A/N R's painting thing is fun to work off of, I suppose. So this is just a senseless little drabble, and a cheap excuse to use too much sensory language because sensory language is fun.

His hair is always the hardest part to capture, laden as it is with so many deep and intricate tangles, rippling in a way that's on the very delicate brink of chaos, while still managing to hold itself together, glass-spun. It's a storm of gold, and the attempt to replicate such a sweet disaster with only brushes is a near-impossible feat. Still, he does strive for the impossible when he cares to aim at anything at all, and so he spends hours in such a manner, hunched over the worn surface of his canvas, tracing and re-tracing and drowning his sketches in heavy sweeps of color until his hands ache and his eyes burn, and still he'll press onwards, stopping only to gulp down more of the burning bitter liquid that sustains him more surely than any nectar.

Yes, the hair will take hours; long hours, and ones that he's never satisfied by the conclusion of, but it's truly a trite matter, and he's coached himself to never expect otherwise. The face, at least, he thinks he layers some semblance of—proud jaw, strong brows, darkened eyes, all struck over in equal parts with shadow and light, exhausting his already meager supply of gold until there's none left at all and he finds his brushes scraping bottom yet again, accompanied by that far too familiar twist of his stomach—owed less to the knowledge that he'll doubtlessly waste more of his thin stock of sous on a replacement, more to that of how he's bound to hate this work in the morning, like he does every time; rip it apart and throw it to the coals as soon as his sobered mind sees the mess he's made. He tells himself that, perhaps, if he were ever to finish one—before being hindered by the lack of colors, or by the pressing waves of the alcohol, or by his own sudden tears blurring the lines—then, there might be a chance of his being content, of keeping it to be touched by the murmur of the next night's moon.

But he does not succeed. Never. It is impossible, he reminds himself, buried late in the night with gold on his mind and red on his hands and a canvas splattered and soaked with the emotions that he cannot put a name to. There is a storm inside of him, a flood, and these attempts to subside it only ever heighten its fury, stir him into a frenzy that somehow, wondrously and disgustingly, doesn't quite manage to rip him apart. He is, after all, a failure, and so surely anything that stems from his fingers and thoughts must be equally such.

He allows himself to believe, on the very darkest nights when there's nothing else to hold onto, that perhaps he could paint him if he only ever had him. If the luminous angel, the sole holder of every fragment of light and hope and faith in his cracked little world, ever were to see him, it would all be different. Because he would be here, on these sepia nights, in the glow of the fireplace. Shadows dancing over his fine-crafted face, over the features shaped like the work of the gods, underscoring his soft lips and cradling his supple neck; the light refracted in his midnight-blue eyes, bringing out their hints of sapphire. And his voice would fill the air, of course, rich and determined, purer than any instrument in its stirring grace. The shadows would bend differently around him, sunlit creature of beauty that he is, and the hopeless man would breathe more lightly, let his hand move as if guided by fragile wind nymphs, perhaps finally finding a way to lay down the same perfection that burns him so tenderly and fiercely every waking hour.

And after, after the completion that he strives for so endlessly, he would let himself break free, reach out, touch the exquisite beam of summer radiance that pulls itself into the shape of a flawless man. He would wind their fingers together, feel his lips, his hair, his eyelashes, his collarbone; drink him in like a divine elixir and let the night explode around them as their worlds fuse and ignite.

Yet he is invisible. He is nothing, and so the paper burns.