Author: Olivia Kearce, Stonehill College

The world was ending. 
         Finally, Shuumei thought as he ducked under a toppled support beam. Shuumei had been patiently waiting for the end to come for years, and it felt just as sweet as he thought it would. There had been a few months he had been worried that he would regret everything he had done to get to this point. Jude had not been a part of any of Shuumei’s plans and he had knocked Shuumei so off-kilter he didn’t think he would ever straighten out again.  
          In truth, he never really had straightened out. He was almost constantly hunched over, either to look Jude in the eyes or to reach for Jude’s wrist and lead him away from whatever danger he had strumbled into. And Jude was always stumbling into danger. It was how they had found each other in the first place. But despite being terribly aware of the dangers of the world, Jude loved it. He had a passion for life Shuumei was never able to muster. He also liked people in a way that Shuumei had never tried to mimic. Before Jude, the only person Shuumei cared for was himself.  
          After Jude, however, Shuumei found he cared a lot more than he thought possible. He never faltered in his mission, but the guilt gnawed at him every time Jude spoke about their future. It slowly wore him down until he sat Jude down and told him what he had to do. Jude had been… upset. He screamed and hit his fist against Shuumei’s chest. He had cried too. It reminded Shuumei of the first time they had fought. Jude asked him to stop saying his name because he hated it and hated the way Shuumei said it. Jude never revealed much of his past, or who made him hate his name so much, but Shuumei enjoyed saying it and he never quit the things he enjoyed. That night they had ended up pressed against each other in the bed of the motel room they had somehow found the money to afford. Jude had asked him to say his name until it made him sick and Shuumei said it until he learned to love it again.  
          Their fight over Shuumei’s plans didn’t end like that. Jude had walked away with nothing but his damned lighter, and Shuumei had been okay with that for half an hour before the lack of Jude’s presence by his side sent him tumbling out the door. It took a few hours before he found Jude. He had begged for the first time in his life. Please come back. Pleasepleasepleaseplease. 
         Jude had come back. Shuumei had altered his plans, if only slightly. Most of the world was going to be just fine. Only the parts of it Shuumei really hated were crumpling down around him. It took a lot for Jude to agree to his plan, most of which Shuumei regrets. But he believed they came out the other side stronger, if not a little scarred. They certainly came out the other side in love because, despite his love of the world, Jude was walking towards Shuumei, twirling his lighter between his fingers. The building they were in wasn’t going to stand much longer. Still, Shuumei took the time to drape himself over Jude, muffling Jude’s laugh with his shoulder. 
         They stayed frozen in that moment for longer than they should have until Jude said, “Did you get all of your monsters?” 
          “Good,” Jude said. He pulled away and Shuumei’s heart flipped like it always did when Jude’s lip turned up in a way that meant he was up to trouble. Shuumei was sure that no matter where they ended up there would be trouble abound, despite the monsters all being dead. Excitement pulsed in Shuumei’s veins. 
          “Let’s leave this city,” Shuumei said, pulling Jude along like he always did. 
          Jude hummed in agreement. “Let’s burn one more thing down on our way out.”