Inhale; exhale. In and out; give and take.

A man opens his kohl-rimmed eyes. He sleeps; he dreams. Yet here he stands once again, in this shadowed, silent sanctuary that haunts his waking hours.

He stands on a stage, facing an empty house that fades into the shadows. He has never been to this place in waking life, and yet he has stood here many times, weaving his particular brand of magic for crowds of screaming people he's not certain actually exist. He knows every inch of this place, intimately; he has sat drinking beers in the catwalk, has laughed in the booth, has participated in dance wars in the wings. His signature, like that of every performer who has walked the boards, is scrawled on the back wall. This stage is not his, but he belongs to it.

The man shoves his hands in the pockets of his black jeans. He lifts his gaze to the distant rafters; he waits. He cannot will himself to this place, however hard he tries; he never visits alone.

She is coming.

He feels her, senses her in the depths of his heart and mind like pins and needles. First a trickle, then, slowly, a deep and powerful flood. He sighs; he breathes her in; he smiles.

She appears from the shadows in the ceiling. Is she human? He can never quite decide; maybe she is birthed from the stage, but only when he desires her. He always desires her.

She descends toward him slowly on gentle gusts of wind. She's still not used to her wings yet. He's been enveloped in those soft, powerful wings before. The feathers appear black at first, until the light hits them and they blaze red. Deceptively simple, with hidden, beautiful depths; just like her.

He reaches a hand overhead in offering. She's not used to her wings; she's still shaky on her landings. She matches her smile to his as she takes his hand, uses him as an anchor to reel her back to earth.

Their bond blazes back to life as they touch, flying up their arms and through their bodies like flame, like music, like a language only they speak.

"My Scribe," she smiles on a sigh.
"My Muse," he murmurs, drawing her close.

They dance to silent music that lives in their blood, their bond. Music he has not yet written; notes she has not yet inspired.

She is his Muse, the queen of his night life, the hit of Novocaine creativity that pushes him to harder and farther and greater heights.

He is her Scribe, her devoted servant and partner. He takes her raw, unformed power and crafts it into something beautiful and enduring.

She wasn't always his Muse. Had she chosen him, or had he created her from the song which was a primal scream of both their pain?

She is his creation; he is hers. Theirs is an unusual pairing – they feed off each other, equal partners in keeping each other alive.

This is partnership; this is the Work; this is love.

It's truer than emotion; deeper than bone and soul. It simply is. They live; they love. And from that love, they Create.

He buries his nose in her cherry red hair, breathing her in as he pulls her closer, as though he can absorb her into his core.

"Did you have to hoard the others?" he breathes in her ear.

She laughs softly, pulling away to look at him with eyes as green as his own.

"Jealous?" she teases, a smile on her lips.

He shrugs. He is; she knows he is. He was her first Scribe, but he is not her only. She has several, he knows; the ones he calls his hoard brothers, and the ones even she isn't aware of. Her beautiful golden light pours out of her as strongly as sunlight, and catches everyone in its grip.

She is not the only Muse, but she is his. He would keep her all for himself, if he could.

"Can't we just stay like this?" he asks instead, wrapping her in his own green and silver light, the energy she needs to live.

She looks up at him, her teasing grin gentling into the warm smile only he ever gets to see as she slides a hand into his thick black hair, holding him to her.

"My Scribe," she murmurs, love in every letter. "I've hoarded others, it's true. But you? You are my treasure."

She draws him in, and he does not resist. Their lips meet, soft and warm; exchanging life and breath and magic. A long, slow press of lips on lips, more about the bond between them than the kiss itself.

She rests her forehead on his, resting one hand over his heart as the other caresses his jaw, pushing her gold and red energy into his soul.

"You saved my life," she tells him, as she's told him before and will again. "You spoke for me when I had no words. None of my others have ever spoken to my heart like you have." She smiles. "They are scribes. You are my Scribe."

Their eyes close as their lips brush and they share breath, share love, share the inspiration that keeps them both alive.

He sighs as he feels the gentle breeze that blows from no window or door, ruffling her wings and his hair. They cannot remain here forever; all dreams must end. It is never enough time with her.

"Remember me?" she asks, vulnerable for the first time.

He nods. They both know that when he opens his eyes in that other life, he will forget his dream, forget her. They have never met in waking life; does she even exist?

But he will carry her with him, and she will inspire him, until next they meet.

"My Red Lady," he whispers.
"My darling Nimrod," she smiles.

She drops her hands from him, and he is swept away in wind and white light.

A man wakes.

He blinks in the darkness, disoriented. He glances at the clock; 4:20 in the morning. (The time amuses him; he is still secretly twelve.) He only went to bed three hours ago, yet it feels like he has traveled thousands of miles and lived years of life.

He breathes in the lingering hint of scent; floral, he thinks – honeysuckle. It is not the scent of the perfume of his wife, who lies sleeping beside him, and yet it is a scent he knows, that he loves…

Rubbing a hand over his face, the man sits up, rummaging for the notebook he keeps in the drawer of his nightstand as he tries to remember his dream. Black shadows and white light; a stage, he thinks. Gold and green and silver and red, a light as warm as flame and eyes filled with love…

The shadows of the dream quickly fade; they always do. But the golden spark of inspiration burns in his heart, in his soul, and the man begins to jot down another song, absently thanking his Muse for not abandoning him.

Two thousand miles away, a woman wakes.

She blinks lazily in the grey light of pre-dawn, her fingers and mouth tingling with remembered energy.

She reaches under her pillow for her dream stone as she recalls the details of last night's adventure. The stone fits in her palm, almost as warm as his voice.

As she prepares for her day, she turns on his music. He doesn't remember her, but it's alright; she can hear herself in his songs anyways.

She looks out the window – west, toward him – and she smiles.