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The Maze. (Spike X Dim Sum the Dragon)

Herrpface

The tiny pitter-patter of Spike’s claws echoed off the looming walls of the maze as he ran through, searching every corner and path for any outline or spot of color in the sterile, white glare surrounding him. By whatever source there was, there was enough light that he could see which way he was going, but only enough that he could still see the shadows of the corners.
 
“Come on, it’s got to be around here somewhere!” He told himself determinedly. He’d said it many times before in the past, but the words gradually felt auto-piloted with every time they’d been spoken.
 
The maze’s walls curved outward away from the center in a circlular shape, as though it’d originally been a spiral twisting into where the heart of the maze once stood, and then filled up with dead ends and passages. Spike always tries to use that to his strategy; maybe if he kept following the curved outline of the maze and kept going straight inward he could find the end. Other times he’d tried his hand at just running around blindly, as if thinking the maze was using reverse psychology to mislead him.
 
He couldn’t tell how long he’d been in there, running at any path he’d felt he’d never taken before. He couldn’t even remember where he started off. Many times the fresh encounter of finding a unique little kink in the maze he was yet to see seemed to redeem the belief that he wasn’t running through some sort of Quixote journey, but of course, every single time it’d lead him nowhere. Just to another square, white wall putting a halt in his journey, and then the cycle’d start all over again.
 
Any time he’d reach a dead end, it’d always send a stinging jab into his heart, which already felt like there was an empty space in the tissue pumping life through his body. Somewhere, somewhere, there was something. Something. An elusive something, something he barely even knew what it’d bring him, but it was…well, something. Something to search for. Something to be found. Something that stood for every day for the rest of his life.
 
…it was something. There had to be something.
 
But now, after years of confusion and isolation spent playing games with the seemingly infinite prison around him, a small smirk tugged up at his lips as he ran with a noticeable perk in his stride.
 
This is it. He thought again. This has to be it!
 
In his hands he was hugging a bright, ruby red gem the size of a baseball against his chest. It was carved into the shape of a heart, with a brass frame forming the outline to extenuate the romantic design. He’d found it a few sometimes ago, laying alone on the ground. Another rat in the maze as he was, albeit one without the privilege to walk. As if out of sympathy, he took it with him on his quest.
 
As time went by, however, his keepsake became something far more significant to him. He could feel a faint warmth inside that slowly grew, a feeling that he took a liking to in the cold lifelessness of the empty twists and turns. But it became more than a soothing comfort on his journey. He could also feel a well of energy inside that coursed through the contact of his fingers and into his body, filling him with a spark of confidence.
 
To him, it felt as though it’d been a gift from heaven above to aid him on his quest. In a second wind his pace quickened, giggling excitedly as he relished in the presence of his traveling companion. By some instinct he could tell that it was the key to everything; that somehow it would lead the way.
 
As he sped up into a brisk run, the floor itself seemed to glow a nonexistent color, forming a path through the twisting map of the labyrinth. He ran along, following a long, steady curve in the rotary landscape, staying faithful to the imaginary path until it reached a sudden elbow traveling inward and he banked around the corner, running the opposite way along the path closer toward the center.
 
“I knew I had the right idea!” He boasted.
 
Some distance later he met another elbow going inward, again bringing him closer to the center. Off of all the times he’d been surprised and hopeful of the mysterious parts of the maze, this one was like a gold mine. The route kept zig-zagging in long, wrapping streaks with no other forks in the paths aside from the banks bringing him deeper, the ground slowly growing bright enough in his mind that he could almost feel the warmth of the gem in the floor itself, while the gem itself seemed to be glowing in soft pulses, like a beating heart. His pace exploded into a mighty stride, his eyes wide with a his face shining a giddy smile.
 
“I”M ALMOST THERE!!!” He screamed in pure joy. The silence of the maze suddenly felt like it was filled with the holy voices of a church choir. “THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS IT THIS IS IT THIS IS-”
 
But as Spike hit another elbow, he couldn’t react to stop himself as he slammed into a dead end, knocking him back down.
 
“…guh…” He groaned painfully, a decent-sized purple lump forming on his forehead. Shaking his head back into his senses, he looked up and gawked at the monolithic wall putting an end to his bout of exhilaration. The holy voices were gone, filled with the dead hum of silence. The floor looked the same, without nothing to distinguish it from the wall.
 
…and, alas, as he picked up the gem he was overwhelmed with despair to feel that it felt completely cold.
 
Tears slowly welled up in the dragon’s eyes as something that’d brought him so much excitement and love for such a long time was reduced to nothing. It’s clinking noise mixed with his heartbroken whimpers as he let it roll from his hands and onto the ground, hugging his hind legs against his chest and began to cry. Even as diminutive as he already was, he looked more like a small speck alone in the vast, empty space of the labyrinth.
 
