Sounds from the Menagerie echo behind Saint as they lean against the cobble facade, a single cigarette held to his lips. She’s out here to take a break, avoid the din of rowdy barks from her compatriots, and take some breath for themselves.
It’s like that, sometimes, in the wild world of the Menagerie, bright and bustling, but overwhelming, and as the moon shines bright in the sky, Saint lets the cool midnight air sooth his soul.
Another slow drag of smoke, a careful exhale out, and the sound of the door to the Menagerie peeling open from a few feet away.
Saint’s gaze flicks to the entry, the murmur of sound changing momentarily to bright howls and laughter before it’s gone as a figure swings the door shut.
“Out for some air?” Saint smiles wryly to themselves as Mental’s familiar drawl echoes from the porch.
“Something like that.” The sound of footsteps as Mental approaches, Saint sneering as Mental tugs the cigarette from his hands and takes a slow pull of smoke. “You could ask.” She says, and Mental smirks, face dimly illuminated from the warm lighting only meters behind them.
“Where’s the fun in that?” She says, handing back the small round of tobacco. Saint takes it with a harsh grab, rolling their eyes and resting it back between her pointer and middle finger as the night draws on.
“What do you want.” It’s a statement, not a question, and Mental huffs out an amused breath, scorn making Saint’s gut curl in subdued anger.
“I can’t just be out here with you?” It must be rhetorical. Saint scoffs, takes another slow inhale and lets the smoke sit in his lungs, burning before releasing back into the air.
“You never want to be.” They reply, switching their gaze back to the stars, and when Mental plucks the cigarette from his hand again, Saint is far more lenient.
The silence sits between them, oddly pleasant in the night air, and Saint lets the two of them share a smoke until the flame reaches the butt, and holding onto the short stub left behind is more difficult than easy.
It’s here Saint knows Mental will depart, because why else was she here save for bumming a smoke? Saint scoffs to themselves, stepping on the butt as it falls to the gravel below his feet.
True to Saint’s intuition, Mental goes to move, pulling herself from the wall and turning back towards the Menagerie, but perhaps there’s something in the air, something that begs Saint to move, to call out to Mental before she can leave.
“So I was right.” Mental pauses. “You really weren’t here for me. Just my cig.”
Mental’s head tilts before she turns back to face Saint, eyes glittering as they reflect the golden glow from stained glass doors.
“Well done, Sherlock.” She says with a grin, and the doors are opening once more as her figure falls back inside the door.
Saint is left in the inky night, a cigarette butt under her foot as their heart beats violently against their chest. Of course, he would never be the subject of Mental’s eye, always something beyond his control the true subject of her desires, and Saint’s foolish heart falls deeper into the fire growing in her gut.
She calls a sharp curse against the wind, relegating themself to sitting back against the cold stone of the side of the Menagerie, pulling out another smoke and starting right back where he left off.
Bitter, in the empty night, searching for a cure for an ailment they don’t have a name for.
A lighter flickers, and the cycle starts again.