NineMature

The flow of water felt amazing. The water ran black as it washed the dye out of my hair. Phoenix had his arms around me. We stood in the water together.

He pushed my black hair behind my shoulder. He sighed. I wasn’t sure whether it was because he was still miffed about losing my brown hair or whether it was because he was standing in the shower with me.

I looked up at him and he smiled. He stroked my face. He tucked my hair behind my ear. His smile was melancholy and sad.

“Bye, bye, brown hair,” he murmured.

“Hello, black hair,” I said.

The water ran clear again. All the dye was gone. I turned the shower off and stepped out. I wrapped a towel around myself and wrapped my hair in another. Phoenix had a towel around his waist. He smiled and started to dry himself.

I held my towel-encased hair on top of my head as I rubbed myself dry. I slowly got dressed, pulling on my underwear, then my denim shorts and my black top. When I was dressed, I tipped my head forward and pulled off the towel.

My hair was almost dry. It fell in curls as it always did when it was wet. I ran my fingers through the strands. I looked completely different in the mirror.

“If they don’t believe I’m dead, they won’t recognise me at least.”

He came behind me and held my shoulders.

“You still have a reflection,” he commented.

“Oh yeah. Is that normal?”

“It’ll either fade or completely vanish tomorrow night.”

I shrugged his hands off. I picked up the towels and pushed them into Phoenix’s arms.

“Be a good boy and put the towels in the wash for me.” I patted his cheek and smiled. He smiled back.

I pulled the leather straps that held my gun over my shoulders. I draped my coat over my arm and walked out of the bathroom.

I reached my door as Phoenix went past with the towels. My hair was dry now. It was as soft as always. I opened my door and threw the coat onto my bed. Cordelia dropped her magazine and drew her pistol.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked strictly.

“Whoa, it’s me. It’s Vein.” She lowered the gun slightly.

“Vein?” She put the gun away. “Sorry, I didn’t recognise you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I dropped onto my bed.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without your coat on. And your eyes are red. And your hair’s black. Why?”

“Long story.”

“I’ve got time.”

“My family recognised me when Phoenix and I were out. They dragged me in the house and demanded I stay. I hypnotised a journalist and they’re going to publish an article saying I was murdered. If my family didn’t believe it, I needed a way to ensure they wouldn’t recognise me.”

“That wasn’t too long, was it?”

“I guess not.”

“How did Phoenix react to you dying your hair?”

“He was... miffed to say the least. Though I'm sure I made up for it.”

“I don't think I want to know... So,” she said, “you’re fully-fledged.”

“I still have a reflection. But other than that, yeah.”

“That’ll go tomorrow. How does it feel to be a full vampire?”

“Exactly the same as it did before.”

“Really?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Can you not feel the extra strength? Though if you had any more strength, we’d have to put you in the straitjacket.”

“That wouldn’t keep me down. We have a straitjacket?”

“It’s in the basement.”

“Why, exactly, do we have a straitjacket in the basement? We have a basement?”

She smiled. “Yes, we have a basement. Faron bought the straitjacket to hold Neonians captive. To this night, it has held a grand total of – drum roll please –one Neonian. Bladen uses it for escapology now.”

“Why does Bladen need to learn escapology?”

“Who knows? He’s Bladen. Nobody knows how his brain works. Come here.”

I sat down on the foot of her bed. She lifted my hair up and dropped it again.

“Jet black,” she contemplated. “No one will recognise you with that hair.”

There was a knock at the door. It opened before we could reply. It was Faron.

“Vein, can I talk to you for a moment?” he asked.

The End

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