“Pickup for uh, Sloth-Bunny, Sapphomet and Vermington.” Emily said, uncomfortable existing in public, let alone talking at the front of a line. She felt every second of space she took up, like she was an unwelcome intrusion, and the mob would turn on her at any moment if she held the line.
“Address?” The pharmacist asked, already rummaging through the ‘S’ and V drawers.
“They’re all the same. 212 Dundas. It’ll- sorry.” Emily leant over the counter. “I don’t know why, but mine is always filed under ‘B’ for Bunny.”
“Uh huh.” The pharmacist muttered, not bothering to take his nose out of the ‘S’ drawer. “Just give me one quick second here.”
“No rush.” The rabbit sighed, ready for the same delay, the same surprised ‘ah!’, the same “It’s so weird, Sloth-Bunny was under B.” The smaller pharmacy around the corner closed down half a year ago, and she had yet to find one that was both locally owned and not terrified of the paranormal. People stared here. They always stared. Some combination of the fact that she was six feet tall, noticably transgender, and undead drew stares.
It was hard to see the world through pitch black eyes; eyes that couldn’t be seen to be staring back.
“This is so weird-” The pharmacist popped up, dropping an armload of eight different little paper bags on the table and zapping through them. “Sloth-Bunny was filed under B.”
“Crazy.” Emily watched as each prescription popped up on the monitor:
Ratty’s lexapro - which would sit in her medicine cabinet until it expired.
Sapphomet’s lexapro - which would not.
Ratty’s inhaler - which Emily had never actually seen her use.
It helped - or at the very least was distracting - to count them. Weird that they were in seven separate bags, the order went in on one stapled bundle of paper. Doing it like this increased the amount of shit to carry by like, 2.5 times.
“Can I get like, a plastic bag to put these all in?” Emily asked.
“Bags are 5 cents.” The pharmacist said, staring, annoyed, down at the pinpad as thought either giving away one five cent bag or cancelling the pinpad to add five cents to Emily’s total was tantamount to pushing a boulder uphill.
“Wh- why are bags five cents?”
“I dunno. Environment. probably.”
“Well, you could have just like, put them all in one paper bag, considering they’re part of the same order.”
“Sorry sir, company policy.”
“Sir? Really? I’m walking away with- you can read my name!” She picked up one of the estrogen bags and held it up next to her face, pointing back and forth between her name - Emily - and her face. The pharmacist seemed incapable of reaction, instead glancing around the ghost as if to remind her of the line behind her. She stuffed paper bags into her pocket as a hot rush of shame came over her.
She missed Dr. Shepherd from the walk-in, missed - even though they had annoyed her at first - the little bible verse business cards he put in the bottom of each bag. There was safety in a small, underperforming business, but that kind of thing didn’t last downtown for long.
“You still-” The pharmacist started.
“Yeah, I know. I still have to pay for it. No shit.” She took a plastic bag full of change out of her pocket. The government covered the actual medicine part, but the fees were her responsibility. With the pharmacist paid by the company, and the product paid for by the government, these fees were essentially paying for nothing, which made it worse when she realized she would have to empty her change bag to cover it.
Worse still when she began to feel the eyes on her back. She really just wanted to go home at this point, roll up in her covers, put on some music, and fall asleep. She turned to leave, picturing the soft down of her duvet, jumping as someone tapped low on her shoulder.
“Sorry, miss.” She turned, ready for an absolute meltdown, and came face to face with sunglasses, an upturned collar, and a duck bill, all badly hidden under an oversized trench coat. “You dropped this.” The trenchcoat held out a paper bag.
“Uh… thanks.” She took it, and left.
Pills rattling in her pockets, she took off due east, practically begging to get home as quickly as possible. She skipped the stop, knowing the bus wouldn’t be here soon enough. The extra time outside was not worth not having to walk. Plus - although she didn’t know it - her Presto was empty, so they wouldn’t have let her on anyway.
