Cassie sat awkwardly in the living room, watching Phoebe play with a toy car. "I know this is a bad time..." She started, before she cut herself off. "She wanted to see you. And I thought you might want to see her." Phoebe looked up at Ferris at this, a serious look on her face.
Ferris regarded the human a moment and looked down at the child. "...Hello."
"Are you sad?" Phoebe asked, crawling up to sit by him.
"Is it because Aunt Nina went away?"
Gingerly, Phoebe hugged him. Ferris put an arm around her in response. Cassie looked away, feeling like an intruder.
"Why are people mad at Uncle Oberon?"
"They think he could have done more to help."
"Oh." Phoebe went quiet, digesting this. "Grandma said that Aunt Nina is like her now, only not sticking around here, whatever that means."
"Nina is... gone."
Phoebe went quiet again. "Why?"
Cassie stood up suddenly, a pained look on her face. "Phoebe, honey, maybe you shouldn't ask him this stuff."
Phoebe turned to look at her. "Why not, mommy?"
"She is worried it will make me more sad." Ferris gave Phoebe a squeeze. "I'm not sure I can be more sad right now."
"Apple says sometimes when you're sad, you shouldn't try to make the sad go 'way, cause it's better to get it all out. He says that's what's blues music is for. Do you have the blues, Uncle Ferris?"
"I am a bit... blue. I think everyone is."
"Do you gotta cry?"
"I do not cry on the outside, little one."
Phoebe tugged on a braid, shifting from side to side. "Can I help you feel better, Uncle Ferris?"
"How would you do that?"
"I dunno. I was kinda hoping you could tell me."
"I am really not sure, little one. I just do not know." Ferris sighed. "I think I am going to be sad for a while."
Phoebe nodded. "Okay. But you'll be happy again, right?"
"Are you serious? You're actually thinking about taking her in, even when she's been raised by that crazy bitch and taught god-only-knows-what?"
"I owe it to her."
Lori pulled the phone away and made a sound somewhere between a rageful 'grah' and a loud sigh. After taking a moment to settle down, she returned the phone to her ear. "You owe it to her," she echoed.
"You don't- it- it's too late now! She's been raised inside that cult, and now she could be all kinds of fucked up in the head and who knows just what the hell she could do?!"
"Exactly. She could be 'all fucked up in the head'."
"She could be capable of damn near anything! She's got you and Gabriel and- and her genes floating around in there, who knows what the hell she could do! And you, you're just letting her in there, when for all we know, she could be her little private assassin or something!"
"Lorelai. She is a child. I have the chance to raise her in a good place. A good home."
"And what good will that be when she's nothing but her little puppet, Dad? Have you somehow forgotten what she's done, what she's capable of?"
"She is not Angela. She is not Gabrial. She is a child that needs me. I am not going to fail her."
"You can't fail someone that's already a lost cause!"
"Are you going to do this? Are you going to condemn a child for the actions of her parent?"
"It's too late for her now! She's not a child anymore, she never was, she's nothing but her tool! I've seen the news, what she did to those people, and they were never around her in their formative years! Think, Dad! Just think for one moment before you throw yourself into this martyr act, and realize that you can't take her! She needs a home, but it can be one far, far away from here, where she's not going to hurt anyone here!"
"Lorelai! You are going to stop that kind of talk right now! This is not up for dicussion! This is not for you to decide! I am going to raise this child right! I would hope you would want to make sure she doesn't become the monster you think Genevive already is!"
"She may not be, but look at the odds! Look at the facts already in front of you! She was raised by that creature, taught right and wrong, or rather, the lack thereof, by her! And I'm not going to have her anywhere near Arthur or Nina, your grandchildren, for her to turn into her little...meat dolls! Because unlike you, apparently, I actually care about my family's safety!"
"You do not talk to me about safety. You do not talk to me about keeping us all safe. You do not know what I have done to keep everyone safe. And being raised wrong? How do you think I was raised?! I was raised to beleive I was a troll messiah! No matter what she has been taught, no matter what she may have learned to be, no one is beyond saving, no one is beyond giving the chance."
There was a long pause. "Fine. Do what you want. But she stays the hell away from my kids until we're god damn sure she's not going to do anything to hurt them."
Lectra hovered less then an inch away from the display glass, looking at the new items excitedly. A few years ago she might have plastered her hands and nose against it, but these days she was a little more concious of how disrespectful that was to the museum. Still, on the inside, she was definately right up against that glass. A shadow fell across her face, but she didn't look up.
Sirius was looking half at the displayed weapons, half at the other person watching them. He wasn't quite as focused on them as she was, but considering how intently she was looking at them, that wasn't saying much. He tore away from the exhibit to speak up.
"So the answer's kind of obvious, but I take it you like this exhibit?"
"...yes." She looked over at him, eyes gleaming. "I did NOT know the house of representatives had an official mace. Awesome."
"Yeah.... wait, what? Really?"
"Yeah! Look, there's a replica!" She pointed to an elaborate mace. "If a member gets out of line, they point it at them! Threateningly!"
"Wow. That's awesome! Weird, when you think about it, but awesome."
"Every state should have a weapon."
"Ha, yes. Alaskan speargun, Texas pistol...."
"Crossbow somewhere. Californian crossbow?"
"Good a place as any for a crossbow, I suppose."
"...the Tennesee trebuchet?" Lectra giggled.
"Conneticut catapult." Sirius offered.
"South Dakota Spud Gun," Lectra declared, her face perfectly serious.
Sirius thought for a moment. "...Pennsylvania Pump Action Rifle."
Lectra burst out laughing, loudly. "Do...do they use it to buttstroke?"
Sirius smirked, bringing a palm to his face.
"And the Hawaii Hadseax!"
Sirius tried stifling a giggle.
"THE RHODE ISLAND RAPIERS!" Lectra shouted, pointing dramatically to the ceiling.
"Hey! What is wrong with you freaks?!"
Lectra's face fell. "Huh?" She turned to see who'd said that. Standing in the doorway to the exhibit was a large man wearing a tight shirt and jeans. He had a long mustache on his face.
"What do you think yer doing?"
Lectra stepped back a bit, fidgeting. She looked at the ground.
Sirius, however, took a step foward. "We're enjoying ourselves a little looking at the exhibit! What's the problem?"
The man's face narrowed. "This ain't the place for your kind."
"We're entitled to enjoy ourselves just like everyone else!" Lectra burst out, glaring. "Just because we're trolls..."
"Ya'll get outta here before something bad happens."
"You're actually threatening us." Sirius said simply. "Really?"
"I think you need to learn some respect."
"Respect for what? You're the one who burst in here! We've been going to this museum for years without running into an asshole like you!" Lectra crossed her arms and tossed her head back defiantly. "I think YOU need to learn some respect for people different then you, you...racist!"
"Racist? You little creeps better clear before I start callin' the guards on you!"
"We haven't done a thing!" Sirius interupted. "We were looking at the exhibit until you came in here and started insulting us!"
"Ya'll are damn noise making trouble makers who are going knock shit down!"
"Don't you be doing that in here either! This is a public place!"
"I...they're just weapon names! Perfectly innocent! Seax or hadseax was old english for knife, and, well, rapiers are swords, and SIRIUS HELP ME EXPLAIN!"
Sirius was frowning. "I think," Sirius began, "there's been a misunderstanding somewhere here."
"And I think ya'll are damn perverts. And you son, find a girl yer own age. That just ain't right."
Lectra was entirely red now. She let out a strangled squeak.
Sirius took another step foward. "Look, pal, I don't know who you think you are, but you don't have any right to involve yourself in that. You have a noise complaint? Fine. We'll be good. Soon as you leave."
"I'm trying to have a fine time with my family and yer ruining it all with your shenanigans and illicit acts and whatnot."
