I know that sometimes I shouldn't, but I always do everything David says. It's just what I do. And it makes no difference anyway 'cuz either way we're just the same, being twins and everything. If we've got an idea, what does it matter who suggested it? 'Cuz we're the same. Except maybe I'm just a bit crazier than he is. And he's definitely a lot less sane. So we're the same and different. Which is weird because I know that he doesn't like hanging around outside, same as me, and yet it was him today that suggested we go outside.
People tell me otherwise but I'm not stupid. I know David. I know him. He wanted to get away from Tyki. I wanted to get away from Tyki, that smug, self-centred jerk that's always bringing me down but I don't care, I really don't, 'cuz what does he know anyway, 'cept how to go through things like a half-rate ghost. And there he is, sitting in that big chair, laughing (laughing) at David and puffing away at that stupid cigarette.
And I know that David really doesn't like this. I really don't like this. And immediately I can tell that David is In A Bad Mood. Puts me In A Bad Mood. But if there's something David hates more than Tyki, it's the Boss getting pissed off, so he - we - don't start a fight.
We go outside. He does. I follow.
And so I'm there, and it's cold god it's cold, and I watch him kick a stone across the garden and we both watch it bounce into the trees like it's got better things to do that hang around here with us. He's being all silent but I know he's only like this 'cuz he's angry with Tyki, and it's not me. I know this 'cuz his head's in mine and it's just seething with that red anger that David gets sometimes. We hear a door slam inside and I see this picture David's got in his head of Tyki lying on the floor and there's something wrong with his head, it's not quite where it should be.
So I take David's picture and I put in a lot of red blood all around Tyki and a big pointy knife in his chest. And I see David smile at that, just a tiny bit like he doesn't want me seeing, which is stupid because we know everything about each other. So I make Tyki's legs all broken to match his neck, and David smiles a bit more. And then I put a monkey in and it's dancing on Tyki, because I just kind of like monkeys, and he snorts, and I know David's trying not to laugh.
"He's stupid," I say, out loud this time 'cuz I don't feel like thinking.
"A bastard," David agrees.
"A big fucking asshole." He knows much worse words than me. I don't know how, but he does and he's not so bothered about using them as I am. I don't know how to swear. It's just hard for me, and David always tells me I don't sound like I really mean it, not like he does.
He doesn't like me thinking like that, so he jabs me in the head with his pistol. So I take out mine and poke him in the shoulder back. And we start a poking game which ends with me running away from him and so he chases me into the trees and I stop there 'cuz I've always been kind of scared of this forest just outside the house, I don't like it very much.
David's scared of it too just the same as I am, but he doesn't show it as much as I do. I'm all ready to turn around and go inside again, maybe Road will make me a hot chocolate 'cuz it is so cold, but David just takes my arm and together we go even further into the trees.
I can't count time too good, but I'm pretty sure we walked for about ten minutes. I can't tell direction either, so after a bit I don't even know which way the house is. And I know David doesn't either. He wants to get lost. He's scared of the forest but he likes being lost much more and I like that too, because it means no one knows where you are 'cept yourself and that means you don't have to be with anyone 'cept yourself.
And your brother.
David's already gotten bored of walking and he's just sitting on this tree stump, liking being lost. I see a squirrel and it squeaks at me in a rude kind of way and runs off. Even squirrels can swear better than I can. After that I start counting acorns, 'cuz it seems there are a lot of them in this bit of the woods, and once I get to twenty-seven I stop since I can't count that high so good and I just start again.
But David's noticed something else, and that makes me notice it too, and we both turn around to where there's this funny smell like when the Boss makes bacon in the morning, but not as nice.
David looks at me and I look at him and we're already both walking towards it and we've already got our guns out 'cuz it's just who we are. I think I can see the smell now, but David shakes his head and tells me it's smoke in my head, and I twist my head to the side and just go oh. As we move slowly towards it, I can see the smoke flying up to the greyish sky and it's moving kind of all over the place and that makes me think of the dancing monkey and so I laugh quickly.
We suddenly come to a place where the trees stop and no trees begins and that smell is stronger here and then David stops and I stop and we both stare and stare and stare.
"What the bloody hell?" he says.
Like I said, I can't swear, so I just laugh again.
The ground is sort of dusty and black and the smoke is coming from that and a small bit of bush that's managed to catch fire and there's someone kneeling in the middle of all this smoke and blackness and dust and they see us and we seem them and she gets to her feet, and she is tall.
Taller than me and taller than David, and she's looking at us like we're aliens and she's never seen anything like us in her life. And boy is she ever pretty. She's got hair just like mine, long and yellow and kind of all over the place at the same time, but I think that might just be because of this accident she's been in.
