So I have barely touched the erotica I’ve been working on and have, instead, spent most of my day writing my LJI entry for the week. I actually got the short end of the stick in terms of topics — Gary gave us a list of 14 topics, said “First come, first serve.” I fell asleep twenty minutes before the topics went up, woke up 7ish hours later, and there were only two topics left. I snagged “Memories,” and then went back to bed. 

I finished the LJI entry, though. I am looking for objective betas. It’s based (roughly) on my planned ending for the Tomorrow Trilogy. Any concrit is more than welcome. 🙂 I thrive off it, really.

The entry is under the cut, since it’s a 2000 word long piece. 🙂

My stomach rolls as the stench of blood fills my nose, my hands shaking as I sit in the dark interrogation room. I snort to myself, loosely crossing my arms over my knees. Never thought the smell of blood would make me feel sick.

It’s not just anyone’s blood, though. Not a patient’s, not mine. It’s his. Tears well up in my eyes but I ignore them, just as I ignore everything else. As I try and keep my mind from moving a mile a minute.

They have Mitchel in custody. They’re no doubt stringing our stories together — though I doubt that fucking bastard’s gonna talk, anyway. He got what he fucking wanted. Empire’s falling apart and there’s not a damn thing I can do to piece it back together — not after this, not without him.

Don’t wanna think about that, either. Don’t want to think about how weak his heartbeat was, how I could feel his blood pulse against my fingers as I tried, and failed, to temporarily staunch the bleeding.

But thinking’s all I’m capable of. I close my eyes and resist running my stained fingers through my hair. Even move to push my glasses back up my nose, except they’re not on my face, anyway. Wearing contacts.

The door swings open, a lone detective regarding me with what seems to be pity as opposed to distrust. “You’re free to go, Emperor,” he murmurs, slipping his hands in his pockets. “Foraker gave up everything. Said you weren’t involved at all.”

“Damn right I wasn’t,” I growl, getting up from my seat. I grab my suit jacket off the chair and sling it over my shoulders, ignoring how it only makes the smell of blood worse. My stomach jumps into my throat. “Can I get my stuff back, now?”

“Of course. Follow me.”

I nod, knowing full well the man can’t see it since he’s turned on his heel. We walk through the station, and immediately I feel every set of eyes on me. The stares are something I’ve grown used to — something I just learned to accept over the past year.

Except this time, I’m coated in blood that’s not my own. My hair has to be a mess, loose and, thankfully, covering my face some as the tears keep coming. When the detective hands me my wallet, I think nothing of it and shove it in my pocket.

Going back to the palace and hiding for as long as I possibly can is all I can focus on as I walk out of the station. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the policemen drag Mitchel to somewhere unknown.

If it were remotely possible, the bastard’s shoulders are slumped even more than mine. A fire burns within me, but my body’s too exhausted, too worn down from the day’s events for me to approach him now. For me to give him a piece of my mind.

For me to ask him why he would do such a fucking thing.

***

Sleeping’s fucking impossible.

The bed’s empty. I remind myself that it was empty the night before, too. That he wouldn’t have been lying next to me, anyway. Not after we fell apart. Not after he threw his ring, shouting that abandoning him wouldn’t protect him.

Those blue eyes had looked so pained then, shimmering in the light from the lamp beside the couch. He had clenched his jaw, bit his lip, and slipped his ring off his finger. Thrown it at me. He never knew I had retrieved that ring, moments later after he stormed out of our apartment. Never knew that I carried it with me.

The ring sits on the nightstand beside the bed, still visible even in the low light of the room. Groaning, I push myself up into a sitting position, legs crossed loosely in front of me as I hold my head in my hands. Hands that, if I concentrate really hard, still smell like blood.

He was right.

I need to get out of the bed. Need to go somewhere else, somewhere that doesn’t remind me of him and how desperately I wished he were still alive. Choking back tears, I pull the covers aside and make my way through the darkened apartment.

When he left, I threw out all of my pictures of him. All but one. As I grab my wallet off the kitchen table, my eyebrows furrow together. It feels light — and the leather’s a little less worn. I reach above me to tug the chain from the ceiling fan, turning on the light.

“Oh, no,” I groan, collapsing into a nearby chair. I rake my hair back, dragging my nails along my scalp as I flip the wallet open.

It’s not mine. Don’t know whose it is, and my fingers shake as I pull out the first thing they land on. It’s a photograph. A single photograph, worn around the edges, damn near falling apart as if it had been taken out and put back countless times.

And when my tears subside enough for me to really take a look, my eyes widen. The hand holding the photograph curls around it, shaking and threatening to rip the photograph in half.

I can’t, because he’s staring back at me, a wide grin sweeping across his face. There’s a beer in his hand — and an arm that isn’t mine slung around his shoulders. I almost don’t recognize the bastard in the photograph — he’s smiling. And not that tight-lipped polite one he’s mastered so fucking well. An actual smile. And he’s not wearing a suit, but — are those jeans?

Mitchel’s. The wallet’s Mitchel’s. The bastard has the same wallet as me. Even had a single photograph of him and Jazz together, just like I have in mine. One breathless moment later, and I’m clutching my sides, laughter escaping my lips, Mitchel’s photograph still in my hand.

