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once more to see you

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Amanda has never actually killed someone before. A person, she means. Horses don’t count. Too many legs.

She’s thought about it, most definitely. Considering her symptoms and general lack of squeamishness over blood, she’s probably be really good at it, too. Assassins make a lot of money these days. Plus, no college needed.

Well, that’s not exactly true. She’d probably have to be proficient in several languages, and know a lot about the human body, and understand the sociopolitical systems and cultures of most of the countries on Earth. But that’s not really a problem; Amanda likes learning things. She just doesn’t care about the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Before she got kicked out of school, she had an A in everything except English. Math is easy (logic, puzzles, simple equations that require only the knowledge of putting round pegs into round holes), and science is just math with more biohazards, and history is actually pretty interesting if you look at the people instead of the geography, but English makes absolutely no fucking sense at all.

It’s those pesky emotions again. She can never tell if a character is crying because they’re sad, or happy, or even just on their period. The metaphors always muddle things up even more, and it’s nearly impossible to keep track of every single character’s wants and needs and backstory. They’re not real life people. She can’t read them. Amanda knows only what comes from the words on the page, and that pisses her off to no end.

Lily is really good at reading. Lily wants to write a novel someday-- maybe the next great American one. Something unique with commentary and rich subtext and interesting characters. She probably could, too, if she put her mind to it.

They don’t allow pencils outside of the craft room, so Amanda has to get her letters in on ward time, but she thinks Lily would be really proud of how well-written they are. She uses descriptive language better than before, and she’s getting really good at choosing interesting words in place of more common ones. Sometimes if there’s time, Amanda draws little doodles in the margins she thinks Lily would like.

She surprises herself most of all when one of them turns out to be a heart.

Amanda doesn’t feel things; that hasn’t changed. No person, no matter how special, can alter basic biology. However, she knows from books and experience that if she could feel things, she would probably be in love with Lily.

She can like things, though. Amanda likes Lily’s big, doe-like eyes and long eyelashes. She likes her rosebud little lips, especially when they turn up in a smile. Most of all, she likes the sound of Lily’s voice. It’s breathy and emotional in the most gorgeous and fascinating way, and Amanda wants to make it tangible so she can peel back the layers and curl up in it. Sort of like how she curls up in her bed every night, thin sheets pulled over herself, knees tucked up to her stomach. The hospital is fucking freezing, after all.

On the first day that Lily comes to visit, Amanda does something very silly and foolish: she brushes her hair. She doesn’t even know why she does it; her appearance is never something that’s mattered to her before. You shouldn’t even brush curly hair. But she does, and asks for some conditioner during shower time, too. It feels soft when she dries it off, like puppy fur.

Lily wears soft pink lipstick and a blue sweater over her dress. Amanda wants to reach out and touch it, but contact isn’t allowed with visitors and there’s a guard only a few yards away. Instead, she rubs her hand on her thighs and pretends it belongs to Lily.

“Having second thoughts?” Lily asks, and Amanda adores how little bullshit the girl gives these days. She blinks slowly, which is sort of her own way of conveying tolerance.

“Nah. It’s nice here. I don’t have to pretend to be something else anymore.”

“Someone,” Lily corrects her. “You’re not a thing. Don’t think of yourself as one.”

“I’m sure not a person, Lily. Humans have feelings. It’s in their DNA.”

“Did Honeymooner have feelings?” Amanda shrugs.

“I don’t think horses do. Jane Goodall only studied apes.”

“What makes monkeys different from horses?”

“What makes me different from Honeymooner? Same emotions. Or, I guess, lack thereof.”

Lily frowns. “I don’t like you thinking of yourself as an animal.”

“What you do and don’t like doesn’t matter to me.”

She raises an eyebrow. “The roofie would say otherwise.”

If Amanda could, she would feel frustrated right now. “I told you, I did it because you were right: my life is meaningless. I don’t feel things. I’m empty. How is life in here any different from life out there?”

“Freedom,” says Lily. “Choices. Clothes that don’t make you look like a human sack of potatoes.”

Amanda only blinks at this. “I think they’re a nice color.”

Amanda,” she says, and this time there’s something heavy in her words. “You’re going to get out of here. When you do, will you come stay with me?”

Amanda frowns. “That would look pretty weird, you living with the guy who killed your stepdad.”

“I don’t care. I like you better than anyone else, anyway.” She smiles, and Amanda suddenly realizes that Lily likes her. Like, like-likes her. Quite a bit, it would seem. Strange.

“I can’t promise I won’t still be weird and creepy. And I know how you feel about me, and it’s impossible for me to feel the same way. You can’t get mad at me for that.”

Lily lets her shoulders rise and fall the tiniest bit. “I won’t. We can just be friends, then.”

Amanda cocks her head to the side. “Were we friends?”

“I think so. I sure thought of you as one.”

“Huh.” Amanda considers this for a moment, and lets the thought roll around in her mind like fine wine on the tongue. “Friends.” A beat, and then, “We can’t kill any more people, though. They’ll be watching me like a hawk.”

“I’m okay with that. Blood smells disgusting, anyway.”

“Okay, then,” she says, and the smile on Lily’s face provides a highly convincing argument for Amanda having a little bit of feelings after all.