Categories > Movies > Newsies

The Waking Hours

by tuesday 0 Reviews

[slash]Everything had finally fallen into place for Kid Ballat. But lately, it seemed that he was living his life like a requiem for something he had inadvertently lost under the guise of getting w...

Category: Newsies - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Fantasy - Characters: Kid Blink, Mush - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2005/07/24 - Updated: 2005/07/25 - 13603 words - Complete

The Waking Hours

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when(being fool to fancy)i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds

the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

-turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep

If there was one thing he knew, it was that when you slept with someone, you slept with everyone they've ever bedded. Each time he looked upon her, he felt jealous of these men, hating them, even though they were a part of her, and had become a part of his own self through her. He often found himself staring into her eyes, the left blue and the right a tad bit more green, especially when she shifted them upward and away, lost in a deep thought of fond remembrance while he tried in vain to figure out what filled her mind. This imp, this foolhardy child of a girl, with too much recklessness about her look and manner, laid across his old, crudely constructed bed as though it were her own. He wondered if she'd adapted so well in the rooms of other gruff men - factory working men like him, with rough hands and rough demeanors. Or, perhaps, this coy allure she saved only for him. He looked down at his dirty white shirt, rolled to his elbows and his calloused hands. The skin on his forearms was scarred and scratched - a field of cuts new and old amongst flaxen hair. How many men with arms and hands just like his own had cradled her? Sighing and shaking his head, he chose the latter option and promptly wiped the former from his mind.

This city was his birthplace, but she fit more easily into it, even though she hailed from a small town in //Maine//. Though he loved the constant rushing sensation of everything happening at once, distinctly the feeling of New York, but he knew he'd never grow accustomed to the grime that lined the streets, the miasma that hung in the air like a rain cloud, the growing separation between the rich and the poor, and the constricting sense of too many buildings and too many people for a thirteen mile long island. But his counterpart didn't seem to share the same disdain. She walked among it all, aloof and blissfully unaware, free. If it affected her at all, she chose to pay it no mind. For, as he had grown so accustomed to her saying, one could create their own surroundings, just by thinking them into existence. It was childish nonsense and wisdom all at the same time. When he was in a more optimistic mood, he bought into the belief that maybe it was as she said.

But not that day.

On that day there was only toil. Machinery huffing and puffing, whizzing, creaking, and pounding, doing its best to fabricate raw materials into marketable products. His hands still bore proof of his job: grease stains under his fingernails. Every time he placed one into his mouth to chew at a ragged edge he was reminded of his place in life. He was a workman and would never amount to anything more. He lived to sweat and strain... to make others feel comfortable. In a word, it was disheartening. Not at all optimistic enough to make him believe in the fairy tales she so commonly spun about making the world a better place by imagining it to be better. He leaned back into his old wooden chair, letting the weight of the day settle more firmly into his bones as muscles relaxed and breath heaved out. He pulled a cigarette from behind his ear, nearly hidden by his messy blonde hair and the string that tied the constant reminder of his unpleasant childhood, and placed it between his lips. A small box of matches he retrieved from tabletop beside him. He struck the match on the sole of his boot and then brought its flame up to light his cigarette. "Well," he said offhandedly, voice tired but intentioned as reticence abandoned him with the smoke he exhaled. "Are you going to fuck me or what?" He waited for her to wrinkle her nose and instruct him not to be so crude.

But not that day.

Black haired and wild eyed, she was older and wiser than he if only by a few years, but still a child in so many ways. Her smile was one that transcended her age, lips curving upward into the shape of a waning crescent moon. Slowly, but fixedly she rose from his bed and began to cross the room, one foot in front of the other in an innocently seductive waltz aimed in his direction. The fire behind her, once bright and blazing, was dying down. Its warmth still filled the tiny tenement, and its embers still glowed hot orange, yet it had not the same fierceness to it that it possessed merely moments ago. The gentle spread of light gently lit her skin with a certain warm toned radiance, casting a long shadow in front of her. When she reached him, he could barely make out the expression upon her face, her body having blocked the stream of light, but the edges of her raven hair glowed as though they'd been set afire. She bent at the waist slightly, not lowering herself any more than she had to in order to cup his face in her hands. Gently, she tilted his jaw upward and swept the hair off of his forehead to grace his skin with a brush of her lips. "Not yet," was her answer.

vvvvvvvvv

"I had the dream again," he said.

Louis, who had absently been sitting next to him at the bar for a solid hour engaging in nothing but distracted smalltalk now turned around, with newly formed interest in his expression. He grimaced in what seemed to be disbelief, purposefully placed his trendy beer down on its provided napkin and chuckled as he shook his head. "Again?" was the first word out of his mouth.

He didn't like the tone Louis had put to his response. It sounded tiresome. "Yeah," he told his friend, running a hand through his blonde hair. "Again. It happens a lot actually. Not every night...but you know, a lot, considering."

Louis' next reaction was to chuckle softly and take a swig of beer from his bottle, careful to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand before speaking. It gave him time to reflect on the situation and say the inevitable. "That girl? That same girl?"

With Louis, it seemed it was always the same reaction and the same lines. This was the third occasion that he had spoken to him about the reoccurring dreams, and each time, his responses had been identical. He could now recite to Louis what he was certain to say before it was actually said. He wondered why he hadn't done so. It would have saved time and spared a repeat of the same routine. The bartender approached the pair and looked at them with expectantly raised eyebrows, silently asking if he should bring another round. Louis shook his head and gestured to his still full bottle. He then pushed his own bottle aside and said, "I'll have another. Make it whiskey this time. No ice." The barkeep nodded in understanding and left them. When he returned with the request seconds later, he was just starting into more of his story. "Yeah. The scenery's always a little different. I mean, sometimes we're inside, sometimes we're out on the streets walking and talking - stopping at shops to buy apples and whatnot Once we were on this beach somewhere off of Long Island, I think."

"Have you told your shrink about all of this?"

Kid paused. In regards to this problem, it was a new suggestion from Louis, but all in all, Kid knew it had to be coming sometime. Around those parts, it was always the same old song and dance. When there was a problem brought up in conversation, there was a pattern to be followed when responding to talk of such a problem and a shrink could always be counted on to be a part of the solution. In a city that believed in therapy as much as New York, scheduling an appointment with your psychiatrist was as commonly advised as taking aspirin for a headache. He wrapped his long fingers around the glass of whiskey and brought it to his mouth, drinking most of it in one large gulp. Now it was his turn to brush the excess beads of liquor off of his lip with the back of his hand. "Uh huh," he told Louis. "I've mentioned it to him."

"And what does he say?"

"You know, he does what he normally does. He sits in his big chair and nods his head a lot. Scribbles things down in his little pad and tells me to make sure that I tell him everything, that I don't leave out one detail. Then after I tell him, he just gives me this perplexed look, scribbles some more down in his pad, renews my prescription and tells me he'll see me again next week."

"Well, that's useless. What does Nick say about this?"

In response, he sucked in a deep breath of dank air that smelled like beer and perfume and fiddled with his glass. He felt pressured by the simple question and readjusted to sit a bit higher up on his stool. "Nick doesn't know. I, uh... I haven't told him." He traced the rim of the highball with the tip of his finger and shuffled his feet, first hooking his heels on the last rung of the stool and then placing both on the floor, only to bring one back up to the rung in as he awaited what he was sure to come next: a good strong reprimand. Or at least a little more disbelief.

