Laughing, she gently kept her hand on his shoulder. A normal conversation, a normal interaction, but the hand and the shoulder were not so casual. Deep inside, down below the masks, the arrogance, the fear and the jealousy, she was a leaf, and he was her branch. Her connection to him was fragile and difficult to grasp; she felt it slipping with every second. Soon she would be adrift in the wind, like before she had met him; her only companions the motes of waste that flittered around her, drawn to her black light.

His laughter shook his body, and it made their connection stronger even as her hand slipped a fraction. But then she walked in, and their connection was gone. Whereas they were both fruits, shetasted better to his tongue, the tongue that she wanted to touch and feel with her own-

No. It was better to be alone than to be hurt and alone, so she continued to laugh – but she took her hand off his shoulder. She could feel the void inside herself grow a little larger, the gravitational pull it held on her soul a little stronger, and the water in her eyes threatened to slip out if she did not rein her heart into line. Such a silly thing, really; tears were so overrated. She had them when others wanted them, but could never have them for herself. The void was never let out, never expunged, and its wet murky center grew colder and colder with each passing performance, with every time she pretended to be someone that had become more her than she was.

The two walked out, him and her, and she closed her eyes and smiled slightly as she waved them goodbye. When the door closed she was alone – but then, she was always alone, wasn't she. She was a light that cast darkness, and her world was one where the darkness lived in the light and mimed its shine. She was a mime, too, only she mimed those who lived in the light. Why couldn't she live in the light? Why was her world so dark?

The water threatened again, but she resisted like she always did. You give in once, and it never stops coming out – she had learned that the hard way, when her mother left. She understood the dangers of emotions, and how useful and safe it was to hide your true feelings – her father's silence had taught her that. She smirked at how pathetic she was, taking a masochistic pleasure in her sorry state, and turned around.

But she stopped dead. On the table in front of her was a picture, a picture of her and him and her, smiling together at a carnival. She and her were on either side of him, both holding onto him, strongly and fiercely fighting the other's attempts to monopolize him.

She couldn't help it. The water- the tears just came roaring out, pressurized and frozen by years of neglect, and after a single, barely choked-back sob, she began to wail. It was so unfair! Everyone else lived in the light, but she could only mimic them; her true self, her true needs were never fulfilled! Her life was full of unsatisfying victories and Pyhrric pleasures, and the only person who had managed to bring light into her dark, dark world would rather bring it to the person who needed it the least!

The void continued to pour out, endless in its depth, and soon her own tears had transformed her, taking away her legs and leaving her even more vulnerable – not that she was capable of moving anyway, the void had drained all the strength from her limbs. Her voice became louder even as it grew more ragged, as her precious throat grew hoarse, and more of her soul went flying out into empty space to be replaced by the encroaching darkness-

Warm. There were hands around her – his hands, she knew. Why? He wasn't supposed to be here, seeing her like this. She didn't want him to see her void – she had the most ephemeral of connections as it was already! Why!? Why had he returned!? Why did he have to see her true self!? Why did he have to get so close to giving her what she so desperately wanted!?

She had no control over her body; the void was the one in charge, now. She turned around and hugged him back, as hard as she could. He grunted, slightly, but he was used to far worse abuse. She smothered her face in his clothing, immediately soaking it with her tears and giving it an uncomfortable texture, but his smell filled her senses and fought back at the void. His light was a weak one, more like the moon than the sun – and oh, she had never enjoyed that comparison more than she did now – but it clawed with tooth and nail towards her center, where her true self, her true needs and desires lay, enveloped by the void.

She gripped him tighter. She knew this couldn't last forever, and wanted to relish it for as long as possible, but nevertheless found herself compelled to speak. "Why?"

"She can wait," he said softly. "You need me more right now."

Drop the conditional, she wanted to tell him, but couldn't bear the thought of his awkward rejection. Instead she stayed silent, and let his light warm her world a little. When he left again the darkness would seem all that more cold, but she didn't have the willpower the stop the torrent of feelings that rolled out of her.

For now, it was warm. She gradually drifted away to sleep, hoping for dreams of the past, present and future she wanted, relaxing into his arms.

He hugged her, supporting her. And as she smiled in her sleep, so did he.

Perhaps... the future wasn't as set as he thought it had been.