A/N: After watching 'Sin City' the other day, this one-shot just came up. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a midnight dreary...

I ask her: »D'you care for a smoke?«

She turns to me hardly looking at the half empty package of good ol' Marlboros I hold in my right hand and the one already put out cigarette waiting for her.

»I don't«, she blocks and her back's facing me again.

No second chance to make a good first impression, they say, I think and with a kind of remorseful voice tell her bare back with the thin transparent straps running smooth over her shoulders.

You can almost see her musing whether to turn again and when she does I'm barely able to lift my eyes in time from the point where I spotted a small port-wine stain between her shoulders.

»So they say«, she concludes, looking for something personable in my eyes, which might make the awful start forgotten. It seems she got lucky, at least she's still facing me, so I say my name, failing to think of a funnier or more profound alternative.

Hers is Lucy, she lies and I smile. We shake hands, just a short touch to feel her warm, soft skin despite standing outside on the balcony.

»Groom or bride?«, I joke, pointing my thumb over my back to the inside.

»Bride, I guess«, she tells, »At least if being the plus one of someone dear to her counts.«

Her eyes wander right down as she tries to lift a smile on her face.

»We make it work!«, I say over-boldly.

»What about you?«, she asks, crossing her left arm to the right, gently rubbing her upper arm.

»Bride, too, actually«, I laugh, »Guess even farther related than you.«

»What about the 'someone dear to her'? No objections letting you stand here alone? Can't say it's not a bright, clear night«, I say while lifting my head to the stars. She does the same, following my eyes and turning her back on me.

»Yes«, she just says. It seems to come from far away.

I move to her side, hands on the balustrade and the silence of the night is the only talk comforting our ears.

She calms, her body loosens and on her face actually blossoms a real small smile. She turns to me, offering her precious but fragile smile and the wind carries over her perfume – vanilla.

I get reminded of the past, of a girl I once knew wearing a similar odour back then. I think I fell in love with her, but it's long gone and love never lasts.

Now on the balcony, on this bright, clear night I smile back.

Seeing her goose-flesh I ask: »You cold?« It's a fairly warm night but the scent of rain is in the air – wavered in vanilla.

She looks down her arms, recognizing, and hugs herself, again tenderly rubbing up and down.

»It's okay«, she says. Of course it was. It always is.

I take off my jacket, moving behind her and covering her little port-wine stain and the transparent straps. She lets me do and as she faces me with gratitude, I hug her.

She is surprised and shocked a bit, you can tell from her eyes and I feel her body stiffen.

The silencer turns the gunshot into a midnight whisper.

»I'm here!« I reassure her, holding her close until the end. I'm never going to know where she had turned wrong in her life.

I'll cash her check in the morning.