Author’s Note: So I have to credit being able to do more on this story to a search for prompts that lead me to Carry On Tuesday. Without finding it, I’d still be cursing my writer’s block and my teeth (don’t ask.)

The prompt was All You Need is Love, and me being the sucker of a Beatles fan that I am, I found a way to use it.

Not Ready

So much for all you need is love, Luna thought as she looked around the courtroom. She didn’t think any of them were going to let Tynan go, not even when she’d proved that he didn’t have to hurt anyone, that he didn’t want to, and that he was so much more than they thought. She should be dead right now if he was just the monster they claimed he was, but none of them seemed to care about that at all. They didn’t see what she did. She didn’t know that they ever would.

She took Tynan’s hand and stood, drawing him up with her. He gave the room a glance, knowing the same thing she did. They were not likely to survive this, not if the looks they were getting were any sign of the intentions of everyone here. She sighed.

“Don’t be sad, Luna. I have expected this day, and I made what preparations I could for it—a species like mine, so despised and feared, I have always known what would be the end of all things. I am most grateful that I was able to see you again and say what I must before I died. That is all I could hope for, and it was something I did not think I could have. Yet I did. You are here. More than that, though, I can do this,” he said, placing his hand on her cheek. She closed her eyes, letting that feeling wash over her. For so long, they’d both been afraid of what his touch would do to her—she’d said she wasn’t, but a part of her still was—it was impossible not to be. He was a black hole, after all. She’d been convinced that he could find a way to control his hunger, though, and she was willing to risk it, even if a part of her was terrified.

This was worth it. Having his touch, his love, that was all worth it. She could forget the last few months and their various upsets, all the pain of his sudden departure and her emotional roller coaster, the things she’d done trying to get over him only to find she hadn’t managed to make any progress at all. She would love him until she died.

Unfortunately, that was coming all too fast for her liking.

“Tynan, humans don’t make peace with death,” she said, and then she had to correct herself. “Okay, some of them do, like when they have a terminal disease or are very old, but I’m not one of them. My mother wasn’t even one of them. She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to leave us. I know it wasn’t her choice, and that’s what gets me through the day sometimes. I mean, with the places my head goes… with everything that happened after she died—just about the only good thing after that was you—you and Alvin—I want to hate her for going. She didn’t choose it, but it messed me up good and my father…”

“Your father is not a nice man.”

“Oh, he is. He was. He’s just overprotective and thinks I’m crazy. I think that most of the universe would agree with him at this point.”

Tynan smiled. “I suppose they would, since you did tell everyone here and everyone watching that broadcast that you were in love with a black hole.”

She shrugged. “You can’t pick who you fall in love with. Some people fall in love with people that are very wrong for them. That doesn’t stop them. It doesn’t work that way. Dennis loved me, or so he said, and I never felt a thing for him, so it’s not so simple. Just because one person loves another doesn’t mean that it’s always perfect.”

“I would say that we’re far from perfect,” Tynan told her. “There is the species thing to consider and the timing as well.”

“Yeah,” she said, giving the room another glance. “I need a soapbox.”

“A what?”

“A soapbox. I figure before they come close enough to kill us, I have to make a speech. I kind of did before, but this would be a real one. One with an introduction, a middle, and a conclusion, just like they teach you in school. I’ll be persuasive. I’ll convince them that they can’t go through with this sentence.”

“They will not change their minds. I have been trying to talk to them, but even the one who listened to me the most did not hear what I was saying.”

Luna winced. “There has to be something. They can’t kill you. You’re not a monster. You’re so much more than they think, and you have shown me things I never thought I’d get to see, and you know what the worst thing you ever did to me is? You want to know what I’d call a crime—the only one I think you’re guilty of?”

“No, I don’t think—”

“You left. That’s the only part that bothers me. I know I should be more upset about the times your hunger got out of control, but you’re better at that now. Look at me. I’m still alive. No, the only thing you ever did that hurt was leave.”

“Oh, Luna. I would gladly stay with you forever, but that is not possible. Not for us.”

Author’s Note: And the story was always coming to this point…

The Sentence

“It’s time.”

Tynan rose, looking over at the guard. “Does it rain on this planet? I am not certain where I am, but I do know that if it rains, I would like to know.”

“Why does it matter if it rains?”

Tynan did not explain. He would not tell the guards that he had a new final request, that he would like to feel the rain before he died. That he would save for the court. He did not know that he would have a chance to speak, but he would go, and he would do what he must. He could escape if he wanted to kill them all, but he did not. He would not take innocent lives to save his own.

“You’re going to be moved now. You know what that means.”

“I have told you that I will cooperate, I will go willingly. Do not do this. You do not have to—”

The pain hit him, forcing him down to the floor. He curled onto his side, trying to hold on for at least a little longer. They would keep him in this state until he reached the courtroom, and he could withstand the pain for that long. He had to. They might not bother allowing him to wake if he were to lose consciousness, and he would lose his one and only chance to speak.

He was aware of his own agony and little else, though. Not until one of the guards spoke did he realize that they must have stopped moving his cell. He had not thought it was portable, but of course—it must have been, so that they could quarantine the unit if he became too dangerous for their machines to control.

