Spark

III SPARK

Luna finished her routine on the café service bar and walked down to the basement staff room. Her locker is in the middle of a bank of identical ones, and she held her index finger to the scanner prompting it softly pop open. Extraditing her mobile, she walked back to the kitchen and sat with her bottle of water. There is a single text message waiting, a hint of anticipation flickered within her heart as she saw Chloe’s name.

“Pick you up EOS?” Luna smiled and texted back, put her phone back into her locker before returning to the floor.

“How was dinner?” Galla asked when Luna found her.

“Come on, we’re off,” Luna turned back around, “I’d a panic attack when I got there.”

“Why?” Galla said, walking with her to the elevators.

“She makes me feel so out of control. It confuses me, but I kind of like it,” Luna pushed for the staff basement.

“How did Chloe react?”

“Spectacularly,” Luna rolled her eyes, “Of course.”

“She does seem super controlled.”

“Yes, except when it comes to me, I guess,” Luna feeling a mixture of inadequacy and jubilation, as they exited the elevators and walked into the staff room, “She seems so sure about me.”

“Do you want to go to Harper’s?” Galla pulling her bag out of her locker, as Luna grabbed her stuff and walked into the staff kitchen, digging into her bag.

“No,” Luna said, “Sorry. Plans.”

Galla quickly slipped back into the kitchen where Luna was standing. Luna lifted her head from her mobile, “Ready?”

“Plans? Chloe? Where?”

“You look far too delirious. Its perturbing.”

“Why are you still here? Go.”

“Galla. Will you stop pushing me. Are you coming?”

Galla stopped pouncing from foot to foot, “What. Walk up with you? Why, what you guys doing?”

“Lets go and I don’t know.”

The pair walked up to ground level, and started walking over to the café.

“Oh, Please, not with that buzz face, precious. You just spent two days with her and dinner already?”

Luna saw Chloe sitting at one of the tables patiently waiting, as she snorted and shouldered Galla.

“Hi,” Luna said.

“Hello,” Chloe smiled, and with a swift nod of her head, “Galla.”

“Hi and goodbye,” Galla laughing, turned to walk out and waved her hand, “see you tomorrow, L.”

“Do you have something in mind?” Luna asked as Chloe stood.

“Yes. I do.” Chloe rounded the table and walked down the two steps to where Luna was standing, reaching out her hand. Luna lifted her hand in response to the offer, a small buzz warmed her with their kiss and turned to walk out to the busy street, “You mind if we walk?”

“No. I don’t mind at all.”

“Why is Galla smiling like a maniac?”

“She’s unreasonably excitable,” Luna snorted, cool air still lingering from winter, setting fire to her veins while snow crunched underneath their feet.

Chloe smiled, “About what?”

“Us, her nefarious plan worked. I’m surprised she hasn’t texted me yet,” laughing while walking just under six blocks with white-yellow globes of light clinging to their path, chatting, fingers entwined until Chloe led them into a lobby and over to the elevators.

Chloe pushed “E” for the top floor. Luna tensed in the walk across the lobby, exhaled oddly at this action, “Eloise Club?”

“Yes. The soufflé is stunning.”

“Eloise Club? Isn’t it membership only?”

“Yes. Membership I’ve held since I was twelve.”

“But…”

Chloe leaned in quick and kissed Luna as the elevator silently moved, “It is fine and what is wrong with here?”

“Nothing, I guess.” Luna said, looking at the ridiculous ornateness of the Club penthouse as the doors opened and they stepped into the reception room.

“The food here is really amazing, its open, not busy and doesn’t require a booking.”

“There’s no such thing as booking in a member only place…” Luna snorted “we could’ve gone to many places don’t require booking.”

“We can go…”

“No. No. You can choose the place. I already made a choice,” Luna looked at Chloe, who flushed as their secret smiles mirrored each others.

“I feel you are a snob…” Chloe said

“I’m not,” Luna giggled, exasperated.

“To prove this, I’ve an idea,” Chloe sat them at a table with a spectacular view of the city.

“I don’t need to prove anything,” Luna replied, adding, “What idea?”

“We both show each other our versions of the city.”

“Sorry?”

“This is an obvious place for me to come. You would’ve gone somewhere else, that’s obvious to you? I want to know you better. We show each other the city we know to get to know each other, and we each have a twenty-four hour period to do this.”

“I’m in,” Luna sparkled at the challenge, “as long as I get to choose which twenty-four hour period.”

