Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saga of the Vagrant Heart

So, a long time ago, on a mountain far, far away: I did a thing. In the years since then, this probably remains the most personal thing I've written. Bringing to the blog, because why not. This was originally written in installments (each boldy underline marks a new installment), so the format and style will vary between installments Fair warning, I didn't proofread it then, and I'm not proofreading it now*. So yeah, on with the feels.

*Edit: I lied, kinda. The format transformations were annoying me so I tidied it up a bit.
Life's Love Story

This is a story that almost never happened. For years it was case after case of wrong place. . . wrong time. Their footprints overlapped time and time again but one was always gone by the time the other got there. Two strangers in a chase neither had a clue they were in for two decades of near misses.

During this odd game of blind hide-and-seek, his vagrant heart grew cold and jaded from doomed relationships. He was still tempted by the fire, to be sure, but at twenty years old he was already weary of being burned. His princesses turned out to be dragons, something the fairy tales never warned him about. Love was a harsh and savage game, made all the worse when the girls in his life never played by the rules.

She gave her innocent soul to another in a way only the young and foolish can. But he was not the vagrant heart and so as fate would have it this other and his ring was cast out with great effort. Losing a first love is always a tragedy, and she was no exception. The gaping gash of loss was so deep she feared losing herself in the hollow void. Her only defense was to hide her wounded heart behind a wall of indifference.

The delayed allure finally caught up with them one scorching summer. He shouldn’t have been there; she wanted to be anywhere else. It was supposed to be a visit for him; it felt like a prison to her. His scars were visible; stories etched in his skin of darker days. Her’s were hidden; only the quiet spark in her eyes screaming silently of her pain.

There was no love at first sight here. Truth be told, their first impressions were mutually bad. He was obnoxious, just another boy pretending to be a man in her eyes. A spoiled princess, he thought of her, the type who thought a tantrum could solve all. They were both so wrong, and so right.

The attraction came unexpectedly, as the best ones do. A warm comment from him brought a flirty reply, both unbidden. Behind his cynical sapphire gaze she saw glimpses of a gentleman, fleeting moments when his sarcastic defenses failed him. In her laugh he heard a torn heart slowly healing. Suddenly he had one hand back in the fire, flirting with desire. If only it weren’t held in check by a heart of ice, frozen by vice, this story might have had a happy ending.

The game they played was as delicate as a glass chess set, and it’s fair to say he broke his share of pieces in the pursuit that followed. She didn't plan for a civil war on her side of the board, but she wanted to be won as much as she was afraid of losing. With such an uncoordinated assault and defense, it should be as no surprise that the causalities were high. A kiss stolen here, secrets freely given there, it was only a matter of time before the kingdoms merged. The vagrant heart once again donned his shiny armor and her innocent soul tore down the wall encasing her heart.

The happily ever after wasn’t so ever after, after all. The years passed, they had times both great and terrible. They loved with a passion and fought with fervor. These were good signs, it showed they cared enough to clash with the same intensity they united. If only they had perhaps met earlier, if only they hadn’t ignited into such a raging inferno. If only…but it was not to be. The story that almost didn’t happen was not ready to end and new characters thirsted for the spotlight.

He still had more dragons to slay. She needed to learn to be a heroine. Perhaps their paths will cross again and together they’ll carve an ending of their own, but first they’ll have to walk separate trails again.

Life After Love

It’s a long fall from cloud nine to the depths of misery and it was apparent in the damage to the vagrant heart. You can set a broken bone and stitch a jagged gash, but how do you repair a shattered confidence? It’s possible to reattach a limb, but how to replace the half of him that was so swiftly torn away? What medicine would ease the pain when the bottle brought him no solace? The vagrant heart felt incomplete, like he was missing critical components of himself and doubt reigned over this fractured kingdom. Had he ever really been the shining knight he imagined, or was he just an idiot in tin foil? He must have done something wrong, if the princess retreated to another tower.

