In All Reflections
Published: May 04, 2023
Warnings: Mild Violence, Gore/Body Horror, Suicidal ideation
Blurb: Prompt: "Memories make themselves at home within my bones, shaping my entire being."
“Oh, stars damnit.”
Feyrisx watched, face contorted in equal irritation and exasperation, as the shadow on the rooftop of the building vaulted the gap between it and its neighbor.
He waited - out of some forlorn hope that he’d see them flit back across to the first building, which notably had roof access and a swift little elevator. But the shadow did not return.
“Do you know when he showed up?” he asked, turning to Aenoxa.
The other Frag stood, tapping their fingers together pensively, glancing from the roof to Feyrisx’s frown. After a moment - “Not a clue,” they offered with a weak smile.
There was a beat. The unspoken question hung in the air: why hadn’t Mu made any movements? Fey’s hand twitched; he could feel the ambient magic in the air, pulsing, waiting.
At the far edges of his mind, he could feel an answer, pressed into ideas, not words. Aenoxa studied him, one eyebrow quirking, waiting almost too eagerly for his response.
But he huffed, shook his head, cleared it. “I’d better go after them. Let me know if they come back through.”
“Of course!” Aenoxa chirped back, smile a smidge less nervous, though they looked askew with a familiar, distant fondness.
Conversation over, Feyrisx tore towards the building. The ground yielded to him as his footfalls crashed against it, sprung up as he launched forwards each bound, helped him along.
He threw out a hand without magic. But the door shuddered and peeled itself open, teeth that had interlocked it closed now pried apart, a bit of stringy grime and flesh hanging between it and the frame.
The building was dark and humid at this time of day, most of the windows sealed over by flesh miming curtains - and he didn’t have time to unravel them. No matter. He didn’t need light to navigate.
Fey hesitated a second - and felt a nudge to his right, down a hallway lined with closed eyes, directly towards the staircase with no railing. He took them two at a leap, tail whipping to balance him as he swung around the landing and up the next flight and next and next.
He emerged onto the roof, where the entry was already open, twitching at the sudden strain. One overgrown eye peered blearily at him, as if uncomprehending a visit from Feyrisx himself.
Without slowing, he careened towards the edge he’d seen the intruder jump. An array of buildings spread out before him, some wobbled and sagging, some straighter with proper ribs and a spine, enough at odd heights that he couldn’t catch a glimpse of the shadow, even as he scanned.
There was a shudder from the building across from him - and its railing peeled apart, unlinking vertebrae and untethering flesh, offering a suitable jump. Fey took it, launching off the lip of the office.
He tumbled into a roll, but landed safe. Behind, he could hear the shudder as the rails pulled together again. In front, he could see carvings etching themselves into the flesh of the rooftop - a guide.
How did anyone think they’d escape him here, in this Timeline?
Teeth baring, he broke into his run again.
The buildings gave way to him, as he knew they would. A jump too long - plates of flesh grew from roof to roof, shuddered and hardened. A climb too steep - ridges of bone tore out of walls like rungs of a ladder, sinking back in as soon as he’d climbed them.
His lungs pounded with the effort. With every leap, he could feel his knife slamming against his thigh, strapped tightly against his waist.
But it was no distraction - no, it was focus, clean and simple, primed and sharp.
Fey rounded a corner. They’d crossed into the commercial district of the capital.
Mortals in the streets had paused to stare up at their Fragment, crashing about the roofs like an untamed beast. Some held phones, some glanced idly as they paced from home to work to shop.
But what gave him pause - there they were, standing only a few roofs away from him, confronted with a new sign that had been erected. Indentations proclaimed it announced the arrival of a new mall.
“CHOMYZI!” Feyrisx roared.
The shadow jumped, turned his head, all wings flared, eyes wide. At once, red spread over his muzzle and cheek - like he’d thought he wouldn’t be caught, fucking idiot.
“Stay RIGHT THERE!” and, to deliver it home, Feyrisx pointed right where Chomyzi was standing.
He crouched, feeling the tremble as Mu shifted to accommodate him, the rumbling of its flesh and meat shifting.
And as he stood, the ground pushed him up - with far more force than his legs could have mustered - and launched him properly into the air, in a perfect trajectory to Chomyzi’s position.
He landed, hard, on a knee and a foot and a hand. Chomyzi yelped, halo blitzing in a brief sort of panic. Feyrisx stood -
- And Chomyzi scrambled, flinging himself off the edge of the building.
Feyrisx balked for only an irritated second before kicking into motion again. Without fear or hesitation, he cleared the mall’s edge, feet making connection with the wall.
Mu wrapped around his foot just enough to give him leverage - just enough that he darted down it like a floor, launching from it at the last second and colliding with Chomyzi right as they hit the ground.
They rolled, slid several yards, mortals pushed out of the way by a wall of Mu’s meat shoving them harmlessly aside. A dog instantly took up the duty of barking, throaty and wet yips louder than the murmurs of the crowd.
Fey’s fingers curled tight in Chomyzi’s jacket as he felt the other squirm. He yanked, but Chomyzi struggled right back - got a knee into his gut, Fey heaved, elbow to the face, Fey yelped.
But it was over.
Chomyzi cried out as slick blood-fresh skin wrapped around his forearms like sleeves, yanked him towards the dirt. Only a second, and his thighs were cocooned, swallowed up, and then he was half-buried in Mu, staring wide-eyed.
