Author’s Note: I had thought that the alien would do a lot more traveling without Luna before she became this big of a part of his life, but he didn’t agree with that, and neither did she, so the story is about them, not his travels. I should have known.
“We have to do something about Alvin,” Luna said, leaning against the counter. Her hair had turquoise in it today, matching the blouse she wore, and he thought that she should try that color more often. Part of it suited her very well. The rest of it didn’t, and he started thinking about the stone and the variations, and he liked thinking like that. Yes, Luna needed to wear more colors like turquoise. “It’s fine here, where people assume he’s a robot or a sculpture, but I can tell you’re getting restless, and we can’t take him anywhere like this.”
He frowned. He didn’t know why Alvin was a problem. They were fine, all three of them. He couldn’t say four because Luna’s father still hated him, but the rest of them were enjoying their time. Luna had shown him sculptures in the park, and they’d both laughed as they decided what was junk and what was treasure.
Luna said he was treasure. He said he couldn’t be, but she was.
“I am not restless.”
“Sure. That’s why I no longer have a copy of Northanger Abbey.”
He lowered his head. He hadn’t meant to destroy the book. He was just… testing her theory again. True, he had been a bit bored, but Alvin was sleeping and Luna had been eating dinner with her father, so… he made a mistake. “I’m sorry.”
“I know,” she said, reaching toward him and then forcing her hand back down with a sigh. “I know you didn’t mean to, and I can tell you’re still hurting from what you have to do to stop yourself. That’s the trouble. You need more to keep you busy. I’m not enough.”
“Yes, you are. You’re…”
“I’m what?” She asked, but he couldn’t answer that. She shook her head. “You can’t stay here forever just to keep me from my dark moods. I’m never going to be… normal or fixed, but I—”
“There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“That’s sweet of you to say, but there’s plenty. I’m well aware of my faults. No one is perfect, Tynan, and definitely not me. You discounted the things I told you, and maybe you’re right to, but I know I’ve done things that I shouldn’t have, things I’m not proud of, things that I wish I could take back or change or just… forget…”
She turned away, and he went around the counter, not wanting to let her suffer or fall into the darkness again. She needed him, and he didn’t want her to lose that radiance. “Don’t start thinking you need to go back on the pills that destroy you or that you need to be punished. Think of all the good you do for so many people. We just… We’ll change the routine. We don’t have to go far. We’ll find somewhere that we can take Alvin where he is not so unusual. Don’t go dark on me now. Please.”
She let out a breath, looking up at him. “Tynan…”
He jerked his hand back, not sure how he could have done that without realizing it. He shook his head. “Are you… okay? Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head. “It didn’t even sting like static this time. I’m not sure what is going on, but it’s so confusing. Sometimes you can touch me and do nothing, and I think—”
“You’re not crazy. Maybe it’s because I just ate the book and turned the hunger on myself. I believe the way they hold my kind prisoner is to get us to turn the hunger on ourselves and then capture us. They keep us that way somehow, still feeding off ourselves, and that makes us docile, and if I was still under that effect—”
“That’s horrible! How can they do that? That’s torture, cruel and unusual punishment. These people call themselves enlightened? Bastards, the lot of them, and if they ever touch you—”
“Luna, you can’t protect me. If that is to be my fate, it will be. I don’t see how it could be when they can only find us after a large feeding, and I don’t do that. I am here with you, letting my curiosity keep the hunger away.”
She nodded, but he saw the worry in her eyes. He wanted the smile back, the radiant one.
“What if we left Alvin here with your father and went to a museum?”
“What if we went to that exhibit on space and you got to tell me just how wrong our human comprehension of it was?”
“Me the teacher? The guide?”
“Why not? I bet you’ve never done that before.”
He smiled. “No, you are correct. I have never done that. I think I might enjoy that, as well—I will, if you are with me.”
“I won’t ever leave you,” she told him, giving him the smile he’d hoped for. He longed to touch her, but he did not dare do that again. “Let’s go before Alvin wakes up.”
“Yes. Oh, I forgot to tell you—I like your choice of color today. You should wear more like it.”
“You mean colors with unique names or turquoise colored stuff, specifically?”