oh my fucking god you guys-

guys…?

/tosses thin papery update into empty room, where it is picked up disinterestedly by a cold wind baring bygone echoes of a fic long passed and left shivering and alone on the cyber concrete.

oh ok

well for anyone who stumbles across this, firstly, hello, and secondly wow you remember this? i just found it in my old embarrassing profile and goddamn. goddamn fuck i was annoying when i was thirteen. i didn't think i'd had anything like character development in the last few years but wow nope okay cheers i could and have been worse. and hey look the fic even has a pretty cover on it now uwu

i'm gonna rewrite the other chapters. i think. but here's this as a shout through the ages oF YES I LIVE I BREATHE I ATTEMPT TO TAP THESE KEYS IN SOME SEMBELANCE OF ORDER 'ELLO ME HEARTIES GOSh these are pretty characters-

here's a thing. quickie. i think i'm stretching.

It said something about him, Julian thought idly, that a sense of such smugness could be evoked from a three-by-two inch white square. A single unmarked playing card, and about as useless as that to anyone – anyone, including the chittering band of morons a few floors up (or was it down from here? To this side? Or the opposite? Both or three? He simply couldn't care for the physics restricting about the outer world. It was so much easier to be nowhere at once, he'd found) – else who might see it.

It was in Jenny's hand.

Julian understood it perfectly and absolutely.

Even more so than her, for now.

He took lazy, unhurried steps, and was almost close enough to nuzzle her glowing hair (which, yes, he had every intention of doing) before she noticed him and tensed. He stopped himself, leaned backwards good-naturedly and, amused, asked, "Need any help?"

The smooth paper was crushed into whispers as Jenny closed her fist tight. She turned, queen with her regal head held high and able soldier with her clenched hands folded behind her spine. Jenny. She was beautiful.

She was talking to him ("So it was you shooting at us."), and she sounded far from surprised.

Julian took it upon himself to act so for her, placing a theatrical hand to his armoured chest in mock scandal before grinning toothily. "Personally," he countered, conspiritual, "I think it was Zach's father. I think he has a little complex there. Rugged, old-fashioned dad; artistic, new-fangled son, you know." He was quite close to materialising himself a Victorian leather philosopher's chair and a tobacco pipe, playing the consorting scholar to her royal image. Later, he promised absently, smiling. And of course there would be many games besides. "On the other hand, I am a hunter."

"Why don't you just go away," she ordered, and he imagined that she understood the game and was playing with him, too.

She turned back. "I'm trying to figure something out."

"I'm glad to help," he tried, shaking off the queasy feeling of sincerity. "I know a lot about you. I've watched you for so many years now. Hour after hour, day after day…"

Trailing off, Julian fell into memories. Memories of a sleeping Jenny, of a younger Jenny with late noon sunlight in her spinning hair as she danced around her room shouting gleefully into a hairbrush, of a makeshift tent-duvet illuminated within by a harsh yellow light, cocooning a reading Jenny from the generic nighttime dark, but not from Julian, who was usually reading over her shoulder. A hundred thousand bittersweet and perfect little moments glowing forever (literally, for long as he should live) behind his eyes, like the afterimage flashing of the expensive Polaroid camera her parent's had bought her as a so-sorry-we-missed-your-fourteenth-birthday present.

Memories of the same bottle-green eyes that were before him now, to be sure, but of times they were warmer, or happier, and calmly unguarded in the way people could only ever be when they were with a person in whom they had the upmost trust, or alone entirely. (The latter, he reminded himself with a wave of bitterness. It was alwaysalwaysalways the latter).

He only realised that it had been the wrong thing to say when he came back to himself and found her watching him with abject horror.

No.

"I'm in love with you." It was simple, true, and the only defence he could think of, having never really needed any kind of one prior to this moment. And then, "I think everything you do is marvellous."

Jenny's ire only rose to meet this. "You-"

He rushed in half-assurances that sounded criminally insular, even to his own weak grasp of this 'proper' way of interaction. "There's no need to be embarrassed. I don't think the same way you do. Whether your hair's brushed – whether your make-up is on – I don't care. Besides, didn't you know I was there?"

"Of course not."

The smile left his face as though her violent hiss had physically clawed it away. No, he thought. No, you knew that. You were wishing, you stupid fool, wishing that she knew it was you that she knew you and knew and trusted enough to sleep near to you but she never did she never did and she never w– For the first time in his unlife, Julian was glad to see Jenny looking right through him. She did not see his thoughts before he swallowed them down like razored nails but this couldn't be pain, he was entirely fine, and this was right, this was his purpose, after all. He was fine. And cool.