He stayed there for quite some time, snifflign loudly and wallowing in sorrow until he finally found the muscle to slowly get back on his feet, leaving the gem where it sat to collect dust as he began to retread his path.
 
 

 
 
Spike had no idea how long it’d been since he left the gem behind.
 
Since then he’d presumed his hobby of running around the maze at random. The devastating blow the gem had left him seemed to burn the hole in his chest wider, but he still ran on, considering what little else there was to do in reach.
 
This time around, it was another one of those little segments that seemed unique, but it didn’t reach him or fill him with a righteous vigor. A few reckless, tight curves squiggled around against itself till it forked into a T, one of which was a dead end that only looked a square wide. The other path, however, lead to a very wide, long curve with a few passages against the walls, one that seemed familiar to Spike.
 
“Aw, dang it! I’ve been here!” He sighed frustratedly. But then again, as he thought it over, he didn’t remember the cluster of squiggles he’d just navigated. Curious, he ran up to one of the passages and looked over the wall, the layout of the maze behind one he could tell he’d seen before. “Huh…that’s interesting…”
 
Spike walked through and searched around the general area, which indeed felt like he’d tread this way before in his numerous exploits. But one joint in the maze that he thought lead to a dead end was now gone, and ran down the course through an area yet to be seen by him.
 
For a moment, he’d forgotten the pain of his experience with them gem as he traveled a mix of both areas that he’d felt he’d passed and moments that he was yet to see. It was a surreal experience, bringing him one of the few emotions the maze had brought him. But the pattern of running through things seen and things unseen was broken as a sudden space in his peripheral vision fished at his sight.
 
He couldn’t tell what it was at first; it felt [i]way[/i] to upfront. He stared down a long path whose edges were rugged and rough as they ran against the curved design of the maze, but lead completely straight to somewhere within the maze, like the sea parting and leading the way for him.
 
On one hand, it could have been another trap, such as the gem may had been. But Spike didn’t keep that on his mind for long as he obediently followed the way.
 
After passing the threshold of the corridor he was overwhelmed by the size of the space around him. The chamber bore a cylindrical shape and was far taller and wider than anywhere else in the maze. As per usual the wall were smooth and white, but he could see something dead center in the room that seemed like a black speck under contrast.
 
As he interestedly approached whatever it was, he could make out tiny blotches of color, along with a definite shape. But as he could make out more of what he was seeing, he believed less that it was what it was.
 
Another dragon, exactly as tall as he was. In fact, it looked identical to him, save for the color differences. Its coat was a pastel aquamarine with a silver belly, the spikes running from the tip of her tail to her head pink with a slight curl in the frontmost.
 
As Spike’s footsteps approached from behind, it turned around so Spike could see that its eyes were a soft purple. He backed away in surprise, overtaken by the surreal, yet enchanting figure. By its pronounced eyelashes and a small wings rooted in its back, he could feel that it was a female, one with an uncanny, yet not upfront beauty that he’d never seen in anything else, as though she was some sort of part of him that’d been long absent. Similarly, the female reflection’s eyes widened at the random stranger joining her in the heart of the maze, both shy and surprised to have company after being alone for so long.
 
The two stood still, looking each other down and silently accepting one another’s existences. It was Spike who made the first move, cautiously moving his foot forward and slowly approaching her. She didn’t visibly emote at his advance, but didn’t act unwelcoming, allowing him to continue.
 
He kept stepping until the two were within reaching distance. Their eyes exploring the other like one of them was a reflection in a mirror. Spike slowly rose his hand so his palm faced her, an action she mimicked. Palm to palm, they let their hands touch, intertwining their fingers together. He looked down at her other hand and reached down, gently lifting it from her side and caressing them together. Somewhere in her eyes, although initially surprised by the gesture, he could also see a brief shimmer as she looked down at her hands cocooned within his, then looked up to meet his gaze.
 
Her purple irises shone like pure gems, the pupils within deep enough that Spike felt as though he could see into them for miles, and he could tell by her entranced reaction that she felt similarly, neither of them not wanting to back away from the hypnotic sight of one another. Almost reflexively the two stepped even closer to one another, Spike gently reaching around her to pull the two of them into an embrace, allowing their lips to meet.
 
Time seemed to cease existing as the two shared a long kiss, with nothing in the cavernous chamber around them to pull them back into reality as the two were lost within the presence of one another. Anything solid seemed to melt into nothing as for once in his life, after all the searching he’d suffered, the emptiness Spike had been pulling around him was filled with pure, flaming love, cherishingly holding onto her as if she’d disappear otherwise, with her just as generously returning his boundless affection.
 
The two didn’t even even realize their eyes were closed until they finally took a brief moment to break apart, blissfully smiling upon one another. They both allowed their heads to droop and let only their foreheads and noses touch the other’s, serving as a solid reminder that the other was truly there.
 
 
Slowly lifting his head away, his lips slowly parted, allowing an dissonantly deep, soothingly resonant voice to escape his throat…
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