“Get up. It’s time for you to hear your sentence.”

He nodded, feeling the aches fade to a duller, more manageable level. He pulled himself up, trying to find the matron. He wanted to speak to her, if he could, or perhaps they might let him address the court. He did not know.

“You are now here to know what has been decided. You are aware of your crimes. They will not be repeated. For being the monster that you are, you will die.”

“No! It’s wrong! You bastards! He’s not a monster!”

“Luna,” Tynan whispered, putting a hand to the edge of his cell. She was here. They’d brought her here. Alvin, too. Perhaps that was part of the trial that he had not been allowed to see. They had told her to testify to his time on her world, to all the ways that he had “wronged” her.

“Oh, Tynan,” she said, trying to get to him. The guards pushed her back, blocking her progress. “What have they done to you?”

“I am fine. I have been worried about you. I did not tell you I was going, and I did not warn you, and I broke my promise. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t care about that, not now,” she said, shaking her head as she forced her elbow into the guard nearest her, slipping past him and his companion, stumbling forward. He put his hand on the frame of the cell, letting his hunger free to take the front of it before he turned it against himself. He wanted to be close to her one last time. No cell, no pain, just her.

He heard the crowd yelling, the officials ordering the guards to get him back into the cell, but none of that mattered when she was near him.

“They hurt you.”

“In part. I hurt myself.”

“They’re going to kill you, but they can’t. It’s so wrong. It’s all wrong. I can’t let them kill you.”

He shook his head, forcing himself to sit up. He moved closer to her, as close as he dared. He wanted to touch her, to make those tears go away. She should not cry. She should only ever smile. That radiant smile of hers. That was what he wanted to see. One more time. “They will do what they want, and I cannot stop them. It is the fate that my kind deserves. We are monsters. We kill everything we touch. I cannot touch anything. I destroy everything. I always have.”

“No, you don’t. You have been a hero and a friend, and you fought against that hunger,” she said, putting her hand over his as the court fell into complete silence. “You see? You don’t hurt me. You won’t. You don’t want to.”

“Luna, remove your hand. I cannot control this, and you know it.”

“I figured it out, though. I finally understood why you can touch me. You said curiosity kept the hunger at bay, and you’ve used that for years. It worked, but there’s something so much stronger than curiosity.” She moved her hand to his face. “Love. Love is stronger than all of that, it lingers on after someone dies, it makes us hold on when all hope is gone… I love you, Tynan. I have for a long time, and I think you love me.”

He frowned, about to say that he didn’t know what love was, but he felt her arms wrap around him, and he sighed. Oh, she was wonderful, and he didn’t ever want her to let go. This was so… indescribable. He didn’t have words for what it felt like to be held, to have this kind of touch, this kind of… love. “Luna…”

“They can’t kill you. You can control it. You can do this. You won’t hurt the things you care about, and you care about so much more than me. You know you do.”

He frowned, pushing back some of her hair, admiring the changing texture of it, especially the part at the bottom, tipped in blue, as it had been when he first met her. “Yes, I do. I care most about you, and though I have no heart and cannot feel as you do, I think… If I were capable of love, then I love you. I could not help it. There, yes, that is it. That is the smile that I love. Your radiant one.”

“I don’t know why I’m smiling,” she said, putting her head against his shoulder. “They’re going to kill you. Now that I’ve finally found you again, they’re going to take you away from me.”

“Love makes you smile?”

She nodded, tightening her grip on him. “Yes, it does. Love makes us stronger, or so I’ve been told. I just wish that it could save us now.”

Author’s Note: Well, I wanted to write a happy memory for Luna and Tynan after that last scene.

I used the words from Three Word Wednesday to do it. Pale, naughty, and douse.

A Last Happy Memory

“What about rain?”

He looked over at Luna, unsure of what she was asking. She hadn’t stopped smiling, not since she started that radiant moonbeam of hers—he knew she was not a true satellite as science understood it, but he liked the connection her name made anyway—and she was still smiling now, so he thought that was good. Perhaps she was just curious. Luna could be curious. He knew that about her. He liked it, too. She was an ideal companion for him, always so intriguing and surprising. She made every day enjoyable and pleasant for all that gathered around her, as the children had once again.

“Why would you want to know about rain? Do you want some kind of science behind it, perhaps? I thought you knew what caused your planet’s water cycle. If you don’t, I can explain it. I do know the basics, at least. It is a fairly common system, found on many planets in the known parts of the universe.”

She laughed. “Sometimes, you are way too literal. Or maybe I’m not being clear enough. I should have said, can you feel the rain? Can you touch it? Does it make you… hungry? Or can you have as much of it fall on you as you want?”

“Luna, I thought we were playing games today. We brought bunches of them.”

She turned to the child who had spoken. “I know, and we will, but I thought we’d wait for a few more of your friends to show up, and I was in the middle of a conversation. You need to be patient. I’ll grab a book in a minute, after Tynan answers my question.”

