I would really like to thank both mistofan and xXMarinaMarvelousXx for reviewing:-) You guys are great!

Okay, one shot, but even so, as you'll soon learn, I'm not a perfect writer yet, so I'd REALLY appreciate reviews...so thanks in advance, because I'm sure that you'll oblige me and send some...:-) Happy reading.

By the way, I don't own Ink Exchange, or it's characters. Pity...

The moonlight painted her skin pale silver as she stepped out into the night. It was a beautiful night, and she paused on the porch, staring up at the full moon blazing down onto the city. Then she tore her eyes away from it, and stepped onto the street, wandering down the sidewalk.

Businesses on either side of the street were dark, their owners and customers respectfully at home, asleep.

It didn't take her long to reach the street corner. Rounding it, she saw the welcome glow of one business that was still open. The sign for the Crow's Next glowed warmly alongside the darkened windows of the other shops, as though it were beckoning her in.

"Out a little late, aren't we?" the doorman asked her when she approached, but he winked at her as he said it. She smiled at him, but didn't say anything as she slipped inside.

She was surprised to see that the club was almost empty. She supposed that the other patrons must be out enjoying the night, or the rowdier ones might be out looking for a more hard-core hangout.

Her eyes raked the counter, and suddenly her pulse skyrocketed, and all her worries seemed to disappear.

It didn't matter that the bar was mostly empty. He was there, and that was all that mattered.

He was sitting at the bar, a cigarette in hand, turned on his stool to face the little gaggle of women beside him.

His presence there was not a rarity, and it was because of him that she came to the Crow's Nest so often.

She'd noticed him the first time that she'd come to the hangout, almost a year ago. He'd been there then, sitting at the bar, talking to a group of women, looking almost as enthralled with him as she felt. But she knew that couldn't be. Sometimes, especially the times when things were so hard at home, the times when she took to wearing sweaters to school, no matter what the month, to hide the marks on her arms, the times when she left at night, and no one noticed that she'd gone, or when she'd stay at friends' for days, without anyone caring, those were the times that she felt as if he were the only one keeping her on the earth, the only thing that tied her to the world. The only thing that mattered.

She took her normal seat in a corner, near enough to the bar to see him clearly, and sometimes catch what he was saying, but far enough that when he glanced past the girls he was admiring, that he wouldn't notice her in the shadows.

She sat back, watching him, and listening for a whisper of his voice. It was the most enchanting thing she had ever heard, unearthly and musical.

But she knew it wasn't real. They weren't meant for her. She knew by the shadows that surrounded him, by the strange beings who flocked to him. They looked normal, but there, in the dark at the Nest, sometimes she could catch a glimpse of them when they changed. It bothered her when it happened, and the women because skeletal, or more beautiful than human girls could be. But it never bothered her when it happened to him, when he became darker than before, and the shadows seemed to take shapes around him. Over the year she had come to see this part of him more often, normally, like it was his true self. And she knew they were beings not meant for human eyes, for her eyes. They were things that her mind wouldn't voluntarily understand.

And she didn't care. She wanted it anyway. She wanted the risk, and more than anything, she wanted him.


She jerked out of her thoughts and tore her eyes away from the man at the bar.

"Janet. Hey, how are you?"

"Oh, I'm doin' fine. I wasn't so sure 'bout you there for a minute tho'." Janet said, smiling down at her, "It's been a while. How you been?"

"Good, thanks, Janet. And I like your hair, by the way. It looks better short."

"Really? You think so?" the waitress asked, fingering a lock of her purple, shoulder length hair, "I've been thinkin' 'bout goin' red with it, you know, for a change a scenery..." she said, trailing off.

"Maybe you should try highlighting it first." Sheila suggested, casually leaning to her left to see around Janet's black skirt and get a glimpse of the man at the bar.

"Sheila, babe, you're driftin'. What'cha lookin' at?"

"Nothing." Sheila said quickly, sitting up again, but Janet had already turned around. Her eyes traveled down the bar, then her face split in a grin.

"Still eying Irial, huh?" she said, still grinning wickedly.

"What? No, I'm not looking at anyone, I was just, just-" she stopped, staring guiltily at Janet.

"You want me to introduce you two?" Janet said innocently.

"No! No, don't bother. I'm sure I'm not his type. Anyway, I'm not in a situation for guys right now."

"That's crap. Since when've you not had time for guys? Besides, Irial's more than a guy, he's a catch, ya know."

"Yeah, I noticed. Just, nevermind, I'm not in the mood." Sheila said moodily.

"Not in the mood, ay? Well, maybe this'll help ya a bit." Janet sauntered away as though she'd just finished taking an order. She wandered over to the bar, and paused beside Irial, smiling serenely and asking something. Sheila couldn't hear what she said, but she heard Irial's reply, "Some jazz maybe. You're a darling Janet, you know that, taking care of me like that." he said, the words sliding across the room to her like a cool drink.

Sheila's skin prickled with jealousy as she watched Irial brush a strand of Janet's purple hair out of her eyes.

Janet stood up and turned back to Sheila with a smug expression, before she went to the stereo behind the counter and turned on some soft jazz tune that Sheila didn't recognize.

