Chapter information

City Lights



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Release date

May 19, 2014

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(Silence is my destruction.)


The temperature this afternoon is much too cold.

No, she wryly decides, it's not just too cold, it's ridiculously cold. She can swear she can almost hear her breath crackling into bits of frost in the wintery air. The few pedestrians she had brushed past, the ones who were brave enough to venture out into the icy bite of the wind (or were forced to), were wrapped up in layers upon layers of heavy dark cotton, a luxury that she very much did not have.

It doesn't help that she only has one ragged dark red hoodie that wasn't even hers and a thin tank top between her frantically beating heart and frostbite.

Katara shivers and rubs her frozen fingers together, a gesture of silent discontent. For all of the money he makes as some high-end drug dealer out on the street, she'd have thought that Chan could have bought warmer clothes for the two of them. As it is, the two of them live in some dingy and low-key apartment bordering right on the edge of the Otter Falls Borough, which is widely considered to be one of the most run-down, if not the most, areas to live in in the entirety of the country.

Wandering to the side of the dirt-caked curb, she sweeps quickly by the small, bright donut shop, her head nestled securely underneath the line of her hood. The shop's insides are a brilliant and warm gold, illuminated by fluorescent lights and happiness. The shop practically regurgitates the aromatic smells of sweet, soft dough and warm coffee.

Katara stops in front of the cheerful shop.

Hesitates, and rummages around her pockets—

—only one quarter.

She's looking up, head bowed in disappointment, when she hears the voice.

It's melodic—not rough or sultry with lust, not the tone that she's too used to hearing every night—layered, like the soft cotton clouds that whisk across each other and through the gray sky of the metropolis. It's alive, turning notes into the very breath of life, turning the strains of harmony and melody and pure, untainted music into a living, breathing creature.

And in that instant, Katara can almost swear that she's listening to the physical manifestation of the distant stars that dot the inky skies; stars, crystallized into notes from heaven itself.

She sees him after she hears his voice.

There's a boy, almost invisible; sitting in the furthest crook of a dark alleyway, covered by a puffy silver jacket that glows like the light of Yue itself. His head is bowed, lips moving, nearly imperceptible in the darkness—but she sees them, and she stops, and she stares.

He doesn't look up—not that she is hoping that he will, or anything—and Katara simply stands there, drowning in complete bliss, riding on a euphoric high.

She doesn't even realize where her feet are carrying her until she is mere centimeters away from this boy who had fallen straight from some higher spirit's personal choir; until she her eyes focus and she can see every smudge of grease on this boy's face, his large gray eyes, scratched knuckles.

She gets so close, that she feels that the pure voice will break her heart.

They blink at each other, blue clashing against gray—

—a quarter drops in front of the boy.

And then Katara swallows, and backs up, and meanders away from the food of life, away from paradise.


(Silence is my destruction.)

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