Chapter 2: The Clean Up Deal

The bedroom was full of old and worn furniture. The dark wood of the bed and matching dresser was warped in places, scratched and faded. I didn't dare go near the bed. The mismatched sheets and covers were stained with various shades and unrecognizable splotches making me wary of the bed's many previous occupants and affairs.

Instead, I moved towards the dresser, yanking it open with one quick motion. The track was broken and the drawer nearly fell completely out from the action. Scanning its contents, I plucked out a dress shirt and a matching tie. In the early morning moonlight leaking in through the window, it appeared to be a deep red. Being the only decent article in the drawer, I slipped it on and buttoned the center. Talles probably used it to wear for job interviews and his several court dates. Who knows, maybe he even wore it to try to impress his victims.

Either way, he had no use for it now unless they planned to bury him in it - which, looking at the rest of his clothes, was likely. Still, I would wear it instead. It fit well, as expected. Finishing the tie, I pulled on some black dress pants and headed out to the kitchen.

There, I found the small, round, kitchen table perfectly set. Scarlet sat, smirking in the candlelight, across from a silver platter which was covered and awaiting my arrival. Next to it, silverware sat neatly on a folded white napkin. Scarlet raised her hand and held it out in a silent gesture to sit.

"I present to you Pappardelle Alla Zafferano, directly from Tuscany," she announced.

I lifted the cover and smiled slightly, pleased with her obedience. The pasta was still warm, steam seeping out and into the air before disappearing.

"I love the color on you," she mentioned as she played with the flame of a candle.

"I thought you might." Blood red. There was a reason she didn't just say that she liked the color but emphasized that she liked it on me. Of course, I knew that already. I knew what she was getting at.

"Doesn't he look absolutely dashing, Jimmy?" she asked, turning towards the corpse on the couch. There was no response. She giggled at the silence before turning back towards me. "He agrees."

"How was Italy?" I asked, ignoring her comments and taking my first taste. It was delicious.

"Beautiful weather. Perhaps you should feed me some Italian cuisine, as well?" she hinted with a wink and a grin to match.

I flicked my gaze up to hers.

"Is Kira in Italy?" I asked, already aware of the answer.

Her grin slipped away and she let out a low sigh.

"I'll take that as a no," I stated bluntly as I continued to eat.

"Oh, Jim," she huffed to the dead man once again. "What in the heavens caused me to choose such a cruel soul?"

"I feed you, don't I?" I pointed out.

"Well, yes, but only the scraps that are on their way to the filthy trashcan called Hell, anyway," she sighed in frustration. "I look forward to the day an ultimate purity will cleanse my tongue."

I rolled my eyes at her. She was wiping hot wax off the melting stick and playing with it on her fingertips. The setting of a candlelight dinner probably would have been a very romantic concept had I not been with Scarlet and the slain Jim Talles.

"So do I," I replied. "This could use a little salt," I added, gesturing towards the plate of food.

"Let me guess. You want it strained from the Black Sea itself and within the next ten minutes?" she sneered in annoyance. "Who pissed on your parade today?"

"Just pass me the shaker on the counter and no one. I'm just not in the mood tonight. I'm tired," I grumbled. What time was it anyway? Quickly scanning the kitchen, my eyes settled on the clock above the stove. "Don't you think you should get started on the clean up? It's already four."

"Probably, considering the bloody mess you've made," she remarked, pushing herself up from the table and sauntering over to Talles.

Bending over in front of him, she reached out and ran her fingers through what hair he had left. It molded into the shape her fingers left, as if held by hair gel. In reality, it was the sticky blood that crusted and clung to each strand. Finding the situation humorous, Scarlet pushed his hair into a spiky mess with a grin and walked away.

"I suppose I'll start working in the bathroom then."

I nodded and continued to pick at my dinner as she made her way to the bathroom. It was all just another part of our deal. I made the mess and she picked up after me. She always does an excellent job, making it appear as if we never existed. I had no restrictions. Nothing could hold me back now. No one, not even the law could stop me from getting what I wanted. It was all a matter of finding the right path and following it.

"You know what the cops have been calling us?" I called out to her.

"Hm?" she asked from the bathroom.

"They call us the Phantom Killer because they can never seem to find any evidence," I mused. "They claim it's as if a ghost is the executor, picking his victims off and moving on without any notice."

"Well, they're almost right," she replied with a snicker. "Demons. Ghosts. You're technically as dead as I. We're nearly the same."

I couldn't help but smirk at the idea. Scarlet and I were far from being anything of the same nature. Ignoring our obvious personality differences, there was one major thing that separated us as creatures. Scarlet was full of power that I could never match. She had the ability to do things beyond my imagination. I was nothing without her and after I got what I wanted, I would evaporate into an even further nothingness.

While that might not make any sense to most people, the meaning is clear to me. Once my goal is achieved, I will be erased from existence completely. Nothing, not even a memory of me will remain. Occasionally, the thought will unsettle me but in the end, I know it's worth it. I know that all I've given up will pay off.

Scarlet returned from cleaning up the bedroom. I didn't spend too long in there, so there shouldn't have been much to do. Finishing up my dinner, I rested my elbow on the table and my face in my palm. She whipped up the empty plate, tray, and silverware and moved it to the sink. Running her hands over them quickly, they vanished.

She then moved back to Jim Talles. Pausing to look him over, she shook her head at me.

"You really did a number on this one," she commented, staring down at the mutilated man.

"I don't like pedophiles. He got what he deserved," I replied blankly as I watched her. She rolled her eyes as she moved a now glowing hand over the corpse to dispose of any evidence I may have left behind in my work.

"Whatever you say. Just know that I'm not the one who forced you to be so ruthless. This brutality was summoned on your own."

She let out a sigh as she glanced around the rest of the room. With her hands resting on her hips, she smiled triumphantly. It was done.

"I'll give it one final zap once we leave," she informed as she walked over and picked up the candles. With a quick breath, she blew them out and the room fell to darkness. With this new cover, we made our way out the door, locking it behind us.