The boy sat back with a pout, and she shook her head, leaning over. “I don’t suppose that you can put your hunger to use and get rid of those, can you? I don’t think a water balloon fight is a good idea, even if they’ll get a kick out of it. Everything will end up wet, though, and I don’t have that many towels.”

“I am not eating your… balloons,” he said, peering over at the bucket full of odd shaped objects in a strange assortment of colors. “I shouldn’t risk everyone here by doing that. The balloons made you think of water, then? And then rain? So you want to know if I can feel rain without letting the vortex consume everything afterward?”


“I do not know. I’ve never tried. I avoid the rain.”

“Oh.” She seemed disappointed, and he wanted to make it so that she wasn’t, but he couldn’t change what he was. He was a monster. All his species did was destroy. That meant that few things concerning him were at all pleasant. “Never mind, then.”

“I would like to hear you read more, though,” he said, and she managed a smile, one that paled in comparison to the radiant one she’d worn earlier. He would have said something about it, but then he saw someone with an orange blob in hand, lifting it up into the air. He started to call out a warning, but it was too late.

The balloon hit her, dousing her with a surprising amount of water. “Hey! Who did that?”

One of the boys laughed, pointing at the girl next to him. She smacked him, and he started struggling with her. Luna moved over, pushing them apart. She wasn’t smiling anymore, and he didn’t like that she’d stopped. She looked rather unhealthy, soaked as she was, her hair coming loose as it dropped down her back, her shirt sticking to her in a way that could not be comfortable, all lopsided as it was.

“Stop that. Both of you. Now, I want a real answer. Who threw that water balloon at me?”

“Luna,” he said. She looked at him, and he pointed to Alvin. She frowned. “I guess he was curious. I don’t know. I do know I saw him throw it. Alvin was the one who soaked you.”

She turned back, shaking her head as she did. “You are one naughty alien, aren’t you?”

“We are sorry. We did not know it would hurt.”

“It didn’t hurt.”

“Oh. Good.” Alvin’s hands came out from behind him, a balloon in each of them, and she sighed as she saw the bright colored weapons. Well, perhaps he should not call them weapons. The term seemed inaccurate. She had said it had not hurt, after all. She was only wet.

“Balloon fight!” One of the kids shouted, and he grabbed for a blue beacon out of the bucket, throwing it at Alvin. The latex exploded when it hit him, the remains sticking to him as though a part of his skin.

He threw all the balloons in his hands, hitting several children as he did. Luna tried to duck out of the way. “No fair, Alvin! You’ve got four hands!”

“Yes. We like this advantage.”

Luna used a word that the children should not hear, grumbling as she did. “Everyone get the alien! Now!”

He stepped back, watching the children battle with the four-armed former hive member. He couldn’t get involved, couldn’t play, and he didn’t want to risk any of the kids or Luna getting hurt if he was bumped. No, he would just watch, and watching would be enough.

The children giggled, smiling and wet and not caring for a moment. Luna was right—they would not have enough towels, but it did not matter. None of them minded the water. All they cared about was how much fun they were having. He envied them that. They did seem to enjoy what they were doing, even if it was somewhat bizarre.

He jerked as something hit him, and he frowned, trying to find the source, wanting to make sure that he didn’t have to turn his hunger on himself to keep from pulling everything into a black hole. He didn’t see a balloon, didn’t feel the pull of the hunger. That did not make sense.

“Something wrong? Did they hit you? I thought you were outside of the fire zone,” Luna said, coming over to him. Her clothes were soaked through now, and were they a lighter color, he might have been able to see more of her than she intended the public to view. Not that it mattered. She was human. Her species was incompatible with his, and he didn’t know why he’d even had the thought.

Perhaps it was the children. They would make anyone think of mating practices, wouldn’t they? Since they were offspring of humans, and she was loved by so many of them yet had none of her own, it was something to consider. What if Luna were to mate with someone and have a child? She would not be able to travel with him.

He did not like that possibility.

“I’m fine,” he said, remembering that she had spoken to him. “I thought something hit me, but it couldn’t have.”

She nodded. A balloon hit her in the back, splattering water over her and forward, onto him. He frowned. He didn’t understand. What had happened? Had it… missed? Why didn’t he feel hungry? Why didn’t he want to eat everything now?

“You okay?”

“I… I think it hit me, and I felt it, but I didn’t need to eat, didn’t feel a pull…”

She reached into the bucket, grabbing a balloon. She frowned at it before hurling it at him. He looked down and shook his head. Still nothing. Very strange.

“Oh, Tynan,” she said, her eyes as wet as the rest of her, despite the smile. “You can have rain.”

Author’s Note: Um… I made myself cry. I did. Not sure why…

Comprehension at Last

“You’re not supposed to make demands.”

“True. None of you listen to me at all. Still, I think it most unfair that you will not even broadcast my trial to me. I know what its outcome will be, that has never been in debate, but I should like to hear what is to be said about me. I do not know that I will care for anything I hear, and I understand why you are not giving me an actual trial, but I do not think that it is right that I cannot listen to any of it.” Tynan looked out at the guard, almost wishing that the matron was there. She did not want to listen any more than this man did, but he knew that she heard more of what he said than the guards did. They did not listen at all. She heard but overcame his objections with prejudice. They just ignored him.