'Cuz something must have started that fire. And David and I both notice at the same time that this girl, she's holding a gun which is pointing at us. So we point ours back at her and she looks kind of scared and David gives her this look to say yeah, that's right we can hurt you too.
Her mouth moves and she mumbles in a kind of dry and quiet voice. David glances at me and I glance at him, and I laugh because I can, and he shrugs. She doesn't look dangerous he tells me, and I put my head on one side to show I don't think so either and I go she's pretty. And he blinks at me.
"W-where…am I?" Her voice sounds real sore and she can barely whisper, but she still won't stop looking at us - this makes me laugh again - and she still got that big silver pistol pointing at us.
"Who are you?" That's David, not me, 'cuz I can't do things right when they've got to get done.
"Who are you?" she croaks back, and I laugh 'cuz she's copying David and this makes her look at me and her eyes go all scared again.
Her eyes are blue.
After a bit of pausing, David goes, "I'm David."
"I'm Jasdero," I say, because this is my bit. "Together, we're Jasdevi!"
She doesn't look like she's understood. "I'm…Liz." She takes a step forward and I can see her wobbling a bit. "Where am I?"
Again David looks at me, and I waggle my eyebrows in confusion and he wrinkles his nose at me and we both shrug.
"You lost, girl?" asks David out loud, still not taking his gun off her 'cuz she hasn't taken hers off us.
"Yes. I think so…"
"This is a forest, hee!" I say, since she doesn't seem to realise.
"I know that," she says slowly. "But where am I?"
And we both fall silent, both realising that we don't actually know. The Earl never told us.
"Tyki would know," I say without thinking and then David's thoughts come back at me like a whip, all red and angry again and full of those pictures of broken Tyki once more, only there's anger at me in there somewhere for suggesting this, but it's quick and he's already forgiven me.
"Who?" Wow, this girl knows nothing.
"No one," says David, which isn't true.
"We hate him," I say, which is.
"Please…" And we both makes our eyes wide with surprise 'cuz she's not pointing that pistol at us anymore, but holding it down at her side, and she's pleading at us with those blue eyes, looking worried. "You have to…help me. Have you see Kidd?"
Immediately David's thoughts whoosh with question marks and asking, and I just shrug 'cuz I can't answer them, and so we both stare at her.
"Who's that?" David demands, still with his gun on her.
And does she ever look scared.
So this stupid girl just stands there, staring at us, and it's starting to annoy me. What the hell was I supposed to say? What makes it worse is that she doesn't attack, doesn't try to run, doesn't do fucking anything, just stands there looking all tragic and alone.
Then she speaks again, slowly, like she can't believe what's going on. Sod it, I can't believe what's going on.
"You…don't know him?"
"Nuh uh," says Jasdero, watching her intently.
This time she sobs - actually sobs - and raises the gun again. I nudge Jasdero and we both raise our arms a little higher in case she tries anything. Not that she looks up to it.
"You must have heard of him!" she says, hysterically now. "Death the Kidd! Son of the Shinigami!"
We both shake our heads in disbelief. Holy shit, is this woman insane? Believing in Death Gods at her age?
And she just loses it. "He's about this high, he's got dark hair with three white stripes on the left hand side and he's got golden-yellow eyes and he wears a black and white suit with a skull at the collar and I've lost him!"
I hear Jasdero give a little whimper, he doesn't like her shouting at him. So do what I seem to be doing a lot of today; I get kind of angry. "Jesus shit girl, would you just shut up already?"
She shuts up.
Just when this day couldn't get any crazier…
(Bloody hell, I want to go home)
I swear I could have imagined it…
(I'll forgive Tyki, I'll do anything, just let me go home)
Her gun speaks.
I swear to effing heaven, I am not lying, I am not, her gun talks to me.
"You leave Liz alone, meanie!"
And I'm so surprised, so fucking surprised that for once in my life I dunno what to say. Neither does Jas. He very slowly looks at me and then raises one of his heavily bandaged hands to point at the gun.
"It spoke, Debitto," he says blankly.
Normally I don't like him calling me this, 'cuz it's what the Earl likes to call me, and Tyki does it too to piss me off, but I let it slide. "I know, Jas."
"That's crazy, hee!" And I realise he's laughing, he's laughing his goddamned head off, and before I know it I'm laughing too because when Jasdero laughs, it fills his head and his entire body, until it's bleeding into mine and I can't help but copy him.
"Don't call me crazy!" says the pistol again, and I swear it jerks slightly, like it's alive and wants to be put down.
