A slightly different love story, not really Catherine and Vincentís.

 

Finding and Taking

By Sigyn

 

Okay, good. Okay, fine. Dark out, no oneíll see. Jump, flip, land, donít fall. Thatís it. Canít make noise. Hm. Window. Okay, good, okay, fine. Easy. Ah, new burglar alarm. Wow. Neat. Good one. Now whereís the line... come on. Oh, car coming, better duck. Okay, good, safe. Wire cutters... ah! Okay, good, got it. Now, up slip the window... easy. Canít trick Mouse.

Wow! New stuff! No wonder new alarm. Gotta keep this stuff safe. Better hook alarm back up when I go. Need transistor gizmo, hydraulic gizmo. Find it, take it... Ooh! Neat! Electric stuff! Hope the bagís big enough. Got it. Got enough, I guess. Time to go. Up and out. Never catch Mouse. Wire, link, whereís the tape? Ah, here. Okay, good. All fixed. No one the wiser. Now back.

Car again. Down. Come on, come on, go already! Need to move! Donít like it up top. Found it, took it, now back home. Oh, go on! Back in the car already! Stupid man. Whatís with the kid?

Hey! Donít think that kid wants this! Help, maybe? Uh oh, looking here, better duck, see that face.

That face.

No.

No! Canít be that man. Canít be him! Gotta run, run, run, no! No, Mouse, stay, canít see you here, never catch Mouse, run run run run run! Not really happening. Not real. Not real. Run, run, run, run, run, run Ė

RUN!

***

"We canít let this go on any longer," William said. "Thatís at least four times in the last two weeks!"

"What do you have to say for yourself, Mouse?" Father asked.

Mouse stood sullenly in the center of the room, on trial again. "Stupid rules," he muttered.

"Mouse, they are not stupid rules," Father said, "they are to keep us and this world, our home, safe. For the sake of yourself and this community, this stealing has to stop."

"Just from up top," Mouse grumbled. "Not stealing. Taking."

"Taking things that donít belong to us is stealing, Mouse."

Mouse didnít even try to defend himself. "Okay, good," he said. "Okay, fine." He sat down on the carpet and buried his head in his hands. "Silence me. Donít care."

"Father," Vincent said, surprising everyone. He rarely spoke up when it came to Mouseís exploits. The punishments which Father and consensus prescribed were good for him, on the whole. Mouse was arrogant and reckless, and needed to have reality shaken into him every once in a while. But Vincent couldnít bring himself to take part in them. No one else had watched and guided Mouse through every moment of his Ė Vincent always thought of it as humanization Ė and Vincent still remembered that screaming, desperate, starving child. He simply couldnít do anything to punish Mouse. His heart felt the boy Mouse had been had been punished enough.

But Vincent sensed that this time there was something different about Mouseís forays Above. These last few weeks, Mouse had been more Mouselike than ever, skulking in shadows, withdrawing from others, keeping secrets. "I think, for now, it might be best to give Mouse a little time to figure out how to explain himself."

"Thereís been too much time!" William said. "We keep cutting him slack and heíll fall off." He looked at Mouse. "Do you know what would happen to you if you were caught Above?" he asked. "Do you?"

"Never catch Mouse," Mouse said automatically.

"Mouse, you would be imprisoned," Father said. "Or worse. Do you know what a psychiatric clinic would do to you?"

"Father," Vincent said again, more firmly this time. No one Below ever mentioned Mouseís more extreme eccentricities, though everyone acknowledged that he was different in more ways than one. "Could I suggest lenience, in this case? If he should go up again, then we can impose the Silence."

Jamieís head poked through otherís broader shoulders. "Thatís not f-fair..." she said as everyone stared at her. She looked uncomfortable for a long moment before she gestured to Mouse crouched on the floor. "Look at him!"

They did, many of them as if really seeing for the first time.

Mouse was pale and comparatively still. Gone was the frenetic energy which always seemed to permeate his every breath. Mouse looked cowed and pained and trollish. In the center of all of them, he looked alone.

"Very well," said Father after a long minute of silence when no one else tried to plea for punishment. "This is your final warning, Mouse."

"Warning, warning. Okay, fine," Mouse muttered. He got to his feet. "Got stuff to do," he announced to no one in particular, and then pushed his way out of the library.

As everyone filed out, uncertain what to make of the aborted trial, Jamie touched Vincentís arm and pulled him aside. "Iím really worried about him," she said.

"I know," Vincent said.

