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Mal is at the window, a chipped cup in her hand. Polly knows it's coffee, hot and thick, filling Mal's mouth, rolling over her tongue, running down her throat in a heated, heady flow. It keeps Mal awake, keeps Mal alive.

They'd tried adding syrups and tonics to it, tried to replicate the taste of copper and iron, infusing it into the dark liquid to give Mal even more of a response, but nothing had been as satisfactory, had worked half as well. Mal said all she needed was the coffee itself - and the occasional opportunity to brush her lips over Polly's neck. Polly thinks it's the best substitute for blood that Mal could have ever found.

She steps up to the window and slips her arms around Mal's waist. Mal tenses, her instincts reacting even after all this time together. She relaxes a moment later, taking a sip of her coffee, and Polly exhales. She rests her head on Mal's shoulder and watches a long black curl stirring with her breath. Sometimes she thinks about asking Mal for a lock of her hair to twine into a sweetheart's braid for remembrance. It's a silly thought, she always tells herself. Her own hair is still kept short, and though the silver of it would contrast nicely with Mal's midnight locks, it is, in the end, just silly. It won't be long before she's in a place where she won't be able to remember.

Mal, as she's often reminded, can never forget.

She kisses the side of Mal's neck, parting her lips to suck lightly at cold skin. Mal trembles, her fingers tightening around her cup. "You're still sure?" she asks in a low, soft voice. She asks every day, every night, and Polly's answer has not changed in years.

She hums softly. "Still sure." She spreads her hands across Mal's taut, flat stomach, comparing the smooth plane beneath her fingers to her own rounded belly, her sags and wrinkles. She's aged and aged and soon she'll stop aging, while Mal will continue on for centuries. Mal will be forever beautiful, and young, and once again...


Mal puts her cup down and turns in Polly's arms. She takes Polly's hands and lifts them to press a kiss to each finger in turn. "You know if you change your mind, at any time, all you have to do is ask. I'm willing."

"I know." Polly frees one hand and cups Mal's cheek, the pad of her thumb brushing over the center of Mal's bottom lip. Mal closes her eyes, her dark lashes falling like fans across her cheeks. "I made this decision a long time ago. You can see what forever is like, Maladicta. I can't. And I'm not at all certain that I would want to. Not even slightly convinced that I should."

The use of her full name makes Mal shiver and she takes a grip on Polly's waist. Polly only says that when she's serious, when there's no longer any hope of argument. Mal still tries. She's had a long time to perfect her ability to wear down objections, but she's hopeless at protesting when it comes to Polly. When it comes to this. She sighs and rests her head on Polly's shoulder, her lips only a breath from Polly's skin and the rushing pulse of her blood.

Polly tips her head back, exposing her throat, and Mal's hands tighten around her. So much trust, so much temptation in a simple gesture. Polly cards her fingers through Mal's hair and whispers to her. "I have forever with you."