A/N: *Slowly places this chapter here and backs away cautiously*
I'm not even going to apologize for how late this is. (I'm really reeeeaaaally sorry).
Though this doesn't flow as well with the last chapter as I would like it to, I don't want to start over. Again.
Also, this chapter was cut earlier than I had planned due to A) unexpected length and B) laziness. Hoorah. The next chapter will continue exactly where this left off. Though I have yet to start the next chapter (*nervous coughing*) so, um... yeah.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters etc. and all legal rights belong to their respective owners.

Why can't you fake me a reason, why
You choose to blame me
For all the times you hide
You can't mistake me for the enemy
How does it feel?
What does it mean to you?
Your heart is real
It isn't bulletproof
You can't conceal
All of the things you do
On your way down
:Bulletproof; Evans Blue:

Shadow's Point of View

"Goddammit," I mumble, my eyes scrolling over the streets that glisten with a reflection of my car's headlights. I can't see a thing besides the street and the flickering lights that whirl past me. The city takes another breath in and I get lost for a moment, trying to spot the street names, each one bringing me past crowds of blurry figures wearing blotched darkness. Looking for a bright blonde amidst all the angry clouds of shadows is unfairly hard. I roll my head a bit to try and rub off the unease, bursting out with a loud swear when something pinches in my neck.

A green sign screams '22nd avenue' at me when I drive by and I quickly pull over, opening my car door to a burst of cold air. Damn it all. Water explodes with the wind and splashes against my body, leaving me wet and hollow as the weather picks up the tempo. I slam the door behind me, thinking that if Vio wasn't here I would murder him when I found him.

…I should find a better threat, one that can't be taken quite so literally considering I'm, well, me.

But he's here, where he said he would be, hidden under the gutter of a little coffee shop. His water-darkened clothes make his paling skin look bright and eerie, as if he's glowing. I come up beside him, about to tap his shoulder when he turns to me with deep wary eyes. At least he's on his toes, as he should be, all alone out here. "Vio," I sigh softly, and his eyes relax.


"Hey, yeah, it's me. What…" I stop talking; I stop breathing, the instant his body presses against mine. I can feel every inch of his water drenched body as he groans and tucks his head into the curve of my neck. His arms pull me closer, wrapping around my chest as he shivers, his flesh trembling against me. Breathe; I have to remind myself. Breathe. I can smell him all around me, the deep wet scent of crisp apples and warmth; a drug running within my lungs and through my veins. "Wow, okay, hi," I chuckle softly. "I missed ya too. Wh- hell you are wetter than a female dog in heat." I mentally hit myself for the thoughtless remark. "How long have you been out here?"

"I don't know," he says quietly, his lips ice against my neck where he breathes the words.

I don't want to rush him if he's emotional. It's rare when his walls are weak and I don't know what to do, as always. When his defenses fall, I'm the one to build them up for him. But not with me inside, never with me inside of them; I am bound to always be the outsider peering at walls made of bulletproof glass with the world's truest beauty on the other side. I press my lips softly to his forehead, my voice softening. "C'mon, we should get ya home." But contrary to what I say, I pull him in, my arms finding their way around his back.

Thunder slams in the distance, louder than the beating of my heart when I rip into flesh. He jolts, quick and relentless in my arms like the lightening that follows not long after, and he pulls away from embrace with a nod, his eyes downcast and hollow while my arms fall away from him. He's a ghost of himself; I can see stress and sleepless nights embedded in dark gray rings under his eyes when he looks at me. What's gotten him so hot and bothered- or perhaps cold and numbed- is a puzzle of its own, but his gaze becomes expectant so I wordlessly fade away again to slink towards my car. His feet follow mine, the silence only broken by the roaring in the clouds above our heads.