Louis did not disappoint. "You haven't told him?" he practically spat out. "Kid, you're gay. Gay. You wear clothes that fit you and match. You write for Vogue. You know of more labels than just Armani. If that wasn't enough for you, you've got a real boyfriend that I thought you were pretty crazy for. You know, that is, until you started having one too many dreams about some girl from 'times of old.' Couldn't you have at least had the decency to dream about someone your own age and not a girl who's over a hundred?"

"Don't you think I know all of this? Don't you think I've thought about it? If I was into women instead of being so plainly into men, I wouldn't have a problem and we wouldn't be sitting here discussing this. I'd just say, 'Hmm,I'm having dreams about a girl. That's pretty normal. No worries. I'll just fall asleep, have these fucking fantastic dreams about a babe at night, and then wake up and jack off in the bathroom while I'm thinkin' about her. Right on, man.' Sadly, that's not the case though." Kid laughed, a deeply sardonic laugh. "And you, motherfucker, can't believe that I'm not having pleasant little chats with my boyfriend about my little romps in slumberworld with a girl over tea? What the fuck are you thinking, man? It's hard enough to find and keep a boyfriend in this not so gay-friendly world...even if this is New York, and you want me to scare him away by telling him I'm having thoughts about screwing chicks? He's hardly ever home anyway. I'm not going to waste what little time I have with him on ridiculous discussions that will end up getting us nowhere. I think I'll save that for the useless shrink, thank you." His temper was flaring, as it was so prone to doing, but he didn't care. He looked at Louis pointedly, eager to see what kind of comeback he had for that.

Obviously nothing.

Louis only stared back, a somewhat quizzical look on his face. He took a sip of his beer, ordered another, and simply admitted, "Fair enough." When the barkeep returned with the second lite beer and another complimentary napkin, Louis took the bottle in his hand and used it to gesture with. "But tell me this," he said, pointing its rim at his friend. "Is she at least pretty?"

"Yes. She's at least that. But unconventionally so. I don't think she's your type, man. And even if she was, it's not like I could get her phone number for you or anything."

vvvvvvvvv

Kid Ballat, the name plate on his desk read. Kid was a strange name for a man all too grown up in stature, dress, and attitude. But he'd been called "Kid" his entire life. Born Emerson Ballat III, his father had preferred "Kid" over the conventional "Trey." As a child, he'd given new meaning to the words "you'll poke your eye out," which cost him a childhood of painful memories and a stint moonlighting as "Kid Blink," a name he was altogether not very fond of. He still wore the patch, it somehow seemed more legitimate to him than a glass eye, and it gave him a certain raw edge to his otherwise clean cut, all American appearance. When he'd interviewed for Vogue after a few years at lesser magazines and one small circuit news paper, his soon to be editor likened to his given moniker, citing that "Kid Ballat" had a certain zing to it and rolled off of the tongue in a way that "Emerson Ballat" simply could not. Also, the editor had advised him to wear the patch because "he could get away for with it because he wrote for Vogue." He'd had his life all worked out - a senior writer for Vogue, an apartment on the Upper East, a steady boyfriend, even a dog - the entire package. So, why was he sitting at his desk with a sullen expression, doodling on his notes, and trying to place a name with the face he so vividly remembered?

It was useless, he knew. How very useless and stupid he was for wasting any more time on it. She...or It was a dream and that was all it ever would be, some lovely little figment of his unconscious's imagination. Kid looked down at the pages of notes he'd taken the previous week about Marc Jacobs and his new line. All over the notations of cloth, colour, and texture were circles and squiggles. He sighed and tossed the pen down on his desktop. Holding his face in his hands and rubbing his temples, he wondered why he was suddenly so taken with something so fictional. Maybe it was just that she was unattainable and therefore safe to dream about. But he liked /men/, not deft girls with sharply drawn features. He would tell Nick; yes, that's what he would do. At the first possible convenience, he would tell Nick to accomplish two things: first, to relieve the guilt that the talk with Louis had so effectively put in place and secondly, to get an opinion from someone who always thought with a clear mind.

That night, Kid eagerly awaited his partner's return home. He'd gotten a call earlier that Nick was tied up at the office and would be staying later than planned, but was still determined to unload his burden on the stronger shoulders and mind, Kid resolved to wait up as long as it took. However, one pizza, two movies and a cup of coffee later, Nick's dedication to his job outlasted Kid's resolve to stay up and wait for him. He fell asleep in the centre of the king sized bed with the Home Shopping Network fading to a steady monotone buzz in the background and fell back into the end of the nineteenth century.

Hours later, he awoke with a start, her scent of faded roses still lingering in his nostrils and the sound of her laughter ringing fresh in his ears. The sunlight flooding in from the window was obtrusive and made his head ache with the reminder of the dream. He groaned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, fatigue making his joints and muscles ache. He was tangled in his 300-count Egyptian cotton sheets as though he'd been restlessly running marathons in his sleep. Apparently, they'd left the television in the living room on because he could faintly make out a thumping beat and a nauseatingly repetitive hook. He looked over to his side. Nick had apparently been there, but was now long gone and leaving only a hollow in the sheets where his sleeping form had been. The sheets weren't even warm anymore, but as Nick was so fond of lovingly reminding, "Wall Street waits for no one."

Nick, with his messy head of curls and his tawny golden brown skin, Kid had wanted him instantly. But he immediately put the thought out of his mind, citing that a guy that handsome would most certainly be either straight or taken. But Nick Meyers was neither, only busy as Kid found out at a bar over on Carmine. They'd taken to each other instantly. The most attractive thing about Nick, besides his good looks and sensitivity, was that he was unafraid of what he was. A twenty seven year old stock broker who just happened to be gay and looking for a relationship with someone who wouldn't feel jealous or taken for granted by the amount of time he devoted to his work. Kid thought it was luck at the time, some rare, fabulous stroke of luck that had led him to someone so flawless who happened to share his attraction. Whenever he happened to gaze upward and see Nick across a crowded room or across a table, he still felt overwhelmingly lucky. Men like Nick were hard to come by. Men like Nick were worth thinking about every second of the day. But more often than not, he found his mind wandering to the fantastical woman who haunted his nights. He thought of her at work, as the typing sounds of his keyboard resounded off of the walls of his cubicle to create just enough of a white-noise symphony to score his daydreams. He thought of her as he walked the three blocks back to his apartment after picking up Chinese. He thought of her as he finished the last sit-up in the gym, throwing a towel around his neck.

He thought of her as he stood on the corner of 81st and Park, trying unsuccessfully to hail a cab. Each time he lifted his hand and failed as another yellow car whizzed past him without even the slightly inclination of slowing down. It was nine o'clock, yet the streets were already alive and buzzing. Flashing neon lit up what the sun did not and worsened the throbbing pain brewing around his temples. He brought his hand upward to massage the corner of his forehead, but lifted it more skyward when he spotted another oncoming taxi. As it approached and passed him as all of the others had, he cursed under his breath and brushed the longer bits of blonde out of his eyes in frustration. He looked up once more to scan the streets for the familiar bright yellow of a prospective cab, and as he did, a figure across the street caught his attention.

