The blood on the walls is not his.
Bokuto chants this to himself silently, working on his hands and knees as he tries to scrub the mess away. He's been cleaning for hours now, wiping it all away and then doing it again because he swears he can still(more) see it in the corner of his eyes. Akaashi would be home any minute now, and he would see him like this. Terrified.
Bokuto has reason to be afraid, at least. Angels are not supposed to let others know what they are, under any circumstance. Even if Bokuto's wings got caught in a barbed wire fence and he couldn't hold them still enough to keep them from flaring and splattering blood across the room. Angel blood is next to permanent.
After several more minutes, Bokuto's phone rings with a message:
'will be home later. don't try making dinner for me.'
He pouts because Akaashi will be late. But then he sighs because maybe it's enough time.
Akaashi walks in on him just as he's closing the lid of the paint can. "What are you /doing/?" he says, voice exasperated. Bokuto knows he's only angry because he's tired. "Akaashi! Sorry, sorry. I accidentally-there was-"
"Did you get Sharpie on the walls again?"
"Yes! That's it. I'm real' sorry, Keiji. I didn't mean to. It's gone now, at least!"
Akaashi sighs and sets his bag down, slipping his shoes off. "It's all right." He heads to the kitchen but pauses. "Are you sure?"
Bokuto freezes. "Eh?"
"Just marker?" Akaashi asks, turning to glance at him for just a second. Somehow, Bokuto thinks his look could be called knowing. "Positive!"
Akaashi nods one more time. "Okay."
In the kitchen, Keiji ignores the impatient skip of his heart and forces his wings to lie still.(less)
If there's a problem
Paint over it
If you make a mistake
Paint over it
If it doesn't look right
Paint over it
(more) If people don't approve
Paint over it
Paint, paint, paint endlessly
For your work will never be perfect
There will always be
A seeming need for touch-ups
So on you paint
Until the your original picture
No longer exists.(less)
"This is way too much."
"Aw, Iwa-chan, don't say that. This is perfect!"
"This is /more/ than enough."
The pile of blankets surrounding them was almost as tall as the couch beside it. "I could literally drown in this and you're thinking it's enough."
"Iwa-chan! You know ho(more)w to swim!"
"I /used/ to know how to swim."
"Well, some things you just can't forget."
"And some things you just shouldn't do. Like gather all of ours-and is this one Hanamaki's?-blankets to have a sleepover in."
Oikawa pouted, fluffing the pillow he was holding before falling back and landing somewhere in the pile. "This is safe," he said, voice muffled by blankets. "So you thought," Iwaizumi muttered, grabbing a handful of the soft sheets and covering Oikawa's face with them. Oikawa let out a childish scream, thrashing wildly until he broke through and sat up. "Oh my /God/, Iwa-chan, I could have /died/!"
"But you didn't. This is a blanket surplus."
"Extras are always good," Oikawa muttered, wiggling back into the mess until Iwaizumi couldn't even see him. "Come down here, Iwa-chan. It's cozy."
But Iwaizumi pulled one of the blankets up and dove in, crawling until he caught sight of Oikawa's legs and grabbing them. Oikawa yelped and Iwaizumi chuckled, moving forward until he could see the brunette's accusing glare. "What are we doing here?" Iwaizumi asked instead, hoping it'd be enough to make Oikawa forgive him. "We'll snuggle, Iwa-chan!"
Oikawa wrapped one arm around Iwaizumi's shoulders, tugging him closer until he was laying partially on top of his back. "Dumbass, you're heavy."
"Iwa-chan, you're so strong, I'm sure you don't mind."
Iwaizumi coughed awkwardly at that, a red blush forming across his face. "Whatever, Shittykawa," he said, crossing his arms below him for a makeshift pillow. (less)
"So you tried to be brave."
"Don't look at me like that."
"You /do/ know they'll never forgive you, right?"
Kuroo smirked down at Oikawa, arms crossed lazily over his chest. "You burned down all your bridges with them, pun intended."
Oikawa pulled his knees (more)up to his chin, eyeing the necklace he wore. "T'was an accident," he mumbled. "I didn't want them meddling."
"What'd you think would happen? Your knight in shining armor would let you do this to the world-or more importantly, for him, to yourself?"
Oikawa shrugged, listening to the clashing of weapons below. "They'll be here soon is all I'm saying," Kuroo said, shrugging. "Now, me, I've got a magic charm with a one-time use. I'll get out alive and human, at least."
"What about me?"
Kuroo huffed, shrugging. "I don't know, man. I hope your death is quick, probably."
With that, he was gone. Oikawa stared wide-eyed at the door, listening to the creak of a ladder as someone climbed up for the last battle.