I feel eyes on my neck and my fingers ache to reach inside my jacket, to grasp the sturdy rough rubber handle of my chosen knife. But that has consequences far more dangerous than what opposition the streets may offer me so I merely shove my hands in my pockets, fishing out my car keys. The streets don't glare at me but I know they want to- if only they could see me. I'm your King; I want to shout the truth to the heavens. Do not dare to defy your Lord and Master!

The wind echoes in response.

I press the unlock button on my car keys with a sense of disappointment, not that I had really expected a reply. My car lights up: plush black leather interior glinting invitingly, headlights flashing blindingly. I open the passenger side door and stand in the blasting rain for another minute as Vio slips inside. His silent and wordless 'thank you' reaches me somehow, filling me with heat from the inside out; warmth radiating to my fingertips, enough to stop me from freezing to my core.

When I settle behind the wheel, the seat reaches up and pulls me into it, hugging me like a long lost friend. Feels good, but Vio's eyes roll when he sees the look on my face, so I straighten up and try to recover some of the dignity I just lost by starting the ignition and pulling into the mismatched streets. He stays silent. I don't dare to turn on the radio or begin a conversation though; I'm terrified of missing his quiet explanation. Not that there will be an explanation, necessarily.

A few minutes later I can feel his outstretched fingertips brush my jawline, trickling down my neck, pulling away in what must be a sudden burst of realization. "Errands," he scoffs, "What kind of groceries do you pick up at this hour?"

I struggle to think of a wise crack answer. Then I look at him and understand his disdain. On his fingertip is a smeared red paste, marring any innocence that might have gleamed from him. Oops. "Ah…" I sighed, looking back to the road. I pulled on a smirk, laughing quietly. "I wish you'd run your fingers over me like that more often, detective. 'Felt nice." My teeth tug on my lip at the last two words, making them pop; my eyes slim down without thought- as if I had any chance of seducing him.

"Maybe I should make you beg for my touch, if it's so pleasurable." His eyes challenge me, fierce and unrelenting alike the winds knocking against the metallic shell incasing us; he may as well as well have been inviting me to fight to the death over honor instead of stoically mocking my words.

"Maybe you should," I purr, unbothered. We lapse into silence, and I roll my neck again, trying to shake the ghosting sensation of fingers over my skin. Finally I growl deep in my throat, curiosity eating deep in my chest like a vice. "You gonna tell me what the hell happened?"

He flinches instantly.

If it had been anyone else, it would have been unnoticed. I hardly noticed, for the first few seconds after he recoiled, as my mind took a couple moments to process what I had glimpsed from the corner of my eye. It could've passed for a flip of the hair, or a twitch of the nose, if I had caught the movement to begin with. But this, this was Vio, whose every heartbeat was so precisely calculated that flipping hairs and twitching noses would have been done, somehow, more subtle than unnoticeable.

I cringed, too, to be fair. The sudden force of my question was unfairly empowering, demanding, and above all, forceful. Forceful like a master with his slave, like a cruel puppeteer with the strings of his wood-carved prize, like a bored God ruling over his creations. I was all in that moment, made so with words spoken so simply.

I chuckle, softly, trying to let out the sudden uneasiness and tension that was building on top of everything else.

"Sorry," I grumble under my breath, going unheard, letting the chair hold me closer so maybe I could hide if his eyes came searching.

They don't seek me out, glassily focused beyond the window. "I don't want to talk about it, not at this moment."

Of course not. The one person he can trust wholly, who would die for him without hesitation, who would sooner shoot himself in the knee before betray him- he can't tell him, me, what's on his mind? No, much less can he tell me what made him crawl to me in the middle of the night, constellations made of sheer emotions glistening on his eyelashes. Never me.

When I look to the passenger side window, I can see his reflection, illuminated faintly. His eyes are trained on me, using the glass as a mirror. My eyes tease his and his lips purse, full and soft, tormenting me with spiraling-out-of-control thoughts that fly like sins from Pandora's Box. Made me want to just grab him and kiss him so hard that he wouldn't catch his breath for a hundred years.

