A/N: Apparently I ship this now. Oops. Lyrics are by Stars.

Disclaimer: don't own.

Tattered fingers

Lingering on the warm and foolish

Hardened faces

Graceless, we'll lose the battle

We will always be a light

It is obscenely hot out. The dust sits stale and heavy outside the windows, choking up what little air is coughing its way through the ventilation system. It dries up his lungs when he breaths in, tastes like dirt when he breathes it back out. Past the grime on the windows, the city hums a tired, buzzing drone, softened by the oppressive heat. Sunlight flares off the edge of a passing car and stings his eyes.

Behind him, she lounges on the floor, shorts bunched around her thighs, t-shirt riding up her stomach. She breathes a soft, irritated sigh as she fucks around with the settings on the fan propped up above her head. Her hair is a tangled mess, short as it is, drenched with sweat and clinging to her temples. She shoves a hand through it once, twice, making it stick up all around her forehead, bangs standing at attention where they slip from between her fingers, until she gives up and it all flops back down again like drooping straw. Her mouth is pulled into a pout, bitten at the edges, worry lines pulling into each other; the after-effects of bills and work and one-too-many missed dance practices.

He leans against the scorching glass, letting it burn into the backs of his arms and through his t-shirt, and watches her toes curl around the stained shag carpet. She arches her back like a cat, long legs stretched out before her, then sits up with a moan. "It is so hot."

They're the first words she's spoken to him all day except for good morning and good bye and I'm late for practice, don't you dare leave the windows open again— all of which she delivered in one breath as she flew through the tiny kitchen.

(He had tossed her a wave over his shoulder and cranked all the windows up as soon as the door snapped shut on her heels, then sat on the couch and re-arranged his deck, trap cards and spell cards and whatever the fuck else pooling around on his lap, sticking to his fingers, until she came home and yelled at him and made him help start dinner.)

Afterwards they end up like this, with him on the window sill and her on the floor, a stretch of sunlight between them and the tinny buzz of the radio in the background.

"It's summer," he tosses back, without effort.

"It's hot," she says again, pushing herself up on her knees. "Shut up, we can't all be from South Africa." Then she sticks her tongue out at him. She doesn't bother to fix her t-shirt, and her bra strap hangs down past her sleeve, bright pink against her yellow shirt. She looks fairly ridiculous; he imagines he doesn't look much better. He's wearing that weird cut-off shirt he hasn't pulled out since he was sixteen years old, and he's abandoned real pants in favor of the purple, slightly-cooler cotton pajamas she bought him as a joke for his birthday last year—which totally backfired because he actually kept them.

She stretches one more time and stands up, stumbling to the radio and fucking with the dial until something slightly static and horrible warbles out of the speakers. Then she skips backward and does a pirouette, right in the middle of room.

"What the hell is this," he says, watching as she spins. "Is this really the crap you listen to?"

"Yes," she says, tossing her head back a little, drawing her arms into an arc and dipping down.


"Because I don't have to listen to the words," she says. "It's all beat, and the lyrics don't distract me."

"Why don't you just put on something without words, then?" he says, crossing his arms over his chest. The bass thrums too heavy in his ears.

She reaches her toes up to meet her hand behind her, and bends in a way he didn't even know was humanly possible. "Because," she says, simply, like it's all the answer she sees goddamn fit to give him, and he shuts up to watch her dance.

She's disproportioned. Too much chest, too wide feet, looking nothing like the girls in the magazines she reads, who are all thin as fuck and walking on wire legs laced into ballet shoes. She's got calves like no one would believe, and above that solid thigh, meeting together at a slash of knee. But she's graceful, somehow, so much smoother than anything he's ever seen. She folds around herself when she bends, and he can almost understand why anyone would want to move like that.

He's never given much of a shit about beauty, except for when he can use it to his advantage (and he used to use it a lot, because some people will do anything for a pretty boy in eyeliner) but even he admits that she's gorgeous.

He found her months ago, trying to order a coffee in a language that she didn't speak nearly as well as she thought she did when she left Japan, her accent mangling the English vowels in a beautiful mash-up of syllables. He didn't plan it, just like he didn't plan on ordering that caramel mocha— but he did, he cut in and did it for her, pushing the whipped cream-topped cardboard cup into her hands along with some sort of stupid, silent offering of peace.

He took her out to dinner three nights in a row, twice at the McDonald's down the street and then at the one restaurant he can't remember the name of that he actually had to wear a shirt with a collar to get into. Except he forgot to make a reservation, and they ended up standing around waiting for a table until she got tired and dragged him back to her place to drink cheap wine on the couch and eat microwave dinners off each other's laps.

"You're just going to make yourself hotter," he tells her now as she spins, faster and faster, and he can already imagine the rug burn she's going to have on the bottoms of her feet.

She just laughs and brings herself to a jerking stop, all poise rejected in favor of dropping onto the couch as soon as the song ends. She tries to push her bangs back again and fails, closing her blue eyes and grinning with her teeth. A bead of sweat drips down her cheek.

"You look like shit," he says.

"You look the same," she says back, and pulls him down with her so that she can climb into his lap.

The radio crackles behind them, and her fingers tap out the rhythm on the back of his neck when he wraps his arms around her waist.

The backdrop of a sunset adds to the mood, which is the same as it is every night, except usually not as hot and definitely not this sweaty and sticky and disgustingly, achingly perfect. He can practically hear the music being recorded in the background of their own personal shitty movie… except she hasn't done anything desperately heroic since she was a teenager, and he's never been worthy of a symphony in his life.

They make their own soundtrack, barbs tossed back and forth when they're both tired in the morning, what do you want for dinner and your turn for laundry text messages throughout the day, and the poetry she whispers into his temple at night, written in the worn-out sheets that they hang out to dry once a week.

She's summer, the flavor of Chapstick, waxy against his lips. Forget the weather; it's her mouth that's obscenely hot, and he thinks he could stay pressed against her forever.

"Hey," he says when they pull away. It's the briefest of pauses, but it's enough, and she's never looked better, messy hair and smeared mascara and a crooked smile for his eyes only.

"Hey," she says back, and pulls him closer.