The girl wipes her eyes and fixes me with an angry stare. I stare sulkily back at her, wondering what her problem is. She doesn't say anything, but then her gun wiggles again (it is moving, I'm not just imagining it) and says, "Lemme take care of them, sis!"
Jasdero looks at me. Sis?
The girl calling herself Liz sighs and kind of slumps like she can't be bothered anymore, and she's suddenly glowing and so is the gun, and me and Jas step back 'cuz in all truth we don't know what the fuck is going on.
And then this Liz, she's gone, and there's another girl in her place. Holding the pistol.
No, that's not right. Holding a pistol.
Jasdero sees it too, and he nudges me, sending me a thought. Had that…that Liz…just turned into a gun?
This new girl, she's a helluva lot shorter, and so's her hair. She's a lot more lively than the other one and even smiles at us, which is confusing.
Jasdero laughs again, and cocks his pistol at her. I do too. "Gonna try'n take us on, are you?" I try and sneer, but f'you really want the truth, I'm way too shaken up to pull it off properly.
She shrugs, still smiling with the biggest goddamned smile I've ever seen, it's taking up half her face. The last time I saw someone smile that big, it was Jasdero.
So there we were, the three - no, the four of us - in this forest clearing, guns turned on each other.
Can you say stalemate?
It takes me a moment to realise that this new girl is talking to us, and really, really fast. It's hard to make out what she's saying and every time she pauses to take a breath it seems like she's gonna stop but no, she just carries on until I think my head's gonna explode from everything she's saying.
Jasdero knows I don't like this, and he kind of gives me this sideways look that I just catch, like he's asking me permission.
Which in a way, he is. He can't fire if I don't.
So I do. And he does. And we don't even need to say anything, don't even need to think about it, we just know what to fire. And the whole world goes blue for a second and there's this one crazy moment where I think, that's funny, that's really funny, it's exactly the same colour as her eyes, and then it's gone and everything's still.
When I breathe, I breathe steam. It's that cold. Jasdero copies me, and laughs. "Hey, David, watch this, hee!" He picks up a twig and sticks it between his lips, blowing out misted breath. "Look at me, I'm Tyki!"
I snigger, 'cuz Jasdero's really funny when he wants to be. Not like me. I'm always angry, or impatient, or happy or some kind of uncomfortable mix of all of them. I don't really know how to be funny and batty like Jas does.
The frosty air clears slightly, and now the whole clearing is all sparkly and white and blue and the girl's disappeared. No, she hasn't, she's lying on the floor, half-buried in snow and icy shards. The gun's still clutched in her blue fingers.
"Tch." I put my pistol away, and so does Jas. He's standing funny like he always does, half bent and with his arms hanging down like a broken puppet. When he catches me looking at him, he twists his head to one side and pulls a face, each eye going in the opposite direction.
"Let's go home," I say, and we both turn around. It takes a moment for me to remember that I don't know the way home. "Aw, shit." Jasdero stares at me, and he doesn't say anything, but I can hear his thoughts and they're just going home? Hot chocolate? Home?
Behind me, there's movement, and the girl struggles to her feet in a crunch of snow and ice.
"Careful, Patty," says the gun called Liz.
'Patty' is shivering uncontrollably, and me and Jas laugh at that, which she doesn't like. She raises the gun and before I know what's happening she's firing like a mad thing, screaming and screaming, and bloody hell, that's not screaming, she's effing laughing.
I duck and the wood of the tree behind me explodes above my head. I don't think this Patty's even aiming, she's just shooting for the hell of it. I see Jasdero turning around, and he's not ducking, he's not effing ducking, he's just standing there in that funny way of his and then there's a rain of bullets and he's thrown backwards and hits a tree and lies there, hair covering his face and not moving and not effing moving.
I see Patty not stopping, turning the gun on me and missing, missing, missing, but she managed to hit Jasdero. And he's not moving. I don't know how to move anymore. I don't know how to stand up. I don't even know how to breathe. I don't know anything anymore.
I just sit there on my knees, staring and staring like a sodding idiot at Jasdero's hair all over the frosty ground and those bandages he wears all up his arms 'cuz he hurt himself bad one time and never bothered to take them off and at his fingernails painted black 'cuz I do mine that way and he's just like me.
"Patty!" The gun's stopped firing and I don't even realise. It's talking again. "Stop it Patty, stop it!"
And then there are two girls instead of one, and I can feel them both staring at me, so I turn and I scream at them. I can't remember how to make words anymore, so I just open my mouth and this great big sound comes out, and it feels full of all my anger and how Jasdero was there and now he's not anymore.