Everybody fucking stared in this city. There was no way of telling whether that was what it was like in Oakland, but fuck. It was a wonder anyone in this city held down a job with the amount of time they just spent staring.
It was scary. Most people were curious, sure, but there would be times - looking for a seat on the streetcar, waiting in line, doing the most mundane shit - that people would glare like they wanted to kill her, as though she could get any more dead.
She wished she was dead-er, honestly. Outside people were scary, the people at T35 were scary, Ratty - Emily’s only friend, essentially - had started acting scary. It was difficult to communicate. Difficult to make friends.
Fuck, wait. Emily did her best not to look suspicious as she checked behind her in the mirrored surface of the first floor of a skyscraper. Sure enough: sunglasses, trenchcoat, duck bill was following her. Fucking great.
She dialed Ratty on instinct, checking windows each block to find that - yeah - they were still following her. She began to panic as her heart tried and failed to pound, as her phone rang, as it clicked, and for a few seconds gave way to only silence.
“Hey, it’s Em. Someone is following me.” No use beating around the bush. Ratty seemed to freeze on the other end of the line, running through game plans in her head.
“Where are you?” She asked.
“I’m just crossing Church.” Emily replied.
“Okay, turn left. I’ll meet you at the university. Don’t hang up. Make small talk.” Right, of course, small talk, because it was that easy when you were being followed. What did people small talk about? Ratty took that burden off of Emily: “How’s your day been?”
“Good.” She said on instinct alone. “Uh, well, wait. Not great actually.”
“No, yeah I imagine not.”
“What about you?”
“I’m fine… they wanted me to come consult on this- Okay, actually can I rant?”
“Please, go ahead.” There was something calming in the normalcy of the possum’s voice.
“Not that it matters but I feel like any time that I’m like, called in on my academic merits anywhere its because someone has like, already died, and they’re worried that the fucking SCP foundation is gonna come down on their head. So it just feels like like, a real fuckin’ grind.”
Emily took a moment, using the cover of looking both ways while crossing to check. Sure enough, still followed.
“Is that- Is there really an SCP foundation?” She asked.
“What? No? It’s like a meme for edgy teenagers. I mean there are organizations like it… Angelcorp still doing there thang… the FBI has it’s Unexplained Phenomenon department - they actually just got a bump in their funding… plus I mean the freelance scene…”
“Okay, cool. Thank you Ratty. Really setting me at ease when I am literally being followed home by a ‘men in black’.”
“Right, sorry. I see you, actually.” Ratty waved from across the street. “Is that the guy?”
“I’m not staring. Hold on.” Ratty hung up, her posture changing from tense concern to open extacy. “Oh my god! Emily? Is that you?” She pranced across the street, exaggerating the amount she had to get on her tip-toes to come to eye level with the ghost. She watched as the stalker, suddenly panicked, ducked down an alley and disappeared.
“Is he gone?” Emily asked.
“Yeah.” Ratty let go of Emily, looking up at her friend, each letting a silent moment of ‘how about that, the life of an undead transgender’ pass between them. “Thank you for calling me.” Ratty said.
“Thanks for picking up.” Emily smiled, however weakly.
“Wanna get a burg?” Ratty prodded, looking for a way to cheer Em up.
“Yeah, sure. That’d be cool.”
“God. I fucking love this place.” Ratty said through a mouth full of wet bread and recently unfrozen ground beef. Emily watched as the possum - cursed by her species with an unsophisticated mouth - struggled to keep the mess between her teeth. Emily sucked on her own milkshake, enjoying the taste even as the chill tested the corporialism of her throat. It was worth it. Lactose intolerant people sometimes drank milkshakes, there was no reason that the same reckless disregard for what your body can handle couldn’t apply to her as well. Plus, like, lactose people get upset tummies. Worst case scenario, Emily got to go visit her uncle.
“So fucking good.” She grumbled, her throat wavering as it struggled to keep on this plane of existance. “I love food that’s just like, soft and wet.”
