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Friendship

Contrary to popular belief they were, as of yet, unable to read each other's minds. That drawback also meant that they were not constantly aware of the other's location, could not sniff them out or sense their presence. And whilst usually grateful that there wasn’t someone out there listening to his innermost thoughts, he would admit that now would have been a great time for those powers to materialise. Because he himself had materialised at work this morning to find his partner absent, and come the afternoon the disapproving glances he was getting, as if he could be held responsible for his partner skipping work, had turned into glances more resembling concern.

He had been called into the office by two o'clock. At such an early stage, things were on a need to know basis, which translated to just him and the boss with the office doors tightly shut and the blinds drawn because why not. After a solid grilling as to whether he was really sure he did not know where his partner was, and a very brief grilling on whether he had murdered Him himself, an uncomfortable silence formed. It seemed to line the walls, to freeze them and make them more solid than they had been the day before. Reality altogether became more solid and much, much more worrying.

Step one was retracing His moves from the night before, which reminded him slightly too much of his previous statements on people not being privy to his thoughts. It made him uncomfortable to watch the footage of his partner in the shops on the way home, his partner driving through town, his partner entering his block of flats. Watching the bones of a stranger's life was something he did every day, but watching the bones of someone he knew felt wrong. He was unsure of the boundaries in their adolescent partnership as of yet but he was pretty sure watching His every move was crossing one.

Nobody seemed to have decided whether to be grateful or wary considering the lack of footage of anyone leaving the flat the next morning, so off to the flat they went. Secretaries and desk staff had been ringing the flat all day without event, although that was not something the inhabitants of the car chose to dwell on. Best not to think of all the explanations for that, best just to see what happens when they get there, and if they get there to find a dead body, they would deal with that then. 

In the end, they got there to find no body at all, dead or alive. The bed had not been slept in but the shower curtain was still damp and there was more washing up stacked next to the sink than there had been when he had gone to pick Him up for work yesterday. He had been home long enough to settle in but not long enough to sleep. At this point, the possibility that He had spent the night in someone else’s flat and slept in became a very likely possibility. There were no overturned vases in the hallway as there always should be when there has been a struggle, no hidden clues that could have been left by his semi-conscious partner as He was dragged outside after a violent beating. The flat decided it was a dead end.

Following on from a dead end, they made their way back to the bottom of the building and split up. Harvesting footage from surrounding buildings, checking places He was known to stash getaway cash in case He was on the run, teams were formed and sent off on their way. His boss seemed to expect him to come with him on an excursion to his partner’s latest known fling, but he stayed, and he started knocking on doors. If there was no footage of Him leaving, it stood to reason He was still there. The possibility that He was taken out of the building via the fire escape blooded and bruised would come next, but first he would put all their eggs in this much nicer looking basket, that He had ended up in another flat, and had somehow slept in until three in the afternoon. Not unlikely, come to think of it.

The building was six floors tall, at least he thought it was and he wasn’t going to go and embarrass himself by going outside to stand in the street and count. With four flats on each floor that left him twenty-four to search. Twenty-three really because His had already been gone through by a group of heavy footed individuals. By the third floor he was becoming bored of the near identical conversations he had been having for the last hour. By the fourth he was becoming unhopeful, beginning to accept that possibly he should have shaken the denial off of his shoulders and gone with one of the teams that had been sent out, he may have been more useful there. Was he just here wasting time chatting with neighbours when he should be the one out there glowering at anyone that dared stop for a break.

Having completed two thirds of the building, he picked up the pace but he didn’t give up. Now that he had started, he could never forgive himself if he left now to join the others and found a rotting body in a fifth floor flat in a few days time. Up another set of identical stairs, towards another identical door. This really was getting old, maybe a rotting dead body wouldn’t be too bad if only he didn’t have to have this conversation yet again. As luck would have it, he did not. This new version of the identical door opened to a friendly face, hello, yes she was well, no she hadn’t heard anything strange last night, no she had not noticed anybody on the fire escape in the evening. She had, however, a houseguest.

After all that worrying, he was surprised to find that he mainly seemed to be embarrassed to find his partner safe and alive. He was now quietly rather pleased that he hadn’t done all that glowering he had planned on, would not have helped the happy-go-lucky act at all. Safe and sound would not quite fit the situation, He appeared as close to being dead as He could be whilst still being alive, but He was at least stood up, if leaning against a doorframe. They made fleeting eye contact before He groaned and the leaning against a doorframe was no longer true.

The next few minutes included coaxing the friendly neighbour into helping him drag Him downstairs, quite a feat as it would turn out. The boss was updated on the findings, and lightly recommended not to bring anyone else with him on his inevitable visit to the flat. As few people as possible needed to know that a code red had been called, all to find an agent who had had a bit too much to drink the night before and ended up sleeping in a flat whose inhabitant just happened to have had a day off work so had turned off the alarm for the day. 

He stayed by His side, plying him with water and plain toast and more water, utilising all that glowering that had gone to waste. Come the evening, He was up and about, albeit complaining at every drop in conversation that He had a banging headache and that He couldn’t quite see straight. It was unclear who decided that some fresh air would be the cure to that, but the cure it was deemed to be. Back down those identical stairs, towards the door, and out into the sunshine, together.

June 19, 2021 21:38

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1 comment

Jerry Nourrie
08:30 Jun 28, 2021

Interesting read. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

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