The street lights flickered every two seconds, casting as they did a brisk and formless shadow beneath Lethe and Saevus. It was for the most part a quiet thoughtful walk; and the pair has been having a lot of those recently. The only sounds to be heard were the clicking of their shoes against the battered pavement, along with occasional shouting and or cussing coming from either fellow Inanians fighting their Perditus and each other; or from Saevus commenting upon the former. In both cases, Lethe felt disturbed, not only because of her dislike for anything too loud, but also because she was lost in a train of thoughts whose destination she did not know but wanted to discover; and these sudden interruptions always managed to make the train sidetrack and crash into a tunnel of oblivion. Then she would have to start from scratch again: Saevus’ eyes.
Lethe sighed hopelessly, for again her contemplation was being disrupted. This time, Saevus had started beating up a Halfling with his bat while shouting at the same time. The Halfling in question was a thin elderly woman with crazy eyes and a skeleton-like body. Lethe found herself looking at the woman’s dark core: a deepening hole, digging further and further into her chest, as though searching for the leftovers of her soul. As Saevus battered her mercilessly, the Halfling made no noise or expression of pain. She passively took his hits with her hazy eyes and empty chest.
“Stop.” Her lips muttered to an inattentive Saevus, who did not seem to hear her. At his unceasing kicks and hits, Lethe pulled him back violently from the shoulder, making him fall on his behind. His bat clamored to the ground.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” He yelled angrily, somehow surprised by her reaction. His bright seafoam-colored eyes watched her grumpily as she approached the beaten Halfling. “Shut up.” She replied coldly without looking towards him.
“Like hell I’ll shut up! You just fucking yanked me and threw me like a_ What the fuck are you doing?”
Lethe knelt towards the old woman, a mere breath away from her. Slowly and with shaking hands, she reached out to the woman’s face, and to Saevus’ great surprise and horror, did not mash her face in as he, or anyone in Inanis, would have done. Instead, Lethe gently rested both her palms against the Halfling’s deathly cold cheeks. Then, closing her lonely eye, she tenderly pressed her forehead against the old woman’s, and took a long, heavy breath.
Saveus watched the scene unfold with his mouth agape and his eyes wide with horror and awe. Then, quickly coming to his senses, he immediately got up and similarly pulled Lethe away from the Halfling. She, too, fell to her behind, with her hands supporting her back. Unlike him, however, there wasn’t a hint of fury on her calm face.
“Why?” She asked him, almost confused by his reaction.
“Why? WHY?” Saevus screamed. “You got a fucking screw loose or something? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Quietly, Lethe got up and dusted off her leather pants. Then, sparing him no further glance, turned back towards the Halfling, who was now staring at her with its crazed eyes. Saevus, furious, pulled Lethe from her shoulder so that she would be forcibly looking at him. Her dark blue eye met his nonchalantly.
“Why the fuck would you do that?” He scolded. “Do ya wanna get contaminated?”
“I won’t be.” Lethe responded in her usual tone. “She’s a Halfling, not a Perditus.”
“You stupid piece of shit!” Saevus cried in frustration. “A Halfling is a half fucking Perditus. Allow me to say it differently so that it gets through your thick fucking skull. If that thing touched your chest, you’d become a Halfling yourself! You fucking dumbass!” In the back of his mind, Saevus wondered why he was so angry.
“But she didn’t.” Lethe lifted an eyebrow, a warning that any further shouting will result in a punch to the nose.
“What the fuck were you even thinking? I can never tell what goes on in that head of yours!” Saevus was too agitated to heed her warning, and soon had what was coming for him. Her punch was swift and painful; and he soon found himself with his back to the ground.
“Keep your voice down. It’s annoying.” Lethe flexed her fingers.
“Good! Getting annoyed is the least of what you deserve!” Saevus yelled, wiping his-now bleeding nose with his wrist. “Fucking weirdo! The fuck you on, man?”
Lethe jumped atop him; and, with one hand grabbing his coat, proceeded to punch and hit his face. “Stop. Fucking. Shouting.” She repeated, her own voice louder this time. Seeing that she was getting visibly upset, Saevus felt a sense of empowerment, and took her beating with a triumphant smile.
“And if I don’t? the fuck you gonna do? kill me?” He made sure his voice was as loud as it gets.
“I just fucking might.” Lethe threatened after a strong headbutt.
“Go ahead. Do it then you fucking coward.” A dark red stream of blood trickled down the corner of his lips. “You can’t even watch me kill a Halfling. You’re a sissy! You can’t kill for shit!” He added, then closed his eyes, awaiting the impact of her fist against his already-broken nose. Surprisingly, there was none; and he slowly opened his eyes again. Towering above him, Lethe was looking back at the Halfling, as though he had reminded her of its existence.
“See?” He continued, loud and provocative. “You’re a fucking coward! I dunno how much longer you’ll survive if you keep getting close to Halflings like that. Hope it’s not too long. I can’t wait to beat the shit out of you when you become one.”
Lethe turned and her eye locked with his again. Her earlier agitation seemed to have vanished without a trace, but for a hint of melancholy that dwelt within the darkness of her eye.
“I just…” she mumbled, both her hands resting at the sides of Saevus’ head. “I just felt like… somehow, I was just like that.” Her voice was low and vulnerable.
“Huh? The fuck you mea_” The rest of his question was blocked with Lethe’s palm on his lips; Saevus gulped. “Her eyes are so empty, so lifeless. It’s as if… she’s how I feel inside; how I’ve always felt.” Something twinkled in her pupil as she spoke. Her hand was cold against his skin; it was a different kind of cold from that of the harsh rocks against his back, or that of the formless Perditus as it clashed with his flying fists. It was a different cold from the skin of the dying Halfling lying there in a corner. . It was a different cold from that of the mercilessness of Inanis. It was a kind of cold that Saevus had never had contact with before.
“I… I know something is wrong with me.” Lethe continued with a trembling voice. “I know that I shouldn’t be having all these thoughts and... emotions…” Her hand slowly moved from his lips; her movement was clumsy and hesitant. Carefully, she ran the tips of her fingers against the contour of his jawline, stopping at the line of blood trickling down his chin. “But I can’t help it… Ever since I met you; I…”
Then, just as she did with the old woman, Lethe held Saevus’ cheeks with both her hands, and desperately pressed her forehead against his. With her eye closed in frustration, Lethe added intensely:
“I don’t want to be lifeless anymore! I… I want to feel! I want to be!”