"No, you donít understand," Jamie said. "I mean, Mouse has always taken things. But itís bigger than..." She looked torn.

Vincent sensed she was hiding something serious. "What is it, Jamie?" he asked, and pulled her into a corner where none could overhear them.

Jamie bit her lip for a moment before she said, "It hasnít just been four times in the last two weeks. Mouse has been going out every night."

Vincent blinked. "Every night?" Mouse had never gone out that frequently before.

"Yeah. I tried to stop him, but he just said thereís something heís gotta do. And you should see what heís bringing back. I mean, usually heís just taking metal and wires and stuff he needs to make things, but now... heís just taking everything. He came down last night with an entire drawer full of stainless steel forks and a bunch of cotton napkins from some catering company. He has no use for any of it."

"He doesnít think quite the same way you and I do," Vincent said. "He might think he has a use for it."

"Twenty boxes of Q-tips? Four bags of birdseed? Gravel! He stole gravel, Vincent! He stole a burlap sack full of gravel! I saw him lugging it in, I was... shocked. We have plenty of gravel down here. Something is really wrong."

Vincent regarded her. "Why didnít you tell me any of this before?"

Jamie looked down. Vincent sighed. Mouse was always Jamieís weakness. She looked back up. "I didnít want him to get in trouble," Jamie said.

"I have a feeling," Vincent said, "that Mouse is already in some kind of trouble."

***

Vincent fled Above while the sun still fired the sky orange. It was a little risky, but he needed to speak to Catherine before it grew late enough that Mouse would go foraging again Ė because no matter what he said, in the state Mouse was in, he would go out again.

Catherine was late. She seemed flustered and annoyed about something, and he wondered if now was the best time to bring up Mouseís problems. But Vincent could always think things through better when he had Catherine to talk to about it. As soon as she got home Catherine headed right for her bureau and pulled out a pair of jeans. Vincent knocked on the door before she had a chance to change into them.

"Vincent," she sighed as she joined him on the balcony. "I was just coming down to find you."

"I needed to talk to you."

"I needed to talk to you, too," Catherine said. "Something has to be done about Mouse."

Vincent blinked, and a chill crept up his spine. "Somethingís happened," he said.

Catherine grunted and went back inside to pull something out of her purse. She came back and handed it to Vincent. "I suppose this makes me an accomplice, but I couldnít bear to leave it there." It was a video tape. "This was taken at a convenience store two nights ago. Youíll have to explain to me why Mouse thought he needed two cases of Twinkies. I was at the precinct to talk to a witness for a case Iím working on, and I saw the officers watching it. I recognized Mouse immediately. I slipped it into my purse when they werenít looking."

"You didnít have to do that, Catherine," Vincent said. "I would never ask you lie or take this kind of risk."

"I know, but... itís Mouse," Catherine said, as if that was explanation enough. And it was. Vincent felt the same way. "Theyíll just think they misplaced the tape, it happens all the time. I mean, this is petty stuff. But... if he were ever caught... Vincent, heíd die within a week. The prison system would make short work of him, and a psychiatric unit would be ten times worse. Heíd build something out of paperclips and a manilla envelope that would take out a wall, the next thing you know heíd be the cover of Psyche Monthly and Newsweek, and would never see the light of day again."

"Believe me," Vincent said with feeling, "I can imagine how terrible things could be for Mouse."

"Tell him that."

"We have. It doesnít get through."

"Vincent, Mouse has been getting around a lot recently. They thought the subject on the tape was linked to a whole slew of mysterious robberies all within a four block area in the last two weeks. Alarms donít go off, nothingís been broken, very strange things are taken. Things are taken silently from houses where people are sleeping. Itís terrifying people! They say heís an amateur cat burglar, using the neighborhood for practice on petty crimes before he escalates. Some say itís a sex offender trying to frighten his victims. I know none of that is true, but it simply has to stop!"

"I know," Vincent said. "I actually came up to ask if you could find out anything about what heís been doing. I suppose you have."

"Is there anything you can do to stop him?"

Vincent looked troubled. "I donít know. Thereís something wrong, and when Mouse doesnít want to talk itís impossible to get anything coherent out of him. Heís an inch from being thrown into Silence again, and you know for Mouse itís a punishment a thousand times worse than for anyone else."

"It makes him feel alone again," Catherine said. "Do you think heís done something really awful that he feels guilty about? An accident, perhaps? You know if heís in some kind of trouble, Iíll do everything in my power to get him out of it."

