Epilogue: Look Right Through Me

There was a time when I woke up every morning with jarringly twisted thoughts: thoughts of death and pain and blood - so sweet and bitter that I still gag even at the meer mention of the word. But the thoughts remained ever-constant despite my efforts to quell them. The day I first fell in love, I thought this: Maybe I'll die alone -- I hope not -- or maybe I will die surrounded by friends -- I don't know if I can stand this -- and maybe I'll die surrounded by him.

I didn't yet think he deserved that. I didn't yet know that Aster Graves was willing to die for me, to love me every moment that he killed himself. At the same time, I don't think I deserve to know the meaning of everlasting love, and I even then I didn't think that I would recognize it when it came.

But I wanted to -- wanted to dream, wanted to hope. And I was his best friend, and I saw the way his eyes drift into a dream, and so I also wanted to slap him silly and make him wake up and see the real world, the real, harsh world that we both lived in, where things just didn't happen the way we want.

But Aster insisted on dreaming, on moving on in fairy-tale make-believe, and I didn't have the heart to stop him. "Alex," he often asked me, "what do I have, if I can't have my dreams?" Me, I would wail into the silence of my thoughts.

But I was not enough, and I know this - I will never be enough, now, because there is no space in Ian's heart; death has filled Aster and his magnificent (dripping in blood) dream, his great (terrible) goal, and I would have followed him to the ends of the earth if he'd only asked.

When I moved away, he found the courage to confess to me: "I love you, Lexi," he murmured, soft as air, when I hugged him for the last time. I looked up at him, slowly, with tears in my eyes -- I couldn't find my voice; all I could do was nod. Then, ever so slowly, he leaned down, and kissed me. It wasn't my first kiss, but it was the first one that really mattered. It stole my breath away and made me incredibly sad that it took an ending for something like this to begin.

Down the street, a car honked, and I kissed him again. "Goodbye," I breathed against his lips, tears suddenly threatening.

"You could always stay with your dad," he said.

I shook my head, eyes growing wide. I couldn't, and he knew it. "You know why."

"I'll stay with you all the time. He won't be able to hurt you."

I shook my head sadly, eyes dropping. "I'm sorry, Aster. I love you -- but -- but it's too late. I'm sorry." I felt vaguely like a broken record, and something deep inside my heart ripped in two, and the pieces shattered.

"I'll die without you," he whispered; it was then that the tears spilled over, and I kissed him.

The car honked again, accompanied by my dad's vicious swearing, and my whole body tensed. "I love you," he said, again, and I smiled as I turned. With this imrpovement, life at home could probably be bearable until I reached Arizona.

Because I believed in him, no matter how silent I was, and I ever professed my faith, no matter her friendships and familes bound me to move. My loyalties that bound me to Aster.

And maybe I will never follow him physically, but my spirit will always be with him.

The End

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