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there is no you (there is no me)

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Mr Veils— vake-the-betrayer— isn't much for conversation. Or rather, he is, but it'd just be a string of sweet nothings that you don't want to hear (that he doesn't want to hear).

Mr Veils takes you by the hand, his claws digging into your skin even through his gloves.

A part of you wants to ask him 'why'.

The same part of you— the same part of him— that would've forgiven him, the part that needs to be devoured like all of him was.

"Mr Veils," you say, and Mr Veils' claws dig deeper into your skin.

"'Veils' is enough."

Ah, you think. He wouldn't call Veils by his full name, either, would he?

No, I wouldn't, a voice says, and you're not sure whether it was your own or his.

You nod. "Veils."

He nods approvingly, leading you to the heart of London, to the Bazaar— anger flares up inside you. It's not your own... or is it?

Veils can tell, gripping your hand tighter.

Whether it's support or control, you can't tell.

You walk by his side, wondering how you ended up like this. How Veils found you. How you found Veils. How you found each other.

You can't possibly be the first.

You say as much. "Is that a habit of yours?"

Veils glares.

"I see." You keep walking, following him to his chambers. For a bit, you're sure you can see Wines watching you two. Then he's gone. You continue to speak as soon as you're sure the other traitor isn't watching anymore. "I— He won't forgive you."

"You said that before. No. He did."

"How many times?"

"I lost count." Veils opens the door to his chambers, pitch black like his soul. Your soul is stained, but his is long beyond hope. "Sing for me, will you?"

No.

What comes out is, "Yes."

Those weren't your words. They were his. But you already bear his scars, his memories, his name.

Why not his words, too?

The song you sing isn't yours, either; but Veils enjoys it, sitting down on his bed and motioning for you to follow suit.

You do, taking your usual spot, half-leaned against Veils.

Your spot?

Yes, it was always yours. Or his. Same thing. Almost.

As you sing, Veils' hands wander— they look for ears in places you wouldn't have any, for wings you don't have at all; and suddenly you miss them.

You never had them, but he did, and you miss them.

Veils sighs, as if he'd expected something else.

"You know," you sing-song. "There's always the well."

Those are his words, but they might as well be yours.

Veils abruptly pushes you down by the throat, his gloves discarded.

He lets out a hiss, incomprehensible.

If you didn't know better, you'd think it's Correspondence. But only the ignorant would think that.

(But you've seen and you've felt the truth. And now what's left of you?)

You laugh, lightly, and it's your own fingers that reach up his face.

It's his fingers that remain there.

Veils doesn't move his claw from your throat, but he loosens his grip ever so slightly. "Why do you seek me out, after all this time?"

"If I can't rest, you can't, either."

"Always the same answer."

"I wouldn't know."

"But he does." Veils drags a claw across one of the many scars he left on you.

Can you stain a scar? You don't know, but you're sure Veils just did.

He, however, doesn't seem to mind, and pain that isn't self-inflicted tastes so much better after having undone yourself seven times over.

You can't actually harm Veils, but he lets you dig your nails into his ears.

Perhaps your intent to kill will resound within him.

(It seems to do so, he trembles above you.)

You chuckle. Your voice doesn't feel like it. It's higher pitched now. "Does the other traitor know?"

"I'd be surprised if he didn't."

"Is he a replacement for me?"

"If he was, would I have you here?" Veils laughs bitterly, caressing your skin. His skin. "You're cruel, _____."

You're sure you heard a name just now. You just can't hear it again. It's gone. Gone, like you.

Gone, like him.

Gone, like thousands before you.

You wonder if this is the end of your quest. It only occurs to you now that Veils locked the door. Or perhaps you knew all along. "How many times do you intend to kill me?"

"Until you stop."

"A reckoning will not be postponed indefinitely."

"Then leave me out of it and go north, for all I care." Veils absentmindedly brushes over your lips. You can see the displeasure even though he has his cloak on.

"We all carry enough of him to go north, because he is no longer. That's why it doesn't matter if some of us are no longer, either."

"A waste of time."

"Much like your hunt, no?"

Veils increases the pressure on your throat. It's getting hard to breathe.

Asphyxiation that isn't drowning is quite the novelty.

"You don't understand," he says.

"I don't. But who wants to understand a traitor anyway?"

This time, he scratches open a barely healed wound. You don't mind. You won't leave this place, anyway. "He used to want to."

"A mistake," you say. You're sure that in your mind, you heard him say so, too.

"Maybe." Veils drags his teeth across his hand, watching a few drops fall onto your lips.

You're feeling hungry again, and you lick your lips.

But Veils wouldn't offer you a piece of himself if he wasn't taking all of you in return. That's just how he is.

"There'll be nothing left of you," you breathe the words. "Like there is nothing left of us."

You lose consciousness, and death marks the flesh.