9:16 P.M You’re late, but right on time. You get out of your car, and tie your hair into a bun. The hair matters most. Shows whether you’re posh, or just neat. Whether you're rebellious or just lazy. It is you. That’s important to know when you’re against the FBI.
“Viki. Where have you been?” Kia asks in the strictest voice she could possibly muster. You purse your lips and, look down in shame, even though both of you know that you came late on purpose.
“Does it matter?” You meet Kia’s steely gaze.
“Yes. Yes, it does matter.” She grabs your shoulders and pushes you back. “You need discipline.”
“Folding my clothes neatly doesn’t affect how well I ki-” You catch yourself just in time. “How well I work.”
They said to avoid only one person in the facility. Kia. She seems nice. But then again, they always do at the start.
“No class today. You’re lucky I’m letting you off the hook.” Kia wipes her face with a nearby towel. You roll your eyes.
“Like anyone cares about a martial arts class taught by a student.” It’s true. You and the others learn nothing from her class, other than how to stay still for hours on end. Even re-learning the basics of hacking is better than this.
You feel her eyes on your back, studying you, figuring you out. They said to stay away from her because she’ll know everything about you within two minutes. But the thing is, you can do it in one.
Her posture suggests a troubling event, maybe a loss. You wrinkle your nose, that doesn’t seem right. You carefully examine her. She’s jumpy, cautious. Kia has secrets to hide. Many secrets to hide. Too many.
You notice you’re staring and quickly look away.
You pack up your gym bag, and head for the dorm room, when someone grabs your arm. You freeze in your tracks.
“They told you to keep your distance from me, didn’t they?” Kia narrows her eyes. You think back to what the gossip girls said.
You decide to go with your gut. “Yes. In fact, they did.” You can tell she feels pleased, the relaxation of the shoulders is a clear signal.
“And why didn’t you?” Kia shifts back to her normal tone, slightly amused and irritated.
“Because.” You wanted to end it there, but you were too curious. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” A sly smile pops up on her face.
“Your eyes. From your mom, or dad?” You ask. That’ll tell you who she’s closer to. Kia looks surprised.
“My father’s.” Kia lets go of your hand and walks away. She stops in her tracks and turns around. “Just one thing for you. Did you dye your hair to match your eyes, or was it natural?” You automatically touch your platinum blonde hair. You frown internally, your eyes are gray, not silver.
You should probably get a crew cut, or else everyone will think you’re soft. Mother’s voice echoes in your head. Kia’s crewcut does make her seem fierce...
“I dyed it.” You lie to see if she would catch it. She raises her eyebrows. Ah, so she is better than they thought she was. Better than you thought she was.
“Sure you did.” She grins, and it sends shivers up your back. Two minutes, is that how long it takes her to figure you out? Maybe they're wrong. Maybe it’s sooner.
You walk to your dorm room, quicker than normal. The girls nod you a hello, and look away, chatting away. You watch the moon move slowly across the sky. It’s beautiful. The moon. How lucky you are to see it that big from such a distance. Your eyelids get heavier, but never close.
You wonder what Kia’s thinking right now.
You imanige Mother. “Friends?” She says, raising an eyebrow.
You know you would shake your head and say, “Just acquaintances.” Kia’s… intriguing. She’s like a puzzle, but without a guide.
You sigh and climb out the window as soon as the other girls were snoring softly in their beds. Jumping down, you find a cozy spot near the forest. Your eyes flutter shut, looking forward to good night’s sleep.
- - -
“She’s here! Run!” Mother screams for your attention. You frown, she shouldn’t be. “Trust me! She’s here. I saw the purple.”
You freeze for a moment, not knowing what purple means. Then it hits you, she has a highlight in her hair, a violet one. You nod, grabbing Mother wrist and getting her out of the building. Mother looks at you curiously as the smoke starts to flow out of the building. You smile, looking at the completion of yet another mission.
You look at Mother for approval, and wait to see pride in her face. Your predictions are right, but something shifts in her.
You hold Mother’s hand and frown, “Mother? What’s wrong? Aren’t you proud of me, it’s the third mission I completed successfully.” Mother looks like she’s going to do something she’ll regret, and you tighten your grip on her hand.
“There’s more to life than ruining others’ lives, Viki.” She twists her way out of your grip and runs into the burning building a second after you register what’s happening.
“Mother! Mother, no!” You break down in sobs. A police officer gets you off the road, and the day blurs.
Your friend pats you on the back comfortingly when you hear her gasp. “Viki. Viki! Viki, it’s her!” Your friend slaps you. You frown and stare fearlessly into the attacker’s eyes.
Just as you remember, her hair had a stripe of purple against the blonde, making her stand out from the others. She holds a bloody knife and advances. You run towards her, and she strikes, ready to end your life.
- - -
“Viki? Viki! Get up!” You feel someone shake your shoulders violently and jerk up. The full moon glares down at the Earth, and you use the light to your advantage
You immediately attack the person that woke you up. You weren’t allowed to go out at night. Only during missions.
This is probably why, you think. The person had a mask on, covering the bottom of her face. Can’t tell much else, not enough light.
She pushes you off of her, and steps into the light. “Kia?” You suck in a breath. “Oh god, sorry.”
“You were screaming. Why?” Kia ignores your apology.
“No reason. I’ll go now.” You say in a hushed tone, and start climbing to the window that leads into your bed.
“I can get you fired.” Kia’s words make you rush back down.
“I know you can.” You stay calm, not showing any emotions. Let’s end my curiosity about her now.
“You’re like me aren’t you?” Kia frowns.
“How so?” You feel a smile on your face.
“You figure people out.” Kia sits on the log next to me. “Tell me what you see in me.”
“Sure.” You hold your hand out. “I’ll tell you what I see in you, you tell me what you see in me.”
Kia shakes it. You start, “Most people think you shut out everyone and everything because you had a rough childhood, but they’re wrong.” You look over, and she nods. “You had a good childhood and loving parents, unlike most people here. Something happened. It kept striking you, to the point that you couldn’t get back up. Someone helped. Well, at least you thought they did. I believe they betrayed you.” You pause, and Kia stays silent.
“Close enough.” She breathes out, and you can tell you were right. Kia spent years building and carefully constructing a dam around her heart, but the slightest trickle of water came in. And she accepted.
“And my diagnosis?” You look down, ready to hear all the wrong things.
“You’re not scared of pretty much everything. You believe whatever nightmares that are waiting in the future will seem like daydreams compared to what you’ve been through before. And you may be right.
“You have a certain… aura around you, saying that you don’t want to be here. It shows in how unfriendly you are. It shows in the many times you step out of line, the way you break to rules without guilt, and maybe even with pride. I used to think that you did that because you were a little rebellious, but it’s not.” Kia keeps talking, not waiting for you to tell her she's right. “But there is one thing that scares you. It keeps you in here, and stops you from quitting.”
She’s right. “Let’s go, Kia. Someone will notice we’re gone.” Your voice doesn’t crack but it’s holding back a sob. Just acquaintances, or something more?
You feel a tear made purely from self-pity trail down your cheek. Your mother’s voice from the dream comes back to you, She’s here! Run!
“Another thing, Viki. You are rebellious. With that purple streak in your hair, and everything else.”
You have these nightmares every night. And in every single one it’s starring one person.