She was swift in her movements, her angular shoulders and hips jutting and rocking back and forth with her step. Her hair was dark and hung halfway down her back. Her pace brought her behind two heavyset businessmen with briefcases and for a moment, he lost site of her. Another cab was quickly coming down the street, but Kid paid it no mind. He was eagerly craning his neck and sidestepping down the sidewalk to get a better glimpse of her. In doing so, he nearly collided with a middle-aged woman, sporting a Louis Vuitton bag and an umbrella to match that jabbed him in the side upon contact. He mumbled an apology, but kept his eye on the other side of the street, distractedly nursing his injured side. Finally, when she tossed her head around to look before crossing the street, Kid caught sight of her face. For a split second, his breath caught in the back of his throat as he surveyed her features. He sighed when he realized it wasn't her, an overwhelming feeling of disheartenment seeping into his chest. But, there was one small comfort to the disappointment - at least he could look forward to seeing her later that night. Seeing her...ha! It was all an enormous fallacy made to sound formal by his lapsing mind. As if dreaming about a person equaled a date or even a real acquaintance. He was going out of his mind. Yes, that's what he was doing. He was going out of his mind, and his mind was screaming in protest by way of harbouring a migraine from hell. 'Make an appointment with your shrink,' Nick would have told him. 'If you think you're really having some sort of psychotic episode, go tell your shrink.'

Those would have definitely been his words of advice, to which, Kid would only have frowned had they been said to him. Nick usually gave such good advice, advice that was much better than making an appointment to talk to the man they both believed was full of shit and silence. But Nick was also very in tune with the general mindset of the city. And if he were Nick, he wouldn't want the burden of figuring out the strange workings of a mind that produced a consistently aired turn-of-the-century love affair. It was a bit much, imagining Nick telling him that and only that, as he was sure to do, only made Kid subscribe even more to the sinking feeling that maybe he was losing it.

vvvvvvvvv
"Mmmhmmm..." Dr. Massengale said, and rubbed his gray bearded chin. He scribbled a few notes that Kid knew probably meant nothing in his pad of paper and after a few moments in silence said, "Go on."

But just the same, he was eager to know what the notes were, exactly. Kid cleared his throat as he subtly tried to strain his neck to see what, if anything, the good doctor had written about him. When he realized it was futile for him to even try, he instead shifted his posture in the chair, settling in more comfortably between its burnt umber leather wings. With his right forefinger, he languidly traced the pattern of the stitches on the arm and answered, "Well, it's always the same girl, like I said. I've never seen her before in my life, yet I feel like I've known her for years - "

"That's common in dreams," the psychiatrist interjected.

At last, Kid thought. Words from the shrink. Solid words and not grunting, scribbling. or mmmhmm. It was too bad they were useless. He glanced upward at the therapist, who was, true to his nature, scribbling more notes. The good doctor wore a brown tweed suit - - one that had long had its heyday ten years ago, he wanted to tell him. As a writer for Vogue, he should know. But he kept his mouth shut and his fashion advice to himself. He hadn't come for that. "Well," Kid continued. "Like I've told you before, they're always set in the nineteenth century. You know - cobblestone streets and wagons and newsboys - that kind of thing. Still in the city though. We run around like spring chickens and, I don't know. Don't you think this is a bit weird? Me being gay and dreaming about girls from the last century?"

"In dreams, it's common to exercise thoughts and actions that you normally would not."

Apparently, lots of strange things were common in dreams. He'd never known. He was so awfully glad that he was paying a fortune for this wise soul to tell him the same thing over and over and nothing more. But on second thought, maybe anything could be made into "common" if such made him feel better and if he paid enough money to ease his mind. No, he quickly chided himself. He needed to stop having such a negative outlook on things. Making fun of help would get him nowhere. He needed to take all the help he could get. He needed to embrace the help with open arms.

"Tell me more about her...about the dreams," the good doctor urged, prodding him for more information so he could make another infamous non-diagnosis.

What did he want? Did he want to know what exactly they did? Did he want to know how tall she was? Did he want to know if he loved her? Kid didn't know what he wanted to know, so he figured it best to start with a makeshift physical description and then judge where to go from that. "Well... she has black hair. And two different coloured eyes. I mean, not that different. They're both blue, but I guess that one's more green than the other. She's not really beautiful, I'd say. I mean...well, she is...but it's not in the average way. It's not the typical kind of beautiful. There's just something about her face that you can't stop looking at. And the interactions that we have, well, they're all perfectly normal I guess. It's all very real. That's what strikes me as kind of funny. I mean, usually in dreams, or my dreams, there's this sort of weirdness. Something that doesn't belong, or you're doing odd things at an odd place and there's a sort of sense of definite fiction and inconstancy. These are nothing like that. They're all so stupidly realistic that I feel like I've actually lived them whenever I wake up from one of them......"

"And how do you feel in the dreams...when you're around her, how do you feel?"

Kid stopped. He didn't know how to explain how he felt when he was around her. It wasn't a strange feeling...he didn't feel ill at ease or uncomfortable. While deep into one of the dreams, he had never once felt like he was doing anything unnatural. "I don't know," he began. "I guess... I guess... happy." Happy. The word he finally stumbled upon was simple and almost too generic. But nothing described it better.

"Happy..." the doctor repeated. Stroking his chin once more, he said, "Emerson, tell me about these dreams. Give me a summary of one so that we can know what we're dealing with."

Slowly Kid Ballat found himself relating the most recent dream he'd had where she was the lead actress. "That last one I had just last night and it was as familiar as any of them so far. You see, we were on this beach...."

"You don't love me," she said, picking up a rock from the shore and flinging it into the water as hard as she could. It plopped down into a subsiding wave with a decidedly dismal plunk. He watched her from three feet away, hands locked lazily behind his head as he gazed out onto the crashing waves and followed the path of stones she made airborne. He could tell from her delivery that she had no intention of seeing how far she could skim them along the water's surface. No. She had two reasons for pelting the ocean with sea-smoothed rocks. First, she needed something to keep her hands busy, and secondly, the hold made in the water and the splash thereafter gave her a satisfying sense that she was injuring the sea, somehow. On a day like that day, when the clouds hung low overhead and created an almost touchable gray ceiling, her mood was appropriately affected and she only wanted to sulk and destruct.

"Wha - wait, hold on. Where's that coming from? Did I say something wrong? I know I talk a lot sometimes, but I don't remember sayin' anything about me lovin' or not lovin' you. What gives?" he asked her.

"You don't love me. It's true. That's where that's coming from. From the truth," she told him, in an amazingly detached way. She gathered up her skirt to search underfoot for another rock of a good throwing size. When her eyes lit upon one, she bent at the waist and retrieved it. Turning it over in her palm several times, it met her approval and she nodded shortly with approval before rearing back and sending it into flight, like the one before, to meet its fate in the ocean. "But how could you? Why should you? We have nothing in common. We're two completely different people. I don't blame you, I'm just saying that you don't." She talked as though she was reasoning out some riddle to herself instead of speaking to another person.

He watched her in silent scrutiny, her black hair whipping out around her in the offshore breeze, her gaze focused on the water. One eye blue, the other green, the colours of the ever-rising sea. She looked thin in the worn blue skirt and dingy, once white waistcoat that hung on her frame in an odd fashion. So slight, so frail; too skinny for her own good, he decided. And angular in her movement and features, except for the roundness of her heart shaped face. Only someone who didn't want to be pretty could be so effortlessly beautiful, he thought. It was growing later and he felt the moon pulling on both the ocean and he, pulling in the tides and swelling within his heart.

