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9 – preparations, pt. 1

LeBlanc can still feel the taste of him in her mouth when she wakes up. She brushes her hair aside, and licks her lips – Renton is still sleeping, his eyes closed in peaceful sleep, his arms clutching her softly.

The last day had been quite an ordeal for her, and he looked so scared, so relieved at the sight of her in ROCHAT headquarters when he was running away from them.

And then she remembers feeling so worried, so frightened for him too. It was a subconscious feeling, noticable now in her retrospection, and her focus is on his sleeping face, and.. she makes a vow to herself to always be by his side. To protect him. To nurture him.

To never allow anyone to take his existance away, as much as she can muster.

I'm so sorry.. Booker..

Perhaps Renton could be her second chance at love – it was dirty, what she'd done with him. Washed him, and touched him all over in the process. By normal standards of decency, this is far from appropriate, but when has she ever tasted normality? Not in a very, very long time.

And 'selfish' is how she'd describe her own feelings about him. She knows she is goading him into closer and closer intimacy, taking the opportunity of his pain, his crying over her – so she could nurse away that emotional wound and get closer, pulling him deeper into the void in her heart.

And..

She wonders about those very feelings aroused inside her. Is it so bad? Must it be so bad? The feeling of taking advantage of this boy come to mind.

But.. I'm not doing this to hurt him, or act like he is some object to project my own feelings onto. I know.. he hasn't fared too well. He has no one else to turn to.. his own mama, from the impressions of it, she isn't really helping him at home, let alone loving him the way he needs.

I'm the only person he has at this point.

Swain.. Lulu.. and the others, it's not the same with them. I know how nice they can be, but in likely reality, they could all decide to just drop him as a hinderance if he doesn't perform well; I don't imagine Swain is willing to spread himself thin, giving Renton true membership in the Black Rose.

So I'll look after you Renton..

It just seems like the last 23 years, she's spent sleeping in a coma, a leaf floating adrift in the breeze, and now she is waking up, finding again the real reason for her existence, laying dormant inside her all this time in her deep memories.

On the stage, her part has always left audience members with melancholy – it is her interpretation of her past, which hardly anyone really knows about. She's done the same act mostly, just with a thousand different variations of the theme of memories, of sadness, of the early 1990s.. and it seems the reason for it is just becoming very clear to her now, with Renton.

The greatest thing in her existence is just to find love – to love, and be loved in return. The most important thing her heart always searches for. It is the source of life, of all meaning. Without that.. everything else does not really matter. You would suffocate otherwise, asphyxiate on your own air, and all the moments feel grey.

It is a sad truth in life that in all the world's population, not everyone has had a good chance at love. If Time were governed by destiny, by fate – then Fate is a merciless element who is too willing to leave petite children starving, to allow people to die broken-hearted, old and young.

No one should have to be destined to suffer cruelly in life, without love.

So LeBlanc would believe that it is just merest chance. Perhaps you are born in unfortunate circumstances, but there should be no reason why you should not be allowed to find your way to genuine happiness and fulfillment. No reason why one wallowing in the ultimate despairs can not ever feel the ultimate joys.

You think of all the amazing chances, how even Life is allowed to flourish on this planet Earth. It just happens to be the right circumstances; the planet is not too close nor too far from the sun, and it has nourishing water in abundance. And from this, you have protozoa evolving into multi-cellular organisms; the flies, the lizards, the bears and dolphins, and the apes evolving into intelligent humanity. [If we condense all that's happened up to now into one 24-hour day, starting at midnight, life itself does not appear until a little before noon, and all of human history occurs on the last half-second before midnight strikes again.]

And one day, from all that has transpired, humanity can one day find their way outside the Earth's boundaries, and share the Gospel of Life with all the other planets in the Universe.

And likewise, that bird brought Renton into her arms.

I'll hold you, and cherish you as much as my heart can bear.

You and me together we'll be..
Forever you'll see,
We two can be good company
You and me
Yes, together we two
Together, that's you
Forever with me
We'll always be good company
You and me
Yes, together we'll be..

/

"Bonjours," LeBlanc greets him awake – patting his dried, folded clothes onto the bed. She sees him stir, and his eyes are open, and he groans, groggy at the end of his hyposleep session.

"Hey.." he goes, smiling, a bit of excitement about the things in store for this day. He notices how it's relatively early in the morning; he's still willing to rouse though, and he shifts out of the comfy blankets, only noticing how he has utterly no clothes on too late, when she can see him- "Waaaah!"

"Hehe," she giggles, as he is scrambling for his sports jersey outwear. "Non.. don't put it on yet; we have to get rinsed fresh for the day first."

"But.. I just took a bath yesterday," Renton goes, instinctively covering himself up with the sheets. "I always take showers before I sleep." When he wakes up for school usually, he doesn't have that much time besides a quick breakfast eating and dressing before the bus comes.

"Mmhm. Now you will get used to the idea of good hygiene." LeBlanc pulls away his sheets and hands him a bath towel to wrap around his waist. "You shower in the mornings – to wipe off all the sweat and grime that accumulates over the hours you sleep, and also, it's a good day freshener, the water."