Cold.

And quietly, "I hate you."

It was not pain.

"I'd have thought you'd want my help right now." He was trying for snide, and ended at blank. Alright. He jerked a motion to the wall. "That's your nightmare, Jenny – but how are you going to get into it? And if you can't get into it," She could need him, he reasoned. One day she could. She would. He could make her need him, and they would be fine. "How are you going to get through it?"

In return to his quiet malice, Jenny only smiled. And in return to that, Julian felt some of the painstakingly crafted new ice chip away with less fight than windowpane frost under the poking of warm hands, and he managed still to hate it hateitihatethis

Jenny smoothed the white sheet in her fingers and said, "I'll get in with this."

Julian couldn't risk her eyes, dropped his gaze and his voice. "But how will you remember? You don't know what to draw. You've spent all these years trying to forget…" and waking up before the dawn, screaming and sweating and twisting, and I was there with you, Jenny, every time, but did you see me?

"I know enough," she went on. "I know what it starts with. It starts with my grandfather's basement, when I was five years old." She put the dull little crayon to the unmarred surface of the card, began to draw.

The Shadow Man cocked his head at the girl's working form and didn't smile. He felt, if anything, curiously hollowed out – as if the refusal to feel the niggling doubts in his mind, the way he'd pushed them down had clawed out and crushed his insides down with them. And he – hurt.

He took his omniscient observers' seat.

He was fine. Pain was a good payment for magic, he well knew, even if it had so rarely been his own before now. It could still turn the round to his advantage.

Jenny was finished: waxy grey rectangles and stripes of stairs and book stacks and a table in a miniature pale square of basement.

And we're off.

As someone who specialised exclusively in frightening people into madness, in completely and past repair breaking the minds, souls and, when the mood struck him, bodies of mortals, and having subsequently been rather brilliant at it for quite some time – Julian was no soft touch for tears.

Of course, as Jenny had rediscovered her memories and her nightmare, Julian hadn't just left her there – had had a good time reminiscing about a good day, in fact – and now…

Jenny – she was not, not completely broken. Not her, by any means.

But…

Humans were ridiculous, infantile creatures. In distress, they had developed the amusingly unhelpful habit of excreting salt water from their eyes for reasons unfathomable to the imagination or even science. On any, any, other person, it was funny.

But any other person it is not.

It's Jenny.

Jenny, she of the sunlight and forests, his Jenny, is crying her little heart out on an empty floor- and he has put her there. And this is not at any stretch okay. He cannot have it.

He had not lied before – he knows her. Knows her a thousand times well enough to know that when she was upset – but she'd never been this, by God, never this, with these great gasps that only choked and came out low keening, his Jenny jennypleaseohjenny – all she wanted was to be alone. But he cannot do that – couldn't do that now any more than he could have a year ago, or before – less of a chance to leave today than there was yesterday. As it always had been, and would always, always be.

So Julian sits. His hand, incorporeal and colourless and maybe, maybe shaking, hovers just a centimetre above her arched back, and Julian doesn't leave her, and Julian doesn't touch her, either, because he can just about manage that part. Julian hates, silently and encompassingly but directionless, and he waits with her, waits for people to come and to find and be allowed to touch her and able to help her back.

Somewhere there's a strange realisation that, wearing as she is, she's his Jenny, and she has won. And they are winning. And they – she – could leave him yet.

And he cannot have that.

And when they do come, and do help – Julian also finds he cannot hate them well enough.

just give her a hug omg you fucking douchecake Julian jesus

no you're right i'm 403% sure she'd suckerpunch your pretty head off

how much would you guys pay to see that

wow.

Okay like i said this is a test run i'm just throwing it out there to see if anything catches it or it just flutters burning briefly to the cold hard ground idefk. i'm gonna go write the other chapters now because they hurt me a little.

50/1 the same will be said for this chapter in like a month. peh. ok. i'll see you when i see you. i love you. yeah.

(hey in the time between can i hold you off by recommending that you watch and/or read Warm Bodies (by Jason Isaacs) because oh man it's fucking adorable. the book's a lot different in that it's a lot more soul-search-y and so masterfully written with such pretty words and the movie is lively and funny and they did so well and wow. wow so worth the spending i promise you. like you go in half-expecting it to be one of those, "Aha, still a better love story that Twilight lol amiright ami hahahaah lol necro ahdjlk hfuk," and then you come out of the theatre/reading haze like, "Oh.")

Reviews massively appreciated – I'd like to know if there's a, you know. A point? Or, like, if I did okay by you here.

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