“Of course,” Chloe enchanted with her wicked smile, “when’s your next shift?”

“Tomorrow midday shift. Why?”

“Just asking. What’s Archer like?”

“What do you mean?” Luna said, the swiftness Chloe changed topics unsettling.

“There are many rumours.”

“Rumours or gossip? About Archer or Ivie?”

“Both about both, I suppose.”

“All misdirection. Ivie’s more powerful than anyone suspects, less than what people fear. She’s not bordering on AI, she is AI. Archer’s not one for playing games. She loves Ivie and programming. Real people, not so much.”

“How many people know?”

“That Ivie is AI?” Chloe nodded confirmation of her question as Luna continued, shrugging, “everyone.”

“And Archer?”

“Mostly Pacer staff are close to Archer. We became non-tech guinea pigs Ivie keeps on speed dial,” Luna smiled, “I don’t know how it works. Really. Archer attempts to explain algorithms and learning mechanisms, but it doesn’t mean much. Ivie is fun to play with though. She’s a gamer.”

“Why did Archer name her Ivie?” Chloe pursued.

“Archer’s been developing Ivie since she was a child and is named after Archer’s inability to pronounce her Aunt Abraxas name.”

“Abraxas Zephira, the CEO of Pacer?”

“Yes, that’d be her. You know her?”

“Mostly by reputation. That’s quite a mutation of her name. Ivie has you on speed dial?”

“Yeah. She is a learning program. The closer you are, the more Ivie wants to find things out. She’ll call to ask things, clarify human stuff, I guess. She’s the operating system on my phone, is an internal social media site, Iviesphere and runs my calender, has access to my computer,” Luna shrugged, “Don’t know about the name thing, just what I was told.”

“You don’t find that invasive?”

“No, I’ve known them for sixish years, I guess. Since just before I started to work at Pacer. Archer’s my friend. I’ve…” Luna mused for a minute, “…become used to it? It’s not something I think about. She is no more invasive than anything else in my life. It’s convenient.”

***

“The Eloise Club?” Galla asked, sipping her coffee.

“Yes. It was…I don’t know,” Luna struggled to describe what she was feeling, even in the comfort of Ash’s.

“Ectoria’s Eloise Club?” Kai confirmed, “that fancy hotel?”

“Yes guys,” Luna pulled at the garlic bread, twisting her fingers around and tugging, “and don’t be strange.”

“Why’s it strange?” Kai frowned.

“No, you two are strange. It’s not the end of the world.”

“You went to the most exclusive private membership club in the city,” Galla dead-panned, “and you’re calling us strange?”

“It was midnight. There was practically no one there,” Luna shrugged, “it was…elegant. I was still dressed from work.”

“Your hair must have gone down well,” Kai laughed, masking the hysterical denial of his toxic, obsessive jealousy bubbling inside is chest, “why aren’t you with her tonight?”

“Chloe’s just oblivious to how uncomfortable it was,” Luna rolled her shoulders, “she’s working late. Will see her tomorrow.”

“I thought you said no one was there?” Galla said, moving the garlic bread out of the way as the burgers came over, “so you mean you were being unreasonably uncomfortable.”

“Don’t be pedantic.”

“Seriously. Don’t be so sensitive. Its simply a real place attached to illusionary ideas. Stop the delusion in your head that the place matters and what does it become?” Kai mumbled a philosophy they were taught as children around his burger.

“Smart ass,” Luna kicked him under the table.

“OW! Don’t blame me that Beethoven took you to Eloise.”

“Both of you suck.”

“Oh, but she is so great…” Galla responded, batting her lashes.

“And I bet she doesn’t suck…” Kai said.

“That’s it…” Luna threw sugar satchels at them both.

***

The rush of new love overwhelmingly messy and undefined for Luna, uneasily shifting along unmarked pathways, obscured by an ethereal mist. There is no balance here, only passion mixed with terror, love around fear, joy and loss. Luna drifted into a haze of work and Chloe, who held their universe together, while unstringing herself from the world. Her friendships fractured with time spent focused on the minute curve at the corner of Chloe’s lips, her history is rewritten in the curve of her spine stretched in pleasure.