"B-but we weren't..." Lectra shook her head furiously.
"And I'm trying to have a nice time with my friend here, and you're ruining it by making trouble where there isn't any!"
"You need to respect your elders and get out of here."
Sirius folded his arms. "We're not moving."
"Yer worse than a stubborn mule. You got no respect for this museum , for other people, or for anything. Yer going to grow up to be a washout, doing all that pretending crap."
"I respect those who've earned it. I respect this museum. I respect plenty of other people. The thing is though, you haven't done a thing to earn it. So you can just go to hell."
"You tell me who was being a bother to all these good people. I was asked to come over here to tell ya to keep it out of a good place and you come and attack me with them attitudes."
"Says the guy whose first sentance to us was calling us freaks. And who went on to lecture us on things that weren't just off topic, but also none of his damn business."
The large man stepped up. "Ah think yer parents should have given you a good whupping for that lip, boy."
"Well, it's really too bad they don't think the same way, isn't it?"
"Sirius, we don't need to listen to his lecture. Let's just go talk to the curator about being harrassed. You know he likes me."
"Ya'll go and do that, ya perverts! I don't want that sex talk in front of mah kids and all that shouting!"
"If you had just asked us to stop, we would have gladly stopped, for their sake. But you decided to insult us instead. But, whatever. We'll be off."
"Thats right, ya'll do that, just like ah asked."
Sirius turned away, facing Lectra. "I'm done trying to talk to this guy." He raised his voice slighlty. "He can't seem to get it through his head that he's not as important as he thinks he is."
Lectra giggled nervously. "Let's just go to the Hungry Hippo, Sirius."
"Sure. Let's." Sirius motioned for her to lead, casting one last glare over his shoulder in the direction of the large Southerner.
As they walked down the sidewalk, Lectra glaced over at Sirius. "Our ages aren't that bad, right? I mean, if we did like each other like that."
Sirius frowned. "I didn't think so."
"Good!" She linked her arm with his, blushing a little.
He was a little surprised at this, but didn't comment on it. "Um, yeah. That guy had no idea what he was talking about."
"Not too much. By the way, are you busy tonight? I kinda feel like I need to talk to you face to face about something."
"Um, sure. I kind of wanted to talk to you about something, too."
"Ah, good. Does me picking you up at around 8 sound good?"
"That sounds just fine."
"Alright, see you then. Bye."
Lucas sighed heavily as he made his way up the steps to Coraline's home. Taking off his hat, he rang the doorbell.
After a moment the door cracked open, revealing Coraline standing patiently in the doorway. "Hi," she said brightly, opening the door a bit wider, "did you want to come in, or were we going somewhere else?"
Lucas shrugged slowly. "I'm not sure which would be a better place to talk. If we do go outside, we're likely just going to find a place to sit and talk anyway."
"Inside would probably be best, then," Cora decided, holding the door open for him, "unless you're opposed."
He shook his head and stepped inside. "N-no. I don't mind."
"Alright then," she said, closing the door behind him, "would you prefer the living room or the kitchen?"
"Living room." He hung up his hat. "Sorry to be rude like this, but do you have any tea?"
Coraline frowned slightly. "Possibly? I'd have to check. Pardon me." She wandered off into the hive, and after a few minutes returned empty-handed. "I'm afraid I don't. I'm sorry."
Lucas nodded. "It's fine, really. Why don't you sit down now so we can talk?"
Coraline frowned a little harder but complied, taking a seat on the couch.
"Um, I'm not entirely sure who should start."
"Maybe you should," Coraline suggested, "since you were the one that wanted to talk first."
"Fair enough." He wrung his hands together for a moment, thinking. "So, I've been thinking about, well, us as a couple. And it may be just me, but we don't really, act like a couple. Or talk like a couple."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm a little confused as to how you define 'like a couple'."
He sighed, scratching his forehead. "I mean, well, I don't know how to say it, but... It feels like our relationship is less a relationship and more a string of dates. We don't really interact outside of that."
Her frown deepened. "So you're saying...We're not a couple."
"I... I don't know. I mean, I've only ever had an outside view of relationships. It's part of why I wanted to talk about it."
"Ah." Coraline sighed. "To be honest...I kind of wanted to talk about it, too."
Lucas said nothing, looking down and nodding slowly.
"I mean," Cora began, also turning away, "You're right about the string of dates thing. And it was fun for awhile, but lately...You know."
"Yeah." He scratched behind his head again. "So what do we do now?"
"I don't know."
"Because it sounds as though we just broke up."
"...I guess it kind of does," Coraline admitted, still staring at the wall.
"Mmhmm." Lucas nodded, his gaze flickering between his feet and Coraline. After a moment, he turned to her and pulled her in for a hug. "Well, for what it's worth, thanks for sticking with me as long as you did. It really means a lot to me."
She hugged him back, smiling sadly. "You're welcome."
"Maybe we could hang out at the library some time."
"Sure. I'd like that."
That brought a bit more of a smile to Lucas' face. He broke off from the hug and stood up. "So, I guess I'll be going now."
"Alright," Coraline said, rising as well. Slowly she walked over to the front door and held it open for him. "So I'll see you around?"
He donned his hat once more. "I'll be exactly where I've always been if you need me. And I'm not planning on changing my phone number anytime soon."
Coraline's smile brightened a little. "Good to know."
Lucas stepped over to the front door and stopped in front of Coraline. He hesitated, but gave her a kiss on the cheek before stepping outside. "Bye, Cora."
"Bye Luke," she said softly, waving to him before stepping back in the hive and closing the door.
Last edited by WhichDockter; 05-12-2011 at 09:54 PM.
"I sort of need to talk to you about something. Do you mind if we meet up somewhere in a little bit?"
"Is this an over at the library kind of something or a meet up at someone's house something?"
"Someone's hive would probably be better."
"Then I'll meet you at your hive. Is it okay if I head down now?"
"That's fine. I'll see you in a bit."
"See you soon. Bye."
Lucas rang the doorbell to Coraline's hive. Almost instantly the door swung open, revealing a rather worried and tired-looking Coraline.
"Please, come in," she said quietly, stepping aside to let him enter. "Sorry about the short notice."
"Anything for a friend," he assured her, stepping inside. "And besides, you seemed really worried on the phone. I would have come right away even if you invited me to come tomorrow."
"Thank you," she said with a sigh, "Really. Worried doesn't even begin to cover it." She gestured towards the couch. "You might want to sit down for this."
He shot her a surprised look, but complied. She remained standing for a little longer, wringing her hands nervously. After a moment, though, she took a seat across from him.
"Are you comfortable? Need anything to drink or anything? Though I don't think I have anything but water..."
"I was fine, but you're starting to make me nervous."
"Sorry," she apologized, laughing uneasily, "I've been trying to think of a way to say this all day and it's just not happening."
Something triggered a sense of unease in Lucas' mind. "Well, how about you leave me clues and let me piece the puzzle together instead?"
Coraline frowned but nodded. "That...Might help." She paused, staring up at the ceiling in thought. "Well, it has to do with our relationship."
"Something that has to do with our relationship that has you beyond worried. Okay, that narrows it down a lot, actually." He froze. "You don't mean the time we...?"
Coraline only nodded solemnly. Lucas turned pale.
"...Lucas?" Coraline asked softly, her eyes filled with concern. "Are you alright?"
Lucas barely nodded. "So, uh, are you still holding it, or is it already laid?"
"It's not laid yet," Coraline answered, her gaze dropping to the floor.
"Oh." He micro nodded again. "I just... What do we... Who will... Oh god this is all just wrong. It's like some sort of sick joke."
Coraline's head shot up and she stared at him, eyes wide. "Wh-what do you mean?"
