Two years ago, I wrote this as a tiny present for Drea, as a reminder that her characters and our roleplay still mattered to me, even after two years of silence. I found it and thought I wanted to preserve it here.
Astoria was far away, its shadows no longer grey and lost, as the mist had left it. Even further behind was Paragon, the city where, four years ago, he had been a boy. This was their city now – a city, appropriately, named for a creature of rebirth.
There were problems here, too. There were old, unrestful spirits in the deserts. There was the injustice, the sin of the land that occasionally gave rise to ghosts that purred and nickered into her long, dark ears as she slept, and made her cling to him. He’d awake every night, his nostrils flaring, only thought being /how dare they/, but they were doing what they did.
It was hot. It was always hot, but he didn’t mind, and she stayed out of the sun anyway. And on days like today, days like her birthday, chosen arbitarily by flipping through a book and finding a date that the Challenger had first kissed the sky, they rode out into the desert, on an old beaten track the tourists dodn’t know about.
Two white-haired dreamers sat in the midnight sky, waiting for the last seconds of her previous year to filter through their fingers, and then, as he had all three years so far, he leaned in and kissed her; not her lips, her cheek; and not with the mask, but with his real face, the lizardy scales and demonic eyes not intimidating her, nor the strangely sharp teeth. He kissed her cheek, and he slipped his arm around her, and together, they called into the canyon, just to hear the echoes.
“I love you, too.”