Never had such a feeling been so consuming. It was not what he was accustomed to- rage, yes, fear, yes, confusion, yes, all of these things were common place. Nights driven to sleeplessness by the violence, the images that paraded about with his sanity speared on pikes like a roasted swine. Peace was found only in the strangely stable universe of his visions, his "noble wars," the calming fantasy of blood flowing about his fingers like an endless flow of wine-

Now there was only hunger. That smoldering, relentless feeling, gnawing at his chest, the unending starvation for what was so close, yet so unattainable. He couldn't dream of blood anymore. No, his dreams found skin, still soft despite the freshly forming scars on their surface, blonde hair kept with fierce teenage regularity, Violet.

Most of the things he had told the psychiatrist were a lie; carefully injected pressure-sensitive bombs set to draw a reaction, to make the shrink's firm guard against emotion falter. But the presences of fantasies were the truth. Even simple conversations, held as though they were discourses with God, just passing her to capture the scent of a simple shampoo with a brand name stamped across the front, perhaps the hopeful wisp of perfume at her throat-

It was more than a mere physical attraction to Violet. It was an immediate, consuming, hazardous fixation with her every quality. Her little issues, little emotional plights, so endearing in how harmless they were compared to the things he had seen. How truly childish she was, thinking that she boasted an all-knowing maturity that no teenager had. She was the link to the years he had never experienced- while she was struggling against bullies, he was plotting the massacre of every acquaintance and professor who had the respect to look him in the eyes. While she bickered with her parents, he learned to inject bleach into candy bars at Halloween and never be caught while his mother fucked the neighbor in the room over.

Stay away from him.

It was a rare moment that Violet's father actually attempted to discipline her. But what did that shithead know? He was off chasing pussy when her mother was shrinking further into a dismal depression- when Violent picked up the first razor blade and pressed it to her skin.

The normally therapeutic practice brought no comfort.

"You're doing it wrong,"

His voice kept repeating in her ears.

"If you're trying to kill yourself-"

What would have happened if she had closed the door, instead of having it wide open in a feeble attempt to get her parent's attention? Her parents were all entangled in their adult affairs- literally, in the case of her father- oblivious to the one who was suffering the most underneath their disputes. She felt like a ghost, floating in and out of empty rooms, a discontent spirit left ignored. But Tate saw her, heard her. He listened, unspeaking, as she went on about her frustrations- save for the occasional comment in agreement. And when he spoke, his words were the smartest she had ever heard. Nothing Tate said was sugar-coated; he saw every inch of filth in the world absolutely bare, bearing no false illusions about the "goodness" of humanity. And the sincerity…she instinctively drew her thin wrist to her chest.

"I'm sorry."

His fingers were callused with old scar, like sandpaper on her fresh, baby cuts. It was a terrifyingly welcome feeling, and her face grew hot almost instantly- Violet had to move away from his touch, in fear of her mind imploding in upon itself.

She ditched the razor blade, burning it in the middle of the trash can, amongst tissues and tampon wrappers. The single fresh slice was already coagulating, soon to be nothing more than a flaking streak of dried blood.

Her skin burned with the thought- imagining his pale fingers taking her hand again, eyes an absolute honest apology for the world's cruelty to her.

Violet sat on her bed, crossing her legs (crisscross, applesauce, as elementary school teachers always said). The skin of her legs was untouched, never met with a razor. Not yet, anyway, at least not with the intentional horizontal draw. She had cut her ankle, years ago, the first time shaving. It had bled so profusely she was almost certain death was approached, but was too afraid to seek her mother's comfort. Instead, she huddled in the bathtub, sobbing, as the water turned to a diluted pink and she finally realized that she wasn't going to bleed out.

How would his hands feel on the fresh surface of her calves, up the back of her knees, fingertips marked with old mutilations edging across her thighs?

Violet shook her head quickly, dissolving the illusion. He was dangerous. Something waited behind Tate's eyes, an edge of instability hiding behind calm irises.

Somewhere downstairs, her parents were fucking or fighting or pretending the other was invisible. If only Tate were here to alleviate the monotony, but his visits were painfully sporadic. Plucking a blue pen from her bedside table, she pressed the cold ballpoint into her bare ankle. T-A-I-N-T scrawled out in ink, as it still stood out resoundingly on the chalkboard, exactly as he had written it.

She licked a finger and smudged out the I and N, tacked an E onto the end. His name burned hungrily into her skin. Maybe he would be around tomorrow, scribbling words out onto the chalkboard as she returned from school, ready to receive a fresh wave of her hatred for her classmates, her life.

Violet flicked off the beside light, flinging herself into the pillows with an exhausted sigh. The letters were still tingling at her ankle by the time she finally drifted off to sleep.