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A man sits in the darkness, his skin pale as death from so many years spent so far from the sun. Dark hair spills over his shoulders when he moves, and silken purple bedsheets pool around his waist. He peers down at the woman lying beside him and smiles.

She's fast asleep beneath the covers, her sun-kissed skin bare save for his sheets. If the chill in the room bothers her, there is no indication, and he wouldn't be surprised to learn that she can't feel the cold at all. Everything about her is bright and warm and alive, from her golden mane and the healthy glow of her skin to her dazzling smile and unflinching heroism. She is everything he isn't--warmth, radiance, and selflessness--and she seems to shine even now like a candle burning in spite of the abyss.

He wonders what tomorrow will be like, and the smile falters ever so slightly. This--what they've just done together--is a victory, surely. But he has no idea if it's one that will last. For all he knows, she will wake in the morning and regret what they've done, and at that point, his only satisfaction will be that it happened, genuinely and of her own free will, and no amount of protest will be able to take that away.

Still... that won't be quite the victory he's craving. He can already taste the disappointment he will feel if she does, as he fears, wake to regret their dalliance. A simple lapse in her resolve--in her so-called good judgment--is far from the end of his desires. He wanted her in his bed, yes, but he also wants her at his side.

She will be hard to sway, he knows. Even if she does not regret what they've done here, he knows she will not be ready to give him what he wants. She is not so easily swayed, his girl; they have fought for years now, and her commitment to her cause has been unwavering in all that time. She aims to defeat him, and she's been doing a fine job of it so far. His victories aren't coming as often as they used to, and he fears that soon they will stand upon the brink of the end.

Not that all he wants is to save himself. Far from it. He believes in what he is doing; his cause is just, and it will shape the world as the world must be shaped. He doesn't want her to spare him, should she win; what he wants is for her to fight at his side.

The man sighs, reaching out to touch her. His fingertips ghost across her warm skin, and he brushes a wave of gold behind her ear.

She looks so peaceful when she's sleeping, far from the passionate heat she'd shown him earlier. She had been a marvel then, exactly as he'd imagined, and as the night went on, she had bloomed beneath him like a cereus beneath the moon. She blushed in the beginning at his sordid words, only to turn them back on him hours later, matching his bite with a flame of her own; while at first she let him lead--let him push her down onto the mattress and cover her body with his own--she conquered him afterward, and their struggle abed matched the one they shared outside these walls. He won, then she won, then he again, and on they went until their bodies were too tired to support them and the night's thirst had been quenched.

The man lets his muscles relax as he sinks down beside her, lush memories replaying in his mind. His body curls up against hers, and in her unconsciousness, she nestles just a bit closer. He takes a deep breath, inhaling the faintly flowery scent of her hair, and slides an arm around her waist as he lets himself fall into slumber at her side.

This has been the greatest night he's lived in nearly a lifetime, and he dreads the morning that will take it away.