“Five soft wet dudes made me this hamburger and I am going to cherish it for the rest of my life.” Ratty smiled. That was rare nowadays. Even now, there was more than her usual tiredness behind her eyes. Emily chose to ignore it, to let the moment sit for the time being.
“Amen.” She sighed, sucking back the last dregs of peanut butter ice cream and whipped milk. She stared down into the bottom of the empty cup, running over the days events in her mind as the brown and white too fine to be sucked up by her straw swirled together. “Do you… worry about me?” She asked.
“I- you can take care of yourself.” She put her food down, meeting Emily’s eyes. “I would come looking for you if you didn’t come home a couple nights in a row without saying anything, but you’re smart.”
Cool. So that probably wasn’t it. Not being able to cross that off the list started to bubble the rabbit’s anxiety. She tried again: “How are things with Sap?”
“Oh, I dunno.” It wasn’t uncommon for Ratty to break a gaze. She had trouble with eye contact, but… well… I mean… “They’ve been really weird lately. I haven’t seen them.” That was an interesting way to say something technically true.
“Am I- I’m not pulling you two apart at all?” Emily didn’t know a lot, had trouble keeping what she knew at the forefront of her memory, so anxiety filled that space: if something was wrong, it had to be her fault, she thought.
“I want to spend time with you, Em.” Ratty smiled, her eyes remaining hollow and sad. “We- me and Sap have been married for like, what, 60 years now? I’m sure they’re fine with my little girlfriend.”
Girlfriend was a new word. It cropped up under some pretty disappointing circumstances, and coupled with the word ‘little’ it felt kind of diminutive, but it was new, and it felt… not terrible. It felt like Emily wished Ratty was in a healthier mindset, or at the very least understood why she wasn’t.
“Okay.” Emily sighed. “I just like them and I like, don’t want to be a problem for you two, y’know?”
“Yeah, nah. If there's a problem, it’s not sitting at this table.” That was an interesting way to say something completely flat out false. Ratty is an idiot and kind of a jackass at this point. Let's all hope she gets the opportunity to reflect soon.
“Okay.” Emily said, a few tense moments passing between the two before Ratty - always uncomfortable with silences - rose to speak again.
“I’m not like, avoiding them or anything.” There was an undercurrent of frustration in her voice, the dark circles under her eyes now suddenly pitch black as her expression contorted to shadow them.
“That’s- really none of my business, actually.” Emily watched for a moment as Ratty processed what she just said, her eyes flickering with stress and confusion. “You really kinda tipped your hand there, huh bud?”
“I- no? I literally am saying that I’m not.”
“Did something happen between you two?”
“No? I don’t know what would make you think something like that.”
“Okay.” Emily said, trying to calm the situation back down as she felt her throat beginning to clog. “Sorry I brought it up.” A few more beats passed in silence, Emily no less anxious than when she had started down this line of questioning, wondering if Ratty would take it as a personal offence if she got up to throw out her milkshake cup. She chanced it, and was pleasantly unsurprised when the possum kept staring at her half eaten burger.
She popped the top off, put the plastic straw and lid into one container, then dropped the paper cup into another. She stood there for just a moment, took a deep breath, and went to sit back down.
“Even if I did want to-”
“You are being a huge bitch right now.” Emily cut her off.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m just- really about to lose it at you Ratty.” Emily felt the chill run out from her throat, knew the weather outside wouldn’t help as her fur prickled. She sat, feeling it stand up on end as the static of the plastic bench clung to it.
“What- what for?” Ratty screwed up her face.
“I’ve had a shit day so far, and I just want to relax. All I wanted to do was figure out whether I’m ruining your marriage, and it's fine if you don’t want to talk about that, but either you want to talk about it or you don’t.” Emily said, trying her best to keep calm.
“I don’t!” Ratty snapped.