"I mean just... everything! First we're together, then we fall apart, and now we're going to have a child? It's like the forces that be are finding playing with us to be funny! I'm not ready to be a father! I wasn't even ready to be your matesprit!"
"I understand...I don't think I'm quite ready to be a mother either, but this isn't just some joke meant to taunt you!" Coraline protested, her voice taking a sharp edge. "Yes, it'll be hard, but..." She hazarded a slight, sad smile. "It's okay. We'll be okay."
Lucas stood up from his seat, walked up to Coraline, and took one of her hands in his. "Coraline, please don't take this the wrong way."
Then he ran. He ran out the door, not bothering to take his hat along with him, across the colony, and locked himself in his own hive.
Coraline, stunned, could only stare after him and cry.
If you feel that there's no way things could get any worse, that means things will only get better!
...That, or you're possibly being fed on by a dementor. Eat some chocolate, stat.
By Douh and Doc, and some input from Teebs
You probably don't want to read this letter, but I'm writing it anyway. I feel it's something I need to do.
The first thing I want to say is I'm sorry for the way I reacted. I know exactly how much you needed my support and I couldn't give it to you. I'd try and explain it away, but the truth of the matter is I'm not strong enough for you, or for the child.
On the subject of the child, he or she is just as much my responsibility as yours, I understand, but you and I both know I'm not ready to take it. I'll be sending you some extra money every so often if you think it'll help. I know you'll be able to do an amazing job without me.
I know this is selfish of me, but I'd also like to let the child know who their father is. You know where I'm going. I'd just like to write some letters to the kid, maybe once a month. Even if you don't give them to him or her, could you at least keep them, in case it's ever okay for me to come back?
And I feel as though there's something else I should say to you that could somehow help make this whole scenario more manageable for the both of us, but the words aren't coming to me. It's only fitting, I guess. I've never actually been good at helping people when they're down. I keep being reminded of that one thing I asked you. Maybe someday, could we hang out at the library together? I'd like that. Even if I've no right to a second chance.
I've included a couple hundred dollars in the envelope, to help pay for the kid's food and clothes and everything. I owe you a lot more than that, but it's a start.
I don't know what else to say, so goodbye.
Coraline finished reading over the letter for a second time, then gingerly set it aside and picked up the envelope again. It was slightly creased near one of the corners, bearing no return address. The postmark identified it as having come from a town somewhere in Texas. She turned it around and slid her fingers inside it, emerging with a small wad of bills. Quickly counting them, the total amounted to be a little more than two hundred dollars. She folded the bills cleanly in half and quietly pocketed them.
The now-empty envelope was dropped into the wastebasket sitting next to her, before she reached onto the table and picked the letter up again. She began to read it a third time before stopping herself. A tear started to form in her eye, but she quickly blinked it away. Then, passively, robotically, she tore the letter in half. Then she took the two halves and ripped them in two as well. The process repeated until all that was left of the letter were ragged, uneven pieces, which were deposited into the wastebasket alongside the envelope.
Fighting back a small sob, Coraline turned away from the letter's remains and moved to exit the room. As she passed the study's desk, she paused, gently lifting a small cardboard box from the desk's surface. Cradling the box and the precious contents within, Coraline walked somberly out of the room.
In a small street corner café, a detective ordered a coffee and a doughnut. He drank the contents quick, skimming the headlines on the newspaper before pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. He didn't know what he was writing, or even who to, but he'd be damned if he didn't do it.
His pager beeped. He silenced it and went back to writing. When he finished, he folded up the sheet of paper and placed it in an envelope, handing it to the store owner.
He stepped outside to the dark streets and pulled out his phone. Another mystery to solve. Maybe if he solved enough, he'd be able to solve the one he'd been wanting to solve for the past ten years. He pulled out his wallet and looked at a picture inside. He started walking, face a little brighter.
Renee stepped into the doorway of the bedroom, holding the six-year-old boy in both arms. She peered in, "Kyrielle? Jareth's come to stay while his sister is sick. Would you be a good girl and come play with him?"
Kyrie looked up from dismantling her game console. Couldn't Renee see she was busy? "In a minute."
"No, Kyrielle, be nice. Your project will still be there when Jareth goes home. Come and be sociable for a while," Renee slowly dropped Jareth to the ground, where he stood silently, clutching his newest toy. Kyrie looked him up and down, evaluating him.
"...want to play?" she managed to mumble, reluctantly putting her 'project' aside. Darn all interruptions, unless they came with cookies! The boy nodded shyly, and offered her a small smile. "Well, what do you WANNA play? You want to help me take that apart? You can hold my tools and do all the lifting."
Jareth stared at the girl, puzzled, "Why are you taking it apart? What happened to it?"
"I'm finding out how it works, of course."
"Couldn't you find that out in a book or something?"
Kyrie made a face. "It's easier to find out in person, and more interesting."
Satisfied that they were at least making conversation, Renee slipped quietly out the door, leaving Jareth and Kyrie to make friends. She hoped.
Jareth considered Kyrie's argument, "But... what if you break something?" he asked, clutching the soft white owl plush to his chest.
"Then I fix it, or Papa helps me fix it, and I learn even more. Besides, this is something Papa didn't want anymore." Kyrie's eyes settled on the plush and she smiled. "That's CUTE!"
He hugged his toy protectively, "Y-yeah? You think so?"
She nodded. "Is it soft? Can I see it?"
Jareth looked nervous for a moment, but shuffled closer to the girl. Slowly, he held out the little owl, "He, um, he doesn't have a name yet. But you can hold him if you want to."
She reached out and petted him, her eyes lighting up. "What about Archimedes? He was some smart guy or something. Owls are smart, right?"
Jareth nodded slowly, "Archimeed... Archie."
Kyrie slowly pulled the owl from Jareth's grasp, looking it over. "Where'd you get it?"
"I dunno, Mommy Lufi sometimes gives me plushies, cuz she knows I like 'em."
"Oh. How many do you have?" Kyrie tossed the owl in the air and batted at it, keeping it up as long as possible. Jareth snatched the toy out of the air, and hugged it to his chest protectively.
"I dunno, some. 'Lena's favourites are Liam and Turtle..."
"Turtle is a dumb name," Kyrie declared, then considered. "Wait. No, it's a GOOD name, cause it makes sense. It'd be a dumb name if Turtle was a bear." That settled, she reached for Archimedes back. Jareth let her take the toy, watching it warily. She rubbed it against her face, giggling. "Wouldn't it be cool if it could really fly?"
Jareth paused for a minute, staring at her, then looked around, "Is Auntie Ren gone?"
Kyrie nodded. "Yeah, I think she's being polite or something."
He settled down on the floor, and looked up at her, "Put Archie down on the floor and then come sit with me, 'kay?"
She did as he said, curious. "Are we going to do a dance?"
Jareth didn't say anything, instead staring intently at Archimedes' face for several seconds. He seemed to be concentrating extremely hard.
"...are we using our 'maginations?" Kyrie ventured.
Kyrie wisely clammed up, looking over at the owl. By degrees, its wings began to lift. Her eyes widened. Archimedes turned his head to face her, and stared at her. Owlishly. He began to hop across the floor to her feet. Jareth relaxed, still watching his toy carefully.
Kyrie let out a shriek of pure joy. "It's a ROBOT!" She grabbed at Archimedes, poking and prodding him wildly. "How does he work? Can I take him apart?!"
Jareth leapt to his feet, "NO! Don't touch him!" he yelled, "Stop it!" his concentration broken, the little owl fell stiffly on its side and lay unmoving.
Kyrie stared up at him, shocked. "W-what did I do?" She asked, lower lip starting to tremble.
Jareth collected Archimedes up in his arms, and sniffled, "Don't threaten Archie..."