I played with the idea all the way home.

Page Break

The first thing to come out was alcohol.

Well, no, that wasn't true. First thing to happen was we changed, dashing to our rooms and stripping out of the soaking fabrics that clung to our every curve. I washed the dry blood from my neck, suppressing the glee that rose when the brimstone red disappeared down the drain with everything else. So much joy in knowing another life had licked my dagger-like hunting knife. So much wickedness in such an innocent emotion. Vio came in and kicked me out of the bathroom, literally and figuratively, taking residence within his second home: my shower.

He came out eventually, body hidden in gray sweats that highlighted the curves of his long legs and yet held him loosely. A violet towel hung around his neck, thirstily catching the drops that fell from his hair. Shirtless, though, showing how once his skin was clean and plain. Bit too much like a canvas begging for a mark, for a story to tell. He wasn't a blank canvas anymore, damn the fates for that, but did he have a legend! Every silvery scar that traced up his torso was its own separate ballad for his courage, for his wit, yet another for his cold logic that proved everyone other than him wrong. His imperfect perfection was engraved against him.

The marks were of a drunken wrath that he couldn't stop without claiming another for death's door. Lost love and betrayal, rejection, self-loathing, regret, all marked up and down him. Things that weren't his yet couldn't be removed. Words echoed in my mind, spoken time and time again back when things were simple, 'what else are brothers for?'

Vio didn't say anything, but that didn't mean he couldn't feel the way my eyes traced each and every mark. Gods how much I wanted to replicate those damnable scars onto the person who had once done it to him, to Vio, to my Vio.

Letting out another hefty breath I looked back to the T.V. that had entertained me moments ago. Now instead of feeling tired I just felt sick. I shoved a hand in my hair, desperate to release the something gnawing in my stomach. The ball of mixed desires and mixed lusts and a lot of desperation that was pent up inside me. Sometimes killing made me feel better, more in-control, and yet there were also times, rarer than the other, where killing made me feel so angry. I wasn't exactly angry- yet- but I sure as hell wasn't feeling very sure of myself, either.

Vio came over, two beer bottles in his hand, the other one tugging at his hair and squeezing out the water before tossing the towel thoughtlessly. "Movie?" I offered, moving over for him to sit down next to me. He handed me a bottle jerkily without much care for if the contents sloshed out the neck, placing the other on the ground. Didn't matter to him none if my sofa was ruined, I supposed. Not like we didn't have the money for a new one if this one was stained beyond redemption. Classic case of sins of the fathers shitting on the sons below, or in this case the mistakes of grown-men-with-petty-issues-of-love-and-denial tarnishing the cushions beneath.

Not much of a difference, really. Gotta pay for what's below so it can support you later, shat on or not.

The concoction thankfully remained within the nearly-full bottle, and I took a swig. My eyes narrowed at the familiar tingling and I swallowed instantly, my tongue coated in the bitterly sweet flavor of malt alcohol. "Sure," he said quietly as I handed the bottle back. "I don't have a preference." He smiled a bit as I got up, I could hear it in his voice as he spoke a little louder. "But for the love of the Three, Shadow, please, no rom-coms this time."

"Right. No, yeah, of course not." I inconspicuously slipped the movie in my hand back into the shelf, or so I tried. I could hear his half-hearted chuckle. Like he wanted to be happy but couldn't quite get there. "Horror?"

A few minutes later the disc was in and I settled down next to him again. "Shadow," he turned to me, an eyebrow raised casually. "Can I have your shirt?"

"You have like… ten of my shirts, V." I narrowed my eyes. "Why this one?" It was just a scruffy old black t-shirt. I didn't really care if he took it or not, but damn, he ran through my shirts faster than Blue did during the on-season. If you took two seconds to watch, Blue's muscles would grow so fast you could swear he was the Hulk.

"I don't have a clean shirt at the moment and I'd appreciate if I could borrow one," he clarified.