“Well good!” Emily snapped back. With a bang more sudden than it was surprising every light in the restaurant went out, leaving Emily to glow in the dark. Ratty looked around, so many eyes going right past her, locked on to the rabbit in front of her. Ratty turned, a sudden cold wash extinguishing her anger as she caught Emily’s face: on the verge of tears, scrunched up to keep them from spilling over. She kept her eyes locked on Ratty’s, the only way to avoid the fact that everyone was staring at her.
“I’m getting more and more afraid of days like this one.” She choked. “I don’t want to fuck up my friendship with you because you and Sap are the only people I feel even close to safe around.”
“I’m- I’m sorry.”
“YEAH WELL WHATEVER.” And with that, Emily stormed out.
maybe add a scene showing the tension across the three of them? ratty em and sapph all like, tiptoeing around each other in conversation. something to serve as a bridge between the five guys convo and the breach
Ratty’s office. A glowing glass cube with paper covered walls, now more often than not contained the sleeping possum. She waited there for the next job, figured it was simpler than moving back and forth from a bed to her desk.
There was a support group going on tonight at T35. It sounded to be going well, Ratty had fallen asleep to the sound of muffled conversation, occasional laughter echoing through the vents. That was good. She stayed up here, they stayed down there, the whole system worked as long as everyone got what they needed.
It was not the first time her phone woke her up in this room. She blinked awake slowly, ignoring the ache in her back, and neck, and face, as she opened the notification. It was an automated ping from downstairs: Rey - who had to be put away for the night - had breached containment. Ratty sighed, the troublesome pup had been getting stronger, no one knew why. It wouldn’t be long before their cell was zero per-cent effective.
But tonight, this was just part of the routine.
Ratty got up, shrugging off the winter jacket she had been using to keep herself warm in the poorly insulated corner of this building. Sapphomet’s phone would be turned off for group, but that was fine. This was something Ratty thought she could handle alone.
She made her way down the frigid stairwell, checking her pockets as she realized she left her keys in the pocket of the jacket. Not an issue. She jammed a brick into the stairwell door as she stepped out into the garage, watching through the glass dividing wall - annoyed - as a hulked out Rey made an absolute mess of the drywall, their mouth full of insolation.
“Hey!” Ratty snapped, hoping Rey hadn’t swallowed too much. They turned as Ratty circled, snarling with a mouthful of pink wall-stuffing. “It’s bedtime, c’mon Rey.”
The creature dropped to all fours as they got an unobstructed line on Ratty, dropping most of their mouthful and charging. Ratty sighed, rolling some of the ache out of her shoulder as she too charged. Rey was always the same. They went for the throat, Ratty ducked low, up-tackle, and-
Actually not this time Ratty.
Rey stalled upright on their hind legs, still basically completely in control. They took Ratty by the scruff of the neck in their teeth, thrashing like a predator does with wounded-but-not-dead pray. Ratty kicked against the tearing sensation in the back of her neck. Kicked harder as Rey refocused on her [shoulder]
[Rey throws Ratty into their cell]
[The cell door closes behind Ratty]
[Ratty stares at the door.]
[Ratty checks her phone.]
[The screen is cracked. It will not turn on.]
Rey probably won’t get out of the garage. This is still fine. Plenty of time to think about her actions, ey Ratty? Maybe it’s time to think about why this went wrong? Maybe if she wasn’t needlessly independant and self destructive this wouldn’t have happened? Maybe the person she’s punishing is not actually deserving of that punishment? Maybe her self flagellation is harming others more than it's actually harming the evil? Does any of that occur to Ratty?
[Ratty is upset that this happened.]
[Ratty sits down and stares at the door.]
[The faded tile of T35’s lobby whizzes by below a pair of oversized dress shoes.]
[The view raises slightly, barely crossing the floor level trim as the operator of this hidden camera attempts to film the room.]
[A voice pants from out of frame.]
