I smiled. “It’s a surprise,” I said, and then my head whipped to her, suddenly realizing that this could not be a good idea. “Is that ok? That it’s a surprise? I mean… it’s alright?”

“It’s fine.” She shrugged and sipped her coffee.

“So um… how was your night? Are you feeling ok? How are things, uh, going? You did great in rehearsal yesterday.”

In rehearsal, it was like we were two separate people, who didn’t know every intimate aspect of each other’s bodies. We spoke to each other when we needed to, and not a word more. There wasn’t even a flicker of recognition for the hours we spent lying in each other’s arms. We had taken a break before, when we first started dating, but this felt a hundred times worse than that. Before, there were just a few months of history to forget. Now, there was over a year and everyone knew about it. Sometimes, I felt like the actors were more entertained by watching us ignore each other than actually rehearsing. Not to mention that actors were very sensitive to body language. They had to be in order to imitate things on stage. They must have known that something had changed, and it was bigger than just Amy and me. At the moment, the show was fast approaching. Selene’s ticket was bought and I knew she had a plan; she had to. And up until a little bit ago, we were prepared to handle it. But now I was considering offering myself as a sacrifice; it felt like everything was gone.

“It was fine,” she replied, breaking me out of my thoughts. “I’m feeling fine.”

“That’s good,” I muttered, cursing myself for sounding so mundane and repetitive.

We drove in silence for a while, until I found the dirt road I remembered and turned down it. I slowed down, the car bumping over the gravel and Amy sipped her coffee quickly so it didn’t spill. She looked out the window with interest, as the city lines gave away to trees and a lake, but she didn’t say anything until we stopped.

I grabbed the bag in the back, and came around, trying to get to the door before she got out. She beat me to it, swinging her feet to the ground and shutting the door behind her, leaving me standing there awkwardly.

“So, what’s here? This is pretty.” She had clearly set her mind to having a good time, even if she wasn’t feeling it.

I indicated a path about 100 meters away from the car. “This way, m’lady,” I said and she smiled, following me down the trail. I slowed a bit to fall into step beside her.

“Do you think the choreography in scene 4 could stand another addition?” she asked, in the silence.

I tried to switch my brain to work mode. “What do you mean?”

“There’s a move that Porsche taught me that I’d love to put in there. Just a little four count.”

“Sure, that’d be great,” I answered. “The part is your own to twist and turn, make it what you can.”

“I just think it’ll add a little something. Did Sarah tell you about the sequel that Webber wrote, and what happens to Meg Giry?”

“She did.” I nodded. “So you’re planning on doing some foreshadowing of that dark future?”

“I think it’ll be interesting, especially since the sequel is on the West End right now. Maybe people will take something away from it.”

“That’ll be great, if you’re comfortable with it.”

She snorted. “I’m not planning to add a stripper pole, Liam.”

“I’m sure even if you did, it would be spectacular.” I gave her a smile as we stepped through the clearing. And there, right where I remembered it, was a sparkling waterfall.

Amy gasped, and I grinned, glad that it had the desired effect. Peter had taken me to this waterfall a hundred times when I visited him as a child, and I had many fond memories of playing here. The first year I was out here, as a vampire, I came out and ducked behind the waterfall, nearly falling half a hundred times in my desperation to get away from human life. I had transformed in a cave that lay behind there, my cries of pain hidden by the rushing water, and my nightmare eased by the dawn sun sparkling off the lake. When things got too much, it was my favorite place in the world to come and sit. Watching the water rush over the cliff and into the river, it reminded me that the world was bigger than just me, and that I could handle everything that came my way; that chaos led into beauty and calm. I had been itching to come out here for a while now, and I was so glad Amy was here to share it with me.

The waterfall had the same effect on me that it normally did, and I was quite content to sit on my usual rock and watch it. Amy perched beside me, closer than she had been in weeks, and I felt a shiver run up my spine.

“Isn’t it? I wanted to bring you here at dawn, but I was afraid that would be pushing it.”

She smiled. “Now that I’ve seen it, I’d love to see it at dawn.”