If only he knew how hard it had been for her to leave, to test her wings. She knew he could carry her, but she had to know if she could carry herself. There was so much life unlived, the innocent soul couldn’t give all of it to him. Maybe she was being selfish, but she needed to travel a few miles on her own. Her soul hoped she would find him at her destination, but they would have to journey there separately.

The vagrant heart had to rebuild from scratch. He had invested everything, both literally and figuratively, into their false happy ending. No one forced him to up the stakes, but he went in all-or-nothing. When he found himself alone, it was with nothing. He had always held her while she cried; now he found no one to comfort him. Friends tried, as did family, but distance quieted their words and they could only worry from afar. The only cure was the bitterest pill to swallow; only with time could the pain subside. Or so the prescription said, but he was not called the vagrant heart for nothing.

Once again he was against the grain. Against the odds. Against the world.

They healed quickly, each in their own way. He had a new job by the time she left for her own tower. She knew he would, but it was nice to see his resourcefulness again. He had given up so much of himself to her, she was doing him a favor by leaving. Old promises were kept and he was still there when she needed him. They were bonded too strongly to cut all ties, but they learned to play by the new rules. Perhaps they were too comfortable with each other still, whether that would help or hinder them awaits to be seen. Months passed and the story continued on.

He went on a few dates, usually surprised to find more fun than he had expected. Each girl’s time on stage was short-lived. They all wanted either relations or relationships, he was looking for neither. Still, they had fun and the girls continued on with their own stories. She was afraid of love, but looking for adventure. She wanted to close her heart to him, and so she let them chase her. They lingered longer than his dates and some would even make it into her tower, but none would ever reach her heart.

Neither will admit to the time they spent together as dates because they both fear the implications. Still the fact remains they usually enjoyed their time together more than with others. If she had not been she and he was anyone but he: they would not have hesitated in calling their shared time a date. Alas he was the vagrant heart and she was the innocent soul and they would make no such concessions. Their love lived on but it was too soon to reunite their story. As the poet said, they had miles to go before they slept. And miles to go before they slept.

His hand was back in the fire before he even knew what caused it to ignite. He noticed her golden spirit right away, but he hadn’t expected such a reaction. She was captivating, so mesmerizing was her luster that he found it impossible to think of anything else when looking at her. The voices in his head spoke not of the innocent soul in her presence, and for this blessed silence he was grateful. Speaking to the golden spirit was too easy; it even became a challenge for the vagrant heart to stop. She pushed all thoughts of previous chapter from his mind. He still wasn’t looking for a relationship, but suddenly he was at least considering it.

It mattered not though, for the choice was not his own. He had been so distracted by her golden spirit that he was slow to notice her wounded pride. Her own story hadn’t treated her well, and the burden of the previous chapter weighed heavily upon her. So friendship was all she had to offer, even that was reluctant, and he was not fool enough to refuse her radiance. It would not be an easy friendship. He had shown his cards too soon, it’s hard to help when your intentions are questioned. He really did just want to ease her pain, but she had been burned badly and he was so close to the fire. It was a story that could never start, at least not so easily. The golden spirit would have to learn to trust him for him to help, and he would have to learn to separate himself from the inferno. Offering help was easy, accepting it much harder.

Where the next chapter leads, no one knows. Stuck between a future that can never happen and a past that can’t be allowed to repeat itself, the vagrant heart is trapped in the present.

The Ties That Bind

The rules of a break up are clear and cruel. The former lovers must have no contact for several months. They must compensate for the love still felt with bitter hatred. They must speak ill of the other often and without regard for truth. If they must succumb to their feelings and admit missing the other or wanting them back, in must be in private and friends are obligated to echo insults of the other. Fire is hot because of the other partner, they're the reason ice is cold. Everything is their fault, and neither can seem to remember why they shared a chapter with the other. There are variations to these rules, as well as local customs, but they tend to follow the same trend of animosity and selective memory balancing the continuing love and regret until one can think of the other without their heart racing.