“I am- this is a special episode of the Dark Side Podcast. I am… in the office… of the real life SCP foundation: Team 35 Logistics.”
“Hi, sorry, can I help you?”
[The frame whips around and centers Becca, sitting at her desk.]
[The off-camera voice is startled.]
“IS IT TRUE THAT THIS FACILITY HOUSES CREATURES OF A PARANORMAL NATURE?”
“Uh, yes… We prefer if you don’t… film… actually.”
[The frame goes dark as a hand covers the lens]
[The off-camera voice whispers directly into the microphone.]
“It appears that the receptionist has some variety of mind-reading augmentation.”
“No, it’s just not that good of a hidden camera. You really can’t-”
[A chair screeches against the tile.]
[The off-camera voice yelps.]
[Oversized dress shoes clap down a hallway.]
“Hey! C’mon, kid. You can’t-”
[The slam of a metal door reverberates up a stairwell.]
[Oversized dress shoes click up concrete steps.]
[A blue glow appears on camera, projected against a cement wall.]
“It’s the- the spectral form from this morning’s report.” A weedy little voice caught Emily off guard. No one took the stairs in this building: they were cold and wet and fucking sucked to climb if you couldn’t hover, and so after a trip to the nearest convienence store for some fucking comfort food, Emily did not expect to be seen by anyone but Becca, who was fantastic at keeping her nose out of other people’s business.
And of course. Of fucking course: sunglasses, trenchcoat, duck bill. Her heart would race if it wasn’t completely dormant, as is, it rose into her throat, completely halting any pantomime of breathing she had gotten used to.
“Stop fucking following me!” She screamed, blowing through the nearest door into - well - not a much better scene. Sapphomet’s support group had seemingly been interrupted: roughly half of the staple members of T35 were huddled in a corner of the room away from any reasonable exit, either bleeding or holding someone who was bleeding together. Pokey - who was still incredibly young for her age, wonder why - stood above the huddled mass, hunkered down into a battle stance, her eyes following the fight like a tennis match.
On the complete opposite end of the room Sapphomet struggled with a length of rope, doing their best to keep it tight around Rey’s powerful snout.
“Ah! Hi Emily!” Sapphomet called, struggling to keep their hooves on the ground as Rey thrashed. “I need-” Rey flung their head backwards, sending Sapphomet rolling across the room as their ropes snapped. “Would you help me with this, please?” They asked, jumping back into the frey and pulling a rope into Rey’s maw like a piece of floss.
“Yeah that’s not-” Emily stammered, picturing all the ways Rey could tear her apart, forgetting for a moment that she could not in fact be torn apart. “That’s not in my wheelhouse, I don’t think.” She had begun to back up, only noticing as the duck-billed stalker passed through her lower chest.
“They can’t hurt you.” Rey snapped their jaw, failing to slip free as Sapphomet repositioned and took them by the neck.
“No, yeah-” The rabbit’s blood roared in her ears, officially below the threshold where keeping it together was at all easy. Tears floated away from her eyes as she blinked, blurring her vision. Each eye went dark in sequence, plunging her into the rot of her former home as she began to panic in earnest. She began to forget where she was. “For sure.” Her mouth moved on instinct. “I’m super good. You got it.”
Sapphomet slid to a stop at Emily’s feet, the stink of carpet burn only adding to Emily’s panic as the two locked eyes. “Okay, Emily.”
“I- I can’t-”
“It’s okay. If you can’t, you can’t.” They smiled, an earnest moment of encouragement before standing again, brushing the dust from their dress, and charging back into it. The stalker stepped forward, hidden camera now fully and unabashedly visible. For whatever reason, that snapped Emily out.
“What the fuck are you doing?” She snapped, grabbing the duck and shoving her back behind her. “Don’t be fucking stupid.”
“This is fascinating. I’ve never-” The two were cut off as Sapphomet crashed through a sheet of drywall, blinking, tired, as they once again got back up. “Two telepaths, a fully formed spectre, some variety of dog-beast-hybrid. This is fantastic! This is the best day of my life! What is this place?”