"Thank you," Vincent said. He sighed. "I think I just needed to hear your voice before I confronted him on it."

Catherine sidled up to him and nuzzled her head into his chest. He held her tenderly. There was nothing in the world that could give more comfort, or lend more strength, than Catherineís embrace. And heíd need both in order to do anything that might hurt Mouse.

***

Jamie was already waiting where she said heíd come out. How Mouse managed to carve a secret tunnel out of solid rock, all the way from his chamber to this tunnel no more than five minuteís walk from the surface, with an entrance that looked exactly like the rock wall was a riddle Vincent was never likely to solve. Mouse was brilliant beyond all sense in some ways. And a complete child in others.

The wall slid open with a whisper of a hydraulic pump, and Mouse crept out backwards, carrying a bag in his fist. His movements were utterly silent. If Vincentís eyes had been closed, he might never have known Mouse was there.

"Mouse," said Vincent.

Mouse started, then stopped. "Heh heh," Mouse laughed nervously. "Cat and mouse. Forgot how quiet you are, Vincent."

"Not as quiet as you," Vincent said, "when you want to be."

He turned. "Howíd you find me?"

"I told him about your secret tunnel, Mouse," Jamie said, stepping into the light.

Mouseís eyes narrowed. "Never should have told you, then," he said. "Secrets are secrets."

"Not when theyíre getting you into trouble, Mouse," Jamie said.

"No trouble. Like having two exits, thatís all. Not good to get trapped."

Counting this one, Vincent made that four exits all in all from Mouseís chambers, and there were probably a few others no one knew about. Mouse was like that. "Youíre right," Vincent said. "It isnít good to get trapped. Which is why we canít let you go Above."

Mouse stood upright with a hint of his old bravado. "Gonna stop me?" he asked. Then he grinned and jumped back into the tunnel.

Vincent followed swiftly, catching the closing door with his shoulder. "Follow him!" he hissed to Jamie, who dove in after. Vincent waited until she cleared the doorway and then slid in himself. The hydraulic door closed with a hiss behind him, leaving them in blackness.

The tunnel was almost a slide, and Vincent collided with Jamie at a closed door at the bottom. "Ow!"

They were trapped. "Mouse!" Vincent roared. "Open! This! Door!"

The door slid open revealing a rather sheepish looking Mouse standing in the middle of his workshop. He ran his fingers over a lava lamp. "Didnít have to follow," he said, as if it was all their fault.

"We need to speak with you, Mouse," Vincent said.

"Come on, Mouse," Jamie said. "Itís us! You know weíre on your side, will you just talk to us?"

Mouseís face was clouded. "Nothing to talk about."

"Youíre going Above and stealing from innocent people, every single night, Mouse," Vincent said. "Youíre frightening people. They wake up to find that someone has been in their home, pawing through their things, beside their sleeping children. That is one of the most frightening violations that can occur."

"Didnít bug you," Mouse said.

"You were a child at the time, Mouse," Vincent reminded him. "And the tunnels are relatively communal. In the world Above a person only feels safe when they can lock the rest of the world out. You violate that security. It is as frightening as holding a knife to them."

"Okay, fine," Mouse said. "Okay, sorry, didnít mean to scare people. No more houses."

"Stealing from a business is just as amoral."

Mouse shrugged uncomfortably. "Need stuff."

"You donít need anything that youíve taken, Mouse," Vincent said. "There has to be another reason youíre going Above."

Mouse glared at him. "Is not!" he said, too quickly.

"Mouse," Jamie said. "I know somethingís wrong. I mean... what do you need gravel for?"

Mouse squirmed. "Counterweight. Pulley," he said, unconvincingly.

"Then why not take the stones from below?" Vincent asked. When Mouse didnít answer, Vincent said, "But to take it from Above was an act of strength, was it not? To find it, take it, carry such a heavy burden all the way back without getting caught would make anyone feel powerful."

Mouse hunched his shoulders until he looked very small. "No."

"Mouse... we think there is something wrong. Something you feel powerless about. Finding a need and being able to fulfill it is empowering, in its way. But Mouse, your need is not for the things themselves. If it were, there are other ways. What you need is not the things, but the taking of them."

"Stop it!" Mouse snapped, stepping away from them. He was moving without purpose, his hands opening and closing into fists. "Donít know anything. Not like that."

"Then what is it, Mouse?" Jamie asked. "Youíre risking everything! Risking getting caught, risking your home, risking us. What can possibly be worth all of that?"