When she turned back toward him, he noticed a split in her bottom lip left there by the cold night air. It was blood red, deeply carved, and made her appear even more fragile. Blink, she called him. That searing childhood nickname that was more insult than shorthand. Yet, she called him the name with such ease, as if such were what she was accustomed to calling him, and this time, he didn't feel so threatened by it. "Blink," she said again, convicting him with just the mention of his name trickled off of her tongue with ease. "There are other girls, aren't there? Other girls that you think of. That are better than me. I've seen the way you exchange glances with them in passing. Even with the mayor's daughter last week. But I can't say I blame you. I know...I know that I'm not very presentable. I wouldn't make a good wife or a mother, for that matter."

"A good wife or mother?" he repeated, trying to wrap his mind around her insecurities. He shook his head and opened his arms. "C'mere," he told her and she obeyed, crossing the three step divide to bury herself in his embrace. "I don't know where you come up with some of the things that you do," he assured her, gently smoothing her hair with his rough palm. " There aren't any other girls. There never will be. I just want you, okay? I don't want to hear any more of that 'we're too different' or 'I won't make a good mother' shit. I don't care about that."

"That's what you say now," she murmured into his chest. "How do I know that in a few months, it won't be different? You don't love me now. Why should I think that someday you will? I don't want to wait until I'm fifty to be loved."

"I never said that I didn't."

"But you never said that you did," she countered, pulling back away from his body so that she could look him in the eye as she spoke. . "But don't say it if you don't meant it. Don't you dare say it if you're just trying to make me feel better so I'll shut up. I know I'm annoying sometimes, but I don't deserve that. Don't lie to me. I hate lies more than anything. There's nothing more hurtful than one, and there can never be only one. When one lie comes, there will be another later to accompany it. To cover up for it. And then another, and another. Lots of people have lied to me when they think I can't tell. I don't ever want to hear lies from you, Em. Never.

"Would it make a difference if I did...say it, I mean?" He hadn't meant to get so involved. He hadn't meant to hurt her by making silent promises that he was unaware he was making. Now, he was standing before her, defending himself against her wide, searching eyes and hinting at a declaration he wasn't sure he'd ever be ready to declare. Damn him.

From the distant look that came into her eyes, he garnered that she was, at the moment, most probably weighing the two possible outcomes in her mind - him telling her and him never telling her. Her face, as it always did, betrayed her and without her having to speak a word, showed him which she considered more important. But he humoured her, and let her speak and tell him which she favoured. "Well, I'll have to know sometime either way," she finally said. "I wish I could say that I was confident enough to just carry on knowing that you'll stay with me for the rest of my life without having you romise you will. I don't expect you to spend the rest of your life with me. I've never asked you to. I just don't like things being all muddled up. I want them to be clear. I don't want to have to read your mind and actions so I can come to one conclusion or the other. That's dangerous... a girl gets her hopes up too easily that way."

Her eyes were turned away from him now, and focused on the shore underfoot. Her hands drifted from his shoulders and locked behind his torso, as she intertwined and untwined her fingers nervously. "I think you're going to say it all the time. There are moments when I'm almost sure that you'll tell me. Moments that are so perfect in every other sense that I can almost hear the words coming out of your mouth. But then they never do and my heart sinks. I'm not immune to disappointment. I should be by now. I've had enough of it. But I'm not as strong as I should be. I'm still very weak in so many ways." She pushed herself free of his arms' restraint, creating a rift between their two bodies where once had been her soft, warm flesh. "I've got to go home. I've been gone too long - they'll start to worry about me. I've got to go." She started to turn, to walk away from him. Yet, something caused her to stop and turn her face him. She spoke once more,, from her over-the-shoulder glance. "I wouldn't need you to tell me all the time to make me sure. I'm not that much of a sop. But, I will need you to say it once...and then take it back if you decide you don't mean it anymore. It's important to me. I can't convince myself that it's not. I just thought you should know."

As she walked away, off of the beach, away from the sand and the waves, he didn't know what to do. What to say. There'd been others in his past, yes. Maybe more than average. But, all in all, they were nothing more than a collection of false starts and misunderstandings. He'd never made it that far with a girl...never made it to the point where things would actually start to count.

After he recalled the dream, he was silent for a good five minutes while Dr. Massengale busily scribbled notes of probable nothingness down in his legal pad. He imagined that the medical professional was doing nothing more than scribing himself a reminder to schedule an early tee time for this Friday with a business associate. As he continued writing, the small bell on the timer chimed, signaling the end of their session. Perfect/, he thought. /Perfect. He'd told him all of that for nothing. The doctor stopped writing, dropping his fountain pen into his pad with near delight and closing the pages over it. "Well..." he said, in a semi-bright voice. "Seems like our session is over. Will I be seeing you next week? We've got much to discuss. I'll have my secretary pencil you in for the same time. Is that alright?"

"Yeah," he answered, somewhat begrudgingly. He wanted a diagnosis. He wanted a solution. He wanted answers. But he got nothing. He didn't even get that clean lifting feeling of release from letting loose his long-winded story. /Maybe next week/, he thought, trying to be hopeful, optimistic. Maybe next week. He rose from his chair and gathered his satchel and umbrella. Signaling goodbye to the doctor with a nod of his head, he set off for the door.

But the good doctor had one more thing in store for his patient. Kid had just reached the door and was turning the knob when he called out, "Son, wait a second." He removed the rimless glasses from his face and paused for a moment to inspect him quizzically. "Why are you telling me all of this? Why are you, a young, successful man like yourself, choosing to spend your valuable time rattling off stories to me?"

"Because it worries me. Why else?" Kid said, matter-of-factly and unsure about the reasons for such a question.

Massengale shrugged slightly. "There's no reason for you to be worried. It's completely harmless for your brain to come up with its own little delusions, even if they aren't exactly in accordance to the lifestyle you've chosen. It s just that you've got such a vested interest in it - like you genuinely believe in it and care so much about how it could apply to you. I hope you don't mind me asking, I know we're off the clock and all. But, Emerson, tell me... do you believe in reincarnation?"

"Do I believe in-" Kid repeated. His hand fell from the knob where it had been resting. "Do I...well, I don't know, sir. To be honest with you, I don't think I've ever really given it enough thought to believe in it or to not believe in it."

"Understand that I, myself, do not subscribe to these beliefs." The doctor folded his hands in his lap and continued. "But sometimes, when people believe something enough, they can, in a roundabout way, cause it to happen. Strange as it may sound. I think it could explain a lot about your situation. Reincarnation and past lives - who's to say they're real and who's to say they aren't? Just because I don't advocate something doesn't mean it can't be real for you. Perhaps, this is the reason why those dreams you've been having feel so real to you. Maybe they were. Maybe you made your own reality by thinking things into existence. It's not a completely solidified theory, Emerson. But it's something to consider, I suppose." The doctor put his glasses back on and thoughtfully resumed the scribbling in his notebook. "Perhaps if you're interested," Dr. Massengale added. "I could refer you to a colleague who's studied a great deal about such matters. Maybe he could be of help to you." Kid cast him one last glance, nodding briefly as he did, and then quickly exited the room, before more could be spoken.

Reincarnation.

A past life with a spirited waif of a girl whose name he could not remember and face he could not place.

