[personal profile] lilychick
[I'm thinking I won't post the half-finished part 5 of the CrackNano, because even though the chapter actually *is* finished, I only have a quarter of it on this computer, and it just wouldn't feel right.

In the meantime, a while ago I talked about how I wound up randomly writing Mirror, Mirror, and so, this is said random piece. Which I almost just posted in AIH! instead. Even though nobody remembers that AIH! even exists. ...Or maybe *because* no one remembers AIH! exists.]

You wouldn't believe the amount of double takes I get. People wait on the lines, seeing the face on the tabloids out of the corners of their eyes, then they get to the end and that same face is right in front of them.

It *can* be really funny -- just the other day, a housewife didn't look at me until I handed her change to her, and the whole bag just dropped right from her arms -- but mostly...it's just a reminder. That no matter how well I *think* I've hidden myself, how sure I am that none of them can find me...every day, people look at me, and the first thing they see is him.

"Yeah," I always find myself saying, with a painfully fake smile, "I get that a lot."

Which is what brings me over to Health & Beauty on my break. Julie's there, dissatisfied as ever, as she affixes prices to rows and rows of nail polish. Her mouth quirks almost into a smile when she sees me, but somehow her real smile is as painful as my fake one.

"I want to dye my hair," I tell her, and she pauses, reaches up, and ruffles what's there.

"I didn't think you had much of an interest in hair care."

With a shrug, I say, "Not really. I just need a change."

She's the only person here that I'd say is close to me, and she still doesn't know. She knows I have a brother, and so I think she has her suspicions. But really, she doesn't even know the half of it. Which is for the best. I don't want her to. I don't want *anyone* to know, really, but especially not Julie. I don't know when it happened, but she means too much to me, and I don't want to see that *look* that Brandon had...that look on her face.

So, yeah, maybe she has suspicions -- she gives me a scrutinizing gaze through those heavily-lined lids -- but whatever she suspects, it's not so bad. "Sure," she says, happy for an excuse to lay down her price gun. "I can understand that."

This leads to fifteen minutes of me standing there while she dashes up and down the aisle, grabbing boxes and holding them up next to my face. In a romantic comedy it would be a montage, accompanied by a generic pop song, but I doubt that Sandra Bullock ever had my motivation. Julie's partial to a platinum blond color, which normally wouldn't be that bad, but I dismiss it with "Not drastic enough."

She raises an eyebrow. "I could go for the Manic Panic, but I don't know how attractive it'd be."

"Jules," I say, "do you see this face?" She nods, and I continue, "I want people to look at it and not know who I am."

I kind of regret being that blunt about it, because it gets me some more of that suspicion. But she doesn't say anything, just reaches to the shelf and hands me another box. "This is the best I can do for you."

Jet black. Not just average black, but goth, suck-up-all-the-light black. It reminds me of home, of teenage rebellion, and I smirk. "Perfect."

"Mark," she says, after a moment, "you can change your hair all you want, but people are still going to know who you are."

Not *exactly* who I am. But she has a point, and so I scowl. "Don't you have work to do?"

She rolls her eyes, and as she shuffles back over to the abandoned nail polish, I hear her deliberately mutter, "I don't know why I bother."

I don't know why she does, either.
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