dayspring mishandled cometh not again

The mirror is a lonely place to live, Akio thinks: even his reflection lacks a certain something tonight.

But then this entire structure is dying around him. The glasshouse is falling down, inch by inch; nobody cares for her roses now, and their petals litter the gravel pathways in decaying piles. The rose vines grow unrestrained, with thorns that have no sweetness left to mollify them, spilling beyond their neatly restrained bushes and lying in open invitation, green as fresh poison. The reflecting glass of the windows is smeared and brown, and he cannot see himself as clearly as he once did. The metal girders have begun to rust. Beyond the glasshouse, night has fallen on the Academy, and the corridors are silent, the quadrangles empty, the place full of sleep and dreams.

"She used to walk these paths," Desire says, a shadow in the mirrored panes. "She would take these flowers in her hands, thus and thus --"

"Be silent," Akio orders. "Have I not listened to you often enough? Have you not led me into folly?"

"You and your sister," Desire answers, "and both of you were happier for it, for a little while. Ah, my sweet, my precious, my fair one . . ."

"You offer me her?" Akio enquires.

"I offer you myself," Desire murmurs.

"Offer me myself, rather, and I might be interested," Akio says, turning away.

"How can I give you that?" Desire follows him down the pathway, a fraction of a step behind him, footsteps barely audible. "You don't want him that way."

Akio pauses. He is aware of how he looks from behind. He tosses his head, and his hair moves in a slow wave of paleness. "But you want me, don't you?"

"With all my heart," Desire answers, "and with all my body, and with all that I am. I dream of your heat against me. I dream of your face between my hands. I dream of your manhood sheathed inside me. I lust for you, Ohtori Akio."

"Say it again," Akio commands.

"I cannot live without you," Desire answers. "I must have you. I'll do anything for you."

"Ah," Akio whispers. "Yes. That's what I need to hear."

Desire moves forward, and drapes across his shoulders, long pale hands folding round his chest. "And what will you give me for it, my own, my precious, my heart's desire?"

Akio looks into the glass, and sees a single reflection. "Anything," he answers.