“This place is fucking- not a tourist attraction, is what it is.” Emily finally squared up her stalker. It was really just some young teenager, the breast of her once intimidating black trenchcoat now - when examined up close - adorned with all manner of “I want to believe” style memorabilia. Emily snatched the sunglasses off of her face. She was barely tall enough to see over most counters, a set of green-banded braces slurred her speech.
Just a kid, something familiar in her wide eyed fascination.
“You look like a creep with the sunglasses-” Emily was unsure of what to say. She was just a fascinated little duck, looking for an in. That was familiar.
“Emily!” Sapphomet shouted from across the room. Emily turned to see Rey charging, the full force of their fangs ready to strike. Fuck. Shit. Emily - her heart pounding, actually pounding - flinched as the lights snapped off around her. She had shifted in an instant into her extra-lapine form, letting her eyes - still full of tears - take over her face, and charged.
Rey stopped just shy of the duck as they crashed into the smaller rabbit, half-barking half-whining as the ghost phased through them and took their throat by the interior. Emily dropped through the floor, not knowing at the time that she could do that, and brought Rey down with a crash.
The creature struggled for breath as it’s body recovered from the equivalent of what must’ve felt like the world’s hardest throat punch. Emily climbed back through the floor, her eyes locking on the duck as Sapphomet rushed over.
“Pokey! The thing!” They called, diving to catch a syringe of yellow liquid and spinning to jab it into Rey’s neck. They stopped struggling after a couple long moments, their chest rising and falling with a strained snore. Sapphomet caught Emily’s eye as they let out a long sigh,
“You did it.” They smiled.
“Yeah, for sure.” Both women panting on the floor.
“Okay-” Sapphomet sat up between breaths. “Whose hurt?”
Ratty 2 - ratty admits her flaws to herself and the door mysteriously opens
It would have been a pretty fantastic little moment for Ratty to admit some of her flaws to herself, but for the time being she continues to stare. To her credit, she does shake it up by staring at the ceiling instead of the floor.
There was something going on upstairs, the ground - or rather, the ceiling - kept shaking. Perhaps coindicentally, Ratty could no longer hear Rey fucking around outside of their cell.
So, c’mon Ratty.
She stood up, started pacing the room, started muttering to herself, chewing on the question: why did this happen? Why did I let this happen?
“I don’t think like this.” She starts. Odd. A little off side, but… go on. “Like - God, what do I mean by that? Like… there’s never an amount of self sacrifice I should be able to do that doesn’t solve the problem. There is infinite Ratty, ergo, there should be enough Ratty to be burned to fix anything - everything, even.”
Is that true?
“I don’t know how to fix things without hurting myself.”
Now I think we both know that’s not true. She fell onto her back, cushioned only slightly by the paddedness of the room. She lay there, staring. The tremors stopped for a moment, started back up, sent a shower of dust through the room. Ratty sat up abruptly as a clump caught her in the eye.
“Gah- fucking, God damn it.” She jammed the heel of her palm into the socket, thinking about Sapphomet as her eyes started to water. Sapphomet could get her out of this room. They could figure this out. They were thoughtful, smart, kind… generally good at figuring shit out.
Actually, Ratty thought, it was more likely that Sap wouldn’t have gotten stuck in the first place.
None of that mattered to her really. Sapphomet was all but gone from Ratty’s life. She began to rub the other eye as - against the odds - another clump of dust stimulated her tear ducts. She stopped abruptly, just letting it sit. Letting the tears well up and roll down her cheeks, hating herself for every one.
“That’s a good thing.” She said, the sticky urge not to sob clinging to her voice like a cancerous tumor. “I can’t hurt them if I can’t see them.”
