"What do we become?" Blake asked, her eyes affixed on the window.
"What do you mean?" I urged, my head tilted in confusion.
"What do we become after we die? Stars? Tiny strands of the universe? I want to know.” She reached for the window, as if she could touch the stars.
My throat closed at her words, not wanting to talk about death, but if she wanted to, we would, so I answered. "Maybe both."
"I used to be okay with dying," she started and I wanted to block my ears like a child. "When I was little, when my chance of living was small, I expected it, prepared for it. Cancer's unpredictable, so I decided to make my mark early on before I couldn't think for myself. They told me if my cancer worsened that's what it'd do, erase everything I was, fill me with something anti-me. But then I survived, the tumour shrank and suddenly I had all these years of life, and, to some extent, I was still okay with dying."
I found myself entranced by her, just wanting to hear her voice.
"Dying shouldn't have to be so hard," she whimpered. "Not when it's inevitable, and sometimes it's for that exact reason I wish I'd never met you."
I frowned, taken aback. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, before I met you, I was resolved.. okay even. I was right with myself, but now I'm angry; at God, at my stupid, inefficient body, at everything - you."
"What did I do?"
"You crossed off the last thing on my list," she admitted brokenly. "Do you know why it was last? Because I didn't expect to live long enough to experience it. I didn't want it to happen. I knew the moment I was diagnosed I became this toxin, sitting dormant in those I love, and when I die it will burst, fill them with a pain so deep they won't recover."
"I was so freaking scared of falling in love with you!" she cried. It was the closest I'd heard her come to cussing. "I'm so scared because it happened without me knowing.”
I stared at her, at the tears marring her cheeks, at the broken girl before me who wanted nothing more than to live.
"I don't want to poison you," she wept.
"You already have," I whispered, holding her jaw in my palms, my thumb brushing away her tears. "All I ever think about is you. I'm falling in love with you, that won't change, even if the world ended tomorrow."
Her glossy eyes met mine. "How will I do it, Cole? How do I just lay down and die?"
I didn't know. I honestly couldn't answer her. So, I pressed my lips against hers instead, and we sought each other out, kissing with ferocious intensity, scared to stop as if one of us would disappear if we did. I pulled her from the window and felt her weaken against me; today had exhausted her.
"Promise me something," she whispered as I laid her in bed and curled around her so I could shield her from all the bad things in the world.
"Anything," I breathed.
"I don't want to be alone, when - I want you to be there. Promise me I'll never be alone," she begged, eyes drooping.
"You will never be alone," I promised.
"Will you be there?" she questioned quietly, fearfully. "When I -"
She couldn't say it, but I knew what she meant. "I won't leave your side," I swore, pressing a kiss to her forehead before she whispered a quiet confession.
"I love you."
"I love you too, angel," I professed, before she slid into a gentle slumber.


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