Jan. 30th, 2012

applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] narcissist)
The young man sat motionless, his dull blue eyes fixed on the window opposite the couch on which he slouched, his muscles lax, like a puppet with its strings cut. His stillness was offset by the continual bustling of a young blond woman who fidgeted around the apartment in tight domestic circles. Each time she passed near him she would reach out to flutter her pale fingers against his still form – brushing back a curl or straightening an invisible wrinkle out of his sweater. The young man remained perfectly static under these ministrations, not even an eyelash flickering in response.

“Soon, my dear,” she said, in a soft voice suffused with love. “So soon.” She gave his sweater a final corrective tweak, stood back to admire her handiwork, then slid her bag over her shoulder and left the apartment.

Out on the street, her gentle smile soon flattened into a tight-lipped line. The sounds of the city seemed to pluck at each nerve in turn - each honking horn or echoing shout translated into a flinch or scowl. It was hard for her to remember that she had once loved this city, had once basked in the life of it. Now she curled away from it like a leaf in flame, seeking the quiet shadows of her apartment and the soft, nearly imperceptible breaths of the still young man.

But there was work to be done, and despite the city's apparent harshness, she could still find what she needed if she looked hard enough.

The park often yielded the best results, so she turned her feet in that direction. So close now... today would be the day, if the park didn't let her down. The thought sent a happy little tremor down her spine.

When she reached the park gates, the mid-afternoon sunshine was streaming orange-gold, dappling the path between the trees with pleasant, warm light. She could hear children laughing, and the sound tugged at the corners of her mouth. Once she had been afraid that she would never have children. Now she knew it was only a matter of time.

It didn't take long to find him. Only a few hundred feet into the park was a sharply-dressed couple - her in a teal wrap dress and cream-colored trench and him in a soft brown blazer and cranberry scarf - strolling along with their arms wrapped firmly around each other. As she approached, they laughed at some private joke, their cheeks and eyes glowing. The man pressed a hand against her lower back.

When she was nearly upon them, the young blond woman stumbled. A sharp cry rang out over the quiet path, and the couple turned with concern in their eyes. The man stepped forward quickly, catching her bare wrist in his hand and steadying her before she hit the ground.

"Are you all right?" He asked. His wife (she could feel the cool metal of his ring on her wrist) stepped forward to see what was the matter.

Beneath his fingers, her pulse beat quicker. Flesh to flesh they touched, skin to skin. He could not guess that in her skin lived secrets - ways of drawing forth. He could not guess that the cold shiver that rushed through his blood at that moment to the place where his fingers met her thin wrist was a taking - no! A giving, however unintended. Her thin lips curved upwards.

"Oh yes, yes," she said, gently disentangling her arm. "I'm all right." She could feel him wrapped around her, the buzz of him tingling the hairs on her arms and neck. For his part he looked confused, unsure. But how could he tell? How could he know that part of him was gone, twinkling away in one simple little touch?

She rushed away, back to the little apartment, her purse bouncing against her hip as she almost skipped over the pavement. It would be done today! Today she would end her loneliness.

She barely heard the door close behind her as she ran toward the couch. There he was - the same as he had been for months - motionless, silent, empty-eyed. As she knelt before him on the rug, she allowed herself to briefly remember him as he had been. She remembered his smile, his sparkling blue eyes, his voice raised in anger. She remembered the contempt on his face as he stood in the door that day, telling her it would be the last time she saw him.

Slowly, she shook her head, casting the last image away. He would be hers again now, but only the good parts. He hadn't known what she could do that day - any day. He had never known about the heritage she'd hidden, the power of her people. For centuries they had kept such things secret, most denying the magic that shivered under their skin.

On that day, she could no longer ignore it. She would use it to have the one thing she wanted. The one thing she had ever wanted. Could that be so wrong? Didn't she deserve it?

So she had reached out and touched him - grabbed his arm as he turned away from her in disgust. She felt it - felt him - flowing into her like a summer breeze, hot with anger. And then he had collapsed, his eyes vacant, nothing but the husk that had once held all he had been and could be.

And she had gone out into the city, gathering all the things she knew she'd need. Kindness from an old man who gave her a rose. Patience from the father of four at the zoo. Humor from a college student laughing amongst his friends. Many more. Each had yielded up part of himself to her touch, never knowing what it was they gave. Each part she pressed into the shell that waited back at her apartment, passed into him with a kiss.

And today was the last piece. She closed her eyes briefly, pulling the image of the man from the park to the front of her mind. One more calming breath, and she leaned forward to press her lips against his. A moment of white light, a slight charge to lift her hair.

She opened her eyes.

He was looking at her, blinking slowly. His blue eyes sparkled in the light from the window.

"Hey, hon," he said. "Was I asleep?"

"Just for a little while," she replied.

He smiled at her. "I must have dreamed of you. I knew that when I opened my eyes you'd be the first thing I'd see."

Her heart fluttered. "Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?"

"Sure." He stood and stretched. "Let's go to that little place on Elm that you like so much. I'm buying." He kissed her on the forehead. "I'm so lucky to have you, hon."

As they left the apartment, he put his hand against the small of her back. She smiled and curled her arm around his waist. Love could not be bought. It could not be sold. But it could, sometimes, be built. She had built this love herself, piece by piece, and she could feel the strength of it in his gaze. This time, everything would be all right. This time, she had all she needed.

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