The vagrant heart and innocent soul did not play by these rules. Too tightly were they bound to burn the bridges connecting them. The vagrant heart knew the innocent soul still loved him, just as she knew the same of him. This was against the rules as well, but their situation put them in another game entirely. It was a game played less often, and this time when the glass pieces returned there was no confusion. The terms of battle were simple, and this time they each warred with themselves. History could not be allowed to repeat itself, he could not be with her until he was no longer the vagrant heart. She could only give herself to him again when she was no longer the innocent soul. Time was their enemy.

It was restless youth that bound them eternally. Restless youth had a grip upon each of them, and neither could bear breaking the tender hold. So though they travel separate paths, their trails often twined and were always close together. Restless youth danced between the two paths with carefree abandon, sometimes dragging them together for a stretch. Restless youth brought the vagrant heart to the innocent soul's tower many starry nights, and it brought her to the place she once called home on frequent days. Separately they lived for restless youth, but restless youth would have had them live together for him. For restless youth was, of course, their son.

The ballad of the restless youth began four years ago, the vagrant heart and innocent soul's shared story was three years in the making. Simple math suggests it would be more accurate to say restless youth was the innocent soul's son alone. The vagrant heart disagreed, often and insistently. Biology and legality may beg to differ, but the vagrant heart claimed and loved the restless youth as his own. The restless youth in turn claimed and loved the vagrant heart with the fierce protectiveness only the very young can excel at. Their love was unconditional, and so much thicker than blood. The innocent soul saw this, and loved both too much to ever try to separate them. In this delicate game they played, the three of them belonged to each.

Yet this story has more than three characters, what of the others in the rafters? Could the golden spirit be satisfied sharing his vagrant heart, even if she were willing to risk the flame again for him? Likely not, and so it still appeared their legacy could never happen. And of those chasing the innocent soul, could they handle knowing she could not give them her heart when he still had it? Probably not, and there would surely be a price to pay for keeping his visits to the tower as her secret. Yet this was a game of their own, and it had to be played.

You see, the presence of the restless youth changes everything. And it changes nothing.


It was pessimist weather, a dampness that seeped deep through the skin and chilled the bones. The kind of dampness that made one forget what warmth felt like, a chill that ran through the entire body like an electric current. The sun dared not to show itself on days such as that, its sapphire domain claimed by a depressing gray blanket of unseemly clouds. Memories bred on such days, and misery fed on them gluttonously.

The vagrant heart sought sanctuary from the gloom by remaining indoors, where heat and light could be manipulated at his whim. The attempt was in vain, as are all acts against nature. A dreary day fears not walls or doors and can be felt spiritually even if not physically. It burdens the mind and soul, making even the simplest of tasks an exhausting ordeal. With the restless youth spending the day with the innocent soul, the vagrant heart felt no compulsion to fight mother nature's tears. It was his day off, and early indicators foreshadowed that it was a drinking day. Alcohol may not have been an effective prescription for a broken heart, but there's something to be said for the placebo effect of numbing his brain beyond any coherent thought or comprehension.

It even hurt to move on such days, a memento of an early disaster of a relationship. Leave it to the vagrant heart to find his first violently insane girlfriend by the time he reached high school. She had been proof that occasionally there is a good argument to be made for locking the princess in the tower. It took most men at least until college to reach that particular milestone. The wound was too far away from his heart to kill him, in all interpretations, but having a piece of metal jammed into his leg until it connected with the bone beneath the flesh was not a pleasant penetration. Reflecting upon that, the vagrant heart wishes he had done two things differently. He wished he hadn't been so foolhardy as to hide the wound and intentionally forgo any medical treatment, but that was a lower priority on his wish list. First and foremost he lamented that he had been wearing a different pair of pants when choosing to ignore the advances of his unstable ex-girlfriend. He had been rather fond of those pants and it was a shame they were ruined.

The thought brought a smirk of a sardonic nature to the vagrant heart's lips, the closest thing to a smile to grace his features since waking up. He had changed so much since then, but he was still incapable of taking anything serious for any length of time. Maybe if he could, then she would still...no, he couldn't let his mind wander down that path. Such thoughts lead to darkness. Just because the restless youth wasn't there at the time to give him incentive to keep it together didn't mean he could fall apart. At this point it was confirmed to be a drinking day. If he couldn't keep his mind away from the trails off limits then he would ensure that stumbling down them would be a challenge.