"I wasn't threatening him! I just wanted to take him apart to see how he worked!"
He regarded her solemnly with watery eyes, "But you would hurt him if you took him apart."
"How come? He's a robot, right? I could put him back together." Kyrie wiped at her face, eyes tinted blue with tears.
Jareth shook his head fiercly, "No he's not!" he cried as fresh purple tears sprang to his eyes, "He's my friend!"
Kyrie, confused, started to wail loudly. Jareth stared at her, tears now giving Archimedes' fabric a faint tint, "AUNTIE REN!"
There were heavy, rapid footsteps, and the door swung open. Renee was breathing quickly, "What happened? Kyrielle, are you alright?"
Kyrie shook her head, still wailing. Renee hurried across the room, and lifted the little girl up in her arms, "Shh, shh, Kyrielle, it's okay. Just tell me what happened, okay?"
Kyrie took a few deep, shaky breaths to steady herself. "He hadda robot...and he yelled at me when I asked how it worked...and I don't UNDERSTAND!"
Renee made a few calming noises at the five year old, and stared expectantly at Jareth. He flushed lavender, and began mumbling into his toy, "Archie's notta robot. Archie's m'friend..."
"He moves! He's a ROBOT, only I felt him and he was all soft, not hard inside, and I just, and I just wanted to know how!"
"Isn't a robot! Not, not, not! You were gonna hurt him!"
"WASN'T!" Kyrie shrieked, and started to wind up for a temper tantrum. She held her breath, turning faintly blue.
Renee tried to attract Kyrie's attention, "Hey, hey, Kyrielle. Calm down, come on my girl, shh..." she murmured soothingly. Kyrie shook her head, still not breathing. Renee sighed, and tickled Kyrie's ribs. She laughed, sucking in air, then scowled.
"NO NO NO NO NO!"
"Ah, but yes," Renee responded, trying not to smile, "Be rational, Kyrielle. Remember? Work out the problem methodically, and you'll find an answer."
In response, Kyrie shrieked louder. Jareth clamped his hands over his ears, dropping Archimedes to the ground, and began sobbing.
"I DIDN'T MEAN TO HURT HIM I DIDN'T I DIDN'T AND NOW HE WON'T LISTEN HE YELLED AT ME I DON'T UNDERSTAND!"
"SHE SAID ARCHIE WAS A ROBOT HE'S NOT AND THEN SHE WAS GONNA TAKE HIM TO BITS AND NOW SHE'S CRYING AND I DON'T KNOW WHY-Y-Y!"
"IF HE'S NOT A ROBOT THEN WHAT IS HE I JUST WANT TO KNOOOOOOOOOW!"
"Both of you BE QUIET!" Renee snapped. She put Kyrie down on her bed, and pushed Jareth towards her, "You will both calm down right now, and you will talk until you work this out, and until then I don't want to be able to hear you from the study!" She stormed out the door, closing it loudly behind her.
Jareth stared at Kyrie, hiccuping occasionally. She sniffled loudly. "Wouldn't have taken him apart without permission. So THERE. Is he magic?"
Jareth nodded, then shrugged, "I think so," he wiped his eyes, "None of the grownups know about what I can do, so I dunno."
"Why doncha tell them?"
He shrugged again, "What if- what if they made me stop?"
"Why would they?" She pouted, turning away from him. She had a headache and it was ALL HIS FAULT.
"Grampa Forel used magic," Jareth responded in a tiny voice, "An' lots of bad stuff happened. I don't wanna make Mommy Ash sad with mine..."
"It's probably just a POWER. Like Daddy has. You wouldn't hurt anyone, you're GOOD."
Jareth sniffled, "So was Grampa Forel."
`Kyrie sighed and gave him a hug. "Stop crying, you big baby."
"Am not," Jareth mumbled into her shoulder.
"Good. Now can I see Archie more?"
Jareth paused for a moment, "Will you be really careful?"
Jareth separated himself from Kyrie, and went and collected Archimedes from the floor. He handed him to her with some ceremony.
"Make him move again, please!"
Jareth bit his lip, staring hard at the little owl in Kyrie's arms. Several seconds passed, before the owl suddenly lifted its head and pecked gently at Kyrie's chin.
Kyrie giggled happily. "Hooray!" Jareth smiled tentatively at her. Maybe she wasn't so bad.
When Coraline got home that day, she came across an unusual sight. Tarani was sitting on her porch, using a small back-strap loom to weave as if she'd been there a while.
Coraline blinked in surprise, slowly edging her way up to the porch. "...Aunt Tarani? What are you doing here?"
Tarani didn't respond for a few moments. "...I'm ssorry, Coraline."
"For what?" Coraline asked, a small hint of bitterness slipping into her voice, "You didn't do anything, as far as I can tell."
"Lucass is his own persson, of coursse, and he makess his own choicess. But I'd thought I'd raissed him better then abandoning responssibility and running away when ssomeone needss him the mosst." Tarani sighed, a small amount of bitterness also tinging her voice.
"Still. It's not your fault." Coraline frowned, her gaze drifting upwards. "If he wants to go run off to who-knows-where then fine, let him."
"You're right. But, you know, I care about you, Coraline. And it lookss like right now, you need ssome ssupport, sso I'm here. I brought over ssome of our old grub sstuff. If, well...if you want it." The older troll brushed her hair out of her eyes.
"...Thank you," Coraline said softly, "I...I really appreciate it." Her gaze lowered again. "I guess I just...I just don't know what I'm supposed to do."
"I'm here if you need help. You're not alone, you know." Tarani got to a good stopping part in her weaving and stood up, grabbing Coraline in a hug. The younger troll let herself be pulled into the embrace, resting her head on Tarani's shoulder. Tarani rubbed her back comfortingly, not saying anything for a while.
"...do you want to talk?"
Coraline nodded shakily. "I'm kind of...scared."
"Anything in sspecific that sscaress you?"
"I guess I'm just..." Coraline bit her lip. "I'm afraid that I'm going to mess up, somehow."
"Did you know that Tom turned nearly white whenever he picked up Lectra, the firsst week after sshe hatched? He wass sso sscared he'd drop her."
"But he didn't, right?"
"Not...exactly." Tarani chuckled. "He dropped her...on the bed. Sshe thought it wass the mosst fun thing ever."
Coraline allowed herself a quiet laugh.
"It'ss a parent'ss job to worry, and worry, and worry...and it'ss a kidss job to prove they're a lot sstronger then they sseem. You're going to worry. Everyone doess. And you're going to make misstakess. Again, everyone doess. But thingss are going to be okay in the end, anyway."
"But how can you be so sure?"
"Becausse if you really do feel over your head, I'm here. Sso iss Tom, and Lectra, and Ssirius, and Issaac, and Laurel, and Parker. And that'ss a lot of people, issn't it?"
Coraline let a slight smile creep onto her face. "Yeah. I guess it is."
"Kidss are hard work, but they're worth it. I think you're going to be an excellent mother."
"...Thank you," Coraline whispered. "This means a lot to me."
"I'm glad." Tarani smiled. "Do you want to ssee the thingss I brought over, then? Me and Tom cleaned them up and repainted the crib."
Cora's smile brightened. "Sure."
"We alsso picked up thiss mussical mobile to hang over it. It'ss got animalss on it! Animalss are good, right?"
"Animals are just fine."
Tarani pulled away and packed up her loom, chattering away. "We brought the fake sstalagmite for pupating, and toyss, and bassically everything. Oh! And the baby book Aunt Jade wrote, about grubss. It'ss a lifessaver. It tellss you all about the proper temperaturess for eggss, and what grubss can eat, and what to expect. Of coursse, back when I ussed it, I wassn't ssure how much hybridss differed from full troll grubss. You can bet I wass nervouss ass hell! I wass terrified I'd do ssomething wrong and hurt them."