"Canít sleep, okay?" Mouse yelled, surprising both of them. "Canít sleep, always in my head, back and forth, no safe, no home, just face, canít sleep, canít think, canít build, just face, face, face!" The incoherent babble grew louder and louder, as if the sound of his voice would drown out whatever he was feeling. He grabbed one of his unfinished inventions and threw it against the wall. His pet racoon Arthur started and skittered away. Mouse kept waving his arms. "Hurting, pinching, biting, go Ė get Ė gottaĖ gah!" He fell into a wordless sound of panic, spun around completely in a circle and then huddled down into a tiny ball, half under a bench, shuddering.

Vincent had seen this before, but not for years. When he first caught Mouse, a feral, wild, abandoned creature, scuttling through their tunnels stealing scraps of food and clothes, he was much like this. He had very few words, and he lost them quickly, he gibbered and he twisted and when cornered he cowered, covering his head, protecting himself. The true horror of it was, Vincent knew what it was to feel like that, wordless and terrified. While Mouse cowered, Vincent attacked, but the impulse came from the same place. He often heard echos of himself in Mouse.

Jamie gulped. She had been a very young child when Mouse was being tamed, and hadnít seen the worst of it. No one had but Vincent. She looked close to tears. She took a step forward, but Vincent touched her arm. Back when Mouse was a child, he had a tendency to lash out blindly if anyone got too close to him when he was in the cowering stage. Jamie snatched her hand away, glaring at Vincent, and then approached Mouse cautiously. She knelt down on the floor and bent her head close to Mouse, supporting herself with her hand. "Okay, good, Mouse," she whispered, and she lay her hand gently on his shoulder. "Okay, fine. Okay, good, okay, fine."

To Vincentís surprise, Mouse lifted his head and stared at Jamie. "Okay, good," he whispered back. "Okay, fine."

The two young friends stared at each other over a very small distance, crouched on hands and knees. Both of them were trembling. Vincentís empathic senses were humming with the tension in the room, but as always with everyone but Catherine, it was vague and difficult to pinpoint what came from where and why.

After a charged moment, Mouse bent his head and started to cry. Jamie reached forward and put her arms around his shoulders.

Vincent wouldnít have tried to touch Mouse in his condition, and certainly not tried to hug him. It had been more than a year before Mouse had learned to accept almost any touch at all, and more than five before he stopped looking frightened at the feel of a hug. Now he accepted touch, even seemed to enjoy hugs, the feel of someoneís hand in his, but it was difficult if it lasted more than a moment or two. Vincent knew Mouse felt uncomfortable if anyone tried to touch him for a long time, to hold his hand or... well, do what Jamie was doing right now. But he realized there was more going on here than Mouseís emotional trauma, and he knew he had to stay out of it and let the two work it out before he could intervene again. He almost felt like he should back away and give them their privacy, but his movement would likely just draw attention to himself.

Mouse stiffened, his eyes open, and he trembled for a long moment in Jamieís tentative embrace. Then his eyes closed, and while he did not lift his hands to embrace her in return, he relaxed under her arms. After three deep breaths, Jamie let him go again. It took Mouse a moment to open his eyes, and when he did he just stared at Jamie, his face entirely unreadable.

After a pregnant silence, Mouse looked over at Vincent, and Vincent knew he was being invited back into the moment again. He joined the little tableau on the floor, bending to one knee. "What is this face you speak of, Mouse?"

Mouse shook his head, a vestige of the panic heíd just gone through passing through his expression. "Donít wanna think about it."

"But you are thinking about it," Vincent said. "Itís poisoning your mind, and making you put yourself in danger. You of all the souls I know have the power to live in the moment, to accept things as they are right now. That is a precious gift, and one that seems to have been taken from you. What has happened that is gnawing so at your peace?"

Mouse covered his eyes with his hands. "Donít wanna remember," he said. "Have to remember to have words for it."

Vincent suddenly understood. "Has something happened that has reminded of you of the time before you came here?"

Mouse cringed, but Vincent couldnít let him run from it right now. Usually, it was best that the horrors of Mouseís childhood were forgotten, buried deep in the peace and solace of his new home. Now one of those ghosts had been resurrected, and was haunting the corridors of his mind.

"You have to tell us, Mouse."

"Hurt," Mouse said, his words even more incoherent than usual. "Cut, hurt, broke. Never catch Mouse." He shook his head. "Not true."

It took Vincent a moment to catch what Mouse meant. "Someone caught you once?"

