Her name was Luna, though very few knew it, and those who did were left behind what felt like a lifetime ago, despite being barely 16 herself. Everything was relative after all, and time was no exception.
Luna was indeed fast. Faster than fast, too much even for the eye to see. Which was good, since she has been running for almost as long as she could remember. Truth is, her amazing speed wasn’t her most distinctive feature. She was also beautiful. Very beautiful. Incredibly so in fact. Way too much for her own good, and the very reason she spent most of her existence literally on the run.
Aside from her speed and beauty, she was mostly a kind but very shy and anxious girl, as one could reasonably expect considering her circumstances. Hard to build skills and confidence, when every single interaction turns out a disaster to imperatively run from.
So she spent her life hiding behind a stolen suit and an improvised veil, talking to almost no one as even her voice was irresistibly seductive, discretely stealing what she needed and rarely more, keeping the lowest profile possible. Her only pleasure was to go anywhere she wanted at any time, though she could rarely remain in one place without attracting attention, and thus kept running.
“Running. Stealing. Hiding. That’s really all I’m good for. Everything I am…” she bitterly pondered as she contemplated a delicious fruit recently stolen. “But what else is there to do, anyway… ?” she muttered while taking a bite.
She was currently in the cosmopolitan market place of a relatively populated town, quite animated and filled with merchants and customers of many origins and appearance, allowing her strange outfit to go completely unnoticed, and her to hide in plain sight as long as she remained on the safe side.
She loved these rare moments of relative tranquility, where she could simply stand among others and enjoy their indirect company, without being constantly on her guard and literally dodging every look. Enjoying her free snack, her gaze wandered on the crowd, and she eventually noticed an intriguing figure.
A coppery skinned tall and muscular man was hanging around the market, seemingly without much of a purpose, watching with interest everything he came across. The man was impressively attractive despite a relatively ordinary outfit, as her maiden’s heart couldn’t help but notice. Not maddeningly so like herself, but statuesque like an masterful work of art brought to life. He was almost brimming with a strength and confidence she could only admire, yet had a softness of speech and manner that made him much less intimidating than he should have been.
The man seemed to be waiting for something, or someone. Or perhaps he simply had all the time in the world, strolling along the place and gazing upon its scenery for its own sake, a thought that reminded her of her own situation, and couldn’t help but sting.
Eventually their eyes met, and she felt her heart skip a beat as he silently greeted her from afar with a polite nod, a gentle gaze and an engaging smile. Blushing despite herself under her veil, she did not notice as the worn out restrains gave in, and it slowly slipped from her face.
In the span of a few seconds, the man’s expression changed drastically, replaced by a burning passion she knew all too well. “And yet another nice soul poisoned by this ‘gift’ of mine”, she sadly concluded. “Time to run again…”
Regretfully turning away, she left the place in a lightning-fast dash, aiming to wait as usual in one of the city’s desert corners until the effect wears off and the man comes to his senses.
She suddenly stopped mid-way for a reason she couldn’t understand. Looking behind her, she realized that the man actually catched up to her along the way, and was now holding her wrist, a mesmerized look on his face.
His touch was soft and warm, but his grip incredibly firm, to the point he seemed frozen in place.
“Sorry handsome stranger, but you’re really giving me no choice” she thought while biting her lips, as she reached to the discrete dagger at her side. “Just a little sting to make you let go, and I’ll be on my way.”
The strike definitely landed, but the man didn’t seem to notice the light stab on his side, not even a drop of blood permeating though his clothes. Worse, the dagger now appeared to be somehow stuck in him, as if sealed in stone.
For the first time in her young life, she was unable to run, unable to break free, unable to fight back. Unable to do anything at all. Her blood suddenly ran cold as the hopelessness of her situation sank in her mind, and a wave of panic washed over her soul.
“You knew this would happen eventually… “, she desperately tried to rationalize. “Can’t outrun the world forever, no matter how fast you are…. You’re a big girl now… Be strong…. It can’t be that hard… right ?”
