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the games of the weekend

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"I've got a zinger for you," says Ruby, smacking her lips together. She rubs the edges of her mouth with a finger, smudging out the harsh line of her lipstick. The weaker shade matches the bluish bags under her eyes.

Nikki pulls her gaze away from the mirror that reveals Ruby's face and drops her head back into the pillows. She shuffles around on Ruby's bed, before sitting up and re-tying the laces of her black leather boots.


Even when comfortable, Nikki is a woman of few words; Ruby's the only one who doesn't ask for anything more, really, making their conversations one of the few things she looks forward to.

"I didn't sleep for a minute last night," sighs Ruby, sticking her tongue out at her reflection, "but I still had those dreams. No idea where they came from."

"Never an idea, where they come from."

"Exactly." Ruby puffs at her fringe, arranging pieces of her hair around her face in a variety of ways with quiet sounds of assent or dissatisfaction whenever she finishes a look. "Why the hell is my hair so--"


Ruby blinks; she's been blindsided. It takes everything Nikki has to bite down on her chuckle and keep it inside when Ruby looks at her, hard, and then shrugs off the compliment like it means nothing.

"Thanks. Where was I?"


"Yeah, this one's weird. There was an army -- a hundred men, definitely men, pale and sick-looking, like zombies but not quite. They had life in their eyes. They had armour, too -- but it was made of them. But when the other side -- and I couldn't see them, for some reason -- fired their arrows and bullets, they bounced off skin like it was metal."

"That's it."


Nikki bares her teeth, smiling the only way she knows how.

"The other side was made of bones," she begins, and plays with a lock of her matted brown hair before shoving it into her mouth and sucking. It's a gesture that helps, sometimes, when she talks about things she doesn't want to remember. "Alive, but not awake, with weapons made of time and no defence needed. Your men didn't have swords."

"Wow," says Ruby, perching on the end of the bed. "It's happening again. What is this, the fifth time?"

"In a row."


"Your eyelashes," says Nikki, sweeping at her own eyes with a finger, demonstrating through action what she doesn't know how to say with words. Ruby's hand darts to her face; one false lash has slipped out of place, peeling. With an agitated huff, she turns her attention back to the mirror and adjusts the band against her lash-line.

Nikki leans forward and watches the pretty, mad girl do something magical. She snorts. She clutches her sides in a bout of explosive laughter. Ruby turns around and rolls her eyes.

"This is how I express myself," she says, dismissing Nikki's judgement with her full confidence. She glances over her shoulder at Nikki and smiles playfully. "It's telling others who I am by what I wear and what I do."

"I slept badly," continues Nikki, staring at the ceiling. "Dreamed of our hearts crushing each other in some warrior's hands. Dreamed of my screaming and your agony. Dreamed of beautiful deaths."

Ruby glares at her with a new wave of venom. Nikki grins wildly. This is it, this is the reaction she's been craving since she stepped between the rock-and-roll walls of Ruby's fierce little head. Her eyes are so strong in their pull, their repulsion at Nikki's erratic, half-true words, their questioning as to what her words could really mean -- if she means anything at all.

"Well, I didn't dream anything like that. We're five for six."

As Ruby tries to hide the quiver in her hands as she applies a thick stripe of eyeliner, Nikki laughs a hollow, echoing laugh inside her head.