Author’s Note: So I’m not sure where the whole “happy time on Earth” went, but this was something that had to be explored as well, and maybe the happy will come back. I don’t know.
I do know I couldn’t stop hearing America’s “Tin Man” while doing this.
Luna sat back, her face troubled by his words. She pulled at her shirt for a moment, and he thought that if her hair could change colors with her mood, it would be black now. She twisted her fingers together and then spoke. “Literally, maybe not. I don’t know about your species, don’t know what parts make you up. You look like you should have a heart, though. Figuratively, you have one of the largest and kindest ones that I’ve ever known. You worry so much about not hurting people, and you care what happens to me and what happens to Alvin, and you like seeing people be happy.”
He frowned. He knew that he liked seeing her happy, that he enjoyed the radiance that came with that and what it was like to be with her when her mood was buoyant and positive. She was a creature that should always be kept happy because she could give so much to others when she was. “I am not sure that applies to all people, just you. My focus is too narrow. All I want is you.”
She blinked. “I… You what?”
“I mean—the only person with any true value to me is you, and I need you too much and want your opinion on everything. I want to see your reaction to the world, hear all your thoughts and see your smile and hear your laughter. If I were so altruistic, you would not be the only one.”
She swallowed. “I’m the only one?”
Her lips curved into a wide grin, and she leaned over, pressing her lips to his cheek before rising and running off to one of the back shelves. He blinked, not sure what she was doing or what she’d done. He knew his face was no more real than the hand was, but he put it to his cheek anyway, rubbing at it as though that could make her make sense.
“Sorry, trying to find a quote. Not sure if it’s in the book, too, or just in the movie.”
“Something that Oz says to the Tin Man. Believe it goes… ‘A heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.’”
He followed her around to the shelf. “I don’t think I understand. I should not be capable of emotion in the first place, but if I am, then it would be about how much I feel about others, wouldn’t it? And there is nothing to say that I am loved by anyone.”
She put the book back on the shelf. “Tynan, I cannot believe you just said that.”
“I should go. I have said enough to upset you already, and I do not think I should stay. I will go seek out a few things and come back when I have learned some kind of lesson,” he said, shaking his head as he started back toward the front of the shop.
“Hey! I didn’t say you had to go. Why do you insist on missing the point of what I’m trying to tell you? Why don’t you see it?”
He looked back at her. “What I see now is that I have upset you. I should never have spoken of your possible death or my fears, and I should not have placed this burden on you because it is not your place to keep my hunger at bay. That is something I must learn how to do. It is not about you.”
“I don’t want you to go.”
He did not know that he could go—he didn’t much want to—but he felt that he should. “I do not know that I will ever be capable of understanding what you want me to or of believing that I have this figurative heart you believe I have. I don’t.”
“If you would just listen to yourself, you’d know that you do. You have a lot more heart than you realize, and if you would let me explain, then I could—”
“It is not about explaining. This distresses you.”
She folded her arms over her chest. “I am fine. Well, no, I’m getting a bit angry, but that’s because you won’t listen. Don’t you—”
“I think he should go, Luna. Clearly he doesn’t feel the same way about you.”
She stopped, staring at her father, her mouth opening and shutting and then she turned back to the books. “Dad, this doesn’t concern you. Please go away.”
He took hold of her arm. “You’re my daughter. If it concerns you, it concerns me. I don’t like the way you look right now.”
She leaned her head against the shelf. “It’s not what you think.”
“Isn’t it?” Her father asked, taking her into his arms. He held her, and she seemed to be crying, and this was no place for a black hole that could not hope to do what her father was doing for her. He would go in search of some lesson to learn, something to share with her, and he’d come back when he couldn’t upset her anymore.