“You’re gonna die. Who cares about the rest of it?”

“I do. If it was you, if you’d failed to guard me properly and been accused of treason, if they had already decreed that you’d die, but you got a trial anyway, wouldn’t you want to know what they were saying?”

“Shut up, Monster.”

He shook his head. “My name is Tynan. I heard the other one call you by your name, but if you insist on calling me monster, I’ll call you Ignorant Prejudiced Lesser Lifeform, since that seems to fit you. Guard would be inaccurate. It lacks the necessary description of your attitude toward me.”

“I can turn up the pain if you want. You seem to be asking for it.”

“I am not, but once again, you prove yourself ignorant and hateful.” Tynan turned away from the door, looking at the walls. He did not think it was too much to ask that they show him the trial. He knew they would not let him attend, and yes, he knew the outcome, but he should still be able to see it. That would be a right extended to any other criminal, no matter how abhorrent, and it was not fair—no, it was not just—that he would not even be given that much. He knew they considered him a monster, but other murderers got to see their own trials—they were able to attend them. This was yet another example of how far from their own standards they had fallen.

Tynan sighed. He had only a few hours left, and he knew that watching his trial was not the best way to spend them, but he could not bear this cell. If he could not be free, if he could not see Luna again or speak to her or give her any kind of message, then he could at least have his trial, couldn’t he? He deserved to have that much, didn’t he?

No, this was not about what he deserved, not about what he wanted. He could not get either from them. He was nothing to them, and that would not change. He was all too aware of that by now. He leaned against the wall, sitting down again.

People aren’t gone when we remember them. We still have memories.

Luna, again, as always. He’d rather hear her voice, but there she was all the same. She was right. He understood it now. Even here, even at the end, she was still teaching him, and he should have known that would happen.

We can create things. You can, too. Memories, Tynan. We make memories all the time, and we’ll make an eternity full of them for you to look back on and remember and enjoy all over again. Memories matter. They let us hold onto the things we love.

He’d missed the point then, taking her words too literally, too caught up in the limitations of his facsimile, thinking that he could not hold onto anything. He could not touch anything, that was true, but her words at last made sense to him.

Memories aren’t something you hold in your hand. They’re what you hold in your heart.

He didn’t have a heart. He knew that. Still, he could remember her, and he did, and he would, right until it was all over.

Author’s Note: This story had me stuck for a while. Odd, because I knew the end a long time ago, but this was one of those parts in the middle that was hard to build a bridge over. I think I’ve done it, finally, but who knows?


“Your trial date has been set.”

Tynan looked up at the matron, wondering what that meant. The end, of course, it was quite near, and he had been doing his best to accept it and his circumstances, though he was not as prepared as he would have thought. He had known this day was coming, always, so why he did not feel ready to meet it? He had not thought that the children of the vortex possessed a survival instinct, not in the same sense as most species, and he did not believe that was the cause of his distress. He was not alive in the same sense as most species, either. He didn’t know that instinct was what disquieted him, though.

He knew what it was. Everything was about Luna, and that was not a surprise—it should not be, at least. He had come to understand that his personal obsession with her—it was an obsession, the need to be around her and to know what she thought about everything—was not something that could be denied. She had found a way into every part of his existence, whether that was her intention or not, and he could not think of much without thinking of her. He did not know how to separate her from anything besides his earliest memories, and even then he found himself wondering what she would think of him if she’d seen him in those days, if she’d seen his hunger at his worst. Would she still be his friend?

Perhaps not.

That thought worried him, but what could he do about it? He would not see her again. These people, the enlightened species of the galaxy, they had him, and they were not going to let him go. He had no choice but to accept his fate. He would be executed. He would die. That was, he feared, as everyone felt it should be.

Everyone but him and Luna, that was.

“When?” Tynan asked, rising from his place against the wall. He did not walk to the front of the cell—he knew that scared the matron, and he would rather not be hurt, not now. He could have a few more hours of peace, the last of his life, and then he would die.

“It shall commence in the morning.”

“That soon?”

The matron gave a slight shrug, nothing like the ones that Luna would give, which seemed more of a friendly gesture than a careless, heartless one. He did not know why that mattered, except he had too much time to think about these sorts of things as he remained here, imprisoned. He could do little besides think, and he supposed it was almost a good thing they could create so much pain for him that his hunger was forced to fight against that, because he was bored.

He wanted to learn something, but there was nothing to learn here. He’d figured out more than he wanted to know of hate, but he was done with that, and now he had nothing at all. They gave him nothing, spoke of nothing but their hatred and his death. That was all that was left to him, and so he should not be disappointed to hear it was almost at hand.

He had not expected them to change their minds. They had made their decision long before he was ever caught, and that would not be altered now that he was. He would liked to have been compelling enough to convince them that they were wrong, that they should not do this, but he was not. He had tried, and now it was over.

“Will I be in attendance, or will my fate be decided without me?”

“That is an interesting question.”