Luna’s knew her life had been composed since birth expelled her, angry, to the world. She never noticed the notes binding her own with Kai’s as they had always simply been, existing together, until the irrevocable truth had forced her to break from this melody intertwining them together. This bond had kept them cocooned within each other until Luna, unable to remain tethered indefinitely to their story alone, found Chloe. Galla and Kai drifted, unspun in lieu of Luna’s abandonment, connections of friends and brothers untwisting from scabbed wounds.

Kai stalked through dirty streets, shivering against the biting cold. He loved winter, it reminded him you could never be truly safe or secure, even while craving the stability and comfort of the other half of his soul. He felt Luna’s defection from their own empire keenly, as they had only ever been forcibly separated and he despised it. Kai returned to the silence of the apartment in the dull grey glow of late afternoon waning towards night.

The kitchen contained a sink, table and a fridge in one corner, on this a magnet held two sheets of paper. Shift timetables. He never had to look before, as Luna’s disdain for people held her close to himself, until this new figure emerged with a new story to entwine in their own. He wasn’t ready. Perspective unique to experience. Kai hadn’t felt true solitude since he followed her away from Tempenka. He had been following her his whole life, sister, wife, destiny, soul and is unable to imagine a life without her in this unfamiliar, evolving world.

***

Kai struggled to understand why they ran away from home and felt the terror of responsibility for their choice that night, the finality throwing them into adulthood. Luna had been trapped at home, and made him feel as if she had reached this sharp point she needed to defeat and it impelled her to a greatness. For himself, running had left violent bruises failing to heal, as he followed her, unequivocally, abandoning their family. The pain of days fleeing across a scared country to this black hole city, both old and dark and full of lost people in this new world.

There was nothing natural for Kai to connect with and every time they are separated, a clouded darkness refused to lift from him. Luna protected him even as she retreated from him, forcing him to extend beyond their own environment. In this devoid space, he developed a monologue with the world to avoid one with himself.

His work as an erotic dancer at all male review hot spot Marlene’s limited him to the safety of the night, understanding its parameters kept him from the gritty blue day. Nights may have passed without seeing Luna, yet the continuity between had them remained unfiltered. Luna shuffled away, though, leaving the bond between them drawn in crayon. His sense of abandon multiplied, knowing Galla had the contact he desired, working the same shifts and having time Kai simply could not.

Kai drifted into comparing the world he had and the one he wanted, but either without Luna was torture. He spun through routines at Marlene’s until new staff were hired, and through this fog, he found a delicate face knocking in the darkness. Kai found solace in his hardness, and for the first time in weeks found himself standing rather than hovering over quicksand. This new boy, Gerome, breathing next to him was irregular and heavy, stuttered, whimpering inside his sleep. Kai held his trauma, tied into knots and kept over a life of hiding and lying, yet understood Gerome confronted his own every night in his sleep.

***

Galla crept through the lack of contact by doing as she always had done when isolation invaded too far into her scattered remains, gathered them together and assembled them as completely as she could into a tortured mosaic, gates of purgatory. Galla had lived with loss since birth, how easy it was to subsume the past and how frighteningly easy it is to destroy oneself. Her shifts remained mirrored with Luna’s, however that time did not amount to much with Luna daydreaming over lustful memories.

Mournful texts drifted from Kai until his attentions turned towards more physical distractions. Galla fell towards her compositions, music the only concept capturing her completely every time. The grains of the city were always dark, embedded as they were in the souls of its citizens growing over time, blue and black seeped in history whilst shadow boxing with the present. These currents inflected through Galla’s music and she planned to record with Luna once she had completed the composition, after this lust of Luna’s dampened enough for her to re-notice the world.

***

Chloe was daydreaming in her office. Luna had exploded into her life and she coveted her for it. It was easier for Chloe, whose closest trilogy of friends lived three hours away at the lake house, to negotiate her neglect of the world. Over the years these three built their own empire as Chloe’s life increasingly twisted into itself, in spite of their encouragement to expand her emotional repertoire. It felt as if Luna’s and her own disjointedly hybrid half-lives clashed against each other as Chloe found her minutely managed life invaded by delight, her meticulous space suddenly inhabited by colour. Chloe found herself lusting for experience rather than editing for it.

Chloe drifted into remembering the last time she had felt this, the summer affair with Caro, over twenty years ago. Caro traced the curve of her arm one evening when she could no longer withhold the draw they held on each other. Chloe’s languid smile curved towards Caro, encouraging her to pursue further. The white static glow of the television was splattering the room with uneven light in Caro’s apartment. From that night, the pair coiled into an intense spiral of sex and fun. This was so similar, yet also this is something else, bordering on absolute pure delight.

