A cutting edge of the industry. A great time to be alive. Or maybe not, depending on how cutting edge the knife actually was.
Amelia twirls said knife in hand. She’s already hopped through several previous loops and acquired four other versions of this knife. What really mattered was the knife the cops were examining. And she guesses the crook too, but he’s been dead for twenty minutes with two of her bullets in his head.
“Check.” She mutters, scratching a little checkmark into the railing in front of her. The rooftop is really no place for skirts, she mourns. Her watch is ticking loudly in her head and telling her about her dog she has to feed, timeline 5443 that she owes pizza, the case she needs to file back home, errands-
“A nice night for a murder.” She comments.
From behind her, she hears a long sigh. She doesn’t need to turn around to know who is there. The temperature dropping sharply was enough of an entrance. Amelia smiles in amusement. She doesn’t take her eyes off the crime scene down below. She listens to the click of heels. She waits until the sharp blade of a scythe cradles her neck before saying, “Not even a thank you?”
“For the fourteenth time,” Calli’s voice is pinched with stress, “stop it.”
“Stop what?” Amelia asks.
“Don’t play stupid.” The sharpness of the blade brushes her neck. “There’s no record of you. You know my name, but we haven’t met. You disappear and reappear without a trace. No one knows you.”
Amelia pops her lips, “That’s a real shame, I’m great at parties.”
“Watson.” There's a warning note in her voice now. Amelia can imagine ruby red eyes silted with anger, lips curled, just a hint of teeth. It makes her blood rush. Everything about the blade against her skin is sending adrenaline right to her heart. “That’s the name on every day of every year of every century.”
“Woah, crazy,” Amelia says.
“People are only on the list if they’re supposed to die.” Calli’s voice drips with exasperation, “Somehow you’re written all over it.”
Amelia grins, “I can’t help it. I’m just popular.”
Her watch screams in her head. She breathes and times takes her, places her elsewhere, moves her four feet to Calli’s right. The scythe is embedded in the railing right over the checkmark. There’s a small sheen of blood on it. Amelia’s heart beats in tandem with her clock. Calli’s eyes watch her with predatory grace. Amelia wonders if she can see the scratch along her neck.
“Woops,” Amelia says. “Sucks to miss.”
“You can’t run forever.” Calli threatens.
Amelia thinks of the future and feels like laughing till she falls off this roof. She cracks a wide smile and says, “I won’t have to.”
When Amelia first encounters death, she’s in a cellar. Some future part of her will find amusement that it’s a wine cellar of all things, but at the moment she’s trying not to lose everything in her stomach onto the ground. She didn’t exactly have a solid place to test chemicals and the Watson Concoction was only in its beta stages. She was working on it. Maybe working too much.
It’s important. Sleepless nights pull at her eyes and make her weary. She’s bent over her workbench and fiddling with test tubes and vials for hours. One of them slips from her fingers. It shatters onto the floor, leaving behind little crystal stars in the flickering candlelight. Amelia stares at it uncomprehendingly. She’s trying to remember what had been in her hand just now- was that alpha or gamma project?- but her head is getting fuzzy. She inhales and there’s a tangy note to it that feels off. She’s swaying. She’s falling.
It’s not the ground that catches her.
“Easy.” There’s a sweet, husky voice in her ear. “Easy. C’mon. Up you go.”
Amelia’s world tilts. She’s barely conscious as she feels herself leave the cellar. The cotton in her head is starting to feel pleasant. Sleep sounded nice. The arms holding her and- wow, boobs. She doesn’t need a bed, she likes it here. Amelia is almost assuredly unconscious when she hears, “Typical.”
Later, she’ll wake up in her bed with a headache pounding at her skull. There will be pain meds waiting for her on the end table beside a glass of water. She’ll retrace her steps and find the vial cleaned up and the shattered remains in the trash.
She doesn’t forget about it.
“We gotta keep meeting like this,” Amelia says. “I think you’re starting to like me.”
She leans down to pick up her messenger bag as a blade nearly cleaves her head off. She casually throws it over her shoulder and readjusts her hat on her head. She makes sure to take a step to the left to avoid the second strike.
Calli’s eyes are a feral red glow in the dark, “I’m not talking to you.”
Amelia pouts, “Not even a hello?”
Her answer is another vicious slash and, wow, Amelia sighs. There’s really something about a busty woman coming for your soul that takes your breath away. Her watch ticks warningly and she obliges, letting time guide her until she’s safely twelve paces away.
Calli whirls on her angrily, “Stop doing that!”