It was all seeming a bit much.

vvvvvvvvv

Later that day, he told Nick about the dreams he'd been having and how real they seemed. He conveyed what the doctor had mentioned about reincarnation, but quickly negated it with a brief chuckle. All this he'd related with a calm seriousness, and Nick, reasonable as he usually was, only laughed at him. Cocking one of his eyebrows in his usual way, he'd told him that certainly he couldn't be seriously considering the idea that he'd lived some fanciful past life at the turn-of-the-century as a factory worker. Nick agreed that "maybe having wild fantasies about some hot dream girl" was normal, even if he was gay, but waking up and still being in love with a fictional girl who only existed in his own mind and in another century did sound a bit questionable. Maybe even plain crazy. Upon being put in his place, Kid immediately felt embarrassed for telling Nick so damn much... even if they had bound themselves nonverbally to a contract that meant sharing anything. He also felt a little angry. Did Nick really think this was all a joke to him?

"Get over it," was the advice that Nick offered, as he ran a hand through his curly mop. "It's nothing. But if you can't get over it...at least try to enjoy it a bit. You run around with this charming girl who's not bad to look at all over old New York. That doesn't sound half bad. If you can't enjoy the girl, then enjoy the scenery. When else are you going to have that vivid of a chance to see how the city used to be? Just let it all happen and then, when you wake up, think of it as some great movie that you experienced on a personal level. And don't let it get to you." Nick grinned, letting his dimples show and letting Kid almost forgive him. Almost. And then he shrugged and reached out to ruffled Kid's messy hair. After which, he excused himself and wandered into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich after complaining of hunger.

Kid inwardly seethed. He had no idea why Nick's rebuff and brush-off his confliction and predicament angered him so, but he could feel the rage of being misunderstood coursing through his veins. He stormed off, as quietly and as inconspicuously as he could, making a beeline for his bed. Once he'd reached his bedroom, he shucked off his clothes as if they were only nonsensically placed on him and took refuge under his covers. He pulled the sheets and blankets up to his chin and squeezed his eyes shut tightly, deciding that if his own boyfriend would not comfort him, he'd seek solace in, perhaps, a better place. After much trial and struggle, after he'd tossed to and fro, changed positions, changed pillows, and finally downed a few sleeping aids, he fell asleep. But the slumber he fell into was deep, black, and dreamless, and he restlessly wavered between waking and sleep. There was no dark hair girl that night. No raven-tressed shop girl to run her fingers through his hair or envelope him in her warm embrace. When he awoke with neither Nick's warm body by his side or dreams of the otherworldly girl to comfort him, he felt utterly alone. Why, he wondered, when he didn't want her and tried to reject her did she come with reckless abandon? Yet, when he most wanted visions of her to distract and entertain his mind, she would not let herself be found.

So, he simply pulled himself out of bed and yanked on the nearest clean and unwrinkled clothing he could find. An hour later, he sat at his desk with a large, not yet drunk mug of tepid coffee. He wasn't doing what Vogue paid him to do. He wasn't writing, wasn't proofing anything he'd written, and wasn't even devoting any thoughts to his article. Instead, he stared into space, distractedly tapping a pencil against the edge of the March edition. His thoughts were focused on Nick, and then her, and then Nick again. He was angry at them both - Nick for brushing him off as though he'd come to him complaining of a hangnail and the girl for abandoning him. It was probably stupid, he knew, and if he were thinking with a clear head, he probably would not have spent another second harbouring resentment of either of them. But he did, in his own bitter way, like a lover jilted or a boy misunderstood...and abandoned. It wasn't the first time, though. He remembered another close call that had ended more pleasantly.

She came up behind him, toyingly covering his eye with her hand. He reached up in surprise, grabbing for his assailant, but only finding her hand instead. She giggled . "The expression on your face is priceless. Who'd you think I was? A big bad man with a club?"

"No," he replied. "An inconsiderate girl who's never on time. I thought you weren't coming. I've been sitting here for a good half hour."

"Sorry," she apologized, stepping around from behind the bench to plop down beside him. She smoothed her skirts with quick brushes of her hand and then laced her arm through is.

"Just sorry? No explanation of where you've been? No promise to never do it again? Come on, you've got to do better than that."

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," she said in a tone that sounded more like a song than a statement.

"Try me," he countered.

"Alright. I've been at the theatre."

He clicked his tongue in disbelief and rolled his eyes. "That's some story. You were at the theatre, huh? Liar. You don't have enough money or a good enough dress to be shooting off to the theatre just like that."

"Who says I paid? I have a friend downtown who's a wardrobe mistress. She told me to drop by sometime if I were ever in that part of town. I just so happened to be down there today. She snuck me backstage and I watched an entire act of a real play. Not burlesque or vaudeville, but a real live theatre with real actresses and actors." Her voice was alight with joy as she spoke of the theatre and the play and the actresses. He watched as her mouth curved into her trademark waning crescent moon and her eyes glazed over with a faraway, dream ridden look.

He couldn't help himself from smiling when he asked, "And how was it?"

She turned to him and uttered one enraptured word. "Beautiful."

Suddenly, it seemed like nothing in his trendy little life meant much of anything. He had let his heart be slightly broken by girl who'd never existed in reality, and that was far more interesting than anything surrounding him. Was he pathetic or were his eyes finally being opened for the first time? The March issue still lay upon his desk. He surveyed it, twisting his mouth to the side as his mind conjured up a plot. Grabbing for it, he turned the first page and studied it. The girl in the advertisement for Gucci had long dark hair...his girl's hair was long and dark, but a blacker, deeper shade than the model pictured. He wondered if, possibly, he could find the rest of her features among the women in other parts of the magazine. Or maybe, if he was lucky, someone who somewhat resembled her on a whole. There, instead of writing and doing what Vogue paid him to do, he scoured the magazine for his fantasy love's eyes, nose, Cheshire mouth... pallid skin tone, gaunt frame... breasts. It was pathetic, he knew. But it meant the world to him at the moment. The must be some part of her somewhere to tide him after, in the world of the waking in which she could never be present. If he could just find her some piece of her somehow, he was convinced he could let her go. He just needed some part of her to be real. He needed something he could touch, even if it were only an image pieced together by his own hands.

After approximately an hour's time, he'd come up with several clippings of that resembled her features. He laid them on his desk and tried to arrange them into a version of her face. But the pieces never seemed to quite fit. After only getting frustrated and no where near to his image of her, he realized just how futile the whole thing was. Here he was, Kid Ballat, a grown man with a real love, a real job, and a real future, sitting at his desk, trying in vain to cut and paste some glossy paper into a fictional woman. At any moment, a colleague or even his editor could walk into his cubicle and see him blatantly hunched over his desk, engrossed in furiously trying to attach a number of clippings together with Scotch tape. They'd tell him to take a day off, maybe two, citing that he obviously needed a vacation. Then, they'd laugh at him behind his back the next day at the coffee machine. He shook his head, ashamed of himself and how far he'd let himself plunge into the realm of ridiculous. Angry and mostly embarrassed, he crumpled the clippings in his fists and tossed them into the wastebasket. Where they belonged, just like the rest of the mess he had created. He simply needed to toss the entire thing away just as he had done with the clippings. But, if only it were that easy. He was one cast from a stubborn lot, and once he got his mind wrapped around something, it was a very hard task to accomplish to persuade him away from it.

She seemed so attainable now. It wasn't as though a great impossible rift of a hundred years stood between them, but something as crossable as the East River. But, at that time, he would have walked miles upon miles if the walking meant finding her. He wondered...

...how much he'd let himself slip from sanity before he put an end to it.