She let the silence hang, stared around, blank, as though she could see the absence of sound, as though waiting for someone to speak. No one here, her eyes wandered into focus. Rey had ripped back the linen panel, as they often did. Sapphomet had started leaving only one blanket in there, learning their lesson after Rey tore through what amounted to a quarter of the blankets in the building in one night. By some stroke of luck, it had been left completely in tact.
Ratty stripped off her work shirt, getting comfortable in the thick, soft piece of fabric. Still turning, she noticed just how much damage Rey had done to the door. Apparently they really wanted to spend tonight outside: the ring that turned the locking mechanism was hanging from its bolt.
Above her was an observation window. Pretty thick, just in case, but not thick enough to withstand, say, a heavy metal ring tied to the sleeve of a shirt and swung as hard as possumly possible.
That was an idea.
Importantly, that was an idea that didn’t require Ratty destroy any part of herself.
More importantly, Ratty took the ring in her hand and braced her boot against the door, and the door swung open.
“Oh. Huh.” Ratty had a lot to work on, but this time it was really allowed to just be that simple.
Okay. Adrenaline coursing through her veins, time froze as she sprinted through the building. She had missed the fight, but she could still help fix things.
The support group was a mess. Pokey, their face bandaged, had taken to minor first aid. Lil and an unknown duck - roughly the same size - were trying and failing to drag Rey’s sleeping body into the elevator. Miss Nelly, woken up by the commotion, still in her pajamas, had taken an armful of first aid supplies from Sapphomet and set into motion as Ratty approached.
“Sap.” Ratty stopped just shy of hugging them as she noticed the delicate work they were in the middle of: pulling a massive gash back together as someone Ratty had never met before bit down on the corner of a ream of printer paper.
“Ratty.” The goat replied in kind, focused on their work.
“Listen. I’ve been a shitty wife, and a bad partner, and selfish, and stupid, and not there for you when I should have been.”
“Yes, you have been.” Sapphomet finished up the wound, sealing it up and moving on to the next identical claw mark. “You’re going great, by the way.” They told their patient. He offered a weak ‘thank you’ grunt in response.
“Right, and I- I really want to fix that.”
“Good.” Sapphomet turned away from their work for a moment, meeting her gaze for just a moment to confirm: yes, this is actually good, and exactly what I have wanted for years now. “Let’s talk about it later.”
“Yeah, absolutely.” Excitement took over Ratty’s voice. “For sure.”
“Right now, go grab the big first aid kit from my- our bedroom and come back with it.”
Ratty nodded, turning to take off and finding herself caught by the back of the shirt. “Wait.” Sapphomet said, turning her around. They rocked up onto the tips of their hooves and pressed their lip skin against Ratty’s.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They really love you, you dumb fucking possum.
Sapphomet sat carefully on their shared couch, a slightly overflowing mug of green tea in one hand, a small bowl of sugar in the other. Usually they didn’t like to sully the flavor, but today was a long day. A little treat wouldn’t hurt anyone. They glanced around for a spoon, sat up, looked wistfully at the kitchen, then settled on dumping a few seconds worth of sugar into the blend and stirring it with their claw.
“So…” They began. “What’s um… what is up?”
Ratty sat up, pulling over her cold fingers the sleeves of an old college hoodie. Well, not old, actually. She had waited for her undergraduate school to stock the hoodie she wore for most of freshman year, then just walked in and bought one. It was comforting, even as she ground off the burrs with the lap of her jeans.
She took a deep breath, and began:
“When I had that flashback… like a month ago…” Oops… “I saw some of this… just horrible shit.” A chill went up the possums spine as - in spite of all the work she was doing to keep it suppressed - a few flashes of the vision flickered behind her eyes. “There was this goat, and I didn’t know their name, I- they just looked so much like you. And I think, what I thought, was that- I was worried that you weren’t safe around me, and so, I picked up every job that came in for the courier, and I only slept in subtime, and I don’t know if I was going to kill myself at some point, or I had just hoped that it would happen eventually, but my plan was to just like… die, and leave you with a bunch of money, I guess.”