I rolled my eyes, my fingers skimming my stomach as I tugged it off, trying to do it like hot guys in the movies. It didn't work as smoothly, but maybe I'd get kudos points for trying, even if I did get it caught lamely against my back.

The bottle passed back and forth, ping pong played with a dangerous drink meant for only big boys and girls. I laid down and put my head in his lap, tracing the marks against his stomach with a soft finger like I had time and time before. Sheik's heartbreak was permanent on Vio's skin. Where the elder could wake up with a clean slate every day, the younger would always awaken to these stupid goddamn scars that marred him. Vio smiled softly, his face still tinged with some form of sadness. "What did you tell Blue happened between Sheik and I?"

"I said he hit you," I closed my eyes, letting the shirt fall to hide the scars. "And I said you walked away. No reason to make him hate Sheik more than he does, and I wasn't sure if you even wanted him to know."

He hummed. I sighed, wondering if he could remember the sensation of that kitchen blade carving his skin. Vio had been defenseless, innocent, destroyed over something that had been accidental on his part. Forced into a corner, knife whirling, angry threats spewing from in front of him. He could have grabbed a knife from the kitchen block, could have saved himself, but he didn't. He let himself be beat and broken because it saved Sheik's life in the end, with the other outcome ending with Vio stabbing him. Blood on the carpet. DNA so close it was almost matching. Brothers to the end, Sheik would say when Vio helped him, the good Sheik that wasn't drunk and pissed and violent and abusive.

If all that wasn't enough to get Vio's application for sainthood approved than I didn't know what else would do it.

I growled, working myself up. There came the anger, unaided by the fresh memories from hours before. Memories of blood welting like a fountain through tubes of flesh. Choking sobs. Fingers tugging at the wound. Broken family still unaware of the corpse in the living room. Money jingling in my ears. Oh, yes, there came the anger. "If anyone ever touches you like that again, I'll not only make sure they won't live to see another fucking sunrise, I will fucking-"

Vio's finger pressed to my lips, hushing me, and I fell quiet. I was calmed by the touch of heaven. The angel defeats the demon once again. "I know, Shadow. I know."

Nothing else needed to be said so I stayed hushed. A woman shrieked from the movie, ear splitting, so high I wanted to tell her to get her ass out of the clouds but I stayed quiet. Boring, sang a voice in my mind. Vio's lips still teased me. He had to be breaking some rule of life- no one should have lips that provoking. I reached up, waving my hand, lazily tracing his features. "Your face is smoother than a baby's ass."

"And your hand is as smooth as sandpaper." His eyes slowly looked down at me.

"Only 'cause I know you like it rough~." I sang, wiggling my eyebrows, making him laugh. Genuinely laugh. It's the first time he's laughed truly tonight and it filled me with warmth, with normalcy, with joy. It was a different kind of joy than the kind that rushed through me when blood disappeared down the sink but it was joy nonetheless.

As if deciding two can play this game, he smirked a bit. "I like it rough when it comes to you," he said hotly, and I'd be damned if I didn't automatically file it away to use later for other purposes. My blood rolls, boils, burns. Oh, yes, as graphic as the anger came a spark of want. I teased my tongue with the nubs of my canines to calm myself. I like it rough when it comes to you, Master. Please, fuck me rough, Master- haaahhh, yes, yes! Master oh pleeease yes! Hips rolling back to meet my own, clenching uncontrollably, lips lost against the other's. His teasing words were enough to launch my mind straight into the middle of porno worthy daydreams. Gods damn his perfect ass. I struggled to ignore the blood coursing in my veins.

I gave him a broader smirk, choosing to ignore my body. "I bet you like fast and deep, too." This was stupid. I wanted to smack myself. Might as well have gotten on the one way bus with no stops to Boner City with all the good I was doing. That would probably end up better than this. Oh, damn, how I wanted to take him rough, fast, deep. Wanted to take him, period. In any manner, any position, just about any circumstance. 'Bout time I reclaimed that ass for me and my kingdom.