“I’d love to get my ass kicked by you.” Amelia laments, “But you’d like, actually kill me. I can’t work while I'm dead. Do dead people even get liability claims?” Amelia shrugs, “I’ll just ask you later.”
Calli levels her scythe at her. It’s super dramatic with the moon behind her and the stars. It’s making her glow, her veil painting her in a ghostly light. Her eyes carve holes into Amelia. Amelia watches her with her heart in her throat. Hell yeah, go Calli.
“No one escapes death,” Calli says. So cool, so edgy. Amelia has to tilt her head up lest she starts laughing. Or crying.
“Oh my god,” Amelia says. “Calli, you're too cute for words.”
The reaper's face twists in confusion. The red in her eyes look less like bloodthirst and more like red rose petals. She mutters, “The fuck?”
It’s seriously too cute, Amelia thinks. She clicks her watch and disappears before Calli can regain her bearings.
Amelia is in trouble.
She’s hiding underneath a bridge and listening. She’s listening closely as the cars drive overhead and don’t notice her. That’s important, she thinks. She bites her sleeve. They can’t find her.
The cars drive by. The headlights disappear. No one comes for her.
Amelia sighs with relief. It turns into a gasp at the end. The pain in her side turns into a roar. Adrenaline had knocked it down to just a string. Now that she was safe she could feel it burning her from the inside out.
“Bullet wound.” She mutters under her breath. She’s fumbling into her pockets for something to help. Her concoction rests warmly against her thigh but no, not yet. She’ll wait until she absolutely has to.
It’s hard to see. She blinks spots from her vision and tries to focus on finding something. She fishes out some gauze, a roll of thread, but the needle, where is her needle, she needs something-
“Shh.” A voice in her ear has her freezing. Amelia is gasping for air. She tries to remember how to defend herself- I have a gun, gun- but her brain is foggy. She grasps for her firearm. A slim hand is gently taking it from her, “Shh, calm down.”
A girl's voice. Amelia exhales. She’s trying to find this person but the bridge is dark and her vision isn’t reliable. Gentle hands are taking the gauze from her. Those same hands are ushering her out of her coat. Gentle. Always gentle.
“Take a deep breath.” A voice of honey tells her. “I’ve got you.”
Amelia holds up the KFP take-out.
Calli looks at her dryly, “I’m not bribable.”
“Oh c’mon, it’s got chicken.” Amelia waves it around hypnotically. “It’s got little bits and greasy stuff. You like greasy stuff. I made them put in cheap bottled water too because that’s your favorite, you weirdo.”
Calli scrutinizes her, “Are you insane? Like, is your head genuinely messed up?”
“Takes one to know one,” Amelia says. She reaches into one of the bags and pulls out a little wrapped chicken wing. She doesn’t break eye contact with Calli as she takes a bite. She dramatically says, “Oh my god, it’s so good, it’s so fresh.”
“I hope it’s poisoned,” Calli says.
“Rude, I got it for you.”
Calli hesitates. Her expression twists like she swallowed a lemon, “...Why?”
Amelia’s heart thumps at that because it’s the break in the reaper persona, it’s the cracks around her glare that look vulnerable. Somewhere right there is gooey affectionate Calli and it makes Amelia smile.
“I like you.” She says simply. “I wanted to treat you. You work too hard anyway, take a break.”
“A break.” Calli echoes flatly.
“You heard me.”
Her reaper makes a show of turning her back on her, “I don’t have time for you.”
“That’s funny.” Amelia chirps. “I have all the time in the world to wait.”
Calli glances back at her. The apple red of her eyes is softer than before. There’s no sharp anger. Bewilderment colors her expression for a moment.
Calli says, “Shut up.”
The shadows engulf her and she’s gone. Conveniently, the takeout in Amelia’s hands disappears as well. The detective beams brightly at the empty space in front of her.
Big softy, she thinks.
She spends the holidays alone.
It’s not anything out of the ordinary. She sets up decorations and herds Bubba away from his stocking with every defense she can muster. He can smell the treats waiting for him. Amelia can’t help but laugh.
“Bubba, down, not yet, you have to wait!”
The doorbell rings.
Amelia pauses. There’s a bin of holiday decorations to put up and her dog is trying to get in the tinsel. She can’t recall inviting anyone over or expecting someone. She’s not dressed either. She’s still in pajamas. It might stay that way depending on how comfy she wants to be.
She cautiously approaches the front door. The peephole tells her about a shock of pink. Amelia frowns and cracks open the door.