"Can't you tell I'm just trying to be nice-"
The arrow flashed past and Oikawa ducked with a smirk-
But he stopped when he saw the necklace caught on the tip. Hinata froze, eyebrows raising. "What's going on?"
The building was shaking, and Oikawa's eyes widened as he grabbed the orange-haired boy and shoved him under a desk. "Duck," he snarled, looking up to Kageyama and the others-and at last, even Iwaizumi. "Get under something! Hide!"
The building collapsed and Oikawa found himself staring frozen at Iwaizumi.
"-dumbass! How could you not tell me about that!? You had time to hide, too!"
Oikawa opened his eyes to look up at a very annoyed Iwaizumi.
"I was trying to be brave," he whispered.
Iwaizumi sighed. "You don't have to."(less)
Charlie shuffled through the flea-market. He looked up at the grey clouds and mused that a cliche novel would say "the sky echoed his sullen mood". He found himself in the far back of the damp field where the small-time vendors had set up shop. Some of the tents were already vacant. (more) It made him feel more welcome, at least until a voice tripped up his melancholy.
"You look troubled, darlin'"
Charlie looked up to see a fat woman in a faded blue dress sitting under a nondescript tent. She was lounging in a metal folding chair with her arm propped up on a card table. The only other items in the tent were a trashcan and the remnants of spent cigarettes scattered on the table. She was staring at him, half a smirk tugging the right side of her face, taking a big drag on the ash laden cigarette that was her current victim.
"Just wandering," Charlie said, "What are you supposed to be selling, anyway?".
The woman flicked her cigarette and pointed at the trash can. It had the words "Start Over" scrawled in sharpie across it's dull metal front.
Charlie looked at her, "what does that even mean?"
"Different for everybody. What would starting over mean for you?"
Charlie snorted. "It would mean no more dealing with other people's bullshit all the time."
"Well that's perfect, darlin'. You just toss them burdens in that can and you're all set."
"That doesn't make sense."
She grinned. "It will."
"How? Pretending to 'throw my burdens' in a can won't solve their problems."
She gave him a wry look. "Darlin', other people's problems ain't your burden, so why carry it for them?"
"Never thought of it that way."
"Most don't." She smiled. "Can's waiting for you. That'll be a nickel".(less)
The vet's injection took hold and my bird died in my hand. Her stillness changed from struggling-sick to gone-elsewhere. Her black eyes winced shut.
This was the exact thing I spent her whole life protecting her from, but now I had bought and paid for it. She had(more) grown thin and weak and there was nothing more to be done. Her life sparked out and she became her elements: bones and feathers.
She'd had free run of the apartment and in sunny weather I took her for walks along the street in the purse-sized travel cage. I had learned too late that a bird shouldn't be caged, should't be bought at all.
I was alone in the city except for the bird. The vet asked if I wanted the body. I had nowhere to put the body - the thought made me cry. Two years in the city and still nothing or no one. I knew coffee shops and the library. Bus stops, work, the concrete balcony of my tiny apartment. It overlooked Dumpsters.
The vet promised to bury her on her own property, an acreage where she grew apple trees and flowers. She put my bird in a velvet box that folded shut, like a jewelry case. I couldn't watch the lid catch. I left emptyhanded, 11pm at night. The vet's lighted windows a lone burning square on the darkened street. The sidewalk was blank concrete, unimpressionable but serviceable: it lead me home.
All this happened before I really knew the city like I do now. By bicycle, through love. No inch a mystery. Nowadays, I have places I could bury her. But all this was before I knew you could claim your streets. So what if it didn't belong to you. That tiny death. That loss, that gain.(less)
The remnants of lace kept piling up. No one would buy the last bits not after the rumors started making the rounds. The rumors about what was left behind. The rumors started by the cloth makers about what was left behind. Propagated by the senseless widowers that the remnants(more) caused ghosts.
The shawls the old women had worn had been made of remnants. They all showed up after death. Still sitting where they had sat in life. Still demanding the things they demanded in life. Vocally. And with the power of the afterlife. Those threads of unworldly magic that is only accessible by those who are between worlds. Those dead women who's shawls were made of remnants now controlled power far beyond that of the mortal men they once loved. Those ghosts now demanded the television channels. They demanded food they couldn't eat. Demands of air temperature they couldn't feel.
The old men complied. Willingly. At night the old men fell asleep looking at specters of the women they loved once. In the morning they conspired to get rid of remnants of lace.
In the evening the old men cooked the food the way the specters wanted. They turned the air to a temperature that was acceptable to the ghosts.
"The pens," he said.
"Pens? Why?" she asked, perplexed.
"Oh you are more stupid than I think if you thought an enchanter need a.... what was that? Oh, magic wand to make spells," he said, barely contained the disdain from his voice.
