They meet in dark corners, eyes full of grains of sand that scrape their lids when they try to sleep. They are so tired of guilt, or responsibility. They are tired and sad and scared and as God watches them he doesn't understand, when he is so quick to forgive, when his wrath is so great, why they don't come to him. But absolution is so much heavier than amnesia and they have so far to carry it. And as the liquor burns their throats, the smoke scarring their lungs as they breathe, they rip each other apart with tongues and lips and teeth-nails dragging at each other's skin, pulling open old scars (pain works better than alcohol for forgetting- they will fall inside and never return).

Duncan hates when Logan starts a sentence with "Lilly would hate..." because they both know what Lilly would hate. She would hate them for finding solace in each other's skin while leaving Veronica - shivering, hardening, cracking, emerging and suddenly cold black fire slowly burning.

One day he can't do it anymore. Duncan is empty- always empty- and Logan is full, boiling, burning everything in his wake and Duncan can't pretend to feel it anymore. The night before his hands had skimmed new scars, coming away red. Tonight his hands would be clean. He led Veronica to his room that night- neither elevating nor soothing her discomfort, her confusion. He shut her in his room, locking the door from the outside before her shock had worn off - waiting for a shrill screech of anger even as he remembered that she was no longer shrill.

Veronica no longer thought in metaphors, in flowery sentences to mask her pain in poetry. She would kill Duncan (and make Logan watch so that he would know what it's like to die slowly from the inside.
-I'm already dead, Veronica
-You haven't seen death yet. )

Logan didn't react- something new and different for him - and Veronica didn't go near him. She sat down on the floor, on the other side of the room and stared.

"Like what you see?" Logan sneered, later (hours or seconds, no one was counting.)


Logan hated her voice, its detachment (he pulled her apart piece by miniscule piece, hating and loving what came apart in his hands - he shouldn't be surprised.) as if they had never rolled their eyes at Lilly behind her back, as if she had never fought with him about Duncan, as if they hadn't pretended they weren't crying in each other's arms. As if she didn't hate him for what he did to her.

"Just you wait," he spat, standing up. Veronica didn't react the way he expected - standing up or snarking or screaming - she just pulled her taser out of her bag slowly. Something else in Logan died but he was so used it, he barely noticed. He didn't give her the satisfaction of going near her, just ripped his shirt off quickly, hissing in the gathering darkness as pieces (tangible and painful and real) of skin came away. She didn't move, didn't acknowledge, didn't see. He thought that this would be his greatest sin, tearing away her hatred with his scars. His greatest victory would be breaking her gaze.

He stood there, muscles tense and trembling as she dared him to turn around with her eyes. If she could just move, anything to remind him that she hadn't frozen, he could turn around knowing she wouldn't stick the taser in his wounds before picking the lock and walking out of here leaving him empty and numb like Duncan.

Lying down would be admitting defeat, but he was tired from trembling and standing and he wondered why he couldn't keep his eyes on her long enough to watch her blink. But he couldn't stand there draining onto the carpet anymore- she would win and he would be nothing. He wondered, as he let himself down onto the bed slowly, if maybe he would like being empty, if his desperate attempts to fill Duncan (with fire, gin, himself) were cruel and existing was easier than living and fighting back against the light holding tightly to his pain was nothing anymore. His fire paled faced with living death.

And then he was burning, all his molecules thrashing against each other as fingertips ghosted over his skin. It was all he could do to keep from screaming out in pain. The fingers were light and cold and tortured his skin because they weren't Lilly's and he loved them anyway. They traveled up his back, drawing on circles and when they reached his throat, pressing on his adam's apple like a trigger, he screamed, air ripping him from the inside out. All the pieces he stole from her flew out from the living space he kept them, the black hole that filled him. You can't hold someone against their will, no matter how many pieces you think you have. His screams faded only after hours had passed in his mind, only when he had ripped every piece of Veronica from his ribs and presented them to her on bended knee.

When he could next form coherent sentences in his head (his mouth could only spill words unintentionally like broken skin whispering nonwords like hate and love) a wet washcloth had replaced fingers and the flames that licked his skin had calmed and salty tears burned his open wounds. When he was clean and raw and smoldering, she lay down next to him, curling into herself and facing away. She wasn't touching him but he could feel the way the bed dipped where she lay.

"I still hate you, you know," she said quietly, but her voice had lost its detachment, warming him as though she had breathed the words onto his skin.

In the morning, Duncan found Veronica curled into Logan's side, his arm holding her tightly to him, her hand clutching his so hard that he thought she couldn't possibly be asleep- as though Logan was draining his fire into her to melt her ice, as thought she was cooling his rage so that he could live by a rule other than pain.

Entropy would equalize them and their jagged edges would merge and no matter how much they wanted to, they could never break away without tearing an unlivable piece from the other. They had broken and torn each other apart and emerged with mixed pieces they could never separate. Duncan closed the door, went downstairs and took his pills and never wondered what it would be like to be full again.