A/N: I wrote this while I was feeling really, REALLY depressed. Hopefully, it doesn't show too much. It comes with an apology to all those who are waiting for an update of my main fic, "Of Cats and Wolves". I very much intend to finish that one, so fear not. Just be patient ;) I hope you enjoy this little ficlet.

It's strange how different you look…

I shift carefully. I don't want to wake you, but I need to see. The sun has not risen yet, but even in the soft semidarkness I can see your face clearly, every contour, each muscle. Your eyelids no longer twitch and flutter as if you are having a nightmare; instead the look on your face is peaceful, your breathing even.

So much different…

I watch your chest raise and fall in a slow, hypnotizing rhythm. Such a perfect tranquil moment. I feel strangely calm with you right next to me, strangely safe. Do you ever feel at peace in your waking hours, I wonder? Probably not.

The others keep telling me to be careful, to stay away from you. I used to think they were right. Sometimes you frighten even me. But they have never seen you like this, hovering on the edge of the night. So helpless, so… innocent. Not the hunter, not the prey… certainly not the heartless killer they all see every day… simply a human; a man. A boy.

Is that why I feel something clawing at my heart each time I watch you before you wake up? Is that why I so stubbornly insist to look past the beast you wear for a mask? Is it? Or am I just a fool?

I'm aching to touch you, only to see if you are real. My hand lingers in front of your face, fingers trailing invisible patterns in the air, patterns that mirror the lines of your features.

For what must be the hundredth time I wonder what it would feel like to make love to you. Truly make love, not just share my body with you like I always do when we both want to let go of our fears and frustrations…

Is it love that I feel?

Maybe. I'm not even sure what love feels like.

Could I love you?

I like to think I could…

…but then again, you wouldn't really care, would you?

Yet still, when I look at you now, barely a few minutes before the dawn, I dare to dream that maybe, just maybe, in another life…

You open your eyes, pure liquid amber, and look at me. My heart stops beating and I feel as if time itself slows down. You are so beautiful.

Our gazes meet and there is something in those eyes of yours, something I can never define. They always seem to be pleading with me, but what for? I can see sadness in them, so old and deep that it has become hatred. There is confusion and fear, so terrible that they have evolved into aggression. And something else…

I reach out, sensing that I almost have it, almost…

And suddenly, it's all over. My heart leaps in my chest, once, painfully, as time resumes its never-ending cycle of day and night. The sun rises, its first rays covering your face – your true face – like a mask. You blink, and when you look at me again I can see something is missing; something that was there only for an impossibly long heartbeat. With a sigh I slip my own mask back into place, hoping desperately that you won't see my tears.

I lose you again.

We lose each other, as it was meant to be from the start.