Im in a war. I am losing the war, I can only lose this war. When I lose this war I will lose myself. These thoughts consume me, they consume my soul, my heart, my actions, and my life. I am being eaten alive by my own mind. I(more) am killing myself just to prove that I am not strong and capable like everyone says. I strive to be different, and be cared for. I only know how to play the victim. Its me against me. Its me against my mind. Its me eating myself alive. Who wins? Who loses? How do you know when its finally done when there is no one left to crown the King? How can someone live this way?
"It's been haunting me," says Alexi, scribbling dark charcoal outlines down the side of the sketchpad. "For years. This dream." Her hands are shaking and her face is pale.
Her mother is bent over paperwork at her desk, and does not look up. "The one with the door?(more)"
"Yes," snaps Alexi. The charcoal snaps in half between her fingers, scattering black dust across the page. "THAT door. The one you want to find so unholy desperate." The dust smears; the paper turns grey.
This gets her mother's attention. The door always does. Holier is filthy hungry for wishes, the way a stray dog is hungry for meat without caring about its source. "In this dream," she asks, settling her chin in the cup of her hands, "what is behind that door?"
Alexi shrugs, scraping her heels absentmindedly against the floorboards. "I've tried to open it. Never works. Something always stops me." She remembers a thousand hands grabbing at her limbs, her clothes; dragging her down into the dark.
The hands are always very cold, skin the blinding blue of djinn. Like Donnie, thinks Alexi, bleeding primaries across her field of vision while smoke leaks haphazardly out of his mouths.
"I don't remember," she lies. "I've never seen it."
we died first in small ways: where the tramping of our boots morphed into a hollow sound, curling beneath our ribs, unlucky, undeserved, until the darkness came and the blood dried-- sprayed across faces and hands, mouths painted red --beneath our nails, beneath our eyes, underneath our very skin,(more) and in the howling wind of a German autumn, we'd try to sleep, our minds infinite echo chambers throwing back screams and the gutsy, toothache of a noise that the rattle of gunfire made.
we died quick. we died screaming and swearing and hoping to god we'd live to see morning.
i watched men get beat to death-- no mercy for nazis, no mercy for a man like that --faces smashed in like that of a rotting watermelon, pavement sprayed red and oozing like the pain, like the anger that seemed to simmer in all of us.
i watched boys of no more than seventeen get slaughtered out on the front lines, faces still shiny and new like they'd just seen the world for the first time, heart beating until pounded straight through with lead and curled into my lap crying for their mamas.
i died so many times in so many small ways. i died wishing for something i couldn't have and praying to a god i didn't believe in.
"Tell me what they mean," Oikawa asks, curled up against Iwaizumi in the bed. "The marks?"
Iwaizumi holds his left arm out, where the traces of his magic story-tattooing powers first begun. "See the stars?" he asked, wiggling his thumb where the black ink was disturbed only(more) by speckles of tan skin. "Yeah?" Oikawa presses, interested. "My mom used to take me outside to watch them when I cried."
Oikawa reached up, brushing his fingertip over the tattoo. "S'nice," he said. "Homey."
Iwaizumi tells him the stories of his childhood, beetles decorating his inner elbow, trees reaching from his shoulder to his collarbone. He tells Oikawa about the volleyball (Oikawa knows, though), the blurry confession letters hidden on his side, the butterflies that represent when he first found out his crush on Oikawa in a garden. He taps the huge sunset tattooed on his chest, and without a word Oikawa already knows what it is. It's when Iwaizumi first confessed. Iwaizumi sits up just a little to show Oikawa the crescent moon on his back-that was when Oikawa crawled into his room and admitted his returned feelings. He shows the river going around his hips, from when they'd gone on vacation by a stream for a week and did more than go on adventures. All the little moments between them are recorded on his legs, up and down-a spilled coffee cup, a thumbtack (they both laugh and wince at this), a banana peel on a yearbook. Most of them don't make sense, but Iwaizumi remembers. And Oikawa loves.
"What about your right arm, Iwa-chan?" Oikawa murmurs at last. "There's nothing on it."
"Not yet, silly," Iwaizumi mutters. It's too dark for Oikawa to see, but the tattooed ring is still there. "We'll just have to wait for it."
With a sword in my gut, I crawl up the mountain of life.
Breathing is forgotten when the crimson liquid of life leaks from my womb. I shall arise from the shadows and make my way towards the light. Prayers from pure hearts and a caring mind gather 'roun(more)d my soul. No more bruises from unsettled thoughts. No more heartless words pounding at my head. My eyes see truth, but the evil restrains my throat and shove me back into the murkiness of silence. Weary tears burst and my gaze is blurred. Who is there? Who can help me? To live is not freedom. To survive is torture and brimmed with grief. But the choice is ours. In order to survive, you must be certain you can die. (less)