Dream or no dream, she had betrayed him. He'd been dumped by the product of his unconscious mind. Great. And now, he was lowering his standards on a regular basis by chasing something so far out of his league that it crossed the line of sanity. His mentality and behaviour had taken a sharp turn into left field. He was embarrassing himself and holding grudges with his boyfriend for no apparent reason. He was being completely unproductive at work and spending all of his free time wanting to go to sleep. He was shaming himself, putting his career on the line, and pushing away people that cared about him. And for what reason? None tangible that he could think of. There was no solid excuse for thinking about her the way that he so often did. Kid was gay. Admittedly, decidedly, and openly gay. No woman should have the power to take over his subconscious and sway him. Being gay was who he was, and he couldn't suddenly change that. A man could not change his stars without reweaving the entire fabric of his being.

That night, as he lay next to the already sleeping Nick, amidst the white cotton sheets full of body warmth, he entered into the dark blue world of sleep and dreamed one more vivid dream.

He met her in the evening. It was well into the Indian Summer, but the sun still lingered for longer, later hours. It was just beginning to dip down on its slow descending path to the west horizon when his sight fell upon her in the shade of the awning of the shop neighboring his tenement building. She stood with an uncomfortable hardness in her stance and her arms crossed over her chest like a shield. She didn't see him approach, her attention focused far more upon what was in her mind, rather than what was outside of her. But when she turned around and noticed him approaching, she uttered not a word. Her eyes and hands spoke for her. She looked at him and then glanced upward toward his window. He tried to speak to her, to ask her what this was all about, but she shook her head. Raising one finger, she wordlessly informed him that it was not something for public display. With that, she started for the door with intent, meaning for him to follow.

But he lingered behind. "I'm not ready to go up just yet. Just hold on a second. Why won't you talk to me about it here?"

"It isn't something for the streets and spectators," she answered plainly.

He sighed and begrudgingly followed her into the building and up four flights of stairs to his room. He never bothered to lock the door, figuring there was nothing to steal. Also, there was some sort of silent agreement upon the impoverished, an understood pact that they'd not abuse each other in the way that the world abused them. She opened his door and walked through it as though it were her own, crossing the worn floor and coming to a stop in front of the window. She faced it instead of him, outward onto the streets below, as though the room were a cage that held her, its walls enclosing upon the occupants.

"Talk," he said to her, after a duration of silence. "Whatever it is, I want to hear it. Just talk."

She shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest again - folding in on herself in some futile display of defence. "I've got to go to work," she said in a small voice, brushing past him and making her way to the door.

"No you don't. It's late. Sit down right now," he said. She did as he commanded. She withdrew her hand from the knob and retreated two steps away from the door to hesitantly sit down upon his bed. "You're always leaving. Always wanting to just walk away when you're made to do something you don't like. Well, leaving won't be so easy this time. You're going to start talking, and you're going to do it right now. You aren't brushing me off so easily."

She didn't glance up, her gaze still focused upon the floor, but her eyes grew noticeably wider just the same. "I'm not brushing you off. How dare you say I'd do something like that?"

"Then what are you doing?"

She looked up, her eyes full of purpose. Opening her mouth, she appeared as though she was going to answer with some forceful remark, but soon shut her lips halfway as her declaration faded from her. He felt as though he were watching her collapse, just withering away, far from her usual flippant bravado into something more resembling a scared little girl instead of the older woman that she was. "I'm trying to... tell you something, but I don't know how."

"Just try," he urged her, calmly.

She sighed and straightened her shoulders. Her head, she lifted and brought her eyes up to meet his. "I am trying," she responded. She ever so delicately rose from the bed where she sat and began to step toward him. As she approached, tremulous and tender, he began to feel his heart pound within his chest, increasing with every inch she drew nearer to him, until it felt as though it might burst through his ribs. What was this power she had over him? It transcended the carnal flesh desires of male and female, going beyond into something cosmic or spiritual. "But whatever I say," she said, "Blink... Em... you can't stop loving me. You just can't. Promise me that you won't."

He knew very well that he'd had never spoken the words she had most wanted to hear from him. He had never spoken anything more of love than a few nods and a mumbled understanding to whatever she said. Yet, he did not argue. It was not the time, nor the place to argue. Before she reached his side, she turned away sharply to the wall and sought refuge against it, the wooden paneling as her comforter and the drier of the tears that were sure to flow. "You can't. I won't let you. Not because of something this small. It's nothing, right Em? Nothing." She wiped at her eyes angrily. "Look at me. Going on like a baby. I'm impossible. Impossible." Pacing back and forth, she reasoned with herself and pleaded with him simultaneously. "I didn't meant to... if I... I'm sorry, I just... It's all useless, I know. You're not even listening to me. It was just a mistake. We're so young. I know it was... stupid of me to do...putting so much at risk. But, I just couldn't live with it. I couldn't..." She suddenly stopped pacing, but the tension between the two hung heavily in the room. She dropped her hands to her side, wringing them no more, and stood still in the centre of the room for a potentially charged moment.

The sky outside was dark, cloud-burdened, and black like before the lightning strikes. The atmosphere in the room was equally thick and heavy. . He didn't move, barely breathing as he waited for her to move. To act. She lived up to his expectations, turning on her heel and striding toward him. Her body met his in three hurried steps. In three steps they embraced tightly and her touch spoke volumes of non-words. Her hands were cold, but her mouth warm as she pressed it to his as though it could save her mortal soul. Redemption, desperation all in the same package tied with an ugly bow. She kissed him as though she was trying to transmit some secret to truth him... something she could not tell in words, but maybe the touch of a lover could communicate. They'd kissed before - of that he was certain. There'd been allusions to it, faint traces of memories of his mouth upon hers, but not one physical kiss he could say he'd taken part in.

That kiss - that longing, searching, rushed kiss - was the first one that was tangible and not something he knew existed but never experienced firsthand. He'd so long wondered if it were worth it. Now, all of his questions were answered as he buried his hands in her hair and breathed in her familiar scent of fading roses. /He wondered how she tasted and if emotion poured through her mouth as it did through her eyes. Now, he knew - her lips tasted of salt, like the ocean, and her lips communicated equally as well as her wide eyes, even if no words passed threw them. It only made him want more from her./

And then she withdrew, pulling her lips away from his and looking upward. She stared at him, blinking back tears that had dried in her eyes long ago. Then she opened her mouth and finally spoke the truth he demanded of her.

The sun had set, but neither of them noticed until the pitter-patter of a gentle rain collecting itself into a growing storm sounded upon the window. He turned his head away from her, away from her pained expression and inability to overcome her struggle. How ironic, he thought. When situations of the heart were grim, so was the weather. "You'll feel differently in enough time," he told her, still gazing out of the window and holding onto her. They were parting. This was the beginning of the end. He could feel it.

"I won't," she insisted, burying her head in the valley where his shoulder met his chest.

"You will. Time heals everything."

"Not this. It won't. I won't let go of you. I won't."

He grabbed her shoulders, one in each of his hand and gently pushed her a half foot away from his body so that he could look at her. But when he did, he found he couldn't bear the mix of confusion and loss in her eyes. So, he clutched her to himself once more and held here against his chest in a tight embrace. He felt as though he'd been fighting a short and bittersweet war. He could breathe now, strangely enough. As though he were free. They were parting. This was the beginning of the end. He could feel it.

The next day, sitting at his desk with a half finished article for the next month's issue, Kid felt empty. Like a part of himself was missing. He was sure that, despite her begging, he'd let her go. He'd walked away. And now, one hundred years later, he was angry with himself for doing so. Yes, he felt like a royal ass. But what had come between them? Why couldn't he forgive her?