But as the man leaned in closely, his frenzied eyes were that of a hungry lion finally seizing his prey, and she felt what little courage she managed to muster shatter in pieces and be blown away.
“I… I can’t do it ! Not like this ! Not… no…”
A tear of silent desperation ran on her pale cheek, as the inevitable finally fell upon her.
The word echoed in Lawrence’s mind, as their close proximity had her thoughts and emotions join his own. An intense feeling of unease rippling across his altered consciousness, he reflexively shifted his mental patterns to a more stable state, and soon realized what was transpiring.
“How could I be so careless ?” he condemned himself in silence, closing his eyes to hide the shame blooming in his heart, and escape the sadness and despair before him.
Having reclaimed full-control of himself, he slowly opened his eyes and let go of her.
“I am sorry I scared you, dear. That was… awfully unbecoming of me.”
Slowly bowing before her to look less imposing, he took her petite hands in his large palms and delicately drew them close to his lips, as if they were fragile petals that could only withstand the gentlest touch.
“Will you forgive me ?”
After a moment’s hesitation, and the realization she was safe again, she gave him a shy nod.
“I… It’s not your fault, sir… It is mine… It is always mine…”
“You may be the cause, dear” he answered with an understanding smile, “but from what I can gather, you’re hardly at fault.”
“Hum…” she started.
Following Luna’s puzzled gaze, Lawrence finally noticed the dagger jabbed in his side.
Seizing the small weapon by the hilt, he extracted it without resistance and handed it to Luna. There wasn’t the shadow of a wound where the dagger used to be, even his clothes seemed intact.
“I believe this is yours ?”
“Yes… I… I’m sorry, sir…”
“Don’t be, dear. Clearly, I had it coming.” he answered with an embarrassed smile.
“Are… are you alright, sir ?” she anxiously asked, uncertain that such an exception truly existed.
“I am, now. You… dazzled me for a moment, but my eyes have adjusted.”
“Already ?” she half-pouted in her mind, perplexed by her own disappointment.
“What is your name, dear ?” he asked, resuming the conversation.
“I… I am called Luna… At least… I used too.” She answered. She hadn’t used her name in so long it felt strangely unfamiliar now. Until this day, it’s only “me” as opposed to “them”.
“Nice to meet you, Luna” he said, bowing in a graceful greeting. “I am Lawrence.”
Etiquette was not her forte for obvious reasons, but she did her best to return the courtesy.
“You’re… on your own, aren’t you, Luna ?” he asked after a moment of silence.
From their brief connection, he recalled a crushing feeling of loneliness. No one to call for help. The icing certainty it would only make it worse.
“…yes.” she answered plainly. “Company is… not really an option for me.” she added, reflexively curling up on herself.
“I see.” he contemplated with a grave expression. Pondering the thought for a moment while looking away, he then turn to her again with a comforting smile.
“Perhaps I can help you sort out this… social issue of yours. Would you give it a try ?”
An unprecedented glimmer of hope suddenly shone in Luna’s eyes.
“I… Yes… Yes, I would !” she answered after a moment’s hesitation, timidly at first, then with enthusiasm.
“Is there a particular place you’d like to be in the meantime ?”
“…not really. All places are the same to me. Same surviving everywhere…”
“Why not come with me, then ? At the very least, you’d have someone to talk to.”
The thought of sharing her daily life with someone she could trust, someone she could rely on, someone at all was truly irresistible after such an unbearable solitude. As her first impressions of him resurfaced, she blushed with renewed vigor while wondering how a normal life at his side would be.
“That… That would be nice…”
He acknowledged her answer with a radiant smile, and she could almost feel herself melting.
“Let us go, then.” he concluded, delicately taking her hand.
“Where… are we going ?” she asked, her voice vibrant with a newfound hope.
He gazed upon her for a moment, and with a warmth and gentleness she would always remember, simply said :