recrimination and regret.

Long fingers unclenched, and Kaye moved them stiffly to tuck a tumbled lock of green behind one ear. The feuding couple beat a swift retreat, pushing beyond Roiben and out into the safety of the street beyond. The glance she turned on the King of the Twin Courts was caught somewhere between the danger of acid and the fondness of exasperation.

"I might," she declared curtly, "If certain asshole males would stop deciding to do stupid asshole things to the women who love them because they think they know best."

The silver knight held up pale hands in mock surrender. It was hard to stay very angry, however, when he was leaning so casually against the doorframe, shoulder brushing the neon sign which he neatly clicked off, proclaiming the coffee shop closed. Very difficult, actually, when she could see the long lines of his body through fabric and the ghost of an unguarded smile tugging at the corners of his lips. Her smile. The one only she ever saw, and he knew well how it liquefied her resistance. The King, standing at her door in plain clothes as though no matter of politics or security was important enough to keep him away from her mundane little Mecca.

Even wrapped in glamour to make him appear less inhuman, less radiant, he was beautiful enough to steal her breath – as well as abilities like articulate speech and dignity. And that was just the fae in him. Just being in love made your partner the most beautiful creature on earth to your eyes; Kaye wondered if anyone else could imagine how blindingly, painfully exquisite Roiben was to her when those forces intertwined.

So it was very difficult to maintain a stern façade when he pressed his lips against hers and played talented fingers up along her vertebrae.

"Am I allowed to see your room yet?" he murmured lightly, distracting her with kneading caresses over her hips as his lips ghosted over her neck. It left her somewhere between shivering and rolling her eyes.

"I still don't know why you- You have a perfectly good room. Two rather palatial rooms, actually, instead of some cubby that smells like coffee and smoke all the time."

"Because its yours," he said simply.

As he followed her beyond the public front of the coffee shop, he ran his fingers idly over stacks of books and gleaming monitors in Corny's "office." The mussed black head of the aforementioned human ducked out of an adjacent doorway in time to Luis' sleepy moan of confusion. Late as it was, he was rather surprised that the young men were not already… occupied.

"No pregnancy," he recited, unsure after so many repetitions whether the tradition was still amusing or merely irksome. Corny nodded his satisfaction, still sporting a wicked grin, and dodged the cushion an irritated Kaye tossed at him before closing the door to his own room.

At Kaye's count, Roiben knocked his head no less than six times as they wound up the narrow, cramped stairway. She didn't even bother attempting to track the damages to his elbows and shoulders. But his eyes were still bright and inquisitive, like a child's save for a very adult intensity, as she led him into her tiny room.

It was even worse than she remembered – she kicked a few cracked jewel cases beneath the bed, but it did little overall – wallpaper was still peeling, and thickly overlaid in her doodles with Sharpie and Kate's contributions in crayon. Clothes were tossed in haphazard piles, amber vials of Ravus' blessed medicine stacked erratically along available surfaces. Pictures and ticket stubs were wedged along the inside of her mirror's frame, and the secondhand dresser was nearly invisible beneath jewelry, five-fingered knick knacks, and scattered LPs.

But worst of all, if she had ever sat and concentrated and put all her effort into imagining something that would kill eroticism completely; well, it would probably be her bed. The sagging twin had never bothered her before – the Star Trek sheets were cozy, as was the enormous, patched coverlet and mound of cushions, but it was hardly sexy. Captain Kirk and Spock. Oh baby, oh baby.

But Roiben was diverted, fingering fallen items and examining tiny details with complete gravity. When she kicked him in the shin, he glanced up as though startled.

"It looks like a human girl's room," she said casually. He seemed to reexamine it.

"Somewhat," he conceded. "What of it?"

"Do you like me more with the glamour? When I look human? Is it more exotic that way?"

A frown furrowed between his brows, and he closed the scant distance between them with a single stride.

"I would know and desire you in any form you might choose, but I must admit that I prefer you most as you truly are. Entirely and without reservation."

He traced her browbone with a faint smile, and she could see herself reflected in her eyes as the glamour peeled away. It was like shedding a cumbersome shroud; everything was sharper, clearer, more rich.

Again she drew away, however. Faint, nagging questions surfaced – having already surrendered her room, she felt more in a position to ask them.

"But what- why? What about it? I can rattle off a few million reasons as to why I want you, and they all make sense. I mean, barring the obvious – King of the Twin Courts, well-bred, ridiculously gorgeous, and so on and so forth."

And he traced a map along her body, even as layers of fabric were shed and discarded.

"This," he murmured against the juncture of neck and shoulder, and at each fingertip, the palms of her hands, the pulse points at her wrists, the tips of her ears, her eyelids, ribs, hip bones.

No matter how many superior, condescending looks she garnered at his arm, no matter the whispers of the Consort's unsuitable nature, there was no denying the utter perfection, the exquisite completion, when he rocked inside her and coaxed from her body a slow and desperate song.

After, his elbow propped on Kirk's chin, he pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead before pulling the coverlet over them both.

"And that," he added, smiling in their secret way like a cherry on top of the whole grand treat.

xxx

A/N: This will be an extremely long story, so I'm going to take my time setting things up. However, there will be equal representation for Kaye/Roiben, Luis/Corny-Neil, and Val/Ravus. And I will put them all through dramatic, inventive, excruciating hell, because that's just more fun. If you enjoyed this at all, or have any suggestions, PLEASE review – I can't begin to explain how much your feedback helps me.