Coraline nodded as she listened, taking everything in. "So the nervousness is pretty normal, usually?"
"Yeah. I assked mother about it, but sshe wassn't much help. To hear her talk, you'd think sshe'd never been nervouss in her life." Tarani rolled her eyes. "Then again, Mother wassn't exactly the kind of persson you'd take parenting advice from, ever."
"From what I heard, I'd imagine so."
"Anyway, I'd probably have gotten even more nervouss if it wassn't for Tom'ss parentss. They let me know it wass normal. Dad tried, too, but he wass nervouss sso often it didn't exactly reassssure me, you know?"
"Yeah, I think I know what you mean."
"Not to mention, back then, we sstill weren't ssure if trollss had any natural parenting insstinct. Well, you'd think that the fact my parentss generation managed to raisse kidss would have tipped uss off, but then again, there were people like Mother in that generation, sso it wass sstill kind of up in the air. At leasst you don't need to worry about that!"
"That's good, at least." Coraline frowned. "...I guess I still haven't really talked to my parents about it."
"Are you nervouss to?"
"A little, yeah."
"They'll be happy for you. Well, they'll alsso be worried for you, and angry at Lucass, I think." Tarani made a face.
"Probably," Coraline agreed.
"But, you know, they'll be ssupportive. And they'll love the kid." Tarani took out a dog-eared book from her sylladex. "Here, thiss iss the grub book."
Coraline accepted the book, her eyes sweeping over the worn cover. "Thank you."
"Would you like to jusst have ssome tea or ssomething, or would you rather have ssome time to yoursself?" She asked as she went around the house to the pile of furniture and toys she'd brought over. She ran her hand over a bright yellow painted crib. "I'm ssorry, we would have brought it insside, but we didn't want to intrude while you weren't home."
"That's fine; I understand," Cora assured her, looking through the pile. "...Do you mind if I just have a little time to myself for awhile?"
"Of coursse not. I assked, after all." Tarani laughed lightly, then turned to go. "Remember I'm here if you need to talk, okay?"
A small troll girl slipped quietly away from her mother's watchful eye, running happily towards the swingset set up behind the hive where they lived. The little girl seated herself comfortably onto one of the swings and tried to kick off, becoming frustrated when she discovered her little legs couldn't quite reach the ground. Instead, she settled for kicking her legs back and forth, letting the motion gently move the swing.
After a short while, the girl felt two strong hands pushing her on the swing from behind.
"It's easier to work on your technique if you've already got some momentum," said a voice she didn't recognize. "Here. Try and keep at at least the same height."
"O-okay," the little girl said, sounding a little unsure.
The man behind her took a seat on the swing next to her and started swinging himself. "Like this, see?"
The little girl leaned forward in her seat and watched, trying to get a good view. After a few seconds she tried copying him, giggling as the swing kept taking her higher.
The man smiled warmly at the girl. "What's your name, little girl?"
She let the swing slow down a little bit before answering. "Soleil."
"Who's your mummy, Soleil?" he asked.
"My mommy's name is Cora Captor," Soleil recited, letting the swing come to a stop.
The man hopped off the swing and knelt in front of Soleil. "Well, Soleil, could you do me a favour and give this to your mom for me?" he asked, holding out a package in front of him.
Soleil eyed the package warily. "I don't know...Mommy said don't take things from weird grown-ups."
The man nodded and smiled. "Alright, is your Daddy around anywhere? Maybe I could give it to him instead."
The little girl frowned. "Mommy says Daddy's on a trip. He's never home."
The man's face fell. "Do you get any letters from him?"
The man looked away, a flash of hurt across his face. He retrieved an unmarked envelope from his sylladex. "Here. Read this when you think you're ready. Sometime after I'm gone."
Soleil blinked in confusion but took the envelope, gripping it in her tiny hands. "Mister, what's your name?"
"Me?" The man scratched the back of his head. "Well, when I was your age, I was called Luke. Now I'm called whatever people want to call me."
"But what if you don't like what they call you?"
"Then I ignore them. People who call me mean things don't want my help, so I go and help someone else."
"Are you sure?"
Soleil frowned. "But what if someone really needs help, and they're just scared to ask for it?"
Luke grinned. "Well, Soleil, it's part of my job to find out."
"What's your job?"
"You know what murder is, Soleil?"
"You know what a detective is, Soleil?"
Her eyes brightened. "Yeah! Detectives solve mysteries and stuff and help people!"
"Well, that's what I do. I solve mysteries."
Soleil's eyes widened. "Woooow..."
"You sound like you like detectives, Soleil. What do you like so much about them?"
"They're smart and they always get to the bottom of things and figure out what's wrong!" Soleil chattered excitedly. "Mommy reads me mysteries sometimes."
"She does?" Luke seemed surprised. "Has she read any Nancy Drew books to you before?"
Soleil tilted her head slightly in thought. "I don't think so."
"Maybe you should ask her to read one of them to you sometime."
Luke stood up. "Well, I need to go, Soleil. But it was very nice meeting you. Don't lose that letter, okay?"
"Okay, I won't."
"Thank you." He walked past her and behind a street corner. "And thank you for letting me talk to her."
Coraline frowned but nodded. "You're welcome, I suppose."
Lucas sat down. "She's got your eyes. And your expressions."
Coraline's face softened, but after a moment her eyes were hard again. "Don't think this means you're welcome here. Because you're not."
He nodded. "I guessed as much when she told me I didn't write her any letters."
"I did as you asked. I kept them."
"And I really thank you for that. I really did nothing to earn however much I have, but I... I just had to come visit."
"So you come sneaking back here, on the off-chance you just MIGHT happen to catch her by herself. As if you have the right. You were probably going to sneak off again without anyone knowing you were here."
Lucas didn't answer, looking at his feet.
"I'm right, aren't I?"
He shook his head. "I don't even know what the plan was. I probably would have just knocked on the door to talk to you. Hell, I even wrote it in my last letter that I might be visiting. I just... I don't know anymore. Every time I try to bring myself to say or do something, I just can't."
Coraline sighed, turning away from him. "Well, I got tired of waiting around for you to do something years ago. Just, leave us alone, Lucas. Please."
Lucas stood up. "Fine. I'll go." He left the package on the bench. "I bought something for her. It's gonna be her wriggling day soon, right? I figured I could at least let her know her dad knows she exists, you know, aside from the letters."
Coraline glanced at him and nodded. "I'm sure she'll love it."
Lucas nodded and hugged her. "I'm sorry I'm not the man I need to be. I'm sorry I'm too scared to do anything right with you. I'm sorry she doesn't have a father to look up to."
Coraline pulled away from him. "And I'm sorry, Lucas. You can say sorry as many times as you want, but I can't completely forgive you. Not yet."
"A small crime, if you could even consider it as much." He started to turn away, but stopped. "Do you think we'll ever see each other again?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe I'll come visit in another five years." He turned away slowly and started walking.
Coraline stayed silent, choosing instead to just watch him leave. After a moment she lifted the package off the bench and disappeared back around the house. Soleil had clambered back onto the swings, trying to launch herself into the air again.
"Hi, Mommy!" the little girl chirped, waving happily at her mother. Coraline laughed quietly to herself and walked over to the swingset, package carefully balanced in her arms.
"Hi, sweetheart. Did you have fun talking to Lucas?" Coraline asked, taking a seat on the swing beside Soleil.
"You mean Luke?" Soleil asked, slightly puzzled. When Coraline nodded, Soleil grinned. "Yeah! He was nice. And he's a detective!"
"I know, sweetheart." Coraline held out the package to her daughter. "He left this for you. It's from your Daddy."