Inside the washroom, they do the routine of teeth-brushing and face-washing, and LeBlanc allows Renton the privacy of relieving himself by the toilet-

Alone, he wonders about the last night with her; was it a dream? After washing his hands by the basin, he puts his fingers to his mouth, touching his lips..

the sensation of her mouth, her tongue sliding over his,

non, he couldn't have just dreamed it, could he? It's too vivid in his memories – that moment having a 'too good to be true' feeling tied down to it; but then again, he's always expecting to wake up back at home, and here he is with her, in Las Vegas!

What does it all mean?

Renton gets out of the washroom, and waits while she does her business- it's a faint morning for Las Vegas, and the bright lights are still blooming, where the morning sun has barely popped out of the horizons.

It's only 6:20 in the morning.

He hears her flush the toilet, and the sink's tap running. What is he doing up so early in the day? He's had a long time for resting, so he is oddly quite awake at this point.

"Renton- come in," he hears her say, and he heads for the washroom door- opens it.

And before him, she is laid wholly bare before his eyes – a total and utter shock for him, and his first reaction is to recoil.

But her pose is very cool, and she has her hand out – her finger asking him, "Come hither."

Is she wanting to do it with him?

Renton sees the thinly, almost bony frame of her body; her breasts are quite supple – they're what his eyes are drawn to, and it is a bit different than what he'd first pictured them in his dream. Her areolae are a little dark, and 'full.'

He's trying to maintain his composure in her presence, his heart thumping.

"You remember," LeBlanc goes, "last night.. I kissed, and I held you in the bath?" Her chest visibly heaves with her breathing. "That was just a mere taste. This is me, Renton.. this is how I really look like, under the polite clothing. Look at me. My eyes." Her eyes are intent on him, studying every ounce of his feelings, prodding him. "Not my body. My eyes."

She takes a step forward, and he is backing up against the wall, still intimidated by her sight.

"I want you to know.." she goes, "this is how I look. So you won't be overwhelmed by the time we get to truly touch."

She is a mere arm's length away from him.

"Why.. why are you like this?" Renton goes, panting nervously. He's unable to find better words to ask her about her kind of attraction towards him, this sudden revelation. "I don't understand.." If it were the thing of looking at a static image of her body, a photo or in a magazine, it would be a different story – but here, it's uncomfortable in a way he can't explain. "You're.. naked.."

"Yes," she goes, and reaching for his arm, she puts his hand over her ribcage, a bit over her breast, and he feels underneath the steady thumps of her heart beating. "For so long, I've touched and been touched by other people, men and women. And all they know of me is how good my body feels. But I've never felt anything much for them, outside of the immediate pleasure.

"And it gets so lonely for me, in a way you might never understand.

"I've always.. I've wanted always for someone who I can love, and who can love me back sincerely – not for how pretty I look, but because how lonely it is.. it's almost unbearable, how I have so many feelings accumulating inside of me, but I have no one to let it out to. And the last time I felt for someone.. I lost him."

"Don't you have.. Swain?" Renton goes. "Or Twisted Fate?"

"Them?" LeBlanc looks aside, her eyes reflecting with a bit of resentment. "I tried it with them, and.. they don't have the right kind of heart for me. And I look at my audience, and all those people who I make eager about me.. they don't really care about the real me. They just want the beautiful image I've projected outward, and they'll gladly feel the same about me if I had the inner person of a bum.

"But you Renton.. I know you are different from the rest of them. I know – I see it in your eyes, you're sensitive, and you won't feel afraid or repulsed to know my love.. I look in your eyes, and I also see him. The person who loved me, who I loved. You're.. so similar with him."

"Who is him?" Renton goes, his anxiety seeping away with her words.

"I loved him," LeBlanc goes. "His name is Philippe – and I had a child with him, and I call my child 'Booker.' We were.. I was only 14 then, and he was 15. It was so wonderful.. all the time I enjoyed together with him. If only.. those absolute bums didn't come.. and steal the both of them away from me.. I.. I-"

And LeBlanc is really crying; it's the first time she's ever let herself go with someone, and her tears escape her eyes, and her hands are just there- clinging onto Renton's arm.

"I'm.. I'm sorry," Renton utters; this is a completely different person than the one he's managed to see – the sad, tempramental girl who's been hiding all along under the composed exterior. Don't cry..

He just wants to do something – if it could mean the same of what she helped do with him last night. To make her feel better.

So he leans in, and kisses away the tears dripping down her cheeks.

"I love you," he tells her, almost in a whisper. "Evaine, I don't want to see you sad anymore.."

It's like a sudden dose of torrential feeling, bursting through the very fibres of her being, and her eyes seem to glimmer with a new light, of a pure desire.

"I know.." And she advances herself onto him, tenderly, against the porcelain wall, and finding no other way of letting it out, she just kisses him, endlessly all over, suddenly clutching him in a tight, trembling, irrational embrace – clinging to him like all life itself.

They slide down the wall, eventually winding upon the cold, bare ground, their bodies in absolute heat.

January 2017

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