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A waiter balancing a teetering stack of plates on an overburdened tray arrived at our table some minutes later. He slid most of the plates in front of Darius, who only moved to mutter harsh words in the waiter's ear before the dazed man disappeared into the kitchens. Once gone, Darius checked around our section of the diner for any prying eyes, then fell upon his meal with a ravenous hunger that had me both fascinated and repelled.

I picked at my grilled cheese sandwich, stomach too upset to accept anything more substantial than a sip of beer and maybe some water. Darius finished two substantial hamburgers, a mountain of greasy fries, a slab of breaded chicken, and a dish of meatloaf in minutes, not pausing to examine the texture of the food or to chew, really. It surprised me how he could remain so quiet while devouring enough protein and carbohydrates to satisfy six men much larger than himself.

That's disgusting but bizarrely fascinating.

When the last fry disappeared and the cleaned plates were stacked at the table edge, I slid my own dish in front of the Sin, and Darius took the sandwich, scowling at a globule of cooling cheese pulling apart from the soggy crust. He'd scowled at all of his dishes, and though he evidently found them disgusting and unpalatable, he ate everything nonetheless. Color returned to his startling gaze, and the peculiar, alien sharpness honing his features filled out once more. No longer convinced I sat across the table from a man on the brink, I relaxed and released a gusty sigh.

Grimacing, Darius dropped the halved sandwich and cleaned his hands on a napkin. "I suppose you are due some type of explanation."

"I suppose," I repeated, distant, exhaustion corroding my willpower. "Doesn't matter."

"It matters," he retorted, though his tone lacked its usual cutting bite. "After the...exceptional evening you've experienced, I can only assume the eccentrics of my behavior are an additional, unnecessary stressor. Your patience is unexpected, for a human. That in and of itself deserves a...reward."

Darius sneered, baiting me, and yet I only narrowed my eyes, forcing the Sin to continue.

"For all intents and purposes, and in a bid to keep my explanation somewhat brief, assume my body is mortal. It is, in a technical sense; my lungs must inhale to keep oxygen flowing to my brain, my heart must pump blood to my limbs, and I sweat when I exert myself, piss after I drink, sleep when I am tired. The parts, as it were, are not all the different from a human's. What is vastly different, however, is the whole." Darius's mouth twitched as he considered his words. "For all the death my kind reap, we are the embodiment of actualization—of existence. You could say we are enamored with it, acting out life's intricacies while never finding true meaning to the farce. We have...broken lives. Lives broken and spent desperately seeking all that we are bereft of."

He paused, turning to the window as he gathered his thoughts, and I folded my cold hands together on the table. Whatever contemplative mood had seized him passed when he faced me again. "I digress. A human consumes food for energy. The body stores it, converts it. It's why humans can survive without constantly eating and fueling their bodies."

"Of course."

The Sin flipped his hand. "As a human body starves, his muscular system and skeletal structure begin to degrade, cannibalizing themselves for nutrients. I expend and store energy in a manner different than a human does, but for the sake of this analogy, the mechanics are comparable. After I burn the immediate energy provided to me by my environment and the sustenance I eat—." He flicked the bread of the sandwich. "—I reach into the energy I store within the Realm and begin to burn through that, much like a starving human begins to burn stored lipids, but as I pull that energy to me from the Realm, my body degrades and my mental faculties lose acuity. I revert to primitive drives and forget my learned moralistic behaviors."

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