"Face," Mouse said. "Bad, bad, bad. Had to run. Trapped, trapped. Caught, cut, ripped, things... touched things. Hurt. Scared. No word for no. Try to run, alarm go off, caught, hurt again. Again, again, locks, doors, bars, alarm, caught, caught. Had to figure it out. Took a long time."

Jamie was staring at Mouse, her face white. "Someone kept you prisoner?" Her hand reached out and seized his. "You only said you were alone."

"Was alone, mostly," Mouse said, his pale blue eyes fixed on her. "Alone or worse." He looked down again. "Alone was better, even."

Mouseís torment was difficult to bear. Vincent took a deep breath to calm his nerves before he asked, "What was it brought this to your mind, Mouse?"

"Saw him," Mouse whispered. "Up top. Had a kid." He started crying again. "New kid." His voice was nothing but a whimper by now. "Put him in the car. Scared. Ran." He looked up at Vincent. "I shouldía grabbed the kid!"

Vincent wanted to do as Jamie had done and catch Mouse up in an embrace, telling him it was all going to be all right, but he knew better. "There was nothing you could have done, Mouse," he said. "You might have gotten hurt."

"Was hurt," Mouse said. "Was caught." He was crying in earnest now, and he buried his face in his hands. "Back then. Felt small again. Always so big. Just too scared!"

"Itís okay to be scared, Mouse. This man hurt you in ways vile and evil, when you were no more than a wordless, homeless child."

"Shouldía stopped him. Couldnít move, had to run."

"Perhaps you still can stop him, Mouse."

Mouse shook his head. "Tried. Looked up top. Gone. Wander forever, never."

"But the police Above have ways of finding their criminals. Do you think you could describe this man," Vincent said. "Or the make of the car?"

"Donít know cars. Just had numbers."

Vincent almost smiled. Mouse had no idea what licence plates were for. "Can you remember the numbers?" he asked, already knowing the answer. This was Mouse he was talking to. When it came to mechanics and mathematics, he was speaking to the most brilliant person he had ever known.

"PWE-562," Mouse said. "Why?"

"Because when I give those numbers to Catherine, she can have the police find this man, and arrest him, and he will be taken and locked up in a tiny cell, so that he can never capture another child again." Part of Vincent rather wanted to find the man himself and take his evil face off, but he knew that wouldnít help matters. If this man was caught and imprisoned chances were that heíd have things as bad Ė or worse Ė than what he had done to Mouse done to him in his cell.

Mouse blinked. "And get the kid?" he asked.

Vincent nodded. "And get the kid."

Mouse surged to his feet. "Gotta get Catherine!" he cried out.

Vincent and Jamie got up with him. "Sounds good to me," Jamie said.

Mouse nearly disappeared a dozen times, he ran so quickly through the tunnels to Catherineís building. It was all Vincent could do to keep him from charging up the corridors to her apartment.

It was the work of no more than twenty minutes before Catherine had milked all the information she could get out of Mouse, and called the police with a tip sheíd received from an "anonymous witness." It was the information theyíd needed to close in on a suspect theyíd already been considering, and Mouseís "face" was arrested by ten oíclock the next morning. The child Mouse had seen was reunited with his parents, and prepared to undergo counseling. Catherine had Vincent bring her down to tell Mouse the good news herself.

"Caught?" Mouse asked.

"Yes," Catherine said. "Caught and arrested and thereís enough material on him to keep him in prison for a long, long time."

"Never get out?" Mouse asked.

"Probably not," Catherine said.

"Okay, good," said Mouse. "Okay, fine."

But Vincent sensed that even catching this evil man wasnít enough to lay Mouseís ghosts. The young man was hollow eyed and pale from his inability to sleep. Mouse tried not to think about the time before he joined their community Below, and now his memories had been dragged into the light, stirring up resentments he had long buried. Vincent knew Mouse was still feeling anxious, still felt like he needed something, anything, when what he needed was his peace of mind. He would still be going Up Top, trying to find that magical thing which would fill that hollow emptiness inside. It would probably take weeks before his habitual present-mindedness returned to him, and his anxiety flagged. Weeks in which he might be caught Above.

Vincent considered it long and hard. They couldnít keep Mouse prisoner, or even put him under guard. It would be shades of his trauma again, and that would only make it worse. Finally he went to speak to Jamie. Next to Vincent, she was the one who knew and understood Mouse best.

"You think I donít know?" Jamie said, looking a little flustered. "I spent most of today returning catering equipment and unopened boxes of Q-tips. Trust me, I know Mouse needs help."

