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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Tell Me How Do You Live Broken-Hearted

“Vas?” Skitch apprached the prostrate elf tentatively. He was just lying there on his side, his eyes open, his face bleak and stark. Skitch had never seen him like this, and it unnerved him. “Hey, Vas... it’s me, Skitch. Are you okay?”

“She’s never coming back,” Vas said in a dull monotone, without looking up at the boy.

“What?” said Skitch. “Who isn’t?”

“I’ve known it for years. I didn’t want to believe it. Oh Aerdrie. ...Just leave me to die, Skitch, I’ve got nothing left to give.”

“Don’t talk that way!” Skitch’s heart skipped a panicky beat. Ebreth tried to kill himself in Skitch’s room once, a long time ago, and it was just about the scariest day of his life. “You’re our friend... you’re important. And, and we need your help to find Jack and Ebreth, remember?”

“You don’t need me,” he said bitterly. “What have I ever contributed to this group, save comic relief and the occasional headache for my sister? I’m a joke, a one-trick pony. Cloak uses me for his business, Vickie Dare uses me for cheap sex. I’m a nothing, Skitch. I have done nothing worthwhile in sixteen years.”

“You had me,” Skitch offered.

“Oh, yes. I nearly forgot. I’m also such a miserable failure of a father that I missed my only son’s entire childhood and made him hate our race so much he polymorphed himself into a Diarian.”

“I like being a Diarian.” Skitch sighed. “Vas... come on, you can’t let a girlfriend define your self-worth. That’s just begging for a major depressive episode.”

“I just don’t understand,” Vas whispered heavily. “I demanded nothing from her. All I asked was that she love me, and I would have been happy always. I never needed to be the only one. I never asked her to change in any way at all. Why did she do this to me?”

“I don’t know,” said Skitch. “I don’t get girls. Won’t you come with me and talk to Val or Khyrisse or somebody, Vas? I’m sure somebody knows how to make you feel better. And it really does matter. We care about you. I care about you.”

Vas sighed again, a long, ragged sound, but he did accept Skitch’s hand up. “I don’t know how I’m going to go on,” he said, low and raw.

“Just... one step in front of the other. That’s how I do it.”

Vas squeezed his shoulder, then gave him a surprisingly emotional hug.

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