Barely had he reached into the freezer and wrapped his hand around the liquor bottle when his phone loudly demanded his attention from the next room. The vagrant heart looked from the bottle to the couch where the phone lay, then back to the bottle again. With a sigh of effort and possible relief, he closed the freezer door and trudged his way to the obnoxiously chirping phone. It was just the rescue call he needed.

The contents of the text alone were probably not worth the effort it took him to walk the several feet to reach the phone but the intent behind them was worth more than a trek through the desert. It was his good friend, one of severe emotions, checking in on him. Even though timezones and thousands of miles separated the two, recent circumstances had brought her closer to him than most his other friends. There was something carefree and ideal about their relationship. For each other they held ears charged with empathy and voices free of judgment. They understood each other in a way that no one else did, in a way only those far from the situation can. Distance was their strength.

The casual observer may think something was sprouting here, but they would be wrong. Perhaps, in a different time and place, if they were closer physically they may have felt an obligation to give it a try but the distance gave them both the simple and effective excuse to be nothing more and nothing less than friends. Even though their clocks read three hours apart, she was always there for him since his separation from the innocent soul and he was there for her whenever she needed the comforting rhythm of the vagrant heart. So good was she at knowing him, all it took was a single message to derail his thoughts of drowning his brain in toxin.

You better not be drinking today. I need your advice.

And just like that: it was the vagrant heart to the rescue, all the while being the rescued.

Hitting Glass Bottom

Some days the hand of severe emotions was too late to reach out for the vagrant heart. These days her texts were met with incoherence and bitterness, a babbled testament to the potency of Everclear. At times like this she cursed him from miles away, helpless to stop his slow poisoning. On these days he was beyond help, beneath the glass bottom no light could reach him. As he consumed the clear liquid, the darkness consumed him. His body would hate him the next day, but his mind would hate him then.

The vagrant heart had scars from previous doomed encounters, a series of brief and often tragic chapters in his story fated not for an easy ending. Burns and cuts, and a leg that ached in bad weather: these things all reminded him that love was deadly. Each strike had left its toll on his body, but none ever reached his ever hopeful heart. The innocent soul left no marks on him, no tattoos to show her time dedicated to his temple, Yet she cut through his heart so deeply that he still wondered several months later if his love had been a causality of their broken engagement.

A glass served as a warm up and then the shot glass came out to deal its dimming damage.

One shot: the anger rose like a violent serpent, looking for something to strike. There was a reason the vagrant heart drank only when the restless youth was away, he didn't trust the beast that emerged from the dark depths of his fractured heart. He wanted to hate her, he wanted to regret her. The vagrant heart cursed her because he could do neither, and the only one to blame was himself.

Two shots: lies and deception, that was the recipe for love. He had given up everything, and in return ended up with nothing. The vagrant heart trusted the innocent soul with his life, he was sure she would catch him if he ever fell. She was the one who cut his wings. They must have been in the way of the knife as she plunged into his back.

Three shots: haze and confusion. Maybe she was right to leave him, clearly he was a wreck. He had bet his happiness on another person, who was he to put that kind of responsibility on someone else? He had spent all his time and energy looking out for her and restless youth, and so did she. So who was going to look out for him? He had lost himself in being a partner and a father, why should she remember him when he had forgotten himself? In his blurred clarify he understood for a moment that they were not ready for marriage. Their story wasn't over yet, but they each had other plots to fill. But was he still the hero, or was he becoming the villain? Had he ever really been the hero, or was he a supporting character in his own saga?

Four shots: nothingness.

Golden Lining

As the tide crests and ebbs, there are always falls following a rise.

As the flame flickers and flares, a dimming precedes a surge. Without the ashes the Phoenix is nothing.

Without the bad days, the vagrant heart couldn't enjoy the good.

