You make me feel like a person. Like I'm me... and I'm beautiful.

You are beautiful. You're the most beautiful girl in the world. You are my dream.

-Requiem for a Dream

She walks silently. It was always the way she had done it, like she's doing now. Her entrance into his life was quiet and undetectable. And suddenly he was locked in her grip, teeth gnashing and fingers searching.

He never stood a chance.

And as she passes his chair now, she's just as silent. She smiles almost demurely in a way he hasn't remembered since he was a teenager. Only three words are important.

"I'm all in."

He can't help but stare.

He does that for a long time.

And she just stares back.

.

She doesn't leave.

He's the one that stays silent. Saying anything could be the exact right thing at the exact wrong moment.

She makes it harder.

She makes it easier.

She plays next to him but not with him. He still keeps an eye on her. His uncle strangely seems to have disappeared and it's just him and her staring and moving.

He hopes it's forward.

The chips seep together and she just smiles like she'll wait forever.

She says as much.

For the first time in his life, he doesn't question in it.

I'll be your Vesper if you wear the bow tie.

She says things like that and he wants to smile. He does smile. And it's the first and only genuine thing that he's ever done.

He could play Texas Hold 'Em but what he's really surprised at is that his uncle isn't insisting to be the player in the big game.

She stays true to her word.

He drinks too much.

She never wavers.

.

He isn't punishing her. It feels like he's punishing himself. He can't be near her when she wears that dress, that necklace, those shoes. Everything she is has been designed to be his weakness.

This is the one time he has to be strong. But she wears that dress as she promised and he's the one that's distracted.

He drinks too much.

She smiles the same and he can't tell if he's one or lost.

"I don't want to."

He leans his forehead against hers. She doesn't reciprocate. She knows what his sober mind wants and she just smiles that same smile.

"Want to what?"

She strokes back his hair and he exhales.

He smiles.

"I didn't want to," he says. "But then you came."

She doesn't ask.

She doesn't have to.

"I wanted to be angry and vengeful and…"

His words run out. He doesn't need them.

She doesn't need them.

"But you do that thing you do," he says. "Do you know how you do that?"

He's never talked so much in his life.

"It's like magic. You're here and suddenly, I want to try. And I know everything will be okay. You're like magic."

"You should get some sleep," she finally says.

She lets him kiss her that night.

She does the polite thing and pretends it didn't happen.

.

When he's sober, he does the polite thing. But he still remembers as much as she does. He didn't do it because he was intoxicated. But chips that can be turned into vindication mean something. He doesn't like how she slips the small amounts that she wins with his.

He doesn't like that at all.

"I'm not leaving."

For the first time she's unrepentant and he remembers what he's supposed to not remember happened. She's not recoiling and he can't remember the last time he saw this vision of her.

"I'm staying until you get your dream."

She shrugs and cashes out her chips.

It should bother him how easy it is for her. But he knows that what he's doing can't be easy.

Looking at her isn't easy for him.

He wonders if she really knows what his dream is.

"Then you'll leave?" he asks. "Then you'll leave me?"

"I'm never leaving you again," she promises. "I'll tell you that until the end of time."

"Why?"

"You know why."

"I can't win all the time."

"I don't care if you win or lose."

"I wish you would."

"No you don't," she says.

"I wish you didn't make me so free."

"No you don't."

"How do you know that?" he asks.

"Because you make me feel the same way," she answers. "You see me. And I'm okay."

He shouldn't say it.

He does.

"You're more than okay," he says. "Better than okay. You're perfect."

He shouldn't have said that at all.

.

"I'm never leaving you again. I'll be here forever."

"And if I leave?"

"I'll leave with you."

Their fingers entwine on the silk sheets.

He knows they're going to get an apartment when they're married. He doesn't want to live in a hotel ever again.

They stare at each other.

He stares like he first did when she arrived. He doesn't say anything and she smiles.

He doesn't have to pretend anymore. Wrapped together in the sheets he can finally wrap himself around her again.

"You're everything that I wanted," he says.

And he's free.

Like it was always meant to be.