“You mean since I know and you know that the outcome of the trial will not change? You have already chosen execution for me, and I can have no other sentence. Yes, that much I know, but I did hope that if I was able to give evidence, I might change some perceptions of my kind and your judgment later. Or that I might give Luna the message that I wanted to give her. You have not said if I will be permitted to do this or not. I do not know what to think about that part of it. I would believe you would not want that—I am different, and it bothers you that I am. Not enough to change your mind about killing me, but perhaps I might change someone else’s or simply make you look bad as I have been more than patient and rather forgiving of what has been done to me here. Your devices can kill me, yes, but I do not have to let them manage my hunger. You see, I am more powerful than you realize. It is my forbearance that grants your life. I have no desire to kill you, but I am aware that this device could not keep me in it if I decided that I could escape. Having no way of doing that without killing everyone within the immediate area and perhaps the solar system, I have chosen to remain where I am.”

She blinked. “You chose?”

He nodded. “Indeed. I think it is a decision that all your prisoners have made, all the ones of my species, at least. We realize that we will only be the monster again, that we will give your kind more reason to hate and fear us. I do not know if that is true. However, I have learned a great deal about my control and lack of it through my travels. This pain keeps my boredom from letting my hunger lose. If not for that, though, it might not work at all.”

“Yet you would have us permit you to attend the trial and perhaps risk killing our judges?”

He shrugged. “It is a risk, yes. I’d give my word not to hurt anyone, but you do not listen. We have been over that so many times… I would ask again to give a message to Luna, but I know the answer to that as well.”

The matron folded her arms behind her back. “Yes, you do. No, you will not be in attendance, not for most of the trial. There is one part where your presence will be required, but that is all.”

“You mean I get to be there when you tell me I’m to die?”


Author’s Note: I think Tynan sums it up very accurately at the end of this part.

The Real Monster

“I have to believe that you would be the most interesting of any of your kind that has ever been captured or placed on trial.”

Tynan lifted his head, looking up at the matron, frowning. He did not know what to think of her words. He had not expected her to say such a thing, and yet he did not know why she would say it. He did not think that he would have a trial, even if they were used to putting the children of the vortex through that sort of farce. “Then… you have decided to give me a trial?”

“All your kind have trials, despite the protests of those outside. Many would say you should just die without any sort of trial at all. You are too dangerous to be allowed to live.”

“So you said before. You go ahead with the pretense that you are fair and generous, but none of you will listen. You did not listen before, and you will not listen when you put me on trial. A part of me does not even wish to bother with this. I know what it will be—a waste of all of our time. Inevitably, I will be sentenced to death. I will be executed, and all of this will have been no more than a pointless delay.” He rose, moving toward the back of his cell. “However, I believe that my story is worth telling. I believe that it must be told. I do not know that anyone will listen, now or ever, but someone must say that I was different, that the children of vortex are not always monsters, and that we could overcome our hunger and our nature if only we tried. If not for me, then perhaps for someone else who comes along, another of my brethren or even just for future generations. If Luna, a human, someone you consider unenlightened, can learn to see beyond what everyone assumes I am, what I told her I was, then perhaps there is still some hope.”

The matron folded her arms behind her back, pacing outside the cell. “You want hope now, do you? What would you know of hope?”

He sighed. “I have known a great deal of it. I hoped for many things when I was with Luna. I thought I could have control over my hunger—she was willing to hope with me and try to help me find that control. She is the sort of person that makes you believe in the impossible. That, I understand, is part of hope, isn’t it?”

The matron frowned. “I do not see how you can speak of all these things. I do not know how you know of any of it. You should not care or pretend to care. You defy everything, make almost a mockery of it, and yet your sincerity contradicts that. You believe what you are saying. You think you are different.”

“I have made no secret of that. I am different. I know that. You refuse to accept it, but that is not unexpected.” He leaned against the back wall. “When will the trial be? I want to have my chance to tell Luna what she should have heard before. It might never get to her, it might only be seen by descendants or people who never knew her or how special she was, but I will put those words on record when I can. I must do that for her. It is the last thing I can do for her.”

The matron shook her head. “Why does it matter so much to you what she does or what you can do for her?”

“I told you—she is my friend.”

“Yes, so you keep saying.”

Tynan glared at the matron, angry. He hated how unwilling they were to listen. She would not hear or accept a word he said, and it frustrated him so much that he almost wanted to hurt her. He’d never felt like that before, and he did not like feeling this way. He hated her.

He’d never hated anyone before, had he? He had hated things and feelings—hated not being able to touch, hated his fear of losing Luna, hated how he could not help her or keep her with him always, and he hated hurting her, but he did not know that he had ever directed hatred toward a single person before, not even Luna’s father, as much as that man had done to hurt her.

The matron, though, Tynan knew he hated her. He didn’t know how to feel about this, not at all. Why was there such a thing as hate? Why did it create this anger and division? He did not understand, but he did not want to know more about hate. They were teaching him, but he did not want to learn.

“I can have friends. I doubt, very much, that you do. If you are so willing to do this to me, if you are so cold and unmovable, if you refuse to hear, then why would anyone ever want to be your friend? Alvin and Luna want to be mine, and I do not understand that, but I can understand why you have none. You inspire hatred, not affection.”