When my laughter subsides, I wipe my tears away. Slip the photograph back inside Mitchel’s wallet where I found it. I leave the wallet on the table, reaching up again to click off the light, and head back to bed.

I should throw Mitchel’s wallet away, go back to the police station, and retrieve my own.

Except he wouldn’t have wanted me to just throw Mitchel’s things away like that, so I won’t.

***

When the guards bring Mitchel into the room, it takes all of my willpower to keep my hands from clenching at my sides. Instead, I tug on my sleeves, straightening them as the guards shove Mitchel into the chair opposite the one meant for me. I haven’t sat down yet. I’m not even sure that I can, the way Mitchel’s dark eyes narrow at me.

“Go ahead and leave,” I order, my voice thankfully steady as I glance at the guards. “He won’t do anything to me in here.”

One of the prison guards gives me a stout nod, his expression blank except for the tiniest raise of an eyebrow. He clasps a hand on the other’s shoulder, dragging him out of the room. Mitchel continues to glare at me, his handcuffed hands resting idly on the table. I almost call the guards to uncuff him, but think better of it as I grip the back of the empty seat meant for me and will my stomach to settle.

“Cat got your tongue, Emperor?” Mitchel asks, leaning back in his seat. “What is it that you wished to speak with me about?”

His voice is as smooth as always. Tightly controlled and so very him. Except I can see the deep bags under his eyes — how his eyes themselves are bloodshot. His hair’s not washed, and part of it’s even sticking up in the back.

“Why’d you do it?” The words spill from my lips just as my grip tightens on the chair in front of me.

“I’m afraid you already know the answer to that, Emperor,” Mitchel responds with a sigh. He buffs his nails on his bright orange jumper — the color really doesn’t suit the bastard at all. “I wanted to make the Empire collapse by ridding it of its leadership and giving the Resistance its chance to take over entirely.”

I let go of the chair and reach behind me, fingering the photograph resting in my back pocket. “I’m not interested in knowing your political motivations, Mitchel,” I murmur. “I already know those.”

“Then we’re done here,” Mitchel says, his eyes meeting mine. They narrow again, though this time he purses his lips together. He sits up straight, resting his hands on the table between us once again. “Unless you have another question, Emperor, I have better things to do than to sit here and chat with you.”

My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth as I pull my hands away from my back pocket, holding the photograph tightly at my side. “I do,” I manage, my voice shaking now. Mitchel raises an eyebrow, studying my every move. I fight back tears as I force myself to continue. “Why — why him?”

Mitchel’s eyes widen for a moment before focusing on anything other than me. “I’m afraid I don’t understand your question, Bates.” If he could put a hand to the side of his face, I’m sure he would, the look he’s giving me right now. Like a child who’s bored with playing a game.

“You totally fucking do, Mitchel,” I growl, throwing the photograph down on the table. It slides to his hand, his eyes following it. For a moment, he studies the photograph, his expression unreadable. “You still love him.”

Mitchel laughed, the sound harsh against my ears. “Do you really think a cold, calculating man like myself could possibly love anyone?” He taps the photograph, pulling it closer to him. “Where’d you get this? Surely Callahan’s long since thrown away any personal effects from our doomed relationship.”

“From your wallet,” I answer, feeling my lips tug slightly upwards.

Mitchel doesn’t move, his finger still on top of the photograph. From here, I can tell he’s not covering Jazz’s face at all. He then sighs, pulling his chair in some so he can hold the picture comfortably in his hands. He turns it over, fingers caressing the edges. No wonder they look so damn worn out. “How’d you get a hold of my personal belongings, Bates?”

“We have the same wallet, apparently,” I mutter, pulling out my own and showing it to him. “The police made a mistake — gave me yours without realizing it.” I frown, looking away from him. After a moment, I settle into the seat meant for me, leveling my gaze with Mitchel’s. I don’t care if I’m tearing up again, or if he can better see just how bloodshot my eyes are, and how much pain I’m really in. “I’ll ask again: Why him? Why not — why not me?”

Mitchel’s fingers stop tracing the edges of the photograph. A slight frown takes over his features, and he looks just as worn down and exhausted as I feel. “Why not, indeed,” he whispers, clearing his throat as the guards step back inside the room. “It appears my time is up, Bates. I hope you got the answers you were looking for.” He stands up from his seat, holding the picture tightly in his hand. “May I…?”

“It’s rightfully yours,” I tell him, waving him away. I rest one arm along the back of the chair and turn away from him. “I certainly don’t want to keep a picture of my husband with his ex-boyfriend, anyway.”

Mitchel murmurs something that I don’t quite catch — but I think he might have said thank you. The guards take him away, and I rub my chin and tilt my head back, staring at the ceiling.

Aren’t you a surgeon, Bates? Shouldn’t you be able to fix him?

Of course your precious husband would sacrifice himself in order to save you. I always knew he would, which is why I aimed for you instead of him.

Why not, indeed.

“That bastard,” I hiss to myself, slamming a fist against the table. A laugh escapes me and I shake my head, running my fingers through my hair as tears stream down my face.

That fucking bullet had been meant for me, all along.

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