“Don’t look so scared,” Fey hissed, shifting to stand. His jaw actually sort of hurt. He rubbed it, glaring down at Chomyzi briefly. “You know it’s not going to eat you.”
The tip of Chomyzi’s tail was free, and it flicked violently. The other stared up at him, wordless.
“You can disperse,” Fey called to the mortals, waving them.
They, at least, had the experience with Mu to know not to disobey Fey. Though some lingered a moment, they all peeled away - and the wall around the two Frags throbbed and pushed upwards, giving them a bit more privacy. Despite being, well, in the middle of the road.
Fey gave the small semicircle they were in an appraising glance, and then turned back to Chomyzi. He squatted, putting himself more level with the other, and gave him the most expectant frown he could muster.
Now, Chomyzi had tears rolling down his face, enough snot to be concerning. In a trembling voice, he managed, “I’m sorry, Feyrisx.”
“All I ask is that you call ahead,” he said, flatly.
“-I know,” he interrupted, curtly. Chomyzi glanced, defeated, downwards.
The silence spoke to what neither of them said.
You wanted to get eaten.
It didn’t matter that Fey had explained, a dozen times, that he wouldn’t let that happen - and he wouldn’t let Mu, either.
It didn’t matter that he’d been endlessly tacking on new instructions to Mu’s orders every visit, constructing more and more elaborate what-to-dos for every new stupid thing Chomyzi tried.
“You know this is kind of an assholish thing to do,” Fey finally said.
“Like, don’t drag my Timeline into this shit. Don’t use me - us - like that. Come on, Chomyzi. You know that’s fucked up.”
“Okay, so stop?”
“I’m sorry for upsetting you.”
Fey hissed. “For fuck’s sake. Look. Chomyzi.”
No response, but he did look up.
“Do you want to talk? Or just, like, get a drink and a snack or something?”
As if on cue, some of the meat next to Chomyzi’s head bubbled. He flinched away as Mu pushed something up from its guts into the form of a small table, a small plate, a small glass of milk, and a perfectly-formed chocolate donut with rainbow sprinkles.
“Aw, look, see. Mu even remembers your favorite flavor.” Fey plucked it and presented it to Chomyzi, who looked dubious. “I mean, I don’t mind you visiting. But come on. No more of this shit.”
“I wasn’t - I... I didn’t come here for that.”
“No? Then why not call ahead? Isn’t that common courtesy? Come on, Chomyzi.”
“No, I - I don’t know. I’m...”
“Drunk, yeah, I can tell.”
Chomyzi’s frown twinged embarrassed. “...I didn’t want to go back to Epsilon. Like....”
“Like this? Drunk?” Fey scoffed slightly, biting into the donut. It was, as expected, made of flavored fried dough. “I don’t think anyone in Epsilon would give you a hard time if you needed to nurse a hangover, Chomyzi.”
“No!” he barked, so immediate and so self-assured that Fey froze, donut halfway to his mouth again. “I mean. I mean, no, I... I don’t want them to see me like this.”
“All of my mortals are ‘seeing’ you like this.”
Chomyzi squirmed, discomfort plain on his face. “That’s different.”
“Okay. Sure. Why were you running away from me?”
“I... I thought... I didn’t really want... you to...”
“See you like this?”
Fey paused to lick his fingers clean, punctuated it with a sigh. People just didn’t really get it.
But he couldn’t muster the energy to care to explain again, so instead he stood and gestured for Chomyzi to stand.
As the other Frag shifted, Mu’s flesh released him, sinking back into the ground, allowing Chomyzi to his feet and to rub at his wrists uncertainly. Another wet sound - both glanced towards the little table, upon which now sat two donuts.
“Look. It’s basically a peace offering,” Fey said, pointing at it. “Do you want to go back to my place while you sober up? And just, like, eat donuts and talk if you want?”
“...Yeah,” Chomyzi said, quietly, still eyeing the donuts.
Mu wrapped a tendril around one and lifted it, helpfully, towards Chomyzi’s hands. He accepted, though looked uncomfortable. Fey watched him bite into the dough before a distant splashing sound echoed in the little semicircle.
He glanced towards its source, and the semicircle’s walls lowered.
It was a mound of flesh neatly fashioned into the likeness of a boat, traveling across and within the rippling ground as if it were made of blood rather than meat.
Atop its deck but below the leathery canopy - held up with bones - stood Aenoxa, staring hopefully towards Feyrisx. Upon seeing Chomyzi standing, unscathed, they deflated slightly, but remained smiling as the boat came to a stop to the duo.
“Wow. Don’t look so disappointed,” Fey said with a slight smirk, one hand resting on a hip.
“I’m not!” Aenoxa protested, with a sheepish smile in return. “Hi, Chomyzi. Are you doing alright?”
“Yeah,” came the quiet response. “I’m fine.”
Fey paced over to the boat. It ripped a hole in its side and produced stairs out of a series of jutting-out bones for him to board. “He’s just a little drunk. Going to take him back to my place until he feels good enough to go back to Epsilon. Or he can stay longer if he wants?”
He shot a hopeful glance towards Chomyzi, who only shook his head ‘no’. With a sigh, Fey heaved himself into the boat, Chomyzi on his heels with his donut and milk.
Aenoxa gave Fey a more knowing smile. “Can’t say you didn’t try, hm?”
“Whatever. Don’t look so smug about it, alright?”
The boat lurched, sealing itself again, and pressed off into the distance.