What? Reno without Theda? You mean I actually took a break from that.
Yup. That story is actually over. It was only meant to be a trilogy.
Happy reading! -Tsukasa

There he was again. Every Friday night, he'd be there, the same seat at the bar. He always ordered the same thing. He always left with a different floozy.

He seemed to drink for fun, yet I drank to forget. I drank to ease away the pain of the hand life had dealt me. Yet watching him fascinated me. There was something about his red hair and blue eyes that took away the pain almost as much as my gin. I could lose myself watching him.

His smile was comforting. He constantly wore it, a slight smirk that occasionally parted and became a grin. There was an earring in his left ear lobe, and whenever he turned his head, it would glint. On his right wrist was a thick leather bracelet. There were two small red tattoos on his face, once on each cheek.

He talked in a way like I had never heard anyone else talk. It was drawling, lilting, slow and laid back. Just like him. He always wore a suit, but I never once saw him close the jacket or tuck in his shirt. He seemed too lazy for that sort of thing.

His hair was possibly the most interesting aspect of his appearance. It was unkempt and it fell over the goggles he constantly wore on his forehead. But then there was the ponytail, long, as if he'd been growing it for years. I had seen him take it down once in order to impress a date. It was like a cascading waterfall of blood, yet it was beautiful. It seemed as if it would be silky smooth and lovely to run your hands through, and it was just so red.

The fact that I was seeing him again and it was a Friday night was not what was surprising. It was the fact that that night, he was not smiling. There were no girls there vying for his attentions. There was no light in his blue eyes. And this night, I knew I could talk to him. I walked over and sat by him. His head was hung low, he stared at the glass of amber liquid before him, listless.

"Are you okay?" I asked him. He looked up. There was a smile. It was a hollow smile.

"Yeah, pretty much, yo."

"You're lying," I observed. "But don't worry, I won't tell."

He laughed. Bitterly.

"I've seen you here before," he said. "You're cute. But you're always sad. I can tell." He picked up his glass and examined it before downing the contents. Leaning forward onto the bar, he looked up at me. "Whatcha sad about,yo?"

If anyone else had asked me this, I would have stormed off angrily. Yet there was something about him and the fact that I had been watching him for so long that made it okay.

"I'm trying to forget someone that I used to love," I said. I then looked at my gin disdainfully and polished it off in a gulp.

"Yeah well... Aren't we all?" His voice was filled with contempt. He ordered another drink, then looked over to me again. "You know, I could help you forget." I laughed.

"Oh yeah, I'm sure you could." I was being sarcastic. Trying to push him away. He looked somewhat hurt. His nostrils flared slightly. His skin flushed.

"I was being serious," he said. He reached out and touched my face. "I could help you... take your mind off things." His hand was gone just as suddenly as he had reached out. I touched the place where his hand had been. It was warm. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt my skin that warm and something deep inside of me was longing for more.

"I... I don't know..."

"Just say yes." I looked up at him. His eyes, those intense blue eyes, were gazing at me intently, boring a hole straight to my soul. My pulse was starting to race. I could hear the blood rushing to my ears, causing them to heat up. Inside, ever fiber of my being was screaming "Yes!" Now my external shell had to concede its defeat.

"Alright," I said. "I'll take you up on that."

He smiled. A real smile this time. He raised his glass.

"Cheers, yo." And again, it only took him one gulp to down the thing.

The next morning I awoke before he did. Dawn was breaking over Edge, I could tell by the light coming in through his window. He lay there defenseless, as I had never seen him. Seeing him this way only served to make me even more fascinated by him. Never before had I witnessed him exhibit any behavior that could be construed as meek or mild, yet that is the way he looked as he slept, like a child. Suddenly he stirred.

"It's too early," he mumbled. "You should go back to sleep."

"What is your name?" I asked. He put his arms around me.

"Reno," he said, then he buried his face in my hair. I closed my eyes and inhaled deep.

For the the first time in months, I didn't feel any reason to forget anything.