Call it coincidence or call it a story struggling to unfold, but the vagrant heart had few good days before he met the golden spirit. Perhaps this is why he came to think of them as Golden Days when they did occur. Even knowing they would never be together, being around her brightened his days.
It wouldn't be accurate to attribute to the golden spirit all the new-found luster of the vagrant heart's path. The shadows on his trail had lessened with time and were almost gone completely by the time the illuminating presence of the golden spirit guided him. Things had settled considerably by the time she had graced the scene, but to the vagrant heart the stage was a much less hostile place knowing she was there.

Some days they shared no words. Some nights they filled the hours with chatter. To him they meant the same thing: he felt no worries in her presence. The problems would still be there when they parted ways, but it was a pleasant vacation from his own mind. If she held any interest for him she hid it well, but the turbulent waters of her heart did little to quell his embers of interest. With the slightest breath from her she could likely ignite the flame again and he was grateful to her for her efforts not to. The vagrant heart was again tempted by the flame, but he knew the feel of the burn all too well.

The vagrant heart was a practical man, his sentimental sense having been blinded by his chapter shared with the innocent soul. In time he would doubtlessly recover his sentiments, but for the time he felt appreciating and interest for a golden spirit in as sapless a manner as possible. He simply enjoyed her company, and wanted to brighten her days as she lit up his. They had cast themselves as fated to be friends and a great friend he was determined to be.

It wouldn't be easy, there would of course be temptation. Yet the vagrant heart needed a challenge, and he felt confident he could rise to the occasion.

Each day he dedicated himself to the task whenever they shared company. Compliments, words of encouragement and jokes were offered freely, but paid for with the warmth of a smile or the music of a laugh. The more they each spoke to each other, the more they each listened to each other. This oddity was perhaps the precedent for the trend their friendship foreshadowed following. If life wasn't fair: why should they play by its rules?

World Weary

In the witching hour severe emotions always awoke. It was not the way she wanted to meet lady dawn; she would have preferred they slept together. But the morning was always sullen and still, never pleasant company.

A quick glance at her phone served a variety of purposes. First it reminded her of what she already knew: it was far too early greet the day. Especially since she had just bid the night farewell. Second she read the latest text from the vagrant heart. Living three hours in the future, he was likely entertaining the blessing of sleep. How long they had been continuing the same conversation in their odd mismatched timing she didn't know anymore: it was one of things she got used to when she let someone so far away get so close. A couple sluggish strokes on her phone later and he would have a message of his own to wake up to. Maybe it would be enough to stop him from greeting the day with an alcoholic breakfast.

Her reflection mocked her as severe emotions stumbled out of bed with the enthusiasm of an iceberg. She had lost count of how many times she had considered smashing the offending mirror, but in the end the effort involved with destroying the mute impostor and cleaning up the shards stayed her sleepy hand.

No rest for the wicked, nor sanctuary for the sinner. She found no slumber or solace, was she both? Severe emotions shook the dark thoughts away with a yawn. When you were invisible to the world, fate and cliché had no eyes for you. She supplemented their doses for extra irony; Murphy’s law might as well have her name permanently etched on its warrant.

Her thoughts continued to wander in a meandering manner of sluggish incoherence, slowly forming more corporeal monsters. In an hour’s time she would have the mental weapons to combat her morning demons, but until then every shadow of her mind held thoughts as dark and elusive as the art of ninja. There would be no knight riding in to rescue her from the cruelty of herself. By the time the vagrant heart awoke the storm within severe emotions would be quelled. Still, he helped in his own way just like she helped him in her’s. But the author behind each of their stories had forbidden any direct interference.

A rule she could play by, for now. She could suffer through more mornings like this until the time was right to make her move in shifting the story. Then, like the vagrant heart and golden spirit so many miles away, she would break all the rules.