Sheila settled back against the seat and listened to the music, watching Irial flirt with the few women who remained at the counter, giggling, occasionally letting whatever cloak they wore slip, so that feathers or vines were revealed.

A few minutes later, some of the women got up and walked onto the dance floor. One of them went and roused a few of the young men that had been drinking quietly near the door, motioning them to towards the floor.

"Irial, won't you dance with me?" one of the girls still at the bar simpered, gazing at Irial, who was extinguishing his third cigarette in her glass.

"Sorry, doll, not now. Go find one of those other girls to dance with. The music's fine, it shouldn't be wasted. Not tonight." was his sweet reply. The girl looked inordinately excited, and leaped up to do as he'd suggested.

Now he was alone at the bar, and a fleeting thought crossed Sheila's mind, that perhaps she would just get up and walk over there, to sit down beside him, and gaze at him like the other girls did, only she would enjoy it so much more...but she wouldn't. She had thought like this for a year, but she would never do it.

As if he had heard her thoughts, Irial shifted, his eyes moving up to fix on hers. Sheila felt her face flush, and she wanted to drop her gaze, but she couldn't. He was looking at her, through her, like he knew her every thought and desire. He was desire, and she wanted him.

But she closed her eyes, and leaned her head back, like she hadn't been staring at him for the past twelve months, thinking of him every day.

She stayed there for a few moments, then opened her eyes and looked cautiously back at the bar.

He was no longer there, and for a moment she panicked, thinking he had gone. But when she spotted him, her relief quickly turned to frightened excitement. He was there, walking towards her, away from the dance floor and the bar, towards her, his eyes on her.

Sheila wanted to stand, to run, to remove herself, and then she wanted to run to him, to fling herself on him and never let go. Instead, she stayed frozen where she was.

It seemed like forever, but in only a few moments he was there, sliding into the seat beside her.

He waited for her to speak, never taking his eyes from hers, but when she couldn't say anything, he said "Sheila, I think. I don't believe we've met, but I've noticed you here before."

If she'd thought his voice was attractive from a distance, she could never have imagined it now, when he was talking to her. It was beautiful, intoxicating, as unearthly as he was.

"You know my name?" was all she could manage to gasp.

"Janet told me. When I asked her," he added, again acting as though he could hear her thoughts.

"Oh. Well, she, um, said that your name was, Irial?" Sheila said hesitantly.

"She's right. What else did she tell you?" he asked. From anyone else it might've sounded annoyed, but from him it was flirtatious.

"Nothing. She didn't say anything. What did she say about me?" she asked cautiously.

"Nothing." he said shamelessly.

They sat in silence for a moment, eyes still on one another.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been watching-" Sheila began, desperate for something to say, his eyes mercilessly examining her.

But he interrupted, "You should only apologize if I do. You're not the only one who regularly, – observes, - the other patrons." he smiled at her, an agonizingly charming expression.

Sheila nodded, breathless. Before the silence could carry on any longer, Irial said "Do you dance, Sheila?"

She loved the way her name sounded coming from him, sliding off his tongue to her ears.

"Yes. Well, not very well, I should say. Not very often."

"What about tonight?"

"There's nothing I'd rather do." and she meant that with every particle of her being.

With that, he stood, holding out his hand for her, and she took it. Seconds later, he spun her onto the dance floor, swirling her between the other dancers, expertly spinning and dodging amongst them.

The music seemed much sweeter out on the floor with Irial. Amazingly sweet, almost beyond tolerance. The other dancers changed as Irial twisted her between them, and she saw them again for what they were. Strange shapes contorting themselves, moving to the music, shimmering with a light that wasn't real.

But they didn't matter. They never had. All that mattered was him, Irial, dancing with her, touching her, spinning her, his wicked smile tempting her.

He spun her away from him, dangerously far, then pulled her back against him, so that she could feel his chest beneath his silk shirt, his heart beating a strange rhythm, like the one they were dancing to.

It went on forever, and not long enough, the lights spinning more and more wildly around her, until the only thing she could focus on was him, the only thing she could feel was him, his hands cradling her waist, smoothing the folds of her dress.

Then it was over. As quickly as it started, it was over. Her bliss wavered as he moved his hand, but he only repositioned it behind her head.

"I've never danced like that. Never that wonderful." Sheila breathed, her eyes captured by his.

"I think we should do it again then." he said, smiling down at her. She could feel breath, pleasant and warm on her face.

"Yes." she gasped.

"But first," he whispered, then he leaned down and his lips met hers. He pulled her against him, tighter than she'd ever been held, and she never wanted to let go. It was amazing, glorious, in a way she couldn't describe. His lips were soft, his hands held her to him like she was the only thing he wanted. He was desire again, and she had him.

He pulled away from her, gently, only enough so that she could breath. Then he spun her around so her back was to his chest, and whispered into her hair, "We'll get there again, love, we'll get there again."

Then she felt herself pulled into another dance, spinning to and from him, but never letting go. She didn't know if they'd ever let go.

~The End~

There you go. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, hope you review it. Thanks.