Shit, that was definitely not helping the situation.

"I like it as deep, hard, and fast as you can give it to me." Oh, that was definitely being stored away. Sounded like he was begging for me already. The way he let his words float on the air between his lips made me breathe in, as if I could inhale what was spoken, like I could take Vio into me that way somehow. I wanted to taste him in my lungs. His smirk grew, knowingness tugging on his tantalizing lips, his eyes torn between deduction and seduction.

The movie played on, forgotten. "All you have to do is ask, baby," I winked. "I'd be more than happy to give it to you, just how you like it~." I ran my finger around the neck of the bottle before carefully prying it from his fingers and sitting up to let the last drops roll down my throat, letting it simmer in my stomach. Like a pleasant fire lodged in my gut. I could taste the alcohol floating over my tongue every time I breathed in for a minute after.

"I'm sure you would be." He probably knew I wanted to fuck him. So much for keeping the sinful desire to myself. I didn't even take a conscious note of the bottle being loosened from my fingers; too busy looking at his eyes, wondering if they'd always been so sexy at calculating. If the alcohol wasn't enough to slur my words then of course Vio would be the thing to get me drunk, wasted; be the thing to make me lose my mind. I wanted to kiss him, Gods, just a kiss and I could die happy.

His lips kissed the second bottle instead.

I sighed, pushing myself off his thighs and sitting up again. Water. Water would be nice. I could sober up from the high that was him, could stop myself from playing the fool. Instead I stretched out, back arching, falling back down to nuzzle my head against his shoulder all curled up like a cat. My fingers itched to reach and rip off his shirt, to scratch and kiss and lick all the way around his body. "I've missed you," I whisper. Shit, that hadn't meant to come out. Had I said that out loud? I think I had. Oh, dear Nayru, I hadn't meant for that to ever leave my lips.

Most people would have said something plain, something obvious. 'I'm right here,' or 'you see me all the time'. Not Vio, though. His head fell a bit to the other side, looking thoughtful, as far as I could tell, perched nervously on his shoulder as I was, bit too much like the little handsome devil he had inside. "I'm sorry."

I snorted, sitting up, looking at him like he was a drawing from a four year old who had told me to guess what it was. "For what?"

He looked at me with this angry glare, so hot that I felt icy. Who was I, to insinuate that he dare had more than one thing to apologize for? Who was I to challenge his supremacy? Oh, yes, but I was his king. Lord of the darkness and death and everything in between. Maybe I joked about power when I was younger, but truth be told, I was feared enough in secret to rule the underground that held this city together.

He didn't say anything for what felt like the longest time. "For everything," he eventually replied.

Fair enough.

Vio sighed, rolling his neck this time, looking down at the bottle in his hands like he was just realizing it was there. "Why I wanted to come over… I broke up with Green earlier."

A gasp, a whoosh, a mockery of surprise, the noise should have flown from my lips like a teenager consoling her girlfriend. A hug and some tissues and an ass load of chocolate to aid the heartache. 'I knew he was bad from the start' and other such lies spewing forth. Actually, I had thought Green was bad for him from the start. Showed how mature our relationship was. What were we, beyond twittering adolescent girls?

The answer echoed in my ears: a king and his advisor, a thief and his serial killer, a financial executive and a detective. Friends, that's what we were, separating us from reality television. Not much, but enough.

"Why? I thought… I mean… you told me things were… going 'good'." I finished lamely.

"They were." He sighed again and continued staring at the caramel brown bottle, raising it hesitantly to his lips with a glaze in his eye that told me he wasn't sure if he even wanted to drink it. He lowered it again, not taking a drink, looking vaguely confused before turning to face me head on as I asked him why he ended it. "I don't know," he replies, his voice dry. "I…" his eyes find mine and I can't help but watch the way his emotions battle the walls he has. Something like anguish and desperation all mixed up into some bastard concoction that managed to sneak through. "I don't know what I want anymore, I suppose."

