Devi slammed a door behind her, and the crash rattled a few chunks of aged plaster from the wall. They made faint noise as they hit the floor, crushed by the sound of Devi's body hitting a chair. She growled, under her breath, and glared at the grungy old door as if hoping that it would crumble to dust and share her frustration.
"Can't talk to a psycho like a normal human being," she muttered, blowing purple hair out of her eyes. One more annoying stimulus and she was going to flip a shit. She dared that hair to fall back.
It was times like these that she seriously considered taking a mallet to his stupid gaunt head. She still remembered the feeling of his nose crunching under her fist, well enough to itch for the sensation again. God, she hated him.
There was the sound of his stupid boots thunking down the hall, almost as loud as his ranting-didn't matter that no one was there to hear him, he'd talk till he passed out sometimes, and it was fucking hilarious. She'd gotten pretty familiar with the third so-called occupant of her current residence, and she could tell the difference between talking to him and talking to the air. Right now, that was the sound of yelling for the sake of yelling.
Well fine, let him yell. Devi wasn't stupid enough to act like she cared. He'd shut up eventually, he always did. And, if he didn't, she really would take a mallet to his skull
or something sharper perhaps? Flashes of many lovely, silver objects sprayed through her mind, and she knew where to find all of them. There was never a shortage in this house.
Nails dug into her shoulders, both a relief and an aggravation. All the arguments blended together at this point, and the specifics of this one were already fading from her memory, which was all the same to her. The subject matter was irrelevant, what counted was how utterly pissed off she was right now.
"Shut up!" she shouted, tossing something heavy at the door. More plaster rained to the floor.
Oh, she remembered something about scaring him. He scared easily. All different sorts of fear-mostly, that she was leaving. Sometimes she just startled him, the jumpy motherfucker. Whatever. It always ended the same: him off on a murderous rampage, screaming about her, and her off seething in her room.
This time, she remembered, she really thought his head was going to spin around, exorcist style. He looked like he was about to kill her. Huh. There was something almost pitiful about the way he shrieked at her, brandishing that knife. Something kind of needy. Sometimes, it was hard to resist-but she did. Oh hell yes, she resisted like an Iraqi insurgent in a military prison.
Like a child, he was. A baby waving cold steel in front of her face, not understanding himself or what he was doing, just angry. Very angry. She knew what he wanted. She knew quite well. He wanted her to back down, he wanted her to shut up and play along, he wanted her to stop hating him so much. He wanted her on her knees, like all the other people who flitted-even so briefly-through his life. And when she wouldn't, he flipped out. Can't talk to a psycho
The stomping in the hall fell quiet, along with the voice, and Devi knew what was coming next. The door wheezed open, black suited fingers wrapping around the edge. A shoulder followed, then a face, gaunt and arrogant, reveling in its pettiness.
He looked at her like she was an insect, and not the variety that he was so admiring of. She glared back, steely. Just another one of his fucking mind-games, just another thing itching her skin along with the loose hair at the nape of her neck.
He underestimated her, though, at times like these. She wasn't scared, and she wasn't giving in like he wanted. She never did.
"Get the fuck out, Johnny," she growled, biting the bullet.
"No," he replied, eyes narrowed. "Not until you-"
"I'll do whatever the fuck I like, you dick."
There was a stalemate, tension snapping through the room. Their arguments were like car wrecks-brutal and ugly and unavoidable, and just fascinating enough to watch despite the carnage. She never left, not in the middle of one. That would have
"I hate you," she said, spit in her words. They shot past her lips and slugged him in the temple, and she took real pleasure in the twist of anger on his face.
Oh, she hated him. She hated him, and he knew it. The crazy motherfucker. She wasn't sure why he let her stay-and she really wasn't sure why she stayed either.
He'd called again, five or so months ago, and she'd yelled at him again-she barely remembered the conversation, but she did remember being irate. The fucking nerve. From then on, every week or so, it was another call from Johnny, either begging her to come back or screaming at her for being in his head. From what she could gather, every time he tried to purge himself of all emotion
he remembered her.
She screamed back. Her voice was hoarse the next day, always-Tenna would hear her talk and just shake her head, and suggest getting a new phone number. Every time. She never got one.
It was funny to think that after his avid quest for that Vulcan ideal, it was her memory tripping him up every time. Gratifying, actually, that she could cause him so much pain when he was who-the-hell-knew how many miles away. She hoped he would just tear his heart out and be done with it.
Then he'd come back. A couple months on the road, and he just gave up. The calls told her that much. Between shouting matches, something else got through-sometimes she forgot to yell, and she let him talk for too long
she heard things that reminded her
Sometimes he tricked her with a question-drew her out of that safe, angry place and wrung something important out of her. It was, she supposed, in those all too often moments that the whole problem started. Modest things, like what she'd read or where she was living now, or what she'd been doing-just as, little by little, he pieced together the story of her bout with Sickness.
He lived in the city again for a month or so before they started meeting-maybe 'meeting' was the wrong word. He found her, and they would fight, and he would blame her for all his problems just like she blamed him for all hers. Once, the man had the gall to show up at the Nerve, at her office, and he'd gotten a good look at her work before the fight erupted again. She was pretty sure one of her coworkers died that day.
He loved her, she knew that. The crazy bastard still loved her, even after he tried to kill her-even after she beat his face in and left him for dead, even after all the screaming and threatening they'd both done.
At some point, she'd found herself spending time with him, wandering off with him to the park or down the street, playing a strange game of cat and mouse-though who was cat and who was mouse she could never be certain. She didn't particularly care whether he was a murderer or not, in fact she had witnessed a few of his kills in the past months, and she didn't particularly care if she might need to kill him one day. But she did find herself tied to him, again, with no idea when it had begun or how to stop it.
If she could stop it.
Shit was always happening in their city. Usually to one of them. So it hadn't been so much surprising as wearisome when her apartment burned down, leaving a smoldering ruin where her one room of questionable safety had once stood. She couldn't help but wonder if it had been more than coincidence.
The sound of a knife sliding into a boot snapped her back to the present, as the man in front of her feinted nonchalance. As if he hadn't been contemplating her murder minutes ago.
"Fuck," he said, no particular emotion in his strained voice.
She agreed wholeheartedly. She hated him. She hated him just enough to feel satisfied every time he broke into one of his fits on her account, just enough to grin when she saw his hand twitch on the pommel of his knife. It was a kind of smoldering thing, a vindictive streak of cruelty that she did her best to flaunt. She really didn't care if this was painful for him.
He hated her too. Well, that was only fair: she hated herself as well. No shock. After all, what the hell was she doing, here, day after day and night after night? It wasn't the screaming-no, that was always pleasing-it was the moments between, quieter moments when the waters stilled and she wanted to kiss him as much as kill him.
And why did he make her feel like this? It was a question for the ages, and every moment she couldn't find an answer was another moment she burned with hatred for the both of them. That motherfucker. She ought to rip his throat out, see how well he shouted after that.
She hated him, just enough to want him-or want him dead. One way or the other.
He was crazy.
Maybe she was crazy too. Just crazy enough.
(to love him)