***

“Luna,” Jamere held coffee and a glass of ice.

“I know, alright,” Luna reached for the enticement, “Galla’s coming.”

“Yes, but she already knows,” Jamere said, “and Kai is unhinged.“

“Jamere,” Luna whined, “please…”

Jamere slid the glass of ice over the bar, pushing the hot cup of coffee after it. Luna gently poured the hot coffee over ice, moaning deeply as she sipped out of the glass.

“Chloe,” Jamere’s hand appeared, tapping at her wrist, impatient.

“She’s…” Luna sighed and smiled, “…a neurosurgeon at MARH. She lives in a penthouse with a greenhouse on top in Ellysion.”

“This I already know. I want to know why she’s worth neglecting your friends for.”

Luna flushed with embarrassment, “She’s not, no one is, truth be told. I’m at fault for neglecting for them.”

“Yes, true, however you didn’t answer my question.”

“She’s…thoughtful and smart and funny,” Luna shrugged, “beautiful and delightful.”

“Can you construct a cohesive sentence to form an answer?”

“Not really. I don’t know what you want me to say. I’ve been neglecting my family for fabulous sex with a beautiful woman,” Luna smiled lopsidedly as she drunk another mouthful, “she holds within her ruinous entitlement, yet still, I feel hope. She tastes of hope. I’m sorry.”

“I know it feels giddy…”

“She does. Makes me giddy. I’ve never been giddy. Ever.”

“It’s kinda fun to watch,” Galla threw her bag down, laughing.

“Of course you would like to watch…”Luna rolled her eyes, “…because you’ve never be giddy…”

“Gee, thanks,” Galla snorted, looking to Jamere, “Kai?”

“Yes.”

“He’s being a petulant child,” Galla said, “awfully petulant.”

“He said its been a month since he’s seen you.”

“Doubt it…”Luna’s derision apparent, before she stopped and thought. She saw Galla every shift, Jamere every day she worked for coffee. Kai, though, wasn’t ever at home when she was, although truthfully, she spent whatever free time she had with Chloe. Conceding, she said, “its possible.”

Jamere smiled at the hum surrounding Luna, peeling off her like static, “…unhappy families can hide within vast conspiracies of silences, and keep them out of habit and convenience. Our family makes music and lyrics to fill the spaces drummed out by our heartbeats and danced beyond ourselves, we’re so much greater when we combine. You need to find the words to flight your way out, this will define you for all of us. Speak to Kai, and I expect to meet her Saturday.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Excellent.”

Their apartment would have been a shack if not contained within the confines of a multi-storied structure. The city, primarily accented in tones of blue and grey, even in sunshine, is grimy and full of ancient, limestone, aging brick and constantly crumbling mortar in spite of its vibrancy and life. It is prohibitively expensive and this small, dark space the only place that the then eighteen year olds had been able to afford.

However, this place represented too the both of them a space that was exclusively their own, and is inexorably linked to their own independence. Together, the two of them created a retreat from the overwhelming noise of life screaming through every strata in the twenty-four hour city. Over the two and a half years living there, they stayed in spite of being able to find somewhere better.

Luna lay on the mattress, staring aimlessly at the patterns on the filthy ceiling. She finished at eight am and slept towards the afternoon deeply, yet now awake her mind is focused on Chloe, wanting to hear her rusty voice, always eliciting a creeping heat within her. It is exquisite, the pain of her absence on sense memory. Softly, many disparate fractures became part of a puzzle finally fitting together. The sense of warmth dissipated as impending terror flaked across the ceiling. She tried to pull herself back in, but is undone when Kai’s face blurred into oblivion for the arch of Chloe’s face in the dawn. She felt of all things, that Chloe’s face is the fated ruler beside her. Her destiny with Kai slipped beyond her grasp when she lead them away from Tempenka and what was expected of them.

“Luna!” A hint of sarcastic surprise over warmth as she walked out of her room, “are you an apparition?”

Luna laughed, genuinely, at the theatrics, “Kai, don’t be so dramatic.”

“So. That new Tequila Bar, Arantxa…”

“Sorry, Kai, plans.”

“Luna,” Kai, frustrated, sharply spoke. Inflection means everything in an argument, yet absence means more. Inflection the knife Kai held, absence the gun Luna wielded. Kai wondered why he was left holding the knife in this fight as he said “Really, again. You could at least look….I don’t know…less….”

