A/N: Something that came about over a year ago. Might as well throw it out there.

CHAPTER ONE

"I knew you'd always leave," Aren said, as Marina walked away. She had declared this to be her final day in the Glasshouse, as she had done many times before, but this time it was certain. She maintained her brusque walking, her gold hair, gold like the polished metal, not the pale yellow of human hair, hung long and limply. She could still picture his brooding, with his deep night hair and just as dark eyes. His eyes were not framed by thick lashes; there was no need for them in a place with no sunlight, where there is only a permanent moon and the artificial glow of lanterns. His dark features were starker against the porcelain-white of his complexion. This made his stare more unappealing, threatening in its nakedness. She could feel those eyes on her stubborn form.

"That's why," he continued, his voice digging deeper with the blade of his disdain, "I could not commit to you."

At this, she turned. She could not give in to that mercurial doubt on that sharp, sharp end. This year, she was determined to capture her first human, and birth the child in the Glasshouse. Their blood would spill light and life into her world. However, Aren's words were enough to interrupt her journey momentarily. She walked back to his position, relaxed against a shadow of a tree, a dark reflection of something real out there. She knew that smile he wore was of success and arrogance, the deep red of his tunic was as intense as her fury. Her right hand was a fist but it opened before it struck his face, clearing his smile. The harsh clear sound meant he would taste a few drops of his dark life, metallic and salty, with a bitter undertone.

"Since I met you, since they gave me to you, I knew you'd leave this place for somewhere else," Aren said. He stood up, licking a bit of red from his lip, and met her earth-brown gaze. "You think you're too good for this place, but this place is too good for you. Just leave!"

"I have to find a vessel!" Marina said, as if this was the first discussion of her journey outside the Glasshouse. This fragile world, as delicate and translucent as its name, could not sustain them all. Marina knew the things and beings in this world were only ghosts of the real things outside, echoes of reality kept alive by stealing fragments of life. Their people were not fertile, although they possessed the mirrored biological mechanisms of their human counterparts. The solution was bringing in fertile vessels from the outside. Any vessel would be enough, but a human one, pregnant with child, could extend life in the Glasshouse by a decade. This was her decade of access to the other side, and she would make sure it was filled with success. It was already six months through the first year, and she would not allow the remainder of the first year to be spent arguing with Aren on this side.

"It doesn't have to be you, you know," Aren said. "You can stay here with me, and let some other pawn go. You will die out there for nothing."

"You just told me you couldn't be with me!" Her hands were fists again, trembling.

Aren stood and gently held her white fists in his palms. He looked down at her. "Only because I knew you'd leave," he said quietly.

She sighed. Their arguments complete the circle, another cycle of redundancy and no resolution. "You won't wait for me?" she asked, as she rubbed her right eye with her right hand.

"I will," he started off sweet, as the friend she missed, but his tone turned to bitter-sounding, "only because I have no other choice."

Marina dug her white glass fingers deeper into the edges of her eye, soft and wet, and pulled it out completely. With her left hand she covered that side of her face with some of her hair. The eye socket was only a black hole, but the asymmetry of her look could be offensive on the other world.

"Here," she handed Aren the eye. The brown iris glitters like brown topaz and agate. "I can be your window, if you need one. I will come back for this, at the very least, so please keep it safe." The pupil widened slowly as the eye exchanged hands. He looked at it oddly, this temporary gift. He placed it in the pocket of his oversized tunic, tapped on it from the outside to assure its safe placement there.

"I want the other parts, too."

"They'll come back." Her hands combed through her mane, cold and heavy like the metal it steals its color from.

"But not the same."

"No, but different could be better," she snapped, and turned around, before he had another chance to bring her back. The effects of his pessimism and his pleading have waned over the years.

"Nobody comes back unscathed, if they come back all."

Marina kept walking. "Scars won't make me any uglier."

"I meant the type of marks left on the inside. Oh, and you'd might leave bits and pieces of yourself over there, too, just so you know."

"I'll live," she said. She waved without turning around, no longer tethered to his tragic stories of glass pawns in the real world. They had held her back long enough.

"You'll probably die," he added.

"Then you won't have to wait." She left, finally, through that veil of an exit. The long pathway into the other world was long, dark, and slick. It was almost a day or night-length of time before she could reach out into the warm curtain and pull herself into the other side.

The other side was strange in its realness. She was not the only glass pawn who was on this power journey. Another ran across a field, whiskered with green and yellow flowers. These were not the ghost-flowers of her home, scentless, colorless, touch-less – these you could pluck and watch their life fade with all human senses of knowing.

There should be more pawns returning home, she thought. It was tradition for pawns to meet and exchange experience before the new ones began and the old ones returned to their glass world. Centuries of passage and much failure had removed tradition and much of the old rules. Pawns were supposed to return at the completion of their ten-year service if they had not perished. Marina could not remember who was the last pawn to return home.

The solitary pawn in the field, perhaps still clung to that old tradition just as Marina did. To her, rules were meant to be upheld for the wellbeing of everyone back home. He looked back at Marina and pointed to the sky, where the golden star began to rise.

No, she mouthed, before running for the closest living haven. Her arms began to embrace a tree with flaky bark and crisp brown leaves lightly covering ancient roots, as the starlight-sunlight kissed the realm, turning her glass skin into wood.

She waited for the night.