"That’s very nice, but stop changing the subject. What is Love?"
I respond with one of my best and most practised smiles, Scarlet Saint Special No. 7:
“Permit me to show you.”
“There’s always one, sometimes even more than one! And yet… you have a reputation.”
Indeed I do. It is not a nice reputation, but I have put a lot of brutal and violent work into it, and I’m used to hatred and terror that it provokes in people. The curiosity and desire in Millicent’s eyes, however, is something different. Something new. As the Lady in Lilac prepares to leap upon me with feline grace, two terrible realizations strike me like the twin hammers of Jasper and Frank. First, that I am in love with this woman, and second, that she can never be mine, for the violet web is coiled too tight around her heart and soul. I could handle one of these truths, but both together prove to be too much.
The deepest, darkest part of me, one that I have come to recognize as the core of my soul, flares to life for the third time ever. The first time it has done so, it raised me out of the hungry well and drove me to the fateful stormy rooftop to abandon my mad quest. The second time, it inspired me to drown my yoke of authority and pursue my true unspoken desire. And this time, as we begin to dance the horizontal waltz, it makes the world itself move, tilting it on its axis again and again and again.
With each caress and stolen kiss, a little more of the accursed violet light seeps into me. Like a doomed adventurer sucking venom out of a companion’s snakebite, I drain Nadir’s deadly essence from Millicent and into myself. She pays no heed, lost in throes of passion and calling out to Courier, but that’s all right, too. After all, I have been called the Fist of the Bazaar for years, and if I have to play the part of a different part tonight, then so be it.
At last, the moment comes when I can take no more. I feign collapse and listen carefully. While my hearing and other senses are not as sharp as they will be in the Night to come, the red honey and Red Science have worked enough changes already. I can hear rustling sounds as she restores her attire to perfect decorum, a metallic noise as she retrieves a hand mirror - and then a quiet gasp as she beholds her reflection:
"Blue. They’re blue. How can they be blue? Did yours change as well… oh no."
The mirror tumbles onto the carpet as she rushes forward. Her fingers reach out to my face, touching smooth skin and the cold bone beneath. I smile and this time, there’s no practiced guile or charisma behind the smile, only naked truth:
"This is my answer, the one I promised to show you. Above all, true love is blind".