She smiled. “The amusing part is that I would have said that of you. You are a black hole, after all. You are the monster.”

“No,” he said, unable to help a strange sort of smile. “You are.”

Author’s Note: Well… since one can’t really see the moon in the new moon or dark moon phase… It fits.

New Moon

“Friend Luna?”

She’d curled up against herself, and she didn’t want to think about where they were at the moment. She wasn’t sure. She’d had to fight her father to get free, and by the time she’d managed to get away from him, the police and fire department had gotten there. She’d set the fire, she didn’t deny that, but they’d wanted to arrest her, and she was pretty sure her father would have let them since he thought she was completely insane now.

She didn’t know if going with them would have been safer or not. If she tried to tell them the truth, about Alvin or about Tynan, she doubted they’d believe her, and so she’d end up locked away. Maybe if they did lock her up, she could still paint, but what would be the point in living like that? She’d already started down that path a few times, and she’d hated it. She hated being drugged into a zombie—though she’d almost welcomed it when things were at their worst—and she would not do it again. She had to find a way to keep going.

She didn’t have any money, had nowhere to stay now that she’d been forced from her home, and she was lost. She didn’t know how she’d managed to screw up her life so badly, but she had to figure this day was always coming. She’d been good at self-sabotage in the past, and creative types almost always came to a bad end, didn’t they? True, she was no Lord Byron, and she didn’t think she ever wanted to come close to that, but she’d kind of figured she’d end up doing something stupid that got her killed.

She was in love with a black hole, after all. Did things get stupider than that? When she thought about it, she couldn’t find a more ridiculous idea. How could someone love something like that? How could she think of a black hole like… a person? How could she act like he was human and they could have all the things normal couples did? He didn’t think he was capable of love, and they couldn’t touch so they couldn’t kiss or show any real affection in a physical sense. Their species were incompatible, so no children could come out of this, either.

Not that she thought she’d ever want a child after all this, but that wasn’t the point.
She shook her head. She had to be crazy. How could she want all this? Why would anyone want Tynan, why would they love him? He’d always been different, a bit strange and kind of funny without meaning to, and he did act like a person, not a black hole, but that didn’t mean that he was one.

No, he was. She believed that. He was his own person, he fought against his own nature, and that was something unique and wonderful and not at all like her with her cowardice. She’d stuck to the familiar, never confronted her father about the way he was treating her, never defied him except when she left with Tynan, and that wasn’t right, either.

“Friend Luna, are you crying?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably. I’m tired, Alvin, and I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

“We find Tynan. We find hive. We be safe and happy again.”

Alvin could put things so simply sometimes that she thought he was more of a child than anything. She sighed. Maybe Tynan’s original suggestion for Alvin was best. She should find a way to get him back to his hive.

Only he’d be punished for that, and she didn’t want him hurt. She just didn’t know how to help either of them at the moment.

“Friend Luna misses Tynan. We find Tynan, Friend Luna be happy again.”

“It’s not that easy, Alvin. Don’t you think if we knew where Tynan had gone, we wouldn’t have already gone to drag him back? It’s not like I want to sit around waiting and hoping—and mostly I don’t, I stopped hoping a long time ago—but there’s not much else I can do about getting him back. He doesn’t even realize what he’s done, I bet. He never seemed to before, not until… Well, he was different when he brought you back with him, but… I don’t know. Maybe the damage was done by then.”

“What damage?”

“Me, Alvin. I’m damaged.”

“Friend Luna is hurt? How hurt? How can we help Friend Luna get better?”

She let out a breath. “No, Alvin. I’m not hurt, not like that. I don’t think you’d ever be able to understand what I mean by that, so just forget it. I’m not hurt. I’m… I’m tired. I’m going to try and sleep, and if I don’t get arrested for vagrancy, I’ll make some kind of plan in the morning.”

“Alvin sleep next to Friend Luna?”

They didn’t have his recordings, and she didn’t know that she’d be able to stand it for long, but she nodded, letting him settle in next to her, listening to her stomach and humming. He’d snore next, and she doubted she’d get any sleep, but she wouldn’t have anyway.

She’d never been or felt more lost in her life.

Author’s Note: So… rather than repeat what’s in “Acceptance” and “Rights and Wrongs,” since I figured that would get irritating, I left that out. This conversation between Tynan and the matron falls right in between them.

The Difference

“You say you are different,” the matron said, struggling for some kind of composure after she had faltered, betraying her fears and emotions with that step. Tynan watched her, waiting for the rest of what she would say. He would not hope, but he did want to see if perhaps she might have been persuaded to listen. If she would listen, if she would hear him, then he might have a chance to tell Luna all that he wanted—needed—to say. “How are you different?”

“Do you truly care?” Tynan asked, waiting for the small signs in her eyes or posture to betray her. He knew how most of the advanced species felt about his kind, and she had made no secret of her agreement with them so far. If her interest was not genuine, he did not know that there was any point in trying to talk to her. He could tell her everything he’d done and everything he’d known, and he would explain all that Luna was and all that she’d taught him, but if the matron did not have any sympathy or even a small part of her that was willing to see him as something different, he knew that any such efforts would be useless.

