He gave her the key to his apartment ages ago, but this is only the second time she's used it.

Not that she hasn't been a frequent visitor. Hell, half of Diego's closet is storage space for her personal belongings, and she can't even begin to count how many nights ended in this very bedroom. Or the bathroom just down the hall.

Sometimes the kitchen, if they were feeling particularly impatient.

Still, she never really felt it was her place to go bursting in whenever she so desired. After all, it was – is Diego's apartment, not their apartment, and she appreciates the separation.

At least, she used to. Suddenly everything seems a little more distant than she's comfortable with.

Suddenly she wishes for the inability to define where he starts and she ends, to mesh them both into one cohesive whole. Then maybe she wouldn't have to deal with being alone.

Mia let herself in only once before. She'd left the courthouse the afternoon of the Terry Fawls case in bad shape despite Diego's best attempts to comfort her and ended up on his doorstep hours later, somewhere near midnight, fingering the shiny gold key in her pocket with hesitation.

Something about opening Diego's door seemed wrong at the time, like she was crossing an invisible line. Sure, he gave her the key. But did that really give her the right to use it? Did that give her permission to enter without being asked?

Mia wasn't entirely sure, but her damaged psyche seemed to warrant special circumstances that night. She slid the key into the door and found her way into his room. Even then she perched herself on the side of the bed, waiting to be acknowledged.

It was a wonder Diego still possessed the ability to sleep, she remembers thinking to herself, what with all that coffee he drank.

"Kitten?" he mumbled softly, without even needing to open his eyes. Mia shook her head gently and smiled, wondering if he had been telling the truth when he'd said that he could identify her by smell. He reached out instinctively and touched her hand, willing her to lay with him, and she crawled under the covers beside him. Diego's arm suddenly found the motivation to wrap itself around her waist, and she exhaled a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.

They didn't slip into the stereotype of vulnerable, frenzied love making, hoping that their passionate screams would drown out the nearly tangible mutual pain. Diego simply drew her close, his body molding to hers and their legs intertwining as he held her through the night. She fell asleep to his rhythmic breath upon her neck.

Nothing seems wrong with entering his apartment tonight. No lines are being crossed, because there are no longer lines. There's only her and him; rather, her and the absence of him. She doesn't hesitate at the door, she doesn't wait to be invited or acknowledged or drawn closer.

She feels far enough as it is.

Crawling into Diego's bed is a thoughtless action. It's empty, and she knows this.

The clock glows red in the darkness of the room.

8:52 PM.

Mia curls into a tighter ball than she previously thought was possible of her figure.

His smell is everywhere; the sheets, the pillow, the carpet, the walls, the room, the air. Coffee, sweat, and the slightest hint of cologne. It's comforting and maddening and terrible and wonderful all at once.

She wants to yell at him. She wants to storm right into his hospital room and tell him that this is exactly the kind of thing that happens to stubborn, conceited, predictable, caffeine-addicted asses like him.

But she knows that even if she does, it won't make a difference. There will be no smile to greet her, no easy laughter at her rage, and no responsive warmth to curl up against when he's finally calmed her down.

There will be no one to hold her through this night.

It is this very thought that keeps her paralyzed in his bed, and no matter how tightly she draws the blankets around her shivering frame, no matter how hot the tears are as they slide down her cheeks and stain the pillow beneath her head, she still can't seem to escape the cold she feels.


I liked the idea, but I'm not so sure the execution turned out so well.

Writing shittastically is fun.