A/n: I've been away for a long time. I don't know why, but I felt like putting this snippet up. It's a little different from my earlier writing in style but hipefully someone will still enjoy it. Feedback welcome and eagerly awaited.

He kissed her gently on the lips, wiping away the tears that spilled from her eyes as he pulled back.

"It is only for a little while, baby," he said gently stroking her hair. She looked away, not daring to meet his eyes.


He put his necklace around her neck and murmured, "Keep it safe and close to your heart."

She nodded and turned to go inside, ready to lock herself in her room, play guitar, and forget about what had happened. His hand on her arm stopped her, however.

"I love you," he said matter-of-factly. She choked on a surprised sob.

"I love you too," she forced out, trying to avoid the new tears that were threatening. He hugged her one last time and closed the door of his van, leaving her to watch as he drove away and wish that she were still in his arms.

Michael rubbed his face with his free hand as he drove. That had been harder than he'd thought. God, he loved that girl. And he hadn't even been allowed to fucking tell her what had happened, why he had to leave. He turned his music up louder and drove to the airport where he got into a small two-seater Cessna and flew away from all that he'd ever known of safety. He thought of her on the way, of how she'd looked when they'd first met. Those too-dark eyes staring out of that long, too-pale face with hair falling messily about, hiding. She always seemed to be hiding.

She played notes that hurt her ears, then she played notes that would hurt everyone's ears, then she played songs she'd written for Michael, crying through the choruses, thinking that there was nothing that could compare to the emptiness that she wished for. She finally exhausted her emotions and stripped, avoiding the full-length mirror that was the centerpiece of the room her mother had designed for her and put on her pajamas, wanting to have a taste of comfort. She laid down, listlessly staring at the ceiling fan as it whirled around, letting herself drift.

-Bright light-

-Spines inside skin, bursting-

-Cold, cold, cold-

She awoke with a start, surprised to find herself shivering in the late summer heat that graced the southern states from May to November. She was used to dreams, but not ones that vivid. Her head pounded. She tried to go back to sleep, but it continued to pound away, battering her sanity until she finally got up andtook some aspirin. She decided to chase it with some coffee and got up to fix some of the delicious drink that pulled er throught many days and nights. Her headache worsened, and she ended up staring at the television and drinking coffee for another sleepless night.

He shivered. No one had warned him of how difficult and painful that experience would be. As a matter of fact, he got the distinct feeling that they had purposefully not said anything about it. People tended to do that when they wanted something from you, he'd learned. He saw her eyes. Dark-lined, warm brown, wounded animal eyes. He knew she lied. He didn't care. He'd believe to protect her. He'd believe anything she needed him to... He finally cracked his eyes open. Nothing to see, really. It was completely dark here. He just laid there, moving one or another body part every once in a while to make sure it was still there. It always was. He waited for whatever would happen here, certainthat something would show up soon.

And that's all I have thus far... Worth continuing?