Things I will never manage to do: write this thing at a decent hour. Such is life.
Amanda posted this week’s prompt, which is properly amazing and struck me like a true brick this morning, when I was trying to figure out what to write about for it. And then of course I procrastinated and the day got away from me. Whoops. But here it is now! And it’s original work, too!
This is also cross-posted on my Ao3.
It took several long moments for Raven to inch back up to his locker, screwing up his courage to see what his brain thought he had, hoped he hadn’t.
But no. In the mirror hung on the back of the door, he found a woman’s face staring back at him instead of his own, vampire-red lips pulled into a smug self-satisfying smile. She looked happy– pleased as peaches to have startled him out of his own skin, he supposed. He hated her for it just a little. Maybe more than just a little– but that was ire, and it would pass. There were better things to focus on than his heart attack.
“Amanda–” Oh, wow, his voice was not supposed to be that strained. He cast a furtive glance around the locker room, despite knowing it was empty. It was nearly midnight– if not already midnight– and the gym may have been open twenty-four hours, but no one except he ever used it this late. Sometimes he had to get out of his own head as well as out of the apartment. “I didn’t expect to see you.”
That smile twisted, a little cruel. Enjoying his discomfort. But there was sort of a wry fondness to it too that bit the edge off somewhat. “Did I startle you?” He gave her a flat stare, unimpressed. “Oh, come now, you have to admit it was a little funny. Did you trip over the bench?”
Oh, good. She hadn’t seen all of it, then. “I did not.”
“I think you did.”
He shrugged, deliberately casual. “Doesn’t change the facts. What are you doing in my here?”
“Taking out the garbage.” Neat, casual, like just sipping on a glass of wine. It made all the hair on the back of his neck stand up, worry thrumming through him like a cord of music. Instinct told him he didn’t want to ask, he didn’t want to know. Amanda Pope may have been his roommate, but she was new, and the two of them were a long way off from friends.
He saw her reach her hand up to somewhere above the mirror– the top of the locker door, he realized– and then his view swung a bit to the side of her.
The walls of the locker room were blue, pale, almost sky-bright. Raven had been working here long enough to happily say he’d helped pick out the color years ago.
The wall behind Amanda was awash with red, spray and streaks and splatters. Disbelief settled cold in his gut.
“Did you kill someone in my gym?” he hissed, low, voice barely much more than a breath. The idea made him feel light-headed, but he knew it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility, or even probability. This was Amanda he was talking to.
“Nonsense.” Amanda laughed a little, brought the mirror back to face her properly. “I let Roberto do it.”
“Who the hell– no. You know what. I don’t even want to know.” He paused, considering his next words. Because he didn’t want to know. Plausible deniability was a thing that was important to him, and she probably wouldn’t tell him even if he asked her. It wasn’t like they went around and spoke of one another to their business associates. “Why my gym?”
“Would you believe me if I said I hadn’t known it was yours?” It sounded like a genuine question, and Raven felt his heart squeeze in his chest. There was a sort of implicit, unspoken promise between them all, not to go near the places of work that they each considered their own. This was the first time he could guess that it had shifted, maybe; certainly it was the first time he’d seen either of them outside the apartment.
He wasn’t sure what it meant about what was happening to them, whatever it was that was happening to them. He couldn’t put his fingers on it, and trying to puzzle it out was an exercise in frustration that never resulted in anything but a headache.
Either he was going crazy, or he was some fragmented memory, or they were fragmented things, or reality was crumbling or something. It was easier and he slept better at night just to pretend they were roommates he rarely saw, let his mind glance over the holes in the reality that tried to trip him up.
He didn’t know how either of them coped with it at all, though.
Amanda’s smile twisted downwards, an apologetic frown meant for his eyes only. “I really didn’t. I’ll ensure that it’s cleaned up properly. It shouldn’t trouble you, and no one will find anything. Even still, you should probably take a few days off work this week.”
“Because not going to the crime scene is a thing innocent people with no knowledge of it always do, right?” He wondered if he turned around right now and looked, what the color of the wall would be. He couldn’t force himself to glance over his shoulder.
“Hm? No, not for this. Did you know it’s Nastalia’s birthday this week?”
He hadn’t. He wondered, fleetingly, what day it fell on, how Amanda had known and he hadn’t. He’d been with Nastalia a lot longer than Amanda had been with them. It felt like years now. How had she never mentioned it?
What day was it, for that matter?
“What are we doing for it?”
“Pizza,” Amanda ventured. “Same as every week. But I thought we could spend a few days together anyway.”
“Sure. I’ll let Chastity know I wont be available.”
Amanda’s smile turned sly and knowing, teasing. “I’d like to meet her sometime.”
“Absolutely not.” The idea gave him chills. Let Amanda around Chastity? Amanda was growing on him, a little at a time. But he wasn’t prepared to let his girlfriend become aware of his… psychosis, or whatever the hell this was. He wasn’t prepared to let anybody know about it, outside of the apartment.
“You should probably go on home now,” Amanda added, almost as an afterthought. “I need to finish up, so I’ll be in later. Nastalia’s likely asleep already.”
Before he could figure out a response, Amanda closed the locker. For a brief flicker, he thought he saw himself looking into his locker, and then he made the mistake of blinking and found he was looking back at himself.
He managed to keep himself from looking at the wall while he finished up and fled the gym, heading for the apartment and a plush bed. It would be blue tomorrow, he assured his brain and it assured back, and that was all that mattered.
And before I make off will my ill-gotten gains (and by this I mean sleep, unless you’d like to drop something in the tip jar) let’s take a look at who else did this prompt, yeah?