The base shifted, settled into a heavy, heady beat that echoed the ambient musk of marijuana and unwashed bodies. A guitar joined, layered lightly over the drums. Joel left off his own drumming when Cruse's eyes caught his and stuck.

He'd watched her perform from a distance before, hovering on the edges of crowds, and dreaming. He'd seen this part of the show before, and knew that smouldering too-old gaze hypnotized everyone who fell under it. Still, he felt his cheeks flush when she lingered with him. Pinned there, in the midst of the crowd, she laid his soul bare, danced every dream and nightmare he'd carried with him for as long as he could remember.

And he felt something inside himself rise up to lift her. An electric tingle flowed up his spine and out on his breath. It reached out to support her weight so that she could keep dancing for him forever. Her eyes flashed gold, her lips parted, and Cruse floated, weightless and motionless on feet that barely brushed the ground.

A loud gasp nearby broke the spell, and Cruse landed with feline grace. Joel picked up his bag and pushed his way out of the circle. Frantic and terrified, he moved without looking back. He had to leave, to move on, to find another place.

Shortly after he reached the nearest walkway, he heard the slap of bare feet running behind him. He picked up his pace, desperate not to get caught in whatever reaction might have chosen to follow.

"Hey, Joel! Wait up!"

Cruse. He stopped in his tracks, but didn't turn around. "I can't stay."

"No," she agreed. "But Grannie ID'd you."

He turned his head, looking over his shoulder in her direction. "Grannie?"

"Yeah. Old lady with a shopping cart and a plaid shirt." She waited for his reaction, but he had none to offer. "Anyways, you're Boon," she finished.

"Like, Daniel?"

"No," she laughed, "like a favor."

He waited for more, but no explanation came. When he finally turned to ask, she'd slipped away, back toward the sprawling tent city. A chill washed over him, and he pulled his coat closer.

That night, he fell asleep hearing Cruse name him over the sound of drums that sang the rhythms of life.