“Terna,” she responded, with one word, eliciting calm, peace and silence. It is both acknowledgement and acquiescence. The relationship between the two complicated by their entire intertwined history, complicit within their co-dependent closeness.

“I know Kai, that I’ve been neglecting you. Please don’t say anything hurtful.”

Luna remembered, still, the rules of their youth, the ceremonies of moon and sun, to coax the earth to produce nourishment. All of the rituals of obedience twisted into earth bound words of power have jaded her about the potential she could never have back. Her option to return to the community is gone, she is forever forbidden from it for running away. It’s no longer her home.

They are in this dark, decrepit city that is perpetually falling and rebuilding around them. Kai is a perpetual memento of what she would rather forget. He is the hybrid between a life fled from and a life hidden within. Kai is becoming, increasingly, a reflection of how aberrant her life is and how insular their circle has bound them to each other.

“I barely see you any more. Or even at all.”

“Kai. Its like you think I making a choice,” Luna shook her head, “No. Worse than that, you’re expecting me to choose you. I’m not choosing either unless it is both.”

“You’re abandoning me. Again.” Kai loved the life he shared with Luna, understood the confines of it’s structure. Yet, he also understood how treacherous it is they could not give each other up, too the both of them, each other was the addiction making them fall apart.

“Your only pissed you can’t follow me this time,” he frustrated her. Long ago, she had given up questioning why he had followed her that night and put up with all of the situations in-between.

If she is being honest with herself, he gave her a purpose, a structure, a reason. They became something else than what they were grown to be, outside of themselves with the connections they made. They built, however unintentionally, lives away from each other. Still, neither escaped the yearning to replace the missing they could not name.

“It may feel that way, but think about it. I would never abandon you,” Luna returned to repacking her bag and when she was able, looked up at Kai accepting the guilt of her happiness. He was always her choice, even if simply by default, that space between choice and love leaves scars inside this shared space. Luna’s own failures are reflected in Kai’s face, how there legacy is dictating their future by replaying their history.

“That’s all you’re going to say?” Kai tried to argue with her, but it was like arguing with the sun, he will always be eclipsed by someone far more brilliant than himself. She is his compass, how he calibrates and orientates himself, and all she did when he stood too close is to burn him to cinder and carbon. He was threatened by Galla and Archer, unsure of Abraxas and Jamere and had only segued into tolerance of Galla’s ability to be unforgivably brutal with truth, and Jamere’s food.

“What more do you want me to say?” Luna scolded him so fiercely, she refused to concede to his petulant demands this time.

“Just think about….” Kai struggled, “…it’s not what you say. Its how you act.”

Holding up her hands, an admission, “Okay, Kai, okay. Just not tonight. Later in the week?”

“I feel excluded,” Kai said, mixing one of the tequila ice cocktails he liked for the both of them before continuing, “Galla’s met her.”

Taking the drink, Luna replied, “Just because you don’t get out of bed does not make it an exclusion. Galla met her the same way I did — at work.”

“I know,” Kai slumped on the broken, lopsided chair, “But I’d still like to meet whose side you’re on now.”

“There are no sides, only our side. Its not a choice. She’s in my heart and in my life, which only means I’ve more space to love, not less. Of course everyone is on the same side. Can you at least pretend you want to?”

“Ahh, you know how jealous I can be…”

Luna snorted, “Or just busy chasing all of those lithe little boys from work…or the bus…or the street…”

Kai, defeated, dropped his eyes, “Fine” but continued, “Luna. I’ve not met her. You haven’t met Gerome. Sriah,” in an effort to gain her attention, Kai fell back into their shared language.

“I’m really sorry, Kai. You’re, of course, right,” Luna paused as she turned to look at Kai, she stepped the distance between them, reaching not only with her arms but yielding her heart and hugged Kai. The softness in the movement stretched time around them until they stepped back, Luna quietly repeated, “You’ve not met Chloe, I’ve not met Gerome.”

Kai looked guilty, “I know, I’m sorry.”

“How about something during the week. Just us. We could co-ordinate our next two days off together. Also, how about the four of us have dinner together,” Luna rested her soul a little in the space between them.

Kai softened, releasing his soul to hers, unable to maintain his anger at Luna. They were never able to, complete reflections of each other, and his jealousy had temporarily shaken him.