Well damn, I sure know what I want: you. "I sure hope that's not what ya told him."

He slipped me a glare in the same manner drugs were passed in dark alleys. "Of course not, you idiot."

"So what did you want?"

His eyes sparked, grew a bit in sudden realization, and he looked away, a thin frown on his lips. He doesn't hesitate for a heartbeat this time as he raises the bottle to his lips. "…You can't expect me to answer that," he answers, alcohol floating on his breath.

"I do."

Shadows flicker over Vio's eyes as he looks me, hardened blue that rolls in violent waves, crashing against speckled violet shores. "What I wanted is rather insignificant, isn't it? Considering that evidently what I wanted is unlikely to happen now."

Not insignificant to me, I stumble over the words, barely holding back from blurting them out. Like everything else about you your every wish and want is my all, my meaning, my purpose. I may be King but here, we all fight for you. "Are you trying to deter me?" The chuckle in my voice is stabbed ruthlessly by the unpleasant tension that begins to sing carols in the air. It doesn't make it to my ears. Instead it bleeds out a tone of nervousness.

"I wasn't aware that you were capable of using the word 'deter' correctly," he drawls. The stiff calm in his voice is allowed to pass the carefully awaiting doom above our heads.

"Lucky guess," I grunted. "Vio, come on." This is me. You can talk to me. I'm me, for the sakes of the Gods, you can talk to me- "Ya know ya gotta talk to me some time."

He looks at me with a face that says he clearly doesn't. The frown he wears is strikingly impersonal, more along the border of mourning than sadness, and I can't help but wonder exactly how long it is he's been teasing the idea of breaking up with what's-his-face. But I don't ask. He's always raw around the edges after an emotional break up and I don't want to fuck anything up, don't want to ruin his stoicism more than it has already been broken. I don't want to tear him down. I want to build him up instead, but this time with me inside of his walls. But I won't, because I never do, because I always let him revert back to letting no one inside. He's stubborn and I'm weak and that's why I know I won't ever get inside those walls, because I would weaken him, because I would be bad for him, I am bad for him.

He sighs, his face clearing. He smirks a bit- or maybe he's just making a displeased expression- as he looks away. "Weren't we watching a movie?"

You suck at changing topics, yet your wish is my command. I close my eyes and hope the whites of my knuckles aren't as obvious as the clench of my jaw must be as I reach for the remote. To back the movie up to where it'd been before we'd begun our little dance. He tells me not to bother. I open my mouth to spew forth a retort when I realize I don't recall where it was we'd stopped watching. I'd spent the time before that just looking at him, anyway.

His lips were drawn in a flat line that resembled the heart monitors of all that my blade kissed. Screams and blood flashed over the television screen, dark shadows painted against a black canvas. Vio stood and waltzed over to the fridge, back with two more bottles. The empty ones rolled past his feet, their caramel shells glistening with the flickering lights from the movie.

A third bottle reached their numbers. Vio didn't seem to reach the realization that he was drinking, his face remaining the ever guarded and smooth masterpiece it had been his entire life, refusing to give away what was running through his mind. As if knowing I was watching him from the corner of my eyes he looked at me, creases running across his forehead. "If you have something to say, say it." He spoke calmly, seeming unbothered even though the sensation of being caught red-handed burned across my face.

Silently damning the gods for the blush that crawled over me I flashed him my ever-effortless smirk. "I was just wondering if you were going to drink me dry." His eyes softened in what might have begun to be embarrassment when I nodded at the bottle clenched in his hand. "My fridge ain't made of beer, Vio."

He rolled his eyes, leaning into the sofa. "It's only my third drink. I think your stock of liquor is more than enough to satisfy me."