Why did he care?

It was all ridiculous for him to be getting so very wrapped up in something only touchable to him through sleep's delusions. Yet, what his shrink said was also a possibility. Reincarnation. Past lives. It was rubbish, wasn't it? What had suddenly made him a believer?

He sighed, taking inward a ragged, frustrated breath. Then, as he was convinced he'd done one hundred years prior, he decided to let her go. But this time, it was done consciously. He picked up the receiver of the phone and dialed his editor's extension. Kid then told him that he'd needed to take some time off the next day. That it was important. He gained permission, though his editor seemed hesitant to give it. His next call was to Dr. Massengale's office, in which he asked to be penciled in for one of tomorrow's sessions. That it was important. And then he placed the receiver down, just as numbly as he had picked it up and set about adding length to his piece on the 'dressed down suit.'

The next day, at his therapist, Kid made himself out to be a completely different person: one that was thoroughly chatty. He talked, on an on, unburdening himself of every memory of the mysterious girl that haunted his nights. Did he believe in reincarnation? No. Did he think he'd lived a life long past with a dark haired shop girl? No. After he discussed her at length and rationalized to the doctor that she had no place in his life, he swore her off verbally, denying that she had any validity in his life whatsoever. "Women in dreams are just that. They're dreams. They don't mean anything and it's time that I recognize that and move on with my life. It's time I started being interested in things that were real instead of fiction."

From then on, he decided to spend his days living in reality. He took walks. He read books. He drank a glass of expensive wine each evening. He kissed his boyfriend and they spent quality time together. He concentrated on his work and pounded out some great articles which impressed his editor greatly. His life was on the up and up again, but as he walked around with his head held high, he felt like he was walking around with an empty place lodged somewhere near his heart. He had no more dreams. His subconscious was enduring a dry spell and he was its victim.

And he felt like he was living his life like a requiem for something he had inadvertently lost under the guise of getting what he wanted.

Each morning, he took the elevator up to his floor and settled into his cubicle for the required hours. And each evening he left, went home to his boyfriend and began to half-live. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. On one such average morning, the sky fell in and showered New York with a heavy coating of rain. Kid put on his raincoat that resembled nothing of the yellow slickers of his past, grabbed his umbrella and left the apartment. He caught a cab two blocks down, which took him to his building. Upon reaching the building, he got out and took the elevator up to his floor, unbuckling the coat's belt and fastening the umbrella to itself on the way up. He walked toward his cubicle, making the usual stop off for coffee, and then, as always, settled in at his desk and pulled up a word document on his computer. As the program was opening, he spied a copy of the next month's magazine on his desk. "I'll get to it later," he thought.

He had only written a sentence or two when the magazine called to him once more. He glanced over toward it, its cover containing the face of an overrated celebrity. "Later," he thought once again. "I'll get halfway done with this and then I'll look. It's not like there'll be anything different. It's the same repetitive crap they have all the time. The same old pictures filled with the same lifeless girls with expressions of disdain and too much make up plastered onto their faces." He'd practically seen the whole of it already. At least, he'd seen all of the written aspect. The only things new to him were the photographs and the layout. Therefore, he took a sip from his mug and continued on writing as he should. One paragraph was down and only that when he gave up on it to reluctantly peruse the magazine that he found strangely irresistible all of a sudden. Leaning back in his chair and crossing one leg over the other, he opened to the first page inside the cover. Advertisement. Kid flipped through the next few pages - ad, ad, ad...all ads. Then the table of contents, which he scanned quickly. Nothing interesting there. But it did contain a tiny piece he'd written about home accessories. Bored and annoyed by the thirty second page, he decided he should go back to writing and stop wasting time. He allowed himself just one more page flip out of curiosity, and curiosity, it seemed, rewarded him. As his eyes fell over the glossy, black and white layout, his mouth fell agape.

There she was...on the thirty third page of August's issue.

He shut the magazine immediately and glanced around to consider what the odds could possibly be. Just weeks earlier, he was trying to construct her face out of pieces...and now, there she was in her entirety before him. In one perfect piece. It made a mess out of things in so many ways. What was her name? He scanned the article...the credits at the bottom of the picture....nothing. He flipped to the back to read the extended credits section. Still nothing. He closed the magazine again and closed his eyes along with it. He was still chasing a fictional girl. Only now, it was her physical twin in modern clothing. Kid figured he had several options. He could just leave it all alone and keep in accordance with his idea of forgetting the whole damn thing and living in reality. Or he could -

He bolted upright out of his chair in one swift motion, clutching the magazine in his right hand. Down the rows of cubicles he tore, walking at a pace that was determined, and he was certain, not deemed safe for office buildings. When he reached his editor's door, he knocked fiercely. Five loud raps in rapid succession. He gave him a second and then knocked again. "Come in, damn it," Kid finally heard. Then he pushed open the door and immediately held the magazine, turned to page thirty three up so his editor could see. He pointed at the girl's face and, as calmly as he could manage, asked, "Who is this?"

The editor peered up from the copy he was proofing. He squinted his eyes and said, "I don't know, a model?"

Kid took three strides forward. Three strides. He pointed again. "You don't know who this is? You're an editor for Vogue and you don't know who this is? Millions of pictures of these girls pass through your hands each month as you and the other head guys piece together this magazine. You, Chris, Jody, Elaine and Linda decided to put her in here. You should at least know who she is."

"Well, Kid, if I could see it, maybe I could tell you," was the response.

Kid tossed the magazine onto his desk, practically thrusting it under his nose. "There. Who is she?"

He studied the page with furrowed brow, picking it up and holding it in front of his face to get a better look at it. "I think..." the editor said, as Kid held his breath in anticipation. "No...maybe not. I have no flipping clue who this woman is."

"Do you know how to find out? Do you know someone who could get in touch with her of her?"

His editor then gave him a perplexed look. A very perplexed look. "Why?" was the only word that came out of his mouth.

"It's a long story," Kid said, hoping that he wouldn't make him tell it. That he would just comply and not ask any questions. "Let's just say that it's important."

vvvvvvvvv

Kid sat in his cubicle the rest of the day, fluttering around like a nervous butterfly. He looked up Willhemenia on the internet, but wasn't able to find any trace of her one the site. He wrote two words of his article. He stood. He sat. He tapped on his desk with a pencil. He filled his coffee mug three times. His editor had promised to make a few calls to a few contacts to see what he could come up with. Calls? What did that mean? Nothing. It would probably all end up going nowhere and he'd be back at square one. Even if calls were made and he was able to somehow, successfully meet her, where was he expecting that it would all go? She'd probably just turn her noise up at the idea of him, a one-eyed journalist with no glitz or glamour, leaving him disheartened and rejected. He should just give up now before his hopes shot through the ceiling. But his hopes were already up higher than that. It was worth at try, he finally decided. It was at least worth a try. When the clock struck its rightful blessed time, he gathered up his things and strode out of his cubicle, throwing on his raincoat and unfastening his umbrella as he rode the elevator downward. When it dinged and the doors opened, he walked right out of the building and onto the streets without even bothering to turn the collar up to face the storm.