Smoke and Mirrors

Blending into the background by design, it was easy to overlook one of the friends who cared for the vagrant heart both most and least. As similar as the sun and moon, it is hard to imagine the two sharing a storyline. The vagrant heart was a solar creature, a reckless firestorm that hovered protectively over those who fed on his light. His friend hung in the background, the lonely moon watching in calculating darkness. Despite being on scene for the final act of the chapter the vagrant heart and innocent soul shared, he clung to the comfortable shroud of distant indifference.

Distant indifference tried to tune out the shouts; he tried not to see the breaking of the vagrant heart. The only safe distance was a far distance, his life had taught him. Yet he could not choose be deaf, nor blind. The vagrant heart had once been a hero to him, and distant indifference would not stand by and let him be made the villain. Distant indifference proved his loyalty, which the vagrant heart never questioned, by exposing the deceit of the innocent soul.

That was the day distant indifferent truly learned that no good deed goes unpunished.

It was early for most, shortly after sunrise, but for distant indifference it was nearly time to tempt sweet slumber. It was during these times, after work and before sleep, that he thought about the day he exited the stage of the vagrant heart’s chronicles. He had left against the vagrant heart’s wishes, but the moon knew no room for forgiveness for those who violated those under its dark dominion. Distant indifference could not forgive the innocent soul for her crimes against his friend, even if vagrant heart could. Not that he blamed the vagrant heart, distance indifference firmly believed to each their own.

Harboring these thoughts, distant indifference completed his morning ritual of computer time before bed. As he did most mornings, he hovered over a blank message addressed to the vagrant heart. As with most mornings, the right words eluded him and the draft was left unsent. Maybe there was a reason the scenery rarely had a speaking role, it was better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing. So much time had passed, yet he stilled carried the weight of that fateful act.

But such dwelling would get him nowhere; distant indifference had preparations to make. Since becoming distant in mileage as well as emotion, he had been productive. The world of mortgaging his time and soul for profit did not appeal to distant indifference, but it was a sacrifice he would make to achieve his goals. In time he would help the vagrant heart as the vagrant heart had helped him.

His exit had been without fanfare, his return would be worthy of a chapter of all its own.

Wings to Fly On

The vagrant heart awoke to three messages awaiting his return to the conscious realm. Of the three, two were welcome. The third would cast into motion the ripples that would grow into waves that threatened to crush his entire world.

The first message came on his phone from severe emotions, the content bringing a smile to his face. It was a foreign imprint upon his features, yet one severe emotions was good for eliciting. Heavy eyes blinked in surprise, struggling to focus on the message. Decoding their hidden meaning, the vagrant heart lowered his gaze long enough to navigate his way through his lonely castle to find the second message.

It would be at least an hour before restless youth awoke, but by then the vagrant heart’s day would have gone on far too long by then.

The second message came on his computer from distance indifference, brightening the vagrant heart’s grin enough to light up the room without effort. Twin sapphires scanned the screen again and again to be certain, but the words never changed under their scrutiny. Messages from distance indifference were rarer than raw gold, and this one was even more valuable.

The first two messages were forgotten about when he listened to the third, left by innocent soul upon his voice mail. Each word she spoke drove the jagged edge of betrayal deeper into the vagrant heart, every breath sapping away his recovering confidence. It had taken several months but one of the knights had conquered her tower – and her heart. This of itself was of no consequence to the vagrant heart: it was easy to quit loving someone when they ceased being the person you loved. What came with much more impact was the unseen gauntlet that caught the vagrant heart off guard. Because this knight took offense to the secret visits across the kingdom, the vagrant heart stood to lose restless youth. Without the sunshine of the restless youth to light up his life, the vagrant heart had only darker days to look forward to.

Suddenly the vagrant heart found his path lined with traps, leaving him one wrong move away from losing everything.

His trail so dangerous, the vagrant heart had little choice but to allow his friends to help guide him. As much as he tried to horde his pain, there were others that cared about him more than he cared about himself. They took his pain onto themselves, sharing every ache as if it were their own. Friends the vagrant heart didn’t even know he had rose to carry him through his darkest hour.