Ratty stared at her feet, her shoulders bunched as she let that admission settle. She didn’t realize she was crying until a tear fell to the floor, immediately felt guilty, and turned to hide it from Sapphomet.
Sapphomet was also struggling, scrounging around for anything to say.
“I am… I think I’m mad at you?” They said, more saying it aloud to ask the question than to actually make an accusation.
“I’m sorry, this is quite tense, but I really don’t know what to say to that.”
“I am… glad that you’re not dead. That’s something I can say for sure.” Sapphomet nodded, using this as a mental anchor to build out from.
“Oh, uh- Thank you? I am also glad that you are not dead.” Ratty said, risking a little tease of the goat’s cadance, hoping to push a little bit of playful normalcy into the conversation. It worked, if only just for a quiet snicker. “What?” Ratty asked.
“What you said was funny.”
“I mean- you know, it’s so… just… odd how little control I have over my feelings right now. My actual, most powerful emotion, is that-” the goat snickered again, putting their tea down to laugh. “I’m a little upset that you thought you could kill me.” They laughed staring up into their wife’s eyes, both sets glazed with tears.
“Oh, okay.” Ratty grinned. “If anyone could, it would be me.”
The pair just stared at each other for a moment, Ratty realizing just how much she missed this, just how stupid she was for having ever tried to push Sapphomet away in the first place. And yeah, to be fair, Ratty was an idiot for that one.
She dove in, using the new free headspace left by her mostly missing horns to nuzzle her head under the goat’s chin. It was so fantastic to be close to them.
“Your poor horns…” Sapphomet poked the jagged tip, clicking their nail along the rough surface.
“Oh, yeah, I was actually going to ask if you could help me grow them back?” Ratty asked, accidentally scratching Sapphomet’s chin as she turned to look up at them.
“I... kinda like them short, actually.”
“It’ll be a good reminder not to get yourself beat up.” Sapphomet poked. “That's- by the way- that is my big demand for, um, fixing this, which is what you said you want to do.”
“For sure.” Ratty nodded. “No more-- that. No more getting hurt for no reason.”
“And I want to do couples therapy.”
“Oh, for sure. I thought that was a given.”
“Yes, well. Good.” The pair sat in silence after that, just having contact, getting acclimated once again the way their bodies fit together. Sapphomet watched as their wife’s tired eyes fluttered shut, watched as - on pure instinct - her half sleeping mind nestled deeper into them. It was really quite good to have Ratty back.
“You know I don’t want to go on without you, right?” Sapphomet asked. “I would, but it would be - frankly - quite shitty.”
“And I know you feel the same way about me, in your own stupid way. And so…” The goat wove their claws through their wife’s hair, lost in the mess of dark curls and cheap conditioner. “For the time being, I’m not going to. We’re sticking around.”
“Yeah, for sure.” Ratty smiled.
“Okay,” Sapphomet sat up a little straighter. “Then, I have- now it’s my turn to admit something.”
“Yeah. Ellen, and John, and Angelcorp are messing with time, and I have known for, well, technically a year, but-”
“Oh! Was that the other night when you went to sleep at the tea shop?”
“Yes? How did you-”
“I just have a pretty good sense of time, like I could tell you exactly what time it is right now.” Ratty said, cutting Sapphomet off. Sapphomet stared at her for a moment, then checked their watch, then looked back at her wife.
“Without looking, what time is it right now?”
“Like… 12:35 in the morning.” Ratty said, her eyes still shut. I mean, yeah. That’s what time it was. Ratty just has a good sense of time. That’s a fine character trait to have. “Okay so… what? We kill Ellen DeGeneres?” She prodded, not even bothering to check the time, because she’s that much of a badass.
“Yes, that is basically what we are probably going to have to do.” Sapphomet nodded.
“Cool.” Ratty muttered, throwing up horns with her free hand and then falling directly asleep on her wife’s lap.