Ray finds Florian in a corner, shrouded in Noir's cape. He's unnaturally still, his face tear stained and pale.

Ray offers no words as he wraps himself around the man. They've done this before.

It s a beautiful day out, comfortably warm and sunny after five straight days of rain. The sky is cloudless, an unending sea of brilliant blue. Somewhere down below, Noel is running through the garden while Laila chases after him. They're both laughing.

The lighthearted sound makes Florian shiver. Ray holds him tighter and waits, offering reassurance with his presence - the only way he can, and the only kind Florian will accept when he's like this.

It does no good to wonder what caused this sudden descent into fear and despair - a sound, a smell, a voice that seemed familiar, or something deeper in Florian s mind. There are pieces of Morocco that never return to his conscious memory, but haunt him anyway. Ray sees their shadows in Florian's eyes.

It should make him angry but instead it makes him sad and weary. Morocco, for all of its faults, was home. Azura was someone he trusted and admired; one of the few people he cared about enough to call a friend.

What should he call him now, he wonders? What could he call a man who used him, who betrayed him and those he was responsible for, who tried to destroy Florian just because Ray had taken an interest in him?

Ray's hands tighten, clutching the material of Noir's cape just like Florian is doing, both of them clinging to the garment and what it represents. Ray lowers his head and rests it against Florian's, staring just as sightlessly at the world outside. It is chaotic and beautiful, and, for now, beyond their reach.

In silence, they press closer to the shadows, embraced by darkness, and yearning for the light.

::end::