She returned from the shower to see him on the balcony; the white sheer drapes over the open french door fluttering in the night breeze. It was too cliche to be believed. She would say that his red briefs preserved his modesty, if it weren't ludicrous – he'd never had much of that.
She threw on her silky lavender robe and let her towel fall from under it, a soft smile curving her lips as she padded towards him on damp bare feet.
“Rosie,” His voice was both a heavy sigh and almost a sad sing-song. It was just like him to hear her approach despite her silence, and she expected no less of him.
“David,” She cooed right back, playing without mocking. She put a hand on one big strong shoulder, remembering when they were small and thin. She'd spit roast the testicles of anyone who dared call her Rosie, but he'd known her so long it hardly mattered. She stepped up beside him, and his downcast profile was highlighted by the city lights, and as always it mesmerized her. She didn't press; and he didn't offer, and after a while she took a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from the pocket of her gown.
Not bothering to ask, she bumped the filter against his lips. He accepted almost hungrily, looking at her like a kicked puppy when the end of his cig didn't magically and immediately ignite. With a small, doting smile, she flicked the lighter against hers, and before she took a single puff; leaned in to press the end to his.
For a brief moment, there was a flare, a bright flame sustained by the two sticks of nicotine as they bumped together in a familiar lover's kiss. Then; together, they took a single puff and the flames died, a death so symbolically sudden it almost made her hard heart hurt.
His expression was almost sexual as he let the smoke out, his mouth open and relaxed, his face as unguarded as most would ever see it. She pretended not to watch him, even while she knew he knew that she was. It was a game they'd played, a game they'd always played.
His melancholy was nothing worth mentioning. It never was, because it never left. His sadness was as unchanging and unending as the fires of the gods on mount olympus, tended by Hephaestus himself.
The rambling metaphors were catching.
Sex brought it to the surface and smoking loosened his lips. This had been true always, so far as she knew.
“Sometimes it feels like I'm in the fucking matrix, or a coma. I haven't found any white rabbits and shady bartenders aren't looking into my eyes and telling me I should wake up, so maybe I'm just living inside The Truman Show.”
She didn't so much as raise an eyebrow in reply, but he continued anyways, eyes behind the enigmatic shades staring blankly out over the city. She'd known he would. “Feels like all this shit is just a... weird thin veil stretched over something that's just... just right there. Like I can see it, it's right there under the other stuff. I can see the outlines where it doesn't fit quite right. Maybe if I reached out, I could touch it.”
Sliding an arm around his waist, she took another slow drag. She hated smoking without her cigarette holder, but she wasn't about to leave him in such a spectacularly nihilistic mood.
He was powering through his smoke, as he always did when he thought too much. It was a reliable meter by which to clock how fast his mind was running. “What's the point in getting up if this isn't even real? Why should I go to a meeting, why should I impress some big-shot cocksucker if he doesn't exist? Why've I gotta impress some dickbrained creation of my own fucked mind?” He sighed again, flicking the butt down onto the street far below. “When I die, do I wake up in some place that fits right?”
When they were young, that sort of talk unnerved her. Now it was commonplace, an underlying thought that she knew he was always nursing – and that his sense of duty was far too strong to act on.
“Oh, knight of the realm,” She said softly. “Misfortune is not fair, fate is not just. But they exist just the same.”
He gave her a dry and insincere chuckle. “Fuck, Rosie. I'm such a useless ball of insecurities and neurosis. What would the press do if they knew.”
She pressed a long kiss to his temple, letting him appreciate the bareness of her lips. “Shush. You're my favorite useless ball of insecurities and neurosis. I'd have you no other way.”
Turning his head abruptly, he caught her on the lips with his usual naked ferocity, enough to knock back any normal woman, but she could handle him well. She relished the fire he brought to her life, and although it spat uselessly into the empty void; she knew it could never burn itself out. Under that sadness lay unequaled passion that helped her ignore the dreams that made her barren womb ache. The dreams of the little girl all alone in her big white house, a little girl in pink that she knew was her daughter.
She let the fire consume her, let the end of her cigarette fall from her fingers when the burning embers touched her skin.
If he could be the flame in her void, she could be the candle in his heart.