James wakes up on a Tuesday morning like any other and goes about his usual routine: blearily quieting his alarm, stretching with a groan and gently dislodging the purring weight of his cat from his chest, stumbling out of his room and to the bathroom. It’s only after he’s finished washing his hands and grabbed his toothbrush that everything goes careening into--not normal.
I need you, is written on his mirror in what appears to be blood.
Behind it, his reflection, all wide eyes and messy hair standing every which way. James blinks, makes to rub at his face with a fist as though it'll make the words disappear and only succeeds in nearly gouging his eye out with the toothbrush he’s still holding.
Muttering a curse, he sets it down on the corner and glares at the writing on his mirror.
“No,” he says aloud. “Go away. I’m retired.”
So saying, he marches out of the bathroom to get the glass cleaner from under the kitchen sink and a paper towel, returning to spray the mirror liberally and scrub the message away. It comes off easily. It might be blood, it might not be; either way, it’s gone. He tosses the paper towel in the garbage bin and goes about cleaning his teeth and his face and his hair, all the while glaring at the mirror (and thus, his reflection).
The rest of the day goes on as it was meant to. He makes breakfast for himself and feeds the cat. He gathers his laptop and wallet and keys and bag, and leaves for work. At around seven in the evening, he returns, greets his meowing cat with a scritch of her head, dumps his things on the couch, and sets about reheating leftovers for dinner.
He eats, he watches the latest episode of his favourite cooking show, he messages his mom, he yawns. He changes into pyjamas, and finally gives in, and goes to the bathroom. With mounting trepidation, he turns on the light and—bracing himself—checks the mirror.
And there the message is again. I need you.
“You need someone else,” he says firmly. “I don’t deal with the dead anymore! I made that very clear three years ago! Stop defacing my mirror.”
He sprays it with the cleaner. He wipes at the message.
It doesn’t budge.
James sighs explosively, glares at it, and throws his hands in the air. “You can’t make me,” he says, conscious that he sounds like a sulky toddler and not caring one wit.
After all, the last time he tried to help a ghost, he ended up killing a living, breathing human being.
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