“Okay. Just remember all of this in your halo of love,” as he leaned in and kissed her simply on the cheek. Luna grabbed her backpack and skipped out of the small apartment.

He watched his childhood leave, his history rebuked, remembering when the only people they knew were people they had always known. He always felt coveted, grown to be the next Sashenka, the leader. Luna always the antithesis of the community, always the questioning one. He knew he could not have stayed without her, could not have existed as their magic was one of blood and birth.

Kai’s deepest secret is the pleasure he had on the night of their bonding; he had felt the power of their destiny. That particular night, Luna splintered before him, scattered parts of herself before gathering them all up and running. In his terror of loosing her, he followed and lost his own destiny to hers. A knock at the door interrupted him. As he opened it, he was pushed out the way as Galla entered the pathetic space.

“She will remain stagnant here. You know this,” Galla’s voice is vicious and brutal, “You want to hide, but she is brilliant! She cannot thrive with you. With Chloe, she glows with life, and you’re an awful person to not let her go.”

“That’s unfair…”

“No. It’s fucking not. It’s absolutely fair. I’ve known you since you refused to speak and expected Luna to do it all. She took the brunt of everything to keep you safe and you, what, destroy what she wants? No.” Galla’s fury spun out of control.

“Galla…”

“I’m not bothering until you have something, anything, other to say. Stop being a child.”

“You really are some strangely horrendous type of adult if you think I’m a child,” Kai spat.

Galla laughed, genuinely, “Really? You will loose her. Completely. Due only to yourself, yet Luna will have Archer, Jamere, Abraxas and myself. Even without Chloe, she has all of us. And because of the way you’re acting, she will no longer want you either.”

Galla turned and left, leaving Kai to himself. Galla knew Chloe allowed Luna to see a way to her own freedom from herself, and is changing the landscape of how hope is constructed. Luna’s dalliances in the past were insignificant, a rite of passage over one of reality or necessity. Kai always with a flair for the social, found comfort in public displays, in café and clubs. Luna was eternally on internal pause until Chloe.

***

They were having an early dinner before Luna’s night shift at Pacer. She was still feeling uneasy from her conversation with Kai. How could she explain Kai when she couldn’t explain herself. They discussed nothing of their lives, the initial lust engulfing them and eclipsing the quiet inelegance of the past, shifting history for what had yet to evolve into the hoped future together. Luna watched as their shadows met before they did, intertwined on the pavement, blending together into one shimmering mess. It swayed as Luna lifted her head to greet Chloe, and their lips met softly. Chloe’s breath smelt of cinnamon as it curved the crest of her lips, tasting faintly of salt and lipstick.

“Hi,” Luna said, her voice an uneasy lullaby.

“Hello,” Chloe said, kissing again delicately before continuing along the street. She noticed the unfocused look in Luna’s eyes, “Are you okay?”

“CLS is up here,” indicating the next street through the purple deepening into an inky sky, increasingly highlighted by globes of dull yellow light, “we can eat there.”

“Bad day?” Chloe squeezed Luna’s hand, picking up on the deflated intimation stroking the edges of Luna’s voice.

“Kai just ambushed me with all of this emotional treachery,” she shook, fury teetering around her, changing the air flow.

“Again?” Chloe said softly as Luna sharply tugged at her hand, jolting her shoulder.

“He is…frustrating. He enjoys the freedom of himself, however he wants me at his beck and call. I’m not responsible for his borrowed trouble,” Luna is chaotic and this twirled around her with the bitterness of their fight, lingering in her mouth like poison.

Chloe waited for her, for what Luna was willing to say, “he says you’re changing me. You are, but I want whatever this…” she gestures between the two of them, “…is, I like whatever this is.”

Chloe feels the weight of what she is saying, and of all the spaces in-between.

Luna sighs, “He hates that I’m not always…that he can only see me in the disastrous moments he makes out of everything, broken dates and times. Before you, he could ignore the volunteering and the music and stuff because I wasn’t distracted by anyone else but him, I guess.”

“Okay,” Chloe sighed, “Is their truth to any of what is he saying?”

“Only the wrong people wanted us,” Luna shuffled her features through various incarnations of trouble before settling back down into shades of concealed yet waning fury, “we’ve been…look, I’m terrified that you are…and he is terrified of the same. He hates loosing me to anyone.”

“What are we going to do?” Chloe noticed all the spaces in-between what she was saying and what she left out, how she lost the words.

“We?”