The next few days were spent in a disgruntled rush. He went to work faithfully everyday, but it was only to check in with his editor to see if he'd come up with anything. He couldn't write; he was far too distracted and disappointed when every day, his editor gave him the same sad head shake. At home, Nick threw him questioning looks whenever he found him sitting alone, staring out of the window with a distracted look upon his face, or whenever he ran toward the phone when it rang, or whenever he checked his email like some obsessed madman. "Are you sick?" he asked Kid once, when he found him lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling with a dull expression on his face. Just as his editor did every day it seemed, Kid responded with only a sad shake of his head.

When Nick left the room, he considered, possibly for the first time, how the situation might be affecting him. Since he'd started questioning the meaning of the girl in his dreams, their relationship had, no doubt, suffered. The time they spent together had begun to wane. What little time they shared over dinner or watching a late night movie in bed was passed in silence and a few random bits of small talk. In fact, the thought of Nick Meyers rarely crossed his mind, unless he was present during utilitarian sex or for a quick kiss goodbye. However, was the dissipation of their relationship brought on by him? Or, had it been slowly fading into nothingness for a while and he'd only recently realized it? Kid had always said that Nick was nothing like him. That's what made them work, he claimed. Nick was a hard nosed businessman, submerged in the market and bonds, while Kid wrote about haute couture. Nick was slow and methodical - levelheaded. Kid angered quickly. They were from two separate worlds, it seemed. Nick was a strict follower of rationalism, where Kid obsessed with living the hell out of his life. Kid had accused his boyfriend many a time of being void of any passion - something he considered to be essential in a person. Maybe they'd always been drifting toward their eventual end, but both were to comfortable to want to recognize it. Girl or no girl, maybe his sudden crisis was all just a huge sign that it was time for Kid to leave.

Maybe Nick knew it too. For when the call came, he knew what it was about, but made no effort to fight it.

Kid heard Nick answer, and then he saw him standing at the doorway of their bedroom holding the cordless in his outstretched hand. "It's for you," he said in a placid voice. Something in his eyes had changed, Kid noticed. He wasn't sure what emotion lay behind their usual warm brown, but it wasn't the affection he was accustomed to seeing.

Kid took the phone from Nick and answered with a mumbled, "Hello?"

"I think I've got something," he heard the voice of his editor say. "Something you'll like. I did a little research and found out that her name is Sescilla Bergman."

"Bergman?" Kid repeated. "What like Ingrid Bergman or something?"

"Yeah, kinda like that. Though I really don't think there's any relation in the last name. It just means that she's probably Jewish or some shit like that. Anyway, she's with Willhemenia. A photographer friend of mine met her once at some Fashion Week after party when she was just starting out. Says she hasn't changed much. I pulled a few strings...called up a few people and finally got in touch with her agent . I had to convince him that Vogue was interested in doing a piece on her...don't really know how we'll work that in. But I found out where she was shooting and I figured that you could, I don't know, go and cover it, and then write something up. We'll figure out what to do with it later."

He found himself speechless. "Um, okay... when?" he was finally able to choke out.

"Tomorrow," was the answer.

When he turned the phone off and moved toward the living room to hang it in its rightful place, he found Nick standing out in the hallway beside their bedroom door. Both were struck with silence, an awkwardness that had never manifested itself taking hold of them. Kid licked his lips, uncertain of what to say that would be apologetic or fair enough to spare Nick a lot of unneeded pain. "I, uh....ca explain," he said.

"Look," Nick interrupted. "You don't need to tell me anything. I'm smart enough to figure out what's going on. You need to do what you want to do. I'm not going to try to stop you. I'm not stupid. So, just do what you to do, and from there, let me know what it is that you want whenever you figure it out. Just don't lie to me or do anything stupid and everything will be fine, okay?" Kid nodded his head in response. "Okay," Nick repeated, also nodding. He shrugged and started off for the kitchen, mumbling something about being hungry and making a sandwich.

vvvvvvvvv

Kid was positively going out of his skull with mad anticipation as he took the elevator up to the studios where Sescilla Bergman was shooting a Chanel ad. He gripped his pad of paper and pen with force, his knuckles turning nearly white. What would he say to her? The truth was stranger than any fiction he could come up with. When the ding of the elevator signaled its doors' opening, he found himself riveted to his spot. By sheer force of will, he moved his right foot, and then his left, and somehow managed to exit the elevator.

He knocked on the studio door, and flashed his Vogue press pass to the shy woman who answered it. "I'm expected," he said. She nodded and let him in. When he first stepped inside, he glanced around the room nervously. His eye made one round, and then another. However, she seemed nowhere to be found. He turned away from the cameras and backdrops and fluttering assistants and began to think that maybe coming there was a complete mistake. What the hell did he think he was doing? He folded his pad's over and began to tuck his pen into it, when out of the corner of his vision, he spotted a slight frame and topped by a dark ebony. She was here. There she was, in the flesh. Her hair was shorter, stopping just at her shoulders instead of halfway down her back, but she maintained the same paleness, the same angles to her frame, and the same nearly awkward walk. Bulbs began flashing, and she began posing. He watched, unable to tear his gaze away from her for the entire duration of the shoot.

She turned her head just so, and his eye caught hers and his breath caught in the back of his throat. Upon their met gaze, she let her stare linger for a second or two longer than it should, a look of questioning in her eyes, one blue, one green. Then, as quickly as she had looked upon him, she turned her head away and concentrated on the task at hand. He waited there for her. He didn't know why. Perhaps it was only for one more glimpse of his otherworldly mistress. When the photographer signaled a break, she smiled, her eyes crinkling around the edges just as he had remembered. It appeared to Kid that she was about to walk back into her dressing room and out of his grasp once more. He turned his head away, cursing himself for coming. She wasn't going to have some revelation and run to him with open arms. This wasn't fantasy or fiction. But then, he remember - she had to speak to him...it was scheduled. It was for Vogue. As he turned around, he saw her walking toward him with the same slow, intentional walk he had seen in his dreams. Upon reaching his side, she paused for a moment to tilt her head in curious examination. Finally, she spoke. "Excuse me for being rude," the girl remarked in a low voice. "But I have a feeling we've met before. Do we know each other?"

"Yes. Sescilla," he began, cautiously, feeling that his heart was about to render him dead by tearing a hole through his chest with its pounding.

"Oh, no....Sescilla's just professional. Kind of pretentious." She shook her head, her black hair crashing against her jaw as she did. "It's Sescie."

"Okay, Sescie..." he rolled the name off of the tip of his tongue. Of course. How could he forget? "I think that we once knew each other." he said. "But something happened and then we never spoke again. What happened?"

The interview, he abandoned. To his job, he paid no mind. And Vogue? Fuck Vogue. It was only she and him. The rest of the world could fade to holy hell and burn to ashes beneath them. He didn't care. As for past lives or reincarnation or any of that bullshit, he didn't need it. He was awake and alive in a studio in present day New York City, and she was standing before him, just as real as any person could be. What did he need with beautiful memorie that he could never touch?

"I can't remember," she responded. Her mouth twisted to the side in thought as she shrugged her thin, angular shoulders, upon which the straps of her dress hung slightly haphazardly.

"Neither can I."



1. Vogue belongs to Vogue. Of course. I did not ask their permission to use their name. I just admire their magazine and decided to give them a nod because they put Kate on their cover.

2. Kid and Nick are derived from Newsies...in a really roundabout way. All others are mine.

3. Poem is by EE Cummings. Don't think I could possibly write anything that great.

4. Muy thanks to my betas, Kinney and Fox.

5. Also thanks to Ray, who, so joyously, allows me to rip her off. (Though I have to say, that we're about equal when it comes to ripping each other off.)
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