At first, he was nothing.
A cold, soulless object - he felt nothing.
He had no idea how long he'd spent in that existence, how long he had lain there - a yet-to-be, instead of a being. Like a thrown ball frozen still in midair before succumbing to gravity, he was neither falling nor rising. Neither here nor there. Neither living nor completely dead. The potential was there, but he lacked the will to make himself... live.
Until she came.
He didn't know her name, but it didn't matter. He knew her. He knew her as if she were the only creature that existed in the world - the only real thing outside of cold, unfeeling stone. And she was, for him.
He could still remember the first time he woke up to her touch.
The first time her hands - slender and softly reverent, yet firm and toughened by hard work - had touched him, it had brought him out of his apathetic slumber and dragged him, wide-eyed and gasping, to wakefulness.
Suddenly, after an existence of non-existence, he had a new awareness of the world around him. Overwhelmed by the new sensations swamping him - sights and sounds and smells that made no sense to him - he had fought, resisting this new state of consciousness by clinging to his rigid, resilient form.
And then her hands were there again, soothing and calming as they roamed over his marble, ice-cold surfaces. Like a mother reassuring her frightened child, her hands comforted even as they gently explored every corner and crevice, feeling and bringing more and more of him out into the waking world.
For the first time, he felt the cool, tingly, slightly wet brush of paint over smooth, previously untouched surfaces as her steady hands carefully drew patterns over his skin. The paint dried, sticky and a little raw, and she touched him again. This time not with her hands, but with the sharp point of a chisel, and it hurt! It chipped away at his loose, rough edges, and he protested wildly against this violation -
… but her hands were infinitely gentle and focused as she followed the patterns she'd drawn, and with great patience, she eased bit by bit off of him - dislodging parts that he didn't know he didn't need - until all that was left was...
Himself, as he needed to be.
Under her careful guidance, he let himself take shape.
First, a leg, then the other. Her hands guided him where she wanted - where he needed - him to go. Muscles contracting, poised to take flight, he was on the verge of becoming a something out of the nothing that he had been. And her hands were taking him there.
Her hands were there, steady and careful, as he flexed the muscles of his torso, ready to pounce on life as it was revealed to him in small quantities. Her fingers smoothed over ridged abdomen in a reverent lover's caress and he felt her breath, warm and soft, sweep over his body to remove the dust over his stomach. If he had teeth, he would have clenched them already, and if he had eyes, he would have closed them at the way that soft puff of wind inflamed him and instilled in him the desire to come alive more quickly so that he could feel her breath on his face, against his lips...
Her hands were there, on his shoulders, to steady them both when he'd slipped in his eagerness to come alive and she'd almost made a wrong cut.
From then on, they'd both contained themselves, knowing how important each cut was, and how one wrong move could destroy him and, by extension, her...
Her hands were there when he tried but failed to reach out to her with his newly-born arms and touch her in return. He tensed in frustration, but then she was there, smoothing her comforting fingers over his arms, telling him without words that she knew what he had attempted to do, and she didn't mind that he hadn't succeeded. What was important was that he'd tried.
Soon... soon he would be alive enough to touch her back.
That time couldn't come soon enough for either of them.
He crammed himself with more and more snippets of the world, of life... of her. The absentminded way she would tuck her hair behind her ear while she worked. The way she hummed her pleasure whenever he was in a good enough mood to be pliant for her. The way her breasts brushed ever so lightly against his chest when she stepped closer...
For her part, she pushed herself to her limits. When he had gained enough perception to distinguish night from day, he realized that she sometimes got up in the middle of the night to work on him. He knew it was the middle of the night because he couldn't feel the light from the sun warming him and the things around him. During those late-night sessions, she delighted in showing him a new idea she'd had to make him more alive and she guided him with an almost frenzied determination that stirred his excitement up as well, until the sun returned and the two of them were tired but satisfied at the way his shoulders rolled with new movement, or the way his arms tightened with new force.
But there were times when she got frustrated with herself too, times when she tried to guide him, but she couldn't because she herself didn't seem to know where she was going. During those times, she would lay her tools down and turn away from him.
The first time she'd done that, his stone heart almost broke in half and he feared he would crumble to pieces at her feet.
But she had come back. She had come back, and the hands that touched him then were apologetic, but as loving as ever - no, even more. She came back. She always came back, because she needed this as much as he did.
He was a part of her.
She had made him, poured her heart and soul into him, and he thought he might have gotten those from her too in the process.
Because... he was her.
He was her yearning, her love, her passion...
He was her frustration, her secret longing, her pleasure, her pain...
He was her dreams, her sadness, her solitude, her happiness...
He was her escape, her need, her want, her desperation, her determination...
He was her compassion, her patience, her warmth and all the things that made her who she was.
He saw it in her beautiful eyes when he opened his own for the first time. And he knew then, without a doubt, that just because she was the artist and he was the art she molded, didn't mean that he didn't have a hand in shaping her as well.