Queenie remembered reading novels when she was a teenager and still hoped to get on Broadway. They'd all gone on and on about the minute you knew the idiot you were with was the one you wanted to be with forever. And it had always happened so quickly for those characters, it was all so normal. It had been too late for her and Burrs, she saw that now. When they first met backstage she could've sworn she knew then, could've sworn she loved him. But she was foolish back then and mistook mind-blowing sex for love. She hadn't loved Burrs as a man, but for the things he could do to her. She hadn't known he cared, and hadn't bothered to care herself.

The gunshot was still ringing in her ears, vibrating through the very marrow of her bones. Burrs wasn't dead yet, but he might as well have been with the amount of blood pouring out of the wound, staining his clothes, the sheets, the carpet, Queenie's hands as she tried in vain to staunch the flow. There were a few dull thuds when Black dropped the gun, but it didn't register for any of them. Burrs was glimpsing the world for the last time, and when the light finally fled his eyes they were trained on Queenie, who was shrieking in a panicky way through her tears. She'd never been so hysterical, so goddamn emotional before. There were reasons for the tracks of salt ravaging her cheeks, for the sobs that made her entire body shake, and for the horrible feeling of loss and guilt in her gut, but the only thing that came through clearly enough to be a legitimate thought was "He's gone." Damn it all, why was she so upset? In a thoroughly roundabout way, hadn't this been what she wanted?

No, she was quickly realizing, it wasn't. She had surely aged, but it was still all too easy for her to be ignorant, nieve, to not notice the important things until it was far too late. Seven years they'd been together and she hadn't felt anything like love until the last moment. Oh, she'd known the bullet was coming, had wanted to leap into its path, but Burrs had been in the way...

She looked at Black now, eyes wide, not knowing how to feel. Yes, Black had fired the fatal shot, but who had really killed the clown? This party-turned-bloodbath had, after all, been entirely her idea, a stupid way of getting her Burrsie back. She'd wanted him...needed him, certainly...loved him?

His last words would haunt her forever, she knew- "How many girls have let me down? Queenie, how many girls would love a clown?" The words had been on the tip of her tongue-"I do." But she hadn't said them. Why the hell hadn't she said them? It was two damn words that might've saved his life, but she hadn't worried about Burrs then. He'd never been afraid of anything as long as she'd known him, never unsure of himself. He could make 'em laugh, he was master of him work, he could give 'em hell with just one sentimental smirk...How many times had she heard that same, reassuring speech when the salary for a clown and a vaudeville dancer proved to be too small to pay rent?

No, she'd worried about Black, who she could see was a bit of a baby under all the muscles and prowess. She'd thought Burrs could handle himself, but then again Queenie hadn't counted on being his weakness. If she'd only known how far she was pushing him...well, she'd always hated to see him in pain. Was that love?

Burrsie, Burrsie, Burrsie...

He'd never make her laugh again.

With blind hands, she reached for the gun on the floor, cocked it, pressed the metal to her throat-

"Dammit, Queenie!"strong hands twisted her wrists and knocked the gun back onto the carpet.

"Why?" she shrieked wretchedly, throwing her hands into her hair. "What reason do I have, why do I deserve to live if he didn't?" her pale fingers curled into fists, beating against Black's chest to no avail. "You killed him." she sobbed. "We both did, if I hadn't asked you to dance, if you hadn't kissed me...Oh shit, why was this what it took?" She pushed away from him and crawled to Burrs, not caring about the blood anymore-the dress was ruined anyway- and pulled the wiry frame of her lover towards her.

She clung to Black that night, he was all she could depend on now.