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Say No

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“He didn’t mean it,” Steven says as soon as he’s through the door of his flat, keys jangling as he dumps them and his bag onto the table; the soft light from Gus Number 2’s tank bathing him in pale silvery light.  “He didn’t,” he insists again into the silence. “He was just being…”

Hesitating, Steven wavers, bottom lip catching between his teeth as he glances uncertainly into one of the mirrors nearby. They’re everywhere now. Arranged just-so so that no matter where he is in the flat  he’ll be able to see – well, to see himself, but also not himself. 

“Nice?” He finally offers weakly, hand lifting to scrub nervously through his curls. It sounds bloody stupid, even to his own ears, and he can’t help but wince as the silence around him grows. “I mean it. He was just being nice. He didn’t – ”

“He did,” a voice growls suddenly from the darkness and Steven can’t help but jump a little, heart jack rabbiting in his chest as his gaze snaps to the full-length mirror across the room from him. His not-reflection glares back at him, face and body wrapped in deep shadows Steven knows shouldn’t be there. “He meant it, Steven.”

“He didn’t,” Steven denies automatically, anxiously. “He was just being – ”

“You don’t ask someone on a date just because you’re being nice,” the shadowed figure snaps, fingers curling into fists at its side. “You understand that, don’t you? He wasn’t just being nice; he was being serious.”

Swallowing, Steven shifts, feet shuffling uneasily against the floorboards. “Was going to say he was being a bit of a flirt,” he replies lamely, chin dipping. “He’s new and trying to be friendly. I – I’m sure he acts that way with everyone.”

Scoffing, the shadowy figure says nothing and silence once more descends into the flat around them. It isn’t a cold one, Steven knows. He’s had more than enough experience dealing with awkward unfriendly silences in his life to know the difference, but it still bothers him. Still makes him want to jump right out of his skin. Especially when it’s with…

 “Marc,” he implores softly, wishing he knew what to say to make things less – this. “It didn’t mean anything. Even if he was being serious.” Which he wasn’t, he doesn’t say, already knowing how well that will go over. “He’s just…”

Head shaking, Steven slumps, wishing again that he knew the right words to say. He doesn’t, of course. He never does. Not with anyone, even with his other self. Especially with his other self.

“Marc, please,” he tries again, tone a hairsbreadth away from pleading. “It doesn’t–”

“Say no,” Marc demands abruptly, curled fingers flexing in the mirror.

Blinking, Steven frowns, face creasing in confusion, because…what? “What? 

“Say no,” Marc repeats, voice just as gravelly demanding as before as he shifts, the shadows surrounding him seeming to shift as well. 

“To what?” Steven asks, baffled. “Marc–” 

“If he asks you out on a date again,” Marc says, almost harshly. “Say no.”

Staring, Steven’s mouth opens then closes soundlessly, because this – this isn’t…

“Please,” Marc continues, tone not exactly softening but still somehow seeming to gentle. “Say no, Steven.”

“…all right,” Steven agrees faintly, face flushing in the pale light from the fish tank. “If he asks again, I’ll,” swallowing, he licks his bottom lip, heartbeat skipping oddly in his chest. “I’ll say no.”

“Thank you,” Marc says, quiet and sincere, and Steven’s flush darkens, head ducking shyly as he nods.

“Right,” he stammers, fidgeting anxiously. “Yeah. Cheers. I’ll just – um – I’ll – ”

“Get some rest, Steven,” Marc cuts in, smooth as anything, and Steven’s nodding again even before he’s fully processed the words. “We’ll talk again later.”

“Right,” Steven says again. “Right. I’ll just,” he gestures vaguely, “go change, shall I?” 

“You do that,” Marc agrees easily, the shadows around him seeming to darken and ripple. “Good night, Steven.”

“Night,” Steven echoes, feeling – he doesn’t know – a lot – he’s feeling a lot. “Talk later?”

“I’ll be here,” Marc promises, the faintest hint of dark amusement coloring his tone. 

“Right,” Steven says, yet again, because this is – he’s – a wanker, he’s a bloody wanker. “Night, Marc.”

“Sweet dreams, Steven,” Marc murmurs, and Steven…

Steven flees from the light, heart hammering in his chest at the way Marc’s dark gaze follows him from every corner of the flat.