There's a numbness in my brain, a numbness which is usually filled with his endless chattering and laughing and pictures 'cuz Jasdero never knows how to switch that crazy mind of his off, and his mind is mine just like mine's in his. But his isn't there any more. Does that…does that mean…
Ow. Ow…ow ow owowowowowowowowowowowow
His foot twitches.
The ows in my head go on and on. And then he sits up and my heart is expanding like a balloon 'cuz he's not dead after all. He sits up real slow and rubs his head and I can see his forehead is bleeding kind of bad, but he wipes the blood away and then the wound is gone 'cuz he's a Noah so he'll always be okay.
He rubs his head. Owowowowowowow. He looks at me and his eyes are all bulgy and kind of all over the place. "Ow, Debitto."
I swallow. "Yeah, Jas."
Those two bitches are still staring at us.
I hurt all over. When I was shot I didn't know what was going on 'cept that my tummy hurt more than anything ever. It felt like the time David kicked me in the middle 'cuz I dared him to, but much worse. I guess I must have been unconscious for a while 'cuz when I wake up I have no idea where I am and I'm sitting against a tree and my head hurts and my stomach hurts, it hurts so much.
My head gets better real quick though and soon I'm just rubbing my tummy and hoping it will stop hurting. David is watching me and he's shaking and I can see his thoughts, they're all white with relief and full of horrible pictures of me turning around, of me smashing against that tree, of me looking so dead.
No wonder he was scared.
Wasn't I instantly get from him, and just like that he's not looking at me anymore, but his thoughts go on in my head, quick and scared and happy and he's alivealivealivealivealive over and over again. Then he's looking at the short girl and suddenly I'm frightened because his face has gone all dark and angry and his thoughts are red again and this time I'm seeing the girl broken and dead and bloody on the floor.
And this time I don't add a monkey.
The tall, beautiful Liz is holding the short girl - her sister - so hard and her face is scared but so strong at the same time that it confuses me so I laugh again, but not very well 'cuz I still feel dizzy. I hear another squirrel in the tree above me, and I look up just in time to see its tail disappearing into the leaves.
David has got to his feet and is waiting for me to do the same, so I do and we both stand side by side, me swaying a bit and feeling seasick (can you feel seasick on land? I don't know) and both looking at the girls. I can still feel David's thoughts and now he's just going kill, kill. Kill kill over and over again which I don't really like but it's filling me up like water and soon I'm just overflowing with kill until I wanna kill her too.
Her sister is still holding her.
"Kill! Kill, kill, kill!" I scream 'cuz I can't hold it in anymore which isn't fair 'cuz it was David's idea in the first place and now it's mine even though I never really wanted it.
"No!" says the short girl real suddenly. "No, no, no!"
I don't really know what to say to that.
I'm wobbling where I stand.
David takes a deep breath. "You don't hurt Jasdero," he says, and it's in a really hard voice that I've heard before, when he really means what he's saying, which doesn't happen very often. "You don't, not ever."
"You don't hurt Patty," says Liz immediately. "Never."
So her name's Patty.
I stare at her and she pulls a face back at me which makes me confused and all the while Liz and David glower at each other over our heads with real mean expressions.
"What have you done with Kidd?" says Liz really firmly and I can hear a hardness in her voice too, and I realise that this Kidd person, he must be real important to her.
"We don't know him," snaps David.
"We never seen him," I say.
Patty's eyes are the same colour as her sister's.
Liz catches me looking at her, and I see her flinch backwards, dragging Patty with her. "What are you looking at?"
I don't say anything.
She doesn't like this, and tries to glare at me all angry, but once you've seen David's angry face, anyone else's just looks kind of pathetic. 'Cept the Earl's. I think of this and I can't help it, and even though he's not there even the thought of him angry makes my stomach kind of lurch and I look sideways at David and I know he's thinking it too.
S'ok. He knows I can't help it. I'm more scared of the Earl than anything in the world.
Liz is still looking at me and those blue eyes are still really wide and scared. I look back at her.
"What?" she asks again, all worried like I'm dangerous.
I don't say anything.
Her voice rises. "Why's he staring at me?" It goes all high and wobbly 'cuz she's scared. "What's wrong with him? Make him stop!" she cries to David, who looks kind of surprised at her talking to him like this.
I don't say anything, I just stare. I never seen a proper girl before, 'cept for Road and Lulubelle and one or two exorcists. And they don't count 'cuz they're bad.
"Why are you staring?" she asks again, at me.
David sighs, she's annoying him. Tell her, Jas he says to me.
"Your eyes," I say at last. "They're blue."
"I know," she says crazily, not letting go of her sister. "So what?"
"Her eyes are blue too, hee!" I say, laughing 'cuz it's so funny.