Soleil's eyes widened. "Daddy?"
"Yep. It's for your wriggling day." Soleil's little hands reached for the package, but Coraline held it away, laughing. "No, no, silly. You can't open it yet."
"Aww," Soleil frowned, "why not?"
"Because it's not your wriggling day yet, sweetie." Coraline stood up and lifted Soleil from her seat, somehow keeping a hold on both present and little girl. "But I promise you can open it first, okay?"
"Okay," the little girl agreed, burying her face sleepily into her mother's shoulder. "But remember, you promised."
"I know, sweetie," Cora said softly as she carried her daughter into the house, "I know."
Night finally came. The detective's work was done in this town. He looked at the calendar. June 27th. He went back to the café he'd visited earlier that day and ordered another cup.
"You seem like you got something on your mind, Mr. Detective." The store owner commented.
"Yeah. When one decision you made keeps haunting you for 10 years, though, you
get used to it."
"Sounds like you need to get that sorted out."
The detective sighed, and pulled out his wallet, looking again at the picture within. "Yeah, I really do."
"Well, you better hurry. Problems like what you got don't get easier to fix as time goes by."
The detective said nothing.
"Think about it," the owner said, passing him another drink. "But lemme tell you this. You can try and fail now, a wound that'll heal, or you can not try and regret not doing anything for the rest of your life."
"Yeah." The detective took another sip of coffee. "Time's running out."
If you feel that there's no way things could get any worse, that means things will only get better!
...That, or you're possibly being fed on by a dementor. Eat some chocolate, stat.
"Are you going to talk to me about what you said you were going to after dinner?"
"Yes. Please sit down."
"Okay." She hopped into a chair and folded her hands on her lap, looking expectantly at him.
"You mentioned the other day. That Phoebe's mind is different."
Her face took on an expression of internal debate, wondering whether or not she might be in trouble and if she could get out of it. She finally settled on saying, "Everyone's mind is different because everyone is different. Right?"
"Yes. In a way." Ferris leaned forward. "But you knew. Saw. Or perhaps... did not see."
She shrank back into her seat as he stared at her. "Kind of?"
"Like most of our family... You have a power."
"You mean more people can do stuff with their minds?" Her eyes brightened and she leaned forward. "Who? What can they do?"
"Perhaps we can speak of that later. What we must speak of now is the power you hold."
A tiny smile started to spread across her face despite her best efforts to hide it. "Okay."
"I have felt you try to reach out. Effect others. Do you know how you do this?"
"Try to explain to me how you do this. How you... see things. The minds of other people."
"I can't see into people like Mother Angela can."
"Yet you could gleam that Phoebe is immune."
"So what do you do, then?"
"Just..." the smile from earlier became sheepish. "Make them like me more."
"Like you more," said Ferris flatly.
"If they're being angry or mean or something, that's all," she hastily explained.
"That is all."
She hopped off the chair, deliberately misinterpreting his words. "So I can go now?"
"Oh." With her last chance at escape denied to her, Genevieve visibly deflated and sat back down.
"You lied to me a moment ago."
"No I didn't."
"Genevieve. You can't lie to me."
"...sometimes I do it without really thinking about it?"
"Powers like ours are not so passive."
"You're not going to make me forget about it, are you?" she asked worriedly.
"No." Ferris stood up and walked over to a window. "We are unlike anyone else in the world. Powers... They can take over. Define us." He turned back to the girl. "It is easy to give into temptation. You and I have a responsibility."
"I can control it!" she protested.
"Yet you said you do it without thinking about it."
"Only sometimes if I'm not paying attention! I can do better!"
"You lack any sort of control."
"I'll do better, I promise!"
Ferris regarded Genevieve. "You could accidentally flutter around and erase someone. Take away who they are."
"I couldn't do that even if I wanted to."
"You do not know what the powers could do. Mine grew. Grew to a massive amount."
"You mean mine'll get stronger?" she asked, a hint of eagerness creeping into her voice.
The older troll frowned. "This is not some sort of game. Already I can see you want to abuse what power you have."
Her head shook back and forth rapidly, hair fanning out and falling to the sides again and again. "No I won't!"
"Really. So tell me, how exactly have you used your powers? To what end?"
"To make people stop being mad at me." She hesitated, biting her lip nervously, before adding, "...and sometimes just to make them like me."
"If they're being mean or ignoring me-"
"Ignoring you?" Ferris interrupted.
She nodded silently, not saying anything.
"...Is that something you control? Or does everyone that ignores you suddenly pay attention?"
She looked down at her feet. "...both."
"As I said. Powers take over."
Her head whipped up quickly as she protested, "It hardly happens anymore!"
"So you let people ignore you."
"No, that's not it! I meant that it doesn't happen accidentally as much...and I try and talk to them and stuff instead of making them pay attention to me."
"You cannot lie to me."
"I'm not lying!"
"Is that so?"
"It's the truth."
"...Alright. Maybe you can be taught."
"If you can learn control. Restraint." Ferris sat back down, sighing as he did. "It is hard sometimes."
Coraline finished leafing through the book Tarani had given her and sighed. She didn't feel anymore prepared than she had an hour ago when she started reading, but she knew that was probably just nervousness. Coraline stored the book in her sylladex, trading it for her phone. She supposed it was about time she let her parents know what was going on.
The phone rang a few times before Parker finally answered.
"Hi, Dad. Are you doing anything at the moment?"
"I sort of need to talk to you and Mom about something. Do you think I can stop by later tonight?"
"Does eight sound okay?"
"Yeah, that sounds fine." There was a slight pause. "Coraline, are you okay?"
"...Yeah, I'm fine. For the most part, anyway." She gave an uneasy chuckle. "I'll see you and Mom in a little while, okay?"
"...Alright. We'll see you then, Coraline."
Laurel sat patiently in the living room of Parker's hive, occasionally shooting glances at her kismesis and to the front door and back again. She frowned, starting to become more than a little worried.
"Is she here yet?" she asked, for what was probably not the first time.
"Gee, I don't know," Parker replied. "Does it look like she's here?"
"Well, no," Laurel admitted, "But she sounded so upset over the phone..."
"I know," Parker sighed, "but you don't need to ask me that every five seconds. It's not going to get her here any faster."
The door bell chose that moment to ring.
Laurel immediately perked up. "Is that her now?"
Parker got up and walked to the door. "Let's see," he said, opening it. Coraline stood waiting on the front step, looking a little dishevelled.
"Hi, Dad," she said softly, "sorry I'm a little late."
"It's alright," he assured her, stepping back and holding the door open. She stepped inside after him.
Upon seeing her daughter, Laurel stood up, her face full of worry and borderline panic. "Coraline, sweetie, what's the matter?"
"Nothing's really the matter, Mom," Coraline sighed, "Just got a lot on my mind right now." She motioned towards the couch. "You both might want to sit down, though."
Parker cast an aside glance at Laurel before complying and taking a seat. Laurel's frowned deepened a little, but after a moment she took a seat as well.
"Okay," Coraline began, nervousness creeping into her voice, "I'm...Not entirely sure how to say this..."
"Just try the best you can, Coraline," Laurel said soothingly.
Cora nodded. "A-Alright. Mom? Dad? You're going to be grandparents."
A few emotions crossed across Parker's face; surprise, joy, and finally worry. At a loss for words, he simply said "Huh."
Laurel, on the other hand, was busy trapping her daughter in a hug. "Coraline, that's wonderful! Congratulations!"
Coraline gave her mother a weak smile. "Thanks, Mom."
Laurel pulled away from the hug, smile fading slightly. "But, sweetie, didn't you and Lucas break up over a week ago?"
Coraline nodded shakily, staring at the ground. "...Yeah, we did."
"Does he know about this?" Parker interjected.