“I am here to evaluate you. It is therefore my duty to listen.”

“Not everyone who listens hears. That’s what Luna told me, and I think she is right about it. You might process the words, but you would not accept them. That is the difference. You would go on missing the point, over and over, and that is what Luna said I did. I think she is right, but humans are very… confusing most of the time, her more so than anyone else I encountered.”

The matron folded her arms behind her, pacing a short distance in front of his cell as though the action would make her recall something. “So… you were on the human world, were you?”

He almost winced, realizing his mistake. He hadn’t realized what he was doing by admitting that. He had violated their laws, and now he was in more trouble than he had been before. He should not have said anything at all. He studied the woman again, stepping forward. “Yes. I was. I do not deny it. I will not lie about it. I was there. That is where I met Luna.”

“I see.”

He was surprised by the lack of accusation after his admission, but he sat down, leaning against the wall as he tried to determine what to say. “Luna is special. I have seen her happy, and I have seen her angry, and I have seen her grieve, and I’ve heard her laugh. She is fascinating. You would not know this. You have not met her. Curiosity led me to her, and it drew me back. Still, she is something greater than curiosity… And I had once thought curiosity greatest of all I had experienced, the only thing that could keep my hunger at bay.”

“You mean you didn’t destroy things because you were… curious about them? You spared this poor human because you found her… amusing?”

“No.” He rose. “Luna is amusing, yes, in her way, but she is so much more than that as well. For a long time, I relied only on my curiosity, drifting from place to place without eating, without consuming anything but what I could learn without touching. I listened, and I saw, and I gathered all these things together into… into memories. I did not linger long, I did not dare let my curiosity become too sated. With Luna, though, she challenged my curiosity in ways that I had never known before. She made me believe it was worth returning because she had much more she could share and teach—later she made me the teacher, and that was something I’d never been before.”

“You taught someone something?”

He looked at the matron. “You assume a being with a near-insatiable appetite cannot be taught? Or that I lack any knowledge whatsoever? That is erroneous in many ways. You are only proving your ignorance. The children of the vortex can learn. We can be ageless and have eons worth of knowledge, though you do not believe so.”

“You seem quite capable of intelligence or at least the mimicry thereof,” she said. She shook her head. “The question was not a matter of whether or not you were able to perform such an act. I was asking for confirmation that you did.”

He frowned. “I said that, didn’t I? Oh. I see. You think I have broken another of your rules, don’t you? I suppose now I have finished condemning myself and should end the conversation.”

“That depends. What, exactly, did you teach this… Luna?”

He did not think that the matron wanted that answer. She would not like to hear all he had to say about Luna, for she was a subject upon which he would not tire of speaking or remembering. He wanted to see her again, would beg them to let him have that moment before he died, but he did not believe they would give him that. No, they would give him nothing. They saw only one thing when they looked at him.

“I could never convince Luna that I was a monster. She saw what I could do, but she said that I was not one, and so that is something I did not teach her. She taught me about friendship. That, I think, is the most valuable lesson I ever learned.”

“Yes, you said before you were friends. You did not tell me what you taught her.”

“Very little.”

“Did you or did you not inform her about space? About life beyond her planet? Did you tell her all of those things? How did she react?”

“Quite calmly. It was her father that thought she was crazy.”

The matron sighed. “You made this human’s sanity something of debate?”

“No. I was never anything less than truthful. Humans were the ones that didn’t understand, the other humans. Luna did. She always accepted me. Always. Well, except the once when her father managed to convince her I wasn’t real, but mostly she knew and understood and didn’t care. She still wanted to be my friend.”

The matron fell silent, and he knew that wasn’t a good sign. “Can I tell Luna I’m sorry and that I miss her? I do not care what else you do to me if you let me do that.”

The continued silence was the most unwelcome answer he had ever gotten in his life.

Author’s Note: Some of this is the same as “Making a Masterpiece.”

Yes, that was Luna, too.

Time to Let Go

She couldn’t keep painting over him anymore. She had to stop it. What she was doing was not helping anything. She was just making it worse and worse, and she had to stop. She was done. All of it needed to go. The past would be behind her, and she’d move on to what passed for normal for her. She had Alvin, at least, and her father was still there, and so she had a bookshop and didn’t need a bunch of reminders of the impossible.

Alvin was, quite frankly, enough. Four arms, four wings, a giant blue beacon, he made it so that there was no forgetting what had happened. Trying to hold onto Tynan was unnecessary. She couldn’t get free of him no matter where she looked.

Everything reminded her of him.

She didn’t need a painting. Or a hundred of them. She’d lost track of how many she’d done trying to pin down that elusive facsimile of his, but she was done. She had them all in one place now, and her pathetic behavior made her wince as she studied them.

She took a deep breath. “I am getting over you, Tynan. I swear it.”

The look on the painting she’d left face up seemed to disagree with her, so she turned it over, making it face away from her. She reached into her pocket and took out the matchbook. “Okay, you’re right. I lied, but maybe I will someday.”

