"A-Are you sure about this, Blake?" He watched her as she dug in the earth with her fingers and uncovered three fat, wriggling worms.

"Well-" She gulped and made a face.

"See, you don't wanna do it either."

She stared at those worms for a long, long time. "We've got to eat, Adam." She said, without looking up, and before she could change her mind she grabbed one, not even taking a moment to brush the dirt off of it, snapped her head back, squeezed her eyes shut, and dropped it in her mouth, swallowing it whole, live. Adam stared at her, eyes bulging, jaw dropping with disbelief. Blake thought of anything she could to keep the disgust from contorting her face.

He needed to eat too.

For him, she licks her lips like it's nothing at all and rubs her stomach like she can't still feel it wriggling inside of her.

"It's not that bad." She lies, "Your turn. Come on, don't be chicken."

As he picks one up, she tells him, 'just don't chew'.

To show her up, he does anyway.

...

Years later and neither of them had ever eaten another worm after that.

But sometimes Blake wakes up in the middle of the night and the tears that pour down her cheeks don't stop until Adam's arms are around her, to show her that the nightmares of countless worms in her stomach eating away at her like hunger itself weren't real.

...

They only lived by a few rules.

They never stole money-it was the only thing in the world that was inherently useless at best, and would make them a target at worst.

They only took what they needed, and no more than that.

But most importantly of all, they would never separate.

...

"...We messed up."

"...Yeah."

She draws his coat closer around her naked body and leans into his embrace.

She'd been caught stealing, made to pay for it with the only way she had.

They'd dragged Adam in, beaten and bloody, and they'd held a knife so close to his face that it scared her more than anything they could do to her. She'd bitten back a grimace as too many hands touched her at once-

-but she'd only screamed when Adam drove his face onto the blade and swiped across, quick and bloody, so he wouldn't have to watch.

It's over now. They're far away, it never happened, she needs to move on. Adam's loss is far greater, because she hadn't any more innocence to lose for a long, long time.

She brings cautious fingers along the soaking red bandages covering his eyes, tracing into the hollows where they used to be.

"Does it hurt badly?"

"Doesn't feel great."

They both know the answer to her question, and both play along.

They know it had been foolish to steal from the palace guard, but they couldn't have known that their being drunk had only made them angrier, not dumber.

In spite of herself, Blake is grateful he'll never see the sickly purple blemishes along the inside of her thighs, even if he can still see everything else.

...

Adam had changed since that day.

He told her that he was done sulking around in the shadows, that they were done.

From now on they were going to do absolutely anything and everything they could to survive, comfortably.

No more near-death experiences for a few pieces of soggy, rotten fruit. They will look out for each other, back to back, them versus the world at large.

For a time, it works, and they live the high life in excess: they break into the local tavern's kitchen after closing time and they share the first hot meal they've had in years together. All of the bitter memories of the past vanish in a haze of the heady scent of delicious, thick stew Blake has prepared: Adam insists on ladling his own bowl, and they laugh and hush each other as he slops a little onto the countertops-it's not easy being blind, but he's taking it in stride and he's adapting well enough-and they sit together on the cracked tile floor, eating to their heart's desire, until every drop is gone.

It is the happiest they have been in a long while.

"Wow." Adam chuckles as he licks the spoon.

"Good, right?" Blake grins.

"No-" He can't keep a straight face, as he imagines how Blake will react to what he says next, "-it tastes terrible!"

He can picture her pissed expression so easily. "Not like I've had a lot of chance to practice, you ass-" She ribs him hard with her elbow. "I should make more and just pour it over your head, I swear-!" She bats at him with playful, bunny rabbit fists.

They both know he's joking, and both play along.

...

They return to their makeshift home in high spirits, having swindled a bottle of wine from the larder to share. Blake closes the rickety door of their little run-down shack tightly behind them and they collapse into the pile of downy pillows, stolen from the palace storeroom.

There are feathers all over the place-Blake's idea. They remind her of a bird's nest, and after all, what is freer than a bird?

It is small and comfortable, and while Adam has bigger ambitions, Blake has so far not budged on leaving just yet, if only to avoid drawing attention to themselves by moving somewhere more extravagant with their ill-gotten gains.

The bottle passes between them, between their lips, back and forth, and at some point they cut out the middleman and are kissing, suddenly and sloppily, between tipsy laughter and intoxicating breath.

She takes his hands and guides them, so he can see her: over the swell of her breasts, the dip of her waist, along her thighs and back to her hips, where he caresses her roughly and pulls her atop him, so she can see what she's done to him. Her hips roll and she purrs smoothly into his throat, arms around his shoulders, nibbling at his collarbone and prompting a guttural, primal growl.

'I really like you, Adam.' The words had oozed so sweetly against his throat, and the scent of berries and frosted wind in her hair is sweet and tart.

That night, she has him all to herself like never before.

That night, Adam takes her back.

...

It is easier than ever to share their one blanket when she is laying on top of him, sleepy, careless fingers tracing his lean muscle again and again. He can feel her heartbeat through her back as he smooths his hand over it, toys with her hair in his fingers. Unabashed (not like he could see any of her anyway, not like this), she sits up and reaches for something, and he hears a distinctive crunch.

"What color?"

"Red, of course." She shifts around enough for him to picture her wiping the bead of juice from her chin. "Want some?" Before he can answer, the apple is at his lips. "Here..." She turns it so that his lips are exactly in line with where she had bitten, and he grins and takes a bite.

"I'm surprised you aren't sick of these by now, considering." He muses, after swallowing.

"Considering what?" He can feel how much she dislikes the remark, the reminder.

"Never mind."

...

"He was hungry, Adam-"

"And so is everyone else."

Blake sighs, hurt. She really doesn't want a confrontation right now, but she won't say that what she did was wrong.

"We still have plenty stashed away," She reasoned, "I hardly think we'll miss just one-"

"You say that now, but you know more than anyone that some apples-" Even without eyes to glare with, his expression is dark and unkind, "-cost more than others."

She says absolutely nothing, and he regrets it; she slaps him, hard, and he knows he's gone way, way too far, because to date, Blake has never hurt anyone who didn't deserve it.

"If you think that it was a waste for me to give a hungry little boy one apple-" She enunciates every word clearly, slowly, voice shaking, and he knows she's going to cry, "-then you really are blind." The silence is thick between them. Finally, quietly, "That little boy could've been you." She throws her arms around him, completely catching him off-guard. "It used to-used to be-!"

He callously pulls her off of him. He can't get soft right before the biggest heist of their life. He can't deny the truth in her words, that brings him back to being small and weak and malnourished, looking up at her, as she extended the bright red fruit to him, cooing, 'Are you hungry? Here.'

"It's time to go now, Blake. Come on."

He'll call the shots if that's what it takes to keep them happy, keep them fed, keep them alive.

...

She watches as the train carries her further and further away from him, but in reality, he'd been far away from her for a long time now.

She can't believe he's gone.

He'll never really be gone, but he is.

She gets off the train, 'where' is not important anymore. It is a place with apples on a tree and that's all she needs right now.

Blake spends a moment choosing, but they are all the wrong and right choice and it doesn't really matter, now. She takes one, takes a bite-

-and spits, staring horrified at the half of a worm that squirms at her from the core.

She is a little girl again, poor and cold and hungry.

But this time, she is alone.