I rested one arm on the back of the sofa, scooting closer to lean into him. Breathing in brought the scent of sweet shampoo and crisp sarcasm mixed with bittersweet malt. "I thought I was supposed to always leave 'em wanting more?" I asked in a sultry, teasing whisper.

Beside me he seemed to tense, like a little jolt of electricity was running in his veins. If only. A loud 'thwack' hit my ears as his hand slapped my arm, a jolt running through me- not of electricity but of surprise and pain. "You're an idiot," he said matter-of-factly.

"And you're abusive," I grumbled, rubbing the sore spot on my arm as I leaned back. "Gimme the bottle."

He looked away, his eyes hidden. His honey gold hair turned into shiny silver with the shadows flickering across him. "You can't get your own?"

"That's not the point I'm making here."

"I don't need to be babied, Shadow," he breathes out a bit snappishly. At least, it's as snappishly as one can get by letting out a simple breath.

I lean in again, growling against his neck. "I'm not babyin' ya, sweetheart."

He lets out a short and breathless chuckle. His eyes don't match mine, hidden from sight. "Then what exactly is the point you're trying to make?"

I don't say anything, slowly looming over him like a growing giant. My hand stretches out for the bottle in his hand and he holds it out of reach. For another time tonight I see a smile dance in his eyes, eyes that storm and crash like the thunder outside.

I grin, feeling a burst of playfulness at the light in his eyes, running my hand down and poking him sharp in the side. He breathes in, a jumping gasp of surprise, his eyes brightening with a laugh held in. My grin becomes sly as I rub the pads of my fingertips under his shirt, tickling his stomach. I can feel his skin, like satin under my calloused fingers as he lets out a burst of short laughter, his hand trying to slap me away while holding the beer in his other hand.

His laughter is almost shrill when it reaches my ears, trying breathlessly to fend me off when my hand becomes greedy and slips further up his shirt, rolling over his ribs. He lets out a choked gasp between slurred laughs, scrambling away from my lust-crazed antics.

The hollow brown liquor rolls against its caramel glass confines and splashes against us, marring the childish play as we freeze under its touch. I can feel it dribble down my fingers, trickle against my skin. Vio's gleeful gasping fades into a worn groan, his eyes closed as he relaxes below me, his body slumped into the sofa.

I say nothing as he twists onto his side and slowly deposits the drink on the coffee table that stands beyond the arm of the sofa. "My apologies," he says quietly, his breath becoming a warm ghost that brushes my skin softly with a tender kiss.

I take a moment to look at him. His eyes are shut, his hair messy, his cheeks lit with an intoxicated flush. His breathing is slow and warm as I hold myself above him, my hand braced on the arm of the sofa. A tremor of excitement creeps down my spine. It would be so, so easy to kiss him, to claim his lips with mine, to just…

I shouldn't. He wouldn't forgive me if I broke that impenetrable barrier—again.

The realization that I've kissed him time and time again suddenly sinks in as if I've discovered the meaning of life. I blink a few times, my lips pursing as below me he opens my eyes. His hand lightly rests on my shoulder, his face creased with some form of confusion. "What's with your face?" He scoffs lightly.

We kiss, he stops us, he comes back, and the cycle repeats? What the hell's with that? "What's with your nose?" I put all my weight on one hand so I can pinch his nose with my other. "Do you pick your nose hairs or somethin'? Very feminine."

He brushes my hand away, childishly rubbing his nose. "Ugh. Get off me." The hand resting on my shoulder tries to push me away.

I pout, slowly lowering myself until I lay on him, my nose brushing his. I could feel his body squirm under mine, tempting me to say 'fuck it' and bury my lips against his. "How 'bout I just get you off?" I let out a chuckle and winked.

His breath washes over me again, his hands firm on my chest as he pushes me aside. I let out a yowl as I roll off him and crash on the floor with a loud thud, pain jerking up my back. My hand rubs the back of my head as I sit up, my legs spread. Vio's face is pulled into a scowl as he sits up on the sofa, his cheeks rosy, his eyes glowering at me. "One day your foolish antics will get you killed," he muttered.