"Your eyes are gold," says Patty all suddenly, pointing at me. "And so are his." She points at David. David scowls.
"Kidd…" moans Liz, and I remember somewhere her telling us that his eyes were gold too. Black hair, gold eyes, black and white suit. That reminds me of dinner two weeks ago, and me and David in suits like Tyki's and David not putting his tie on 'cuz he doesn't like wearing it.
He sees me remembering this and pulls a face. I pull one back. He sniggers. I laugh. I laugh until I fall over and my sides hurt and for a while I lie there and watch a cloud float over.
"I'm hungry, sis," I hear Patty say. "Let's go get ice cream."
I look up at that, 'cuz me and David like ice cream too, especially pistachio. David's thinking of it too and he's trying not to show he's hungry but I can see his thoughts and they're overflowing with food he likes to eat like ice cream and beef and noodles and pineapple and chicken and rice and those fried rice omelettes he loves so much. I sit back and all I can think about is pistachio ice cream and how green it is.
"No ice cream here," says Liz back.
"Yeah there is," I tell her. "At the house. Skin's got loads."
She gives me a funny look. And Patty's already looking happy. Happier than anyone I've ever seen. "Ice cream? Really?"
"Yeah," I tell her, and David pulls me to my feet and side by side we stand there and watch Liz and Patty.
"We need help," says Liz straight out. "We don't know where we are, we've lost our friend and we need food and shelter."
I look at David and he looks at me and all he thinks is she's brave that was brave saying that. And it was.
We don't know what to do.
"I don't know what to do," I say to Liz and Patty and they just look confused.
"Are you exorcists?" says David suddenly and he's being all suspicious and who can blame him 'cuz we can't help exorcists, they're bad, they're really bad and anyway the Earl will beat us if we help exorcists.
Liz looks confused. "What?"
"Are you the enemy, hee?" I ask.
"No," says Patty.
"I don't think so," says Liz. "We just want to go home."
"Where is home?" asks David, and I realise that for the first time his thoughts aren't angry at her, he's quieter now and he's just asking to know.
"Death City," says Liz in a small voice and I can see she's thinking of home and this Kidd person and I'm thinking of home too and sitting by the fire with pistachio ice cream.
David looks a bit sad at that and I can see he wants to go home too. It's already getting sort of dark. Let's go home, Jas.
But we're lost.
And suddenly I don't like being lost no more.
"North," says David suddenly. "Home is north."
And in his head I can see a memory of Tyki telling us this.
Liz points. "That's north."
We both stare, which she doesn't like. "How do you know?"
She points at the sun. "It's setting in the west. So that's north."
We stare some more. Patty laughs. Then David yanks his coat hood up like he does when he doesn't want anyone looking at him and stomps off. I follow.
After a minute, Liz and Patty do too.
I notice that Patty's leading Liz. Up ahead, David has stuck his hands deep into his pockets and he's feeling kind of confused and unhappy so I run to his side and we walk together and his thoughts get a bit better.
But not much better.
Behind me, Liz says something and Patty laughs. I've never heard no one laugh like that, so loud and so crazy, and so long. She laughs like she's never gonna stop. Like no one I've ever heard in our house.
"You do that," David tells me, dark under his hood and looking at his feet as he walks, not 'cuz he's sulking but because he's looking out for flowers so he can step on them.
"What did you say?" calls Liz from behind me, and David stops and turns around and fixes her with a look and even I think he's a bit scary when he's got that hood up.
"Wasn't talking to you."
"Who were you talking to then?"
"Jas," he says, pointing at me.
"But he didn't say anything."
"Yeah I did, hee!" I explain. Liz looks confused, and again, frightened. "Did you?" Patty's clutching her arm, and even she looks a bit worried. "I didn't hear anything."
"He still told me," says David, turning around and carrying on walking, stomp stomp stomp.
"You did it before," says Liz in a scared voice, watching his retreating back. "I saw you. He looks at you and you kind of look at him, and you don't say anything but you somehow agree on stuff."
Again, David turns. And he's smiling but it's his evil smile and I know he's not really going to hurt her but he sure looks like he would and Liz doesn't know him like I do so she looks scared and hugs Patty tight.
"We're special," says David. And that's all he says and he's walking ahead again. Liz and Patty stare at me and they don't start following because I'm still standing there staring at them.
They're scared of you David tells me.
"Are they?" I ask him.
"Stop it!" says Liz and I grin at her, which frightens her even more, and run after David.
Behind me, Liz and Patty start following again.
David hides under his hood and marches silently at my side, full of bad thoughts he doesn't know what to do with.
I can see them.