"You're awfully quiet," the Muse said.
"I'm eating wings is why," I replied, and licked the sauce from my fingers. "It's impolite to gab with a full gob."
She uncurled one leg and poked me with her foot in the side of my thigh. "Not right now, dumbass. I mean tonight. Today, too."
"That's pronounced doo-mas, thank you very much."
She put her leg back up on her futon. "Don't avoid. Answer."
I sighed, and reached for another piece of chicken. "You know me, Muse. It's winter. I always get weird and dismal during the blizzard season." I nodded my chin at her. "You've got sauce on your cheek, you ridiculous slob. If you ever want a man, you've got to not be so messy when you eat."
She dabbed at the spot with her napkin. "Well, at least now I know that you aren't just in a mood for no reason."
"Because you don't play the loser-Muse-with-no-boyfriend card unless you're really not wanting to talk."
I put my plate down. "Hey, now, that's not fair."
"No? And what you said was?"
"It was a joke! That's what we do, Muse. We joke. All the time."
She shook her head and wiped her hands. "No, we don't. Not all the time. And not about anything important." She got up off the futon.
"Now, come on," I said. "Where are you going? Don't be like that. I hate it when you do that."
"I'm going to take a shower, and then I'm going to bed. You can stay and eat chicken wings all night long if you want, but I'm done for the night. Clean up the bones before you go, or if you decide to stay, just sleep on the futon tonight and leave me alone, okay?"
"Dammit, Muse, what's wrong? This isn't like you."
"It's not like you, either." She sighed, and then said, "Look, you aren't the only one who is having a rough time right now, okay? Sometimes I get tired of putting on a brave face, even for you."
"I'm sorry," I said, "I didn't mean anything by that. And I love you, you know."
"I love you too, sweetie, but that isn't always enough. It's just too hard sometimes, and as much as you give me, you can't give me everything I need."
I nodded. "I know, but..."
She leaned down and put her fingers over my mouth. "Stop. Okay? Just stop and for once in your life quit talking when there's nothing more you can say to help. I love you, and you're the best friend I have, but as much as you want to help me with this, there's nothing you can do."
I took her hand in mine. "Other than let you be miserable?"
She smiled sadly at me. "Yep. That's all."
"That really sucks, Muse."
"That's life," she said. She leaned in and gave me a quick kiss on the mouth. "Now I'm going to go take a shower and have a good cry, and then I'm going to bed. If you're here in the morning, we'll have breakfast."
"I'll make you French toast."
"I'm depressed, but I'm not suicidal," she said. "I'll cook. Just... just be here in the morning, okay? You know where the blankets are."
"I'll handle it. Don't worry about me."
She brushed the hair back from my eyes. "You idiot. You're the only one I never really worry about." She kissed my forehead and straightened up. "I'm going for that cry now. If I catch you looking through the keyhole, I'm going to kick your ass out the window."
"Gosh, Muse, you reallydo care about me."
She smiled. "Finish your feast, you idiot. I'll see you in the morning."
"Love you, Muse."
"I know," she replied, and turned and headed for the shower.