“Of course, we,” Chloe could not be offended, and was working really hard not to think all the while that she terrifies her.

“I was particularly unrelenting this time. Calm me has a controlled temper, unfortunately furious me lets her out.”

“Can you be specific?” concern mixed in with reality to filter through Chloe’s voice.

“It has mostly to do with our past,” Luna smiled sadly.

“Sometimes you seem pressured. Disturbed. Haunted. Especially after seeing Kai. Except I know he means a great deal to you.”

“We’ve a long history. Maybe more complicated than long. We’ve….unique history.”

“All families do. We’ve time.”

Luna panicked paused as she hesitated. Her past smashing, again, into her present. Was there time long enough for Chloe to listen to her history, having nothing to compare this too, Luna’s heart quickened as it thumped into her throat making it difficult to breath. The unreality of the time spent with Chloe crashed around her as the gunfire pace her heart was trapping her in.

Chloe stopped and pulled Luna out of the constant shuffle of the sidewalk and against a stained brick wall, “What is it?” Luna stared blankly.

“Luna, can you hear my voice?” an imperceptible nod, “Luna, I need you to do as I say,” Chloe, familiar with panic attacks, said, “Breath in one…two…three,” as she barely felt any chest movement. Chloe moved her hand underneath the jacked and shirt, “Make my hand move, Luna, breath in one…two…three,” better, “Breath out one…two…three.”

It took Chloe six minutes of coaxing to loosen Luna from the wall and into her arms. Several more minutes passed with Luna in her arms before Luna pulled back and led Chloe back into the crowd. The fear of everything and nothing overwhelming, of loss and change to numerous to know, yet Luna knew she could never hide.

They moved inside the bar and into a booth and ordered before Chloe asked, “Why can’t you tell me?”

“It’s complicated, the two of us.”

“Luna. That was quite a panic attack.”

“Kai and I’ve been together our entire lives. We didn’t know our parents, we were lost children who only had each other. The foster system was cruel, it separated us when we needed each other the most. Kai feels I’m abandoning him all over again, feels I’m fleeing again as I fled from our past, thinks your wealth can hide me…” Chloe frowned at this, but Luna reached out and took her hand, “I was placed with a wealthy woman, Gretchen Zima Enka. He…is hurt and confused.”

“Kai was placed, in line with his psychological assessment recommendations, with a family. Uparit Vesna, Kai’s foster father was a homicide detective with the RCPD, known as the ‘bingo preacher’ and his wife, Grey Moran is a community liaison with the Rainbeaux Homeless Youth Charity. They’d two daughters, one a year younger than Kai, the other three. He folded within himself, at a loss without my voice to speak for him,” Luna looked at the table, and poured another CLS, “I’ll tell you Chloe, I want to tell you, but I’ve work in an hour, and this is just the sharp point in a complicated and messy past and I’m unsure just how to tell you. Yet. I promise I will.”

“There isn’t a short version?”

“Not one shorter than what I told you, or will not raise more questions. Kai and I were raised within an enclosed community, Tempenka. Think one of those survivalist types, but peaceful. We were raised to become the leaders. We ran away and came here where it’s easy to hide. We were homeless before spending three years in foster care. And I can see the curiosity in your face, you have questions and I’m not ready to answer them all yet.”

“Okay. Is that why you panicked? And that night you came for dinner?”

Luna swallowed a mouthful before looking at Chloe, “Yes. I like you. I guess I was not expecting to…” Luna flushed, “…Well, that much.”

“Okay. But…you want to be here? With me?”

“Yes.” Luna moved, slipping to sit right next to Chloe, and lifted her eyes to look at her directly, “Yes, I do.”

“I can wait. You haven’t nearly told me enough information, but I’m willing to stick around to hear it,” Chloe smiled, “You’re someone that….I would like to explore more.”

Galla came and joined them at the table, sliding in to notice the dark mood over the two, “Hi ladies, Kai?”

“Yes,” Luna said, shifting her drink out of her hand, “Isn’t it always?”

“Yes. I talked to him.”

“Why?”

“Because he may decide not to be such an ass. I mean, really, he such a child.”

“Yes, well, we didn’t raise him well.”

“We were not meant to, we’re too defective.”

Chloe swept her head between the swift, broken accent and the broken face, waiting. They both had silent worlds shared inside of each other, between the shadows of their souls, sliced in similar ways together. She knows that she will endure any of their history for the love of Luna.

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