The woman standing there is familiar and yet not. Her hair goes down to her waist in waves of pink. She’s dressed warmly as well, a black jacket and baggy pants bundled around her with a scarf wrapped snug to her neck. She’s hiding behind the bill of her hat.
Shyly, the woman mutters, “Hey. Sorry to drop by like this.”
“Uh.” The Amelia’s running her brain trip all at once. “Wait, do I know you? You sound familiar.”
The woman smiles sardonically, “Yeah we know each other.”
The woman says, “I’m Calli. This isn’t our first time meeting.” She nervously shifts on her feet, “Can I even say that? Are there rules I should be following?”
Time travel. Amelia pops her lips and leans against the doorframe. She crosses her arms for good measure. She drawls, “Well well well, look who’s breaking rule 1337 of the time travel police.”
Calli’s expression goes flat, “Okay, wow, you haven’t changed at all.”
Amelia doesn’t know why that makes her happy. Her watch ticks in her pocket, a tune that she hums to as she opens the door a bit more.
“I don’t have to introduce myself,” Amelia says. “But welcome to the Watson home. Mind the dogs.”
Calli blinks, “You’re letting me in?”
“I’m a stranger.”
“Not anymore.” Amelia beckons her in. “C’mon. The sooner you meet the dogs, the better. They’re gonna ruin your jacket if we don’t.”
“Oh boy,” Calli says but she’s smiling.
Amelia sips from her tea. It’s a wonderful night. It’s not warm enough that she would rather be back in her time enjoying the luxury of an air conditioner. It’s cool. The stars are out and painting the sky purples and blues. Amelia enjoys it from the rooftop of a warehouse. She kicks her feet off the side of it. There’s a song stuck in her head that she’s been trying to identify.
When Calli sits next to her, she doesn’t say a word. She’s silent as she watches the moon beside her. Amelia smiles, her finger tracing the rim of her cup.
“Did you figure it out?” Amelia asks.
Calli doesn’t answer her. She’s crossing her legs and leaning her chin on her palm. She looked annoyed but in that way she gets when she’s thinking about a complex puzzle. Her brows are furrowed.
“Time travel.” Calli rumbles.
“Yeah.” Amelia takes a purposefully noisy sip of her tea, “It’s fucking sick.”
Calli snorts. She glances at Amelia, “I haven’t figured out our relationship. Why are you so familiar with me?”
“Ohhhh.” Amelia whistles, “That ones a doozy, I don’t think you’ll figure that-”
A hand reaches for her. Amelia clamps her mouth shut. Her watch ticks in her head but she ignores it for now, let’s that fluttery part of her heart root her in her spot instead of running away. Painted nails brush her jaw. Amelia sighs.
Calli’s eyes watch her attentively, “...We know each other.”
“Mhm.” Amelia has to resist leaning her cheek against Calli’s palm. It would feel so nice, she laments.
“We live together,” Calli says hesitantly. She’s testing waters.
“Oh yeah,” Amelia says. “Definitely.”
Calli frowns, “You’re not tricking me, right? You’re for real?”
Fuck it, Amelia thinks and lets herself lean against Calli’s hand. Her eyes fall closed and she hums, happy with the sensation of Calli’s thumb brushing her cheek. She hears Calli inhale sharply.
“I’m for real,” Amelia says softly.
“Yeah, okay.” Calli’s voice is strained. “I noticed. I know. I see that.” She clears her throat, “Wow.”
Cute, Amelia thinks. She opens her eyes and finds Calli closer than before. The reaper looks skittish, her eyes looking over Amelia like she’s scared, but there’s something else there. Something on the edge of hope looking back at Amelia with wide eyes.
“Hey,” Amelia whispers.
“Hey.” Calli returns just as quietly, unsurety in her tone. “What are we doing?”
“We could be kissing.” Amelia smiles. “If you lean a little closer.”
Calli exhales. Amelia’s vision colors pink, the hue of fading sunlight and flowers. She breathes in as hands cup her face, gently ushering her forward instead of away. She lets herself be guided into the kiss. She sinks into it with a happy hum, delighting in the way Calli trembles from her touch. She can taste lipstick on her tongue and teeth between her lips. Cherry red the way she likes, Amelia thinks. When she breaks for air she’s laughing.
“You haven’t changed at all,” Amelia says.
Calli has a wild look in her eye. Her hand is carding through Amelia’s hair to grab the back of her head. Her voice is the kind of low that makes Amelia’s toes curl, “And who said you could stop?”