A/N: Trigger warning for drug use, I guess...

Day of the Dead and all the ghosts are out to play.

Everyone's painted with bones, everyone's going to the same place. Desert chill at midnight, and no one's wearing a jacket in November because they're young and wild and who gives a fuck anyway?

The kids are high on Aether and punk, and they're just gonna get higher and higher until they can fly away.

You're calling yourself Ransom tonight, you think it sounds edgy. Edgy and a little punk. And that's what you try to be, down to your rotting core, punk. That's why you dye your hair and rip your clothes and drown in seas of excitement and reality.

The pit's become your second home, even if you don't like it.

You've had a shot of whatever in a bar right on the edge of the open night, flatland for miles, and you don't feel the cold. You're too fake to feel anything.

You pass a group of wasted girls in bras and shorts, clinging to each other and laughing hysterically, and you stare for a while before one of them yells a barely intelligible fuck you, and you move on.

You're not into girls, really. No one so far has made you fall hard.

Your roomate's majoring in psychology and he says maybe you're asexual, but he's usually stoned in class, so you don't really take anything he says seriously.

You're hauling ass to see the lead singer of Crabgorilla, Dex Holloway, play an acoustic show. Crabgorilla's the hottest band on the scene right now, and Dex is definitely talented as hell.

The stars are out tonight. You never see them in the city. Now it looks like a planetarium show, and you start to think maybe Dex can go fuck himself, because you'd like to sit here and stare up at the sky for a while.

But no, you're a punk. Punk, punk, feel it beatin' on you, Tin Man. Faker.

So you carry on. On and on and on, it's starting to get cold, and you wish you hadn't traded your jacket for Aether that you're not on. It's just deadweight in your pocket, just waiting.

It takes so long, but you see a fire, burning hot and bright purple, that's Dex's color, maybe he colored it, maybe some fan, but it looks magic no matter who did it.

You take a seat behind a black-haired girl. Dex hasn't started yet.

The girl turns to face you.

Her face is painted up, sugar skull, skeletal black and white, and her arms are the same, you see as she pushes her hair back.

She asks you what your name is, and her voice comes out clear, higher than you expected, but there's still a certain tinge of drawl to it.

You say Ransom, tilting your head a little and scratching the back of your neck. You ask her the same question.

And she shrugs, says "Names are overrated." She gives you a fair bit of time to think about what to say next, but nothing's coming to mind, so you stare at the ground until she turns back around.

You watch Dex tune his guitar, and admire the way the purple flames catch on her hair.

This is not love. This is just…your appreciation of her. You like her makeup and her smile and how she radiates punk without even dressing up.

Dex starts playing for real, plays an old and haunting melody that drains the last of the alcoholic warmth out of you. His voice is raw and ragged, and you finally understand why Crabgorilla is so big.

He finishes, and the applause from hundreds of people resounds through the open land, bouncing off cliffs, so loud you bet they can hear it in the city, hear and wonder what they're missing.

He launches into one of the band's songs, and he starts to lose you. He's very talented, but the music is boring, and you can see other people starting to feel the same way. The stoned kids start to throw things at him.

He just keeps playing.

Skullgirl in front of you shakes her head, then leans back to talk to you. She asks if you want to get out of here. In all honesty, you don't. You want to listen to Dex, even if the music isn't good, because you're starting to feel real out here.

But she is amazing.

She gets up and pulls you to your feet, a bit of white rubbing off onto your hand. She whispers in your ear that she knows places out here where you two could go.

Dex looks at the two of you as you leave. She blows him a kiss and he smiles.

She takes you by the hand and leads you in the darkness, you can't see anything and it's cold, all you feel is her hand gripping yours and the sand under your feet.

Eventually your eyes adjust. You're walking parallel to the city. She finally stops at an ancient gas station, and sits on one of the pumps, pulling her legs to her chest.

This place is all rust and traces of fire, there are even skeletons outside the door to the building.

She blends in well.

You sit next to her. The metal is cold and sharp and you can't find a comfortable position. This is what your roommate would call 'compromising oneself for love or whatever'.

"I fucked Dex a couple times," she says eventually, offhandedly. "He wasn't very good. I just left before he woke up, most of the time."

There's nothing you can really say to that, just nod.

"You ain't much of a talker, are you?" she asks, drumming her fingers on the palm of your hand.

"Nah. My roommate says I have social anxiety or some shit."

"Your roommate's a psych? Shit."

"Not really. He just likes to pretend."

Her fingers find their way from your hand to your dick pretty quickly, but they run over the Aether on the way, and she reaches her hand into your pocket, extracting the bag of Aether.

You can't make out the color in the dark, and you wish you could. You love Aether because each batch is a different color.

She holds it up. "You gonna share?"


"Can I use your arm? I don't have anywhere else."

You hold your arm out, resting it on her shoulder. She pours a bit of the Aether onto your arm, making it into a line. She pulls something out of her pocket, you can't make the writing out, but it looks like a letter. She rolls it up and does the line, then leans back and shakes her head.

You do the same with her arm, probably inhaling a bit of bodypaint along with the Aether.

It doesn't take long to kick in. Everything is saturated in color, so much color, the desert is vibrant yellow and the sky's blue in the middle of the night. The gas station is painted in an acidic and rust-coated green.

You breathe deep, closing your eyes a minute. This is your favorite feeling.

Her voice is a pure purple when she thanks you, spiraling out of her mouth and spelling the words out in the air.

Your own is a dark blue when you tell her it's nothing.

Her body crashes into yours, sending a tidal wave of red up into the air. She rests her head on your shoulder and starts to sing, a kid's lullaby that spells itself out in navy blue.

Her breath is a beautiful deep red when she raises her head to kiss you. You just kiss for a long time, and the Aether takes time away from you, you don't know when it is, you don't feel cold, you just feel color.

You feel real, you feel alive, and you feel her.

She talks and you talk, meaningless words spiraling like smoke from your lips and mingling with each other in the desert sky.

You tell her you love her, but you don't think she notices.

"I have no idea when it is," she says. "This is some good stuff."

You agree. Mindless chatter, about the world and psychs and punk and drugs and being young.

And she says she has to go after some immeasurable time, but she scrawls a number on your arm and says that if you don't call her she'll drop dead.

She staggers away through the desert, and you slip to the ground, starting to crash from the high a little.

You just stare at her number for a time, until the colors start to fade, and you start to feel sick, and the sun's just rising.

You should get home.

A/N: All feedback is appreciated, and decent length non-RG reviews will be returned.