“Well, we could always stay.” I looked at my watch. “It’s only… hours away.”

She laughed, and I couldn’t help but be distracted from the beauty of Mother Nature. She was so beautiful when she laughed. All the worry and tension eased out of her face and body, and she was relaxed, and pure.

We fell into silence for a moment and then we both spoke at once.

She accepted the offer. “I’m sorry things have been so tense lately,” she finally got out, after a few false starts. “I’ve just been going through a lot, and there’s a lot going on in my head and I…”

“Hey, hey.” I placed a hand on her shoulder. “You don’t own me an apology for anything. Even if nothing had changed in your life, you never had to explain yourself to me. You know that.”

“Oh.” I wasn’t sure what to say, but as it turned out, I didn’t need to say anything. All I needed to do was listen. And so listen I did.

Her words came tumbling out about everything; about her mother; about her health; about Ranger and Drago and about death and life. And I found my voice as well, speaking more freely than I ever had. I was always so careful; so cautious; guarding what I could say to whom, and how I could say it. Before, I had felt I needed to protect Amy, to guard her from sadness and pain. But this was not the same girl I met before. She was stronger, wiser, and more of a fighter than that girl who had stood in front of me and read Beauty’s line in the audition. Her eyes held a wisdom that I hadn’t seen before, and although they looked tired, they also weren’t ready to give up yet. I told her about how I had been feeling, about the frustration and the fear of being alone, and how the others had left when I needed them most. And when her admission of Drago came tumbling out, so did mine about Nina.

“It wasn’t that I was in love.”

“But it was different, and she needed me…” We were speaking on top of each other, speaking different words and yet the same heart. Neither of us had cheated, but we had strayed, emotionally, and it didn’t make it right. But here, on the rock, in front of the waterfall, it felt like we were the only two people in the world.

When we fell into a silence again, it was different. Comfortable and calm, not filled with tension and anger. It seemed we had said everything, and yet, I knew there was one more thing left to say.

She turned those beautiful eyes towards me. “A few years, maybe, if I take care of it right.”

“And are you? Going to take care of it right?”

This answer she was certain of. “Yes. I am. I’m not going to give up, Liam. Not this easily. Not when I’ve come this far.”

I felt the tears prick in my own eyes, and I looked away, towards the rushing rapids.

“Who knows? Medical science changes every day. Maybe they’ll have a cure for AIDS before your time comes. Are you hungry?”

I didn’t want to think of a time when I couldn’t have Amy beside me, when I couldn’t just call her or knock on her door. Even if we weren’t together, even if we spent the next 100 years screaming at each other, I wanted her there.

She nodded, and I reached for the bag behind me, pulling out a picnic lunch I had packed. We ate sitting closer than ever, practically on each other’s laps, sharing a bag of chips and a cookie for desert.

I had nothing planned for the entire day, intending on devoting it to her. But her watch beeped around noon, and she glanced at it, annoyed.

“Sorry. We have an evening shoot for Ranger, so I should get back.”

I was slightly disappointed, but I reached to pick up our discarded garbage, shoving it back in the bag. As I came back up, I found myself just inches from her face. I went to pull back, but she grabbed my wrist, stopping me.

“Amy, we don’t have to…” I breathed, although I was practically trembling with the restraint.

She brought her hand up to my face, her eyes searching mine. “What if I want to?”

I groaned, unable to stop myself. “I don’t want you to… be confused. I don’t want… But I do want… I…” The words were tumbling out without making any sense.

“Liam.” She leaned in closer, until we were practically rubbing noses. “I know that it’s complicated, and I know that there’s a lot going on. And there are words that need to be said and apologies that need to be made and all these things that have to go in between… But can we just skip all that and can you just be kissing me right now?”

She didn’t need to tell me twice. My lips were upon hers instantly, devouring hers, my hands running up and down her back, and pulling her close until our bodies were pressed together. I let her take the lead, and I was surprised by the aggression in her movements.

Before I knew it, we were lying on the ground, panting, and clothes were scattered every which way. Our lips were constantly touching somewhere: an arm, the chest, the face, an eyelid; kissing and touching and never breaking apart.