The stain on his chest continues to blossom, a vibrant rose against his pale flesh.

“. . .”

The liquid in his voice softens his consonants so that I must lean closer to discern his words.

“What was that, darling? You will have to speak more clearly.”

“Y-you…” He chokes on his own voice. “You’re a cruel bastard, you know that?”

I smile and touch my hand to his flushed cheek. He winces at the contact.

“I learned from the best, my love.”

His glassy eyes are a miniature sky mottled by the shadows of passing clouds. He refuses to meet my gaze as I brush my fingers gently through his tangled hair.

“I don’t want to be crazy anymore,” I explain patiently, though I doubt my reasons matter much to him at the moment. “I don’t want to be so many people at once. They hurt, you know. They are incomplete and they ache, they mourn, they hate. And that hatred overwhelms me. You understand, don’t you?” He does not respond, only fights to draw in a steady breath. Watching his chest rise and fall unsteadily, his heartbeat a panicked flutter, I wonder how much time he has left. This must seem a very long night to him.

“You must understand, beloved – you made me like this. I am defective because of you. Incomplete because of you. I hurt because of you.” I caress the line of his jaw lovingly, where tears and blood have left a salty mess. “But I forgive you. I always forgive you. Maybe that’s part of the madness. I will never be free of you. I will never be free of this place. We are damned, you and I.”

His fingers twitch at his side, struggling to grasp the bloody blade on the floor. I cannot help but chuckle softly at his feeble attempt and pick up the knife in my own hand. Now he meets my gaze, and there is a beautiful fear in his eyes.

“Do you know why the Moon first rose up and murdered his lover the Sun, Tanim?”

The man in my arms shudders and does not speak.

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