He tried to refuse their help, stubbornly flying through the storm wielding only his insistence. There was only one solution, the vagrant heart decided. He would have to cut all ties with the innocent soul, except for the restless youth. Easier said than done, the roaring flames of frustration consumed a wing before the knight errant even knew what hit him. The second attack came in the cruel edge of bitterness, icily slicing through the remaining wing. For that moment the vagrant heart was truly alone, his brief and violent life did not flash before his eyes. Instead he reflected upon dreams left unfulfilled. Rock bottom may have been all that was awaiting him, but the vagrant heart could at least visualize his dreams in the moments before impact.

Except the impact never came. Despite his determination to face the fall alone, severe emotions and distant indifference were not so willing to watch his demise. Each replacing a wing, the two worked together to raise the vagrant heart like a phoenix from the ashes. Cold cynicism rose from below like an eternal tailwind and together the three took the vagrant heart back to the top. With their efforts and the light of the restless youth to guide him, the vagrant heart could never fail.

Worth Fighting For

Restless youth liked light time best, it was much better than dark time because he had to go to sleep at dark time. Most days were spent with vagrant heart, and he always was the vagrant heart’s sunshine. The restless youth lit up the vagrant heart’s life, he said so. The vagrant heart loved him, and he loved the vagrant heart and he was getting big and strong. Some days he got to see golden spirit, and the restless youth liked her, too. The vagrant heart smiled more when they were with golden spirit, and the restless youth smiled when the vagrant heart smiled.

The vagrant heart wasn’t smiling much this light time, even as they threw the football around outside. Restless youth didn’t know what he was thinking about it, but he would help the vagrant heart with whatever it was. It had to be big, for the vagrant heart to be so quiet. Did it have to do with golden spirit or innocent soul? The vagrant heart had never told restless youth to call him dad, but to the restless youth the vagrant heart would always be his dad. And restless youth would always be his son.

Things were different now, and the restless youth didn’t know why. He saw innocent soul some dark times, but the vagrant heart didn’t stay. The vagrant heart would leave him with innocent soul, and come back at light time to take him and he would stay with vagrant heart and they would play for more days until it was time for another night time with innocent soul. They both loved the restless youth, he knew, but when he asked if they loved each other he never got an answer. They used to live together and now they didn’t, but restless youth liked having two places that were his so that was okay.

After they played outside in the light time with the football, the vagrant heart took restless youth back inside for lunch time. While restless youth ate his most favorite food of macaroni and cheese, the vagrant heart talked to his friends on his computer and phone. Whatever the vagrant heart was thinking about it, they were part of it. Had restless youth remembered what vagrant was like when they first met, he might have recognized the revived sense of determination that had been missing the last three years.

Restless youth could tell one thing though, the vagrant heart had finally figured out what he wanted. It had been a long time since restless youth saw the vagrant heart challenged, but he knew that back then the vagrant heart did whatever it took.

As the vagrant heart kissed and hugged restless youth before leaving for work, the restless youth saw the smile return to the vagrant heart. Restless youth smiled, too.

The Best Laid Plans

Cold cynicism always welcomed the absence of the sun, the electric energy of the night always felt more natural to him. The mantle of darkness held many pockets, each with its own secret, and fit cold cynicism comfortably. Without the prying light threatening to reveal all it was easier to hide any trace of emotion.

The day had been a productive one, updates from the vagrant heart blurred together as cold cynicism played his role with mechanical efficiency. Logic over emotion now defined cold cynicism, an armor forged unwillingly in flames that left scars unseen. The vagrant heart may have been willing to flirt with the flames again, but the burns were too fresh to allow cold cynicism to do the same.

Cold cynicism would do anything to help the vagrant heart, but there could be no passion in his efforts. Logic was his strength, and if he opened the floodgates of feelings the torrents of his own problems would drown cold cynicism. A frozen heart was much harder to draw logic from, after all. It was simple reasoning. Logic never lied. Logic didn't break hearts.

The moon watched impassively as cold cynicism raced the rhythmic ticking of the clock. Everything was waiting on him, the vagrant heart had reported earlier that severe emotion and distant indifference were ready. It came down to cold cynicism to finish before the sun returned so they could introduce their carefully crafted deus ex machina and grant the vagrant heart the power to write the script himself.

