the Acrobat

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If she was the rain, then he was the stale, winter air, pulled down to the spring that lie within her sweet embrace.

Her hand had been warm in his. Soft and small against the rough calluses of his frozen hands. Gentle, yet firm in their resolve to waken him from his dreamless slumber. That night he fought back the pull of sleep, his gaze fluttering under the fall of warm rain.

It had shocked him deeply, to find what he felt upon his face, to be her tears.

Being of half his height, he had found it a great surprise to walk steadily away from his own puddle of blood with her slight frame as a crutch. How she managed, he did not know. Details of that first chance encounter were warm, but fleeting. He had been so close. So very near the final sleep all must eventually fall to rest in.

Death had been on his lips, and he could still taste it.

He knew that she saw it. Heard it, in the way he murmured her name. As if the name could become the mantra of piety to keep his darkness at bay. And it seemed almost too much to ask.

But had she not demanded the same of him?

She was beautiful. And it was more than the goodness he sawn inside her blue eyes, or the sincerity of a smile shared freely in his presence. It was so natural and warm it made his jaw ache. Why should he be so lucky? He had done nothing to be able to bask in such light.

Or was it that her tears had managed to wash a fragment of the shadow from his life?

Had he the means, he would do the same for her, if not to pay homage to the wonder that she was. Yes, he gloried in her smile, and the soft laughs of air that stirred the hair at the nape of his neck. There's was just something all too surreal about her. Thoughts like these could turn the best of men mad with grief, but then, Ryudin had never held a firm hold on his own sanity.

Most of all, he feared the pull. It was stronger than him. Driving him towards her in ways he was not yet ready to admit. The bond growing fast between them would be his ruin, and perhaps, his very salvation.

Ryudin wondered what Toki saw. There was no doubt in his mind that a fraction of her heart was well aware of their entwined fate. What had she glimpsed on that dark night? Had she felt his heart move the second time he had almost died in her arms, his blood a dark puddle on the concrete.

'Please, I need to stay-! Just let me stay!'

Her fear had burned across his soul.

Love. No. More than that. A necessity. Her words had made it clear, ripping past his doubts. He supposed this was what drew him to her, even now, when every basic instinct in his body was telling him to run. But there were no more options. The choice had already been made.

He meant to stay. Stand along side her, so long as she would have him, poisoned blood and all. He would rather fall into her arms, and be washed clean by her warm rain, than be taken by any other.

But if he should fall, he would surely die again at the sight of her tear-streaked face.

Forgive me …

He turned his head, and regarded her motionless form. She stood beside his bed, staring out across the city through an open window. A soft breeze had moved through the quiet room, causing her auburn locks to flutter across her face. Ryudin searched for her eyes, until she felt his gaze, and turned to meet his.

'Don't ever … do something like that again,' she said, blue eyes flashing in the morning light.

Ryudin watched her in silence, his heart thrumming loudly within his ears.

Then, he swallowed thickly. The taste of blood still fresh on his tongue.

And with death, still so very near, Ryudin released the breath he couldn't remember holding,

He whispered, 'Alright.'

The smile she returned was worth the pain

It always would be.