Sun and Moon (part 25)

That night, the twins slept on the couch, curled up next to each other in their clothes. Noir had offered them a room and nightclothes, but they declined – obviously, they were far from trusting him. And they probably still didn’t believe his story, either. He made an effort to walk on the creaky parts of the stairs when he went up to bed so that they would sleep comfortably with the knowledge that they would hear him if he came back down. Now, he padded silently down to the foyer and into the living room. He sat down in the chair across from them and watched them sleep.

They looked peaceful. He wondered what he looked like when he slept, if he looked troubled or as contented as they did, cuddling up together like that. Umbry didn’t even look like she was in pain from her injury. He sighed as quietly as he could, smiling to himself as he realized it sounded similar to when Umbry did it out of habit.

Julia wrinkled her nose and then her eyes opened, and she glared at him. He stared back at her, forcing her to look away.

“I knew you’d try something,” she hissed.

“I’m not trying anything,” he retorted. “And shouldn’t you be quiet? Your Umbry is sleeping.”

“She won’t wake up for a while.”

He stared at her for a second and then grinned when it dawned on him. “You slipped sedatives into her water, didn’t you? Where’d you get them?”

“The hospital.”

“Did you steal them?”

“Does it matter?” She straightened herself up, softly lowering Umbry to the pillows of the couch. Umbry’s sleeping form didn’t even react. “I’d tell you not to tell anyone, but obviously you will when you find it profitable.”

“I won’t tell if you take a walk with me,” Noir offered, standing up.

Julia stared at him. “At night? Is it safe?”

“I own this entire island, and my guards know every family of squirrels that live here. We have every square meter covered by cameras. Is that safe enough for you?”

She dutifully got to her feet and followed him out the door.

“Of course,” he added, slowing down so she’d catch up, “That isn’t saying that you’re safe with me, but that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.”

Julia took one last look at sweet Umbry, still sleeping soundly on the couch, lit by the moonlight coming in from the window, and hesitated a moment. Then she hurried to stay next to Noir and they left the building, emerging into the humid night air.

They walked silently for a long time. Noir seemed to know his way around. Julia watched him as carefully as she could, but when he turned to look at her she’d always pretend she was looking at something just past him. He would look at her for another second and then turn back to the path. Then she’d look at him again after a few seconds. This repeated a few times. Finally he gave up on catching her eye and just looked off into the distance.

They reached the edge of the water. The moon was big now – Julia recognized it as a waxing gibbous moon. Noir stopped and squatted in front of the water, submerging one of his hands to touch the sand.

She wanted to say something, but what he was doing seemed rote. She squatted down next to him, watching as he made a handprint in the sand and returned his hand to his lap. He watched carefully as the water lapped over the handprint, which slowly disappeared, one grain of sand at a time. “It’s different when the moon’s different,” he said. “Sometimes it goes away faster, and sometimes it evn stays there overnight.”

“Do you come here every night?”

“Almost. I don’t really sleep much.”

“Oh.” They fell silent again, and she felt like maybe this was the best time to ask. “So, uh, was all that stuff you said about–”

“Bianca?”

“Yeah. Was that all true?”

“Every word.”

She bit her lip. “It sounded so awful. I just wondered if it was exaggerated at all. But I guess not.”
Noir nodded. “Does it sound familiar at all?”

“…I can’t say it doesn’t sound familiar,” she said after some thought. “But some things are just like that.”

“Hmm.” He stared at her until she was uncomfortable. It took longer this time. “You’re not afraid of me anymore?”

“I still am,” Julia assured him. “It just feels like I’m not.”

They stood up and he continued to walk, drying off his hand on his shirt. She was deep in thought for another minute, and then finally spoke up.

“You made Umbry jump off that roof, didn’t you?” She asked, looking down at the ground instead of at him. “She usually has excellent balance.”

“I had a hand in it,” Noir admitted.

“So you can control us.” She glanced at him. “You control Umbry’s logic, and my emotion. That’s why I don’t feel as afraid of you as I did before.”

“You know, Julia, you’re pretty smart in your own right.” He smiled at her, watching with interest as she tried to avoid looking at his face.

“Well I know you can control her better than you can control me,” she said softly, “and if you ever do anything to her like that again, you’ll wish you hadn’t.”

He didn’t reply to that. They were quiet again for a long time, but she thought he’d gotten the picture.

After a while they started heading back uphill.

“You know,” Julia finally said, “When I met Umbry I thought we were soulmates, like everyone says. But now that this whole thing is happening with Clay, and with all of this stuff about Bianca, I really wonder…”

“I thought you and Umbry always knew each other.”

“We have.”

“But you just said…”

She stared at him blankly, and then her eyes grew ground. She fell to her knees with a sob. He watched quietly as she knelt on the ground, shaking, her head clutched between her hands. Finally she got a hold of herself. “It … hurts … I shouldn’t think about these things …”

“But don’t you want to know?”

The headache persisted. “Y-yes, but…”

“I want to know.”

She looked at him. “You…?”

“Yes, Julia. It’s very important to me that you remember.” He spoke slowly, and with conviction. “Because I–”

They were quiet for a while.

“…I just need to know.”

She hesitated and then looked up at him.

For the first time, she really looked into his eyes, past the emptiness. It hurt, but she looked.

And he was sincere, so she closed her eyes.

It was a full moon… no. It wasn’t just that. It was an eclipse when they first met – a solar eclipse, one of the few that had happened in that area. That was why they were SunMoon.

And it was in the darkness. They hadn’t seen each other at first. They were blind – being blinded? – and their hands touched. It was the warmest she’d ever felt. Then she looked at Umbry for the first time.

One eye? No… she remembered the other eye, the one that was hidden now. Sometimes she forgot that was there, but in this memory it glowed in a strange way. It was different, somehow. Glossy and brittle – like a mirror.

She felt warmth again, over her lips. Her eyes snapped open and she felt her mouth. Her nose was bleeding warm blood all over her pants and shirt.

The headache came back in full force and she collapsed.

She felt herself being picked up. Noir was carrying her. He didn’t seem strong to look at, she thought, yet he was easily able to carry her.

“…Sorry…” she mumbled, tilting her head back to keep her nose from bleeding more.

“It’ll take time.”

“…Why do you want this…? Everything was okay… before we had to remember…” she strained to stay awake. The loss of blood was making her dizzy, and she was tired.

“That’s exactly why, Julia. It can’t just be okay. It has to be better.”

She looked at him and realized something. Behind that emptiness, there were flecks of something else, like shards of something that had once been intact. Who could’ve been so cruel to do that…? Were they the same person who’d done that to Bianca?

Bianca… that poor girl. She would do anything to make sure Umbry didn’t end up like that.

Because they were so similar… even down to their smile, and the way they walked and talked and… her brain seemed to think that was too much, and she fainted in Noir’s arms.

He was tempted to look into that eye of hers, that one that right now was just barely covered by hair. But he didn’t. She would show him at some point. Instead, he looked up at the house and relaxed when he saw Umbry through the window, still sleeping like a baby.

They both looked peaceful when they slept. They had the same look on their faces, as though they were dreaming about something nice.

Noir wished he could dream.

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