The man was still sat in his office. He didn’t notice us enter the room. He was reading what looked like a letter.
“Are you Devan McWhirter?” I asked. The man jumped and dropped the letter.
“Yes, I am. How did you get in here?” he asked.
“What do you want?”
“I have an article for you.”
“Vanessa Casella died an hour ago. She was murdered,” I said.
My hands balled into fists at being called a child. “Yes.”
Devan McWhirter was picking up the letter. I moved closer to him. I was right in front of him. He sat back and jumped. I clicked my fingers and his eyes glowed black. He was hypnotised.
“Vanessa Casella, age seventeen, was murdered at 11 o’clock on St Peters Road. You will write a front page article about it.”
I clicked my fingers again and the black in his eyes vanished, replaced by the normal green. I grabbed Phoenix’s wrist and we turned to smoke again. We were on the roof of the newspaper’s headquarters.
“I’m passing on my love of roofs,” commented Phoenix.
“We’re finished here.”
“What were we doing here in the first place?”
“Making sure my old family doesn’t come looking for me.”
“Will your brothers fall for it?”
“They’re gullible. All of them.”
“What if they recognise you?”
“I’ve been thinking about that. I’m going to dye my hair.”
“What?” he asked, alarmed by my statement.
“I’m going to dye my hair.”
He pulled me into a hug and fiddled with my brown hair. He rested his forehead on mine.
“I’ll miss your brown hair,” he whispered. His voice was sad; he wasn’t joking. He sighed. “What colour?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
I smiled. “Seriously.”
He thought for a moment. “Bright pink,” he joked.
“Black?” he suggested.
I thought about that. “OK, black it is.”
We jumped off the roof and set off for the 24 hour supermarket.
When we got there, it was empty save the staff. We grabbed the black hair dye, paid for it and went home. The box felt heavy in my pocket as we walked into the mansion. Phoenix followed me up the stairs and into the bathroom we only had one use for: showering. Phoenix locked the door.
I stripped to my underwear so my clothes didn’t get bleached. I followed the instructions on the sheet, after testing the dye. My long hair was covered with the mixture. Phoenix was sat on the toilet seat watching me. I could have sworn I saw a little tear fall down his cheek.
“I have to leave the dye in for 25 minutes,” I said.
“Okay,” he murmured.
“Still pining about losing my brown hair?” He just grunted. “Cheer up. This way we can go out more and I’m not recognised.”
He looked up at me but didn’t say anything. He crossed his arms and looked down again.
“If that won’t cheer you up, I’m sure this will: in 25 minutes, I’ll have to wash this out. In the shower.” I released a really overdramatic sigh. “I get lonely in the shower; you might have to come in with me.”
He looked up at me and smiled weakly.
“Are you sure your family will believe your dead?”
“Almost? So you might be getting rid of your lovely brown hair for no reason?”
“Don’t be pessimistic.”
“Do I not have right to be?”
“It’s my hair, not yours.”
“Granted, but I’m the one who runs my fingers through it whenever I can.”
I just looked at him.
“Sorry, it’s just... Seeing your family brought back memories of my family. I need to take care of what I have.”
“Feeling sentimental, I see.” I kissed him, taking care not to get the dye on him or his clothes.
The time passed quickly; I made Phoenix tell me about his family. His mother had died when he was 5, leaving his father with the care of three children. Phoenix had been set to work in a factory, age 6. When he was 18, he met Bladen who turned him.
When the 25 minutes were over, I turned the shower on and smiled at Phoenix.