"Oh, he knows," Coraline answered bitterly.
"Coraline?" Laurel asked softly. "What happened?"
"I told him," Coraline's voice dropped to barely a whisper, "I told him and he ran away. He's gone."
It was a moment before that sunk in. By the time it had, Parker was standing, very clearly upset. "He just up and-- that little--"
Laurel ignored Parker, choosing instead to stare worriedly at Coraline. "Gone? Gone where?"
"Who knows?" Coraline snapped, the bitterness sneaking back into her voice, "And who cares? If he wants to run off, fine, let him."
Laurel wrapped her arms around Coraline, cradling her daughter soothingly. "Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry..." Coraline merely sniffled in response.
Parker shook his head, and went to speak, but stopped. He sighed, and said, "Coraline... If you need anything, at all, we'd be happy to help."
Coraline pulled away from Laurel and looked at Parker, her face lightly streaked with purple tears. After a moment she stepped towards him and flung her arms around him. "...Thanks, Dad."
He wrapped his arms around her, looking to Laurel with a pained expression. Laurel stayed silent, simply smiling sadly at the two of them.
"Do...Do you want to see it?" Coraline managed to choke out, still hugging Parker tightly.
"I'd love to," he replied.
Coraline broke the hug, shortly after producing a small box from her sylladex. Handling it with the utmost care, she held it out to Parker.
He took in carefully from her, and looked inside. A small, sad smile slowly spread across his face. He looked up at Laurel and motioned for her to come over. She slowly made her way to him, stopping just beside his shoulder. Her eyes widened as she peered inside the box, her smile spreading as well. After a moment she turned to look at Coraline, extending an arm towards her invitingly.
Coraline allowed herself a slight smile and stepped into the hug.
Phoebe nodded, taking off her sunglasses. "It's been a while! Why didn't dad want me to visit?"
"You would have to ask him. Come in." Ferris stepped inside, the young girl following close behind.
A small girl was laying on the floor with a piece of paper in front of her and crayons scattered around her. As the newcomer walked in, she looked up from her coloring for a moment, then resumed her previous task.
Phoebe paused, looking at the girl curiously. "Is that Genevive?"
"Yes. We are going to see if schooling at home will work for us." Ferris walked over to Genevieve. "Little one. Would you like to meet another of our family?"
Genevieve carefully finished coloring in an orange curve before setting the crayon down and looking up at her grandfather. "How is she related to me?" she asked, curiosity visibly pouring out of her eyes.
"Phoebe is your... mother's sister. Your aunt."
Phoebe sat down next to Gen, looking at the drawing. "Whatcha drawing?"
"Mother Angela," the girl answered, not taking her eyes off of Phoebe's. "Are you really my aunt? Aunts are supposed to be old."
"I shrunk in my bath." Phoebe replied, deadpan. "I'm really 30."
"You must not be very smart."
"What do you mean?"
"You still go to school."
"I'm a teacher."
"That's not what Grandfather Ferris said."
"Really old people get confused sometimes."
"He is not really old."
"HE shrunk in his bath, too. He's 70."
"That's not what the card with his picture on it in his wallet says."
"He needs a fake ID to get into clubs."
Genevieve looked down, frowning in confusion. She looked up at Ferris. "Grandfather Ferris, when do you go to clubs? What kind of clubs are you in?"
"A club about baseball bats and medieval maces." The older troll sat down on a chair.
"See!" Phoebe insisted. "I told you!" She turned to Ferris. "Uncle Ferris, I need help with my homework."
"Help in what way."
"Pre-algebra. It's hard!"
"Maybe it would help if you showed it to Genevieve? Try to teach it to her."
"Well...I'm not really a teacher."
"But you said you were, Aunt Phoebe." Genevieve said, looking up from her drawing of her mother once more.
"I was kidding. Sometimes I like to see how long people believe me." Phoebe looked embarrassed.
"Why do you like it?"
"Cause it's fun."
"Wanna try it on me? What's your favorite color?"
"Phoebe," Ferris interrupted, "Lets not let something like that be the lesson today. You should try explaining the math to the little one. You might find it.. fun."
Phoebe sighed and pulled out her math workbook, flipping to a page. "See this, Gen?"
Setting down her crayon and gently pushing the drawing out of the way, Genevieve crawled over to where Phoebe sat with the book. "Yes," she answered after taking a moment to scan the page.
"This X here is playing my game. It's not really an X, it's a number. We need to do the math with all the other numbers to figure out which number it is." Genevieve nodded to show she understood so far.
"Now, we have to get it all on one side to work it out. X plus three equals six minus one. Do you know what six minus one is?"
Genevieve stuck her hands out in front of her, quickly counting out six. She folded down one of them. "Five."
"That's right! Which means that X plus three equals five, right? So all we need to do is get rid of the three to know what X is. You do that by taking three away from each side of the equal sign." Phoebe wrote out the resulting equation. "Look, X equals five minus three. Now, this is really hard, so I need your help. What's five minus three?"
"You're trying to fool me again. Five minus three isn't hard at all. It's two."
Phoebe paused. "You're right, I did lie a little there. But now you know that X equals 2. You solved it! And it was really easy, right?"
"Yes it was."
"I think two smart people like us should get cookies. Isn't that right, Uncle Ferris?" Phoebe grinned at him sweetly.
"I think that perhaps I could bring out some bowls of jello to help you guys think through the rest of the problems." Ferris stood up and streached his arms.
"Okay. With whipped cream on top, though. I don't think I can handle doing the multiplication and division parts for Genevieve without whipped cream on my jello."
"I will give it some consideration." The older troll wandered into the kitchen, leaving the two girls alone.
"I fooled you," Genevieve said as soon as Ferris was out of the room.
"You thought I needed to count on my fingers."
"Oh. You're pretty smart. Want to learn how to multiply?"
"What's multiply mean?"
"It's like...you know what it means to double something? Or triple it? It's the math term for that."
"Oh. So what does double mean in math?"
"When you double something, you're multiplying it by two. So what's 4 times 2?"
"What do you mean by times?"
"Oh. For adding, you say plus, right? And for subtraction, you say minus. For multiplication, you say times. Four times two means four multiplied by two."
"Oh. So four times two is four doubled so that means...eight."
"Right! Let's practice times two multiplication today, okay? Until you get bored. Do you know what twelve times two is?"
Genevive reached over and grabbed a crayon and a new sheet of paper, then quickly wrote out twelve plus twelve. "Twenty four."
"What's twenty-four times two?"
After some more quick addition, she answered, "Forty eight."
"Okay, then. What's twelve times four?"
"Ladies," said a raspy voice. "I come bearing treats."
Pheobe looked up at the source of the voice. Bowls with spoons were placed by either girl's side and Ferris sat back down.
"Thank you Grandfather Ferris," Genevieve said, abandoning the crayon and paper in favor of the bowl of jello. Phoebe followed suit, slurping up a spoonful of jello noisily. After making short work of her snack, Genevieve set her bowl down and quietly stared at it. Phoebe turned back to the workbook.
"Did you figure out twelve times four?"
"No," she answered distractedly.
"Twelve plus twelve is twelve times two, right? And twenty-four. And twelve times four is twelve plus twelve plus twelve plus twelve. I bet you can figure it out now."
"Your head is weird," Genevieve commented as she reached for the paper and crayon she'd been using for math earlier.
The little girl didn't look up as she carefully added twelve four times. "Your head is weird."
Phoebe sat up angrily. "No it's not!"
"Yes it is." Genevieve finished her addition and looked up at Phoebe again. "Forty eight."
"Can you figure out two times forty-one now?"
A few quick scribbles later, and she answered, "Eighty two."
"Okay. Lesson over." Phoebe stood up, face hard.