There would be no room for mistakes, nor time for complication. The writing on the wall was looming larger by the second, and it was inevitable that the move against the vagrant heart would be made unless they could force a preemptive checkmate. The stakes were high for the vagrant heart: all or nothing. The last time he had wagered those stakes it had not ended in his favor, but cold cynicism understood the need this time. The vagrant heart needed insurance, and cold cynicism could see the logic in that.

Cold cynicism stopped in a dazed disbelief as he stared at the latest message from the vagrant heart. It was all over, the nightmare had become reality. The innocent soul had done what they all wished they could protect the vagrant heart from. Yet there were all too far away to do anything, only the golden spirit could be there in person in his darkest hour. Logic could not tell cold cynicism if she could, or would, rise to the challenge. All cold cynicism knew was that the innocent soul had gone too far, and never again would her soul be innocent in the eyes of the vagrant heart.

She had taken away his restless youth.

Curtain Call

All their planning, calls and messages darting across four states like messenger pigeons carrying hope and potential, reduced to wasted effort with a single sweeping blow. The innocent soul provided no warning, nor did she offer explanation. After a week's absence from the restless youth, she returned onto the scene refusing to share. The vagrant heart had outlived his usefulness to her, and so she cut the final tie. For the first time in this chapter of trials and tribulations the vagrant heart was truly alone.

Or so he thought.

The first surprise came from golden spirit, dropping everything to call as soon as she heard. Nothing she could say could help, of course, but the fact that she took the time to try worked wonders. The vagrant heart had been burned so many times he forgot that the flame could be comforting. He was so used to keeping people at a distance that he didn't notice that she had slipped past his defenses. It came as a welcome shock to him that she cared. With that realization his outlook shifted slightly. Before the vagrant heart was aware he and the golden spirit could never be more than friends. Now he knew they could never be anything less than friends.

Distant indifference was there shortly after, pouring the drinks. The visit had been prearranged, but the timing could not have been better for the vagrant heart. The floodgates wouldn't hold for long, but distant indifference could provide a temporary distraction. The bottles emptied, vision blurred, and thoughts dimmed. The tantalizing toxin worked its magic until the vagrant heart transcended any capability of thoughts good and bad. It was a careful juggling act for the distant indifference, keeping the vagrant heart at a mental numbness without subjecting him to permanent mental or physical injury.

Severe emotions provided his anchor to reality, ensuring his drunkenness steered clear of dangerous levels despite the time gap between them. When the vagrant heart was ready to talk, she would be ready to listen. Until then she could only worry from afar as darkness threatened to consume him. If it wanted the vagrant heart, it would have to take her as well, and severe emotions was not going to let either of them go quietly into oblivion. When the dam stemming the emotional tide burst, she insisted on being in constant communication throughout the entire storm.

Cold cynicism kept a calculating watch on the vagrant heart's activities from his southern station to ensure that the inevitable self-destructive spiral didn't strand the vagrant heart in its bowels of misery and pity. When the vagrant heart reached that point, it was the intervening messages from cold cynicism that were his life line. It was an interesting choice, cold cynicism thought, for the vagrant heart to choose the agonizing route of confronting the emotions rather than slip into apathy. Logically he didn't know which was the better choice. The knight who doesn't chase dragons lives much longer, but then would that even still be a knight?

The vagrant heart wasn't sure when, or how, but he now knew something had fundamentally changed for him this chapter. He had lost much, nearly all the spoils of previous chapters, but he had gained something invaluable. He had been baptized by fire and burned severely in the process, but he no longer feared the flame. His wings were damaged, but he knew he could fly higher than ever now.
He was still against the grain. A quirk shared with severe emotions and golden spirit.

He was still against the odds. Something distant indifference and cold cynicism knew about all too well.

He was still against the world. But he wasn't against it alone.

And that, to him, was the key difference. The world didn't have a chance with his friends at his side at the dawn of the new chapter.

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