I burst out laughing, rubbing my eyes before looking at him with a grin. "The look on your face is so worth it, ya know?" It was true—his pretty face got so distorted and pink and flustered when I got in that close.

He sighed, slowly getting to his feet. "You always make the worst jokes."

I got to my feet, lunging up the sofa and jumping over the back of it to stand before him as he tried to make his way to the kitchen. For a stronger drink, no doubt. "Hey," I smirked, taking a step closer. "Who said it was a joke?"

He sighed again, as if I was nothing more than a hassle to deal with. He reached out to move me aside, his skin brushing my arm before I grabbed his hand, encircling it in mine. I brought his hand to my cheek, holding it there while he looked away. "This really is not amusing, Shadow."

"Well, it's not meant to be funny."

He rolled his eyes, like I'm a bother, like this is as it always is. If he would just look me in the eyes he would know I truly wasn't joking. "What do you want, Shadow?"

"You," I reply honestly.

The silence that follows my declaration is rather unnerving. Maybe I shouldn't have said that. Maybe I was too straight-forward. Maybe I should laugh it off and get a drink and hope to erase the memory, or maybe—

Vio looks at me, finally, his eyes catching mine. The truth is etched onto my face, I know it is, and Vio's face goes pink after a few moments, his impeccable pink lips quirked. He looks down, eyes distant as he clicks his tongue. "Tch."

Well, that was embarrassing. Not that I've ever had much dignity when it came down to Vio and I. I reach out, trailing my finger down his jaw, gently cupping the side of his neck. I move closer, my lips just brushing his when he pulls away.

His hair falls down just in time to hide his eyes, saving him from my scrutiny. "You know we can't do this," he says quickly, as if rushing to fill the silence.

I let go of his hand, having still held it to my face. His hand doesn't fall for the moment as I brush the soft honey hair out of his face. His eyes are determined to avoid mine, it seems. "Vio-"

"No," he shakes his head, his hand retreating. His touch leaves a lingering burn that spreads through my body like a furious poison. "Shadow, this isn't right," he says quietly as he takes a step back.

"And why not?"

He doesn't answer me, silence persisting and threatening to force me off my feet. The storm outside has followed me, heavy clouds hanging above us as the tension embeds itself in my stomach like I'd been shot.

"You can't tell me this is wrong and not a have a reason."

He looks away, his face an expressionless mask of glass.

"Vio," his name is gentle on my lips, and I take a heartbeat to savor it. "Lie to me if you have to. Fake it. Just give me a goddamn reason!"

Before I know it the frantic rage inside of me consumes me and I end up yelling at him. I look away, breathing hard, the apology on my tongue being swallowed down with the bitter taste of guilt. Vio sighs again, though this time less in annoyance and more as if he had been crushed. Like the stubbornness had been sucked out of him, taken away the way he took my breath. The way despair sucked hope out of the bravest souls. The way I inhaled the very essence of life out of innocent men for scraps of paper.

"You want me to lie to you?" He finally asks. The voice in my head tells me to persevere. Vio's eyes plead me to cease.

"Yes," I rasp out. Desperation leaves me empty, my hands no more than clenched fists at my sides. My heart pounds, my chest aches, the gross feeling of vulnerability coats my tongue. I love you. I just need to hear him say it, to put it in the air- he doesn't want me. That's all he has to say. Then maybe the incessant throbbing in my chest would stop, my mind would calm, I'd be able to drink away the spite and wake up with the ground below my feet- shaky, yes, but no longer would the ground be six feet above my head.

He looks straight into my eyes and says, clearly, "It's wrong because I don't think you mean it."

I can't breathe. I stand there, lungs bursting, eyes wide.

"I should go." He walks around me, his arm brushing mine as he passes.

And for a moment, all I can hear is the wild beating of my heart.