Vincent regarded her. She looked as exhausted as Mouse did. "You care a great deal for him."

Jamie sighed. "Heís Mouse." She hugged herself. "Iím crazy, arenít I."

Vincent shook his head. "No," he said quietly. "I donít think youíre crazy at all."

***

Need something.

Itís late. Stop that. Donít need anything. Stay here. Feed Arthur. Sleep.

Canít sleep. Face still there. Arg! Out of my head, face! Donít want you there!

Need something.

Shouldnít. Shouldnít go, stay here, make something.

Donít wanna make anything. Long time, donít wanna make stuff. Hands no good for building now. Just finding and taking. Find it, take it. Whereís the bag? Up top. Okay, good. Lots of things to find and take up top. "Bye, Arthur!"

"Going somewhere?"

Thatís Jamie. "Uh..." Jamie doesnít tell. Have to go. "Need something."

"No, you donít."

"Do. Need coupler for the... the..." Canít remember what Mouse was making! Too many days, too many things, donít matter now. "Gizmo."

"Iím sure you have one in your shop, Mouse."

Probably right. "Okay, good, okay, fine. Need... need wrench. Bye."

"Mouse!" Jamie calls. "I know you feel like you need something. Trust me. Thereís nothing up there you need."

Stop. Think. "Jamie... canít." Donít wanna think it. Such a pretty face, worries so. Think. Hands itch. So tired. Gotta tell her. "Need sleep. Need something. Go up top, find it, take it. Only way to sleep."

"I know that," Jamie says. Jamie looks scared. What she scared of? Scared of Mouse? Thatís silly.

"Gotta go."

"You donít have to go up there, Mouse. Everything you need is down here."

Doesnít matter. "Find it, take it."

"I know that."

Have to go. Hands itch. Need something.

"Find me," Jamie says. "Take me."

Woah.

Canít move. Look at her. Jamie. Always so pretty. Whatís she mean?

Comes forward to touch me. Mouse trembling. Takes hand. Always taking hand. Always touching shoulder. Cries when Iím hurt. Jamieís really nice. Favorite person, really. Feels weird to be touched. Always want more, always wanna escape. Confused. Jamieís hand shaking, too. "Any time you feel you need something... middle of the night, first thing in the morning. Whenever. Wake me up. Pull me from whatever Iím doing. Anything. Doesnít matter. Come find me, instead. You can take me."

Canít breathe. Hand so warm... so warm. Want to, donít want to. Donít know what I want!

Jamieís pulling hands, pulling, pulling, back to the shop, back to bed, takes the bag from my hand. Why she sit on my bed? Lean back, by the pillows. Wonít let go my hands... so warm. Thumb rubs calluses, where Mouse holds tools. Tickles, but feels good. "Come here, Mouse."

So pretty. Pillow wouldnít hurt. Lie down, maybe. Not like a trap, just soft. Soft lap for my head. Hands touch... gentle, on my hair. Feels good. Mouse like her face. Eyes dark, brown glitters, so pretty, like gems, like sparks, like water. Gotta make her something. Something pretty, like those eyes. Cut something from down deep, maybe. Wouldnít want opals from up top. Too bad, opals fire like those eyes. Stare at them for hours. Gotta be something else somewhere. Crystal cavern maybe? Want amber, really. Jasper, tigers eyes.

Hands twitch. Wanna make something. First time in weeks. Still... tomorrow, maybe. Really like those gentle hands of hers. That pale skin on her throat. Wonder what that feels like? Soft and warm, like her hands? Looks smoother. No. Canít touch it. Another day, maybe. Lips are really red. Jamieís face pointed, so pretty. "Okay, good. Okay, fine. Okay, Jamie."

Jamieís name makes those eyes all soft. Darker, even. Whatís she doing? Oh. Oh. Feel those lips real soft on my cheek. Breath hot and close. Jamie smells like the waterfalls. That feels... weird. Nice but weird. Heart canít keep up, feels sore and warm and good and bad. Take her hand, hold it real tight. There, that sore spot on my heart. Hold me together. Feels... stupid words. Just feels. Hold on real tight. Mouse has strong hands. Jamie doesnít complain. Just keeps stroking my hair. Feels real good. Find me. Take me.

Jamieís better than things.

Think Iíll close my eyes.

 

 

Sigyn is mundanely known as Anna Sheehan, an up and coming fantasy author. Look for her online, or contact her at sigyn@computerconnect.net