She didn’t get an answer, not that she expected one. She tore off a match and struck it on the back of the book, throwing it onto the pile. She did the same with the next one until she’d emptied the book, letting it fall on top of the pyre.

She stepped back, surveying her work with a smile.

“What are you doing?” Her father’s words—all of them—were a demand, some kind of yell or maybe a scream, but over the roar of the fire, she couldn’t hear any of them. She didn’t care. Her eyes were routed on the flames, watching them climb higher, flicker and shift in a macabre dance. The heat warmed her skin, and then he had hold of her, dragging her away from the bonfire.

She didn’t struggle. She knew struggling was pointless. He already had the wrong idea. This was not about hurting herself. She didn’t need to do that.

“What the hell were you thinking? You could have killed yourself standing so close to that thing. Why would you set that thing in the first place? You could take down half the city, not to mention you just threw away everything you worked on for the past year! All your paintings…”

She turned her head and looked at him, a small smile on her face. “Don’t you see, Dad? It’s not art until it’s been through a fire. I was just helping it along.”

He shook his head. “Oh, Luna…”

She shrugged. “I’m fine. It was time to let go.”

“You’re not fine. We’re taking you to the emergency room after the fire department puts out that bonfire. You’re going back on the medication or something. You could have killed someone.”

“No. I—I just needed to let Tynan go. This is a good thing. Dad, no! Let go of me! I’m not crazy! Don’t do this. I’m just trying to move on. Please.”

“I tried to give you time to deal with it on your own, but this? I can’t ignore what you’ve just done. You need help, Luna, and you have to accept that.”

He was going to commit her. They’d lock her away forever. She couldn’t let that happen. She wasn’t insane, just heartbroken, and she wasn’t giving up now. “Alvin!”

Author’s Note: Just about coming full circle then, almost back to where “Acceptance” started this story.

Strange how that goes.

Also—Curse you, Disney. Since when did I see the matron as the one from Lilo and Stitch, and how do I make that image go away now???


Silence seemed to have worked.

Either that, or he was too far gone to feel the pain anymore. He no longer knew, and he no longer cared. He couldn’t feel anything. He was numb, and a part of him would have questioned if he was dead, but he knew for him death would be a cessation of his thoughts—he was a black hole and could ascribe to no religion or afterlife. He would just be gone.

He was still thinking, so he was still alive.

“Are you sure you haven’t killed it yet?”

“It kept talking. They kept the machine at higher levels than they have in the past. No one knows what to do with this one, Matron. It… It does not make threats. It seems to be… pleading, and we do not know what to make of its deception.”

“Deception seems unlike them.”

“I wasn’t lying.”

“Ah, so you are not dead,” the matron said, looking down at him. “They have informed me that you have called yourself by a name and requested a message be given to someone.”

“They did? All they told me was to be quiet, and then they turned the machine up higher and higher until I was forced to stop speaking,” Tynan told her. “If you are going to do so again, I shall spare myself and return to silence. I have no desire to feel any further pain.”

She frowned. “I did not know that your kind felt pain.”

“I do believe there is a great deal about my kind that you do not understand nor care to understand,” he said, wondering if he could sit up this time. He put his hands on the floor and pushed up with a groan. There. Better. He leaned against the wall and smiled. He could sit. That was a sort of victory.

“Matron, it might try and—”

She held up a hand. “I am here to evaluate this creature and determine our course of action. I must be able to speak to it, and I cannot do that if it is unable to converse.”

“If he is unable to converse,” Tynan corrected. He looked at his hand, front and back and front and back. “I am not human, and I do not know that children of the vortex should have a gender, yet for all the time I have spend among the other species, I have always thought of myself as a ‘he.’ I always have a male appearance, so you may refer to me as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ from now on.”

“You are quite demanding.”

He shook his head. They still did not understand. “No. If I were demanding, I’d make threats. I was pointing out a fact that you were ignorant of, as you are with many concerning me. If you are here to evaluate me, you’d listen, and you’d take those things into account. You will most likely not do so, or so has been my experience in the past, and I am not surprised by it so much as I am frustrated by my helplessness and your blind hatred.”

The matron folded her arms behind her back, watching him. “You think we have no reason to hate your kind?”

He did not know how her life had been touched by the actions of the others, and he could not speak to what pain they might have caused her or those that she had known. He just knew that whatever they had done was not what he had. He was willing to answer for his own crimes, but he refused to be condemned for someone else’s. “The other children of the vortex, perhaps, but I am not like them. Luna says I have never been like them. I don’t know that I can claim that, but she says my determination not to let my hunger win makes me unique.”


He nodded. Even now, despite the distance that separated them and all of the mistakes he’d made, he had to smile when he thought of her. “Yes. Luna. She is a special person, a rare one, a radiant one. She is smart and funny and kind. She is my friend.”

“You are incapable of having friends. Your species—No, you cannot have friends.”

“You say that because you do not know me or Luna.”

“No, I say that because I know you to be what you are. You are of the vortex. You know what that means. You know what you are—and you should know what you are not.”

“I do.” He knew, though, that he would never convince her or anyone else of that.