"I didn't mean to make you angry. And you wouldn't be if your head was normal."
"There's nothing wrong with my head." Phoebe shut her eyes and felt around for her sunglasses.
"Why are you closing your eyes?"
"Cause I want to!" Phoebe snarled. Worried, Genevieve scooted backwards, away from the other girl.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to make you angry!"
"It doesn't matter."
"Phoebe, settle down. You are scaring Genevieve." Ferris got inbetwen the two. "She made a comment. Children do this from time to time. What will getting angry solve?"
"I'm not angry. I just want to go." Phoebe pouted.
"You don't like me?" Genevieve asked quietly.
"I like you just fine. I don't like people making fun of the way I look, though."
"I didn't make fun of you."
Phoebe stopped partway throught putting on her glasses. "You didn't?"
"No. Your head's just different from everyone else's. On the inside."
"Different how?" She sat down, fascinated.
"Its...it just is."
"Is my head different, Uncle Ferris?"
"...Phoebe. I think there is something I will need to dicuss with Genevieve. Your head is a pretty thing, that is how it is different."
"No, my mind! Do I have a power?" Phoebe bounced up and down, excited.
"So you know what she's talking about? Tell me!"
Ferris sighed. "It is a passive thing, young one. I am suprised your father has not told you. I am not sure it is my place."
"Well, now I have a hint on it, so I want to know!"
"I can tell you!" Genevieve piped up, eager to be the point of attention again.
"Genevieve, you do not yet understand what you are talking about. Which is why we need to have a talk." He turned back to Phoebe. "I would suggest you ask your mother and father about this. I should not have indicated anything in the first place. I am sure he has his reasons."
Phoebe pouted even deeper, then sighed. "Want me to play in the backyard while you talk to Gennie?"
"This is something that... could take a while. A while to explain."
"You want me to call Endy for a ride, or something?"
Taking advantage of the pause in the conversation, Genevieve quickly inserted, "Don't call me Gennie!"
"Genevieve, then. Should I, Uncle Ferris?"
"Yes. That would be okay." The older troll sighed deeply.
"Should I wait outside to get picked up?"
"Why? Perhaps you could show Genevieve some more math. Or Gen, you could show your drawing to Phoebe."
"Okay!" the little girl shouted enthusiastically, grabbing her mostly-finished drawing off the floor and all but shoving it into Phoebe's face. "It's of Mother Angela," she explained, in case Phoebe had suddenly developed vision problems. Phoebe looked it over intently.
"It's pretty good," she commented, "Only I've never met Angela, so I wouldn't know what she looks like. What was she like?"
"She was kind. Giving. Caring."
"Really?" Phoebe seemed surprised.
Genevieve nodded gravely. "Really."
"Maybe she'll get better someday and you can introduce me?"
The young girl's face grew dark. "She's fine."
Phoebe realized her mistake. "Um...well, if you say so, I guess you'd know. You're pretty smart, you know!"
"I do know."
Phoebe chuckled. "Well, it's good that you know! Don't be shy about it! Sometimes stupid people want to call you stupid names if you're smart, and I'm not allowed to hit them for it, so I just don't mind."
"Yes you do."
"You mean I do mind?"
Genevieve nodded again. "Yes."
Phoebe was quiet for a few minutes before tossing her hair behind her shoulder. "Maybe I do. So what? I like you, is what I'm trying to say."
The younger troll's response was to blink a couple times before letting out a quiet, "Oh."
"So I want you to feel good, I suppose. Want me to come by and teach you some more stuff another day?"
"Sure!" she answered, almost a little too brightly.
Phoebe got out her phone and went into the next room to call for a ride, leaving Genevieve with Ferris. A few minutes later, she poked her head back in. "Endy's going to meet my at the library. I'm going to walk over now. It was nice to finally meet you, Genevieve!"
"Alright," said Ferris. "Be safe."
"Nice to meet you too!" Genevieve said, waving good-bye at her enthusiastically.
Ferris walked down the halls, his footsteps almost overpoweringly loud in the cool air. He glanced over at Laurel, an unreadable expression on his face. She held his upper arm and squeezed. He nodded and they continued down the way.
The room was cold and had the smell of death all over it. Even in Las Vegas, the dead were treated the same. The attendant walked over to the lockers on the wall and pulled one open. "Is this your mother?"
The face of the troll on the slab was almost serene in its stillness, unmarred even in death. "It-" Ferris started, but something caught in his throat. He swallowed and tried again. "It is her."
Laurel glanced at Ferris, her eyes full of worry. "Ferris? Are you alright?"
"I... I need a moment."
Laurel nodded, walking quietly out of the room. The attendant, picking up on the hint, followed her.
Once they were gone, Ferris shook his head. "Mother... Odd to hear that. To hear me say that to you now. Mother. A mother is to be caring. Nurturing. Someone you trust with your secrets. Someone you love."
The troll pulled up a chair. "Did you ever understand love? I like to think you did. I do have memories. Memories of times where you were not 'training' me. Memories of when we were a family.
Where were you, Mother, when I did that campaign? Many people died. What did you do to stop me? Nothing. Just allowed me to do whatever I felt like. Told me lies. Only told the truth when forced to. Did you even want a child? Did you ever want any of your children? Your actions say no. Hiding in Vegas. You knew I was here, for those years I would come to take money of off fools. Fools. Your word. Not mine.
Did you even know that my love died? I sent you notice. Not that you ever came to talk to me. Console me. Try to take away some of my grief. But no. You were vacant. Like for much of my life. Vacant.
I have wondered why. Why would you never visit. Why you would never come on a birthday to at least say hi. You were never a grandmother either. Hardly ever saw Lorelai. Hardly ever saw Elufia. Barely gave two words when our unborn little one died. Were you ashamed of me? Ashamed of who my father was? Did you see him in me? Did you hate him that much?
Perhaps I do not give you enough credit. Maybe it was courage on your part. Maybe you did not want to infect your grandchildren with your mindset. Way of life. Separating yourself to have one less bad example to follow. Perhaps it hurt you to stay away for so long. Maybe I will tell my children of that."
Ferris stood up quickly. eyes blazing. "No. I will not tell them that lie. I will not paint you in a good bright light. I know how you are. Were. How you were. They would be lucky to hear about you at all. Your bile. It changed me. Made me into a monster. I have fought with that monster every day. I needed someone to teach me how not to use such a force. Instead I got terrible encouragement. Troll Jegus. What horrid words. Words not to live by.
Although..." He sat back down. "I have made my mistakes as well. Angela. Did you know about her? More than likely not. She had a power like ours, only different. I had a chance. A chance to teach her correctly. A chance to be a proper parent. But no. I allowed hatred of another paint my feeling for a child. I made a mistake and my daughter had to pay for that mistake. Who knows where Angela is now...
I can almost understand, Mother, why you would leave in such the way you did. Fear. Selfishness. A desire to never grow up. I saw how you lived. But. You failed as a mother for us all. I failed as a father for one. You never tried to make up for that mistake. I will. I make this promise, I will try to help her, if I can. I will be someone who can teach others how to use these powers. I will be a good person. A better person."
With a sigh, Ferris stood up once more. "Elufia had twins. In a way. You died before you could see them. Not that you ever would. Not that I would have let you." He leaned in close, close enough to feel the cold radiant off her skin. "Goodbye, Vriska."
As he walked toward the door, he felt a chill. As though someone was watching him. He turned and looked. Just a body. Nothing more.
Salem scowled, and added another branch to the tree on his paper. Thrown out of his own home! He didn't spend that much time inside. Obviously his father was completely unreasonable. Despite being told to go out and get some exercise or sunlight, he'd curled himself up in the shade of a tree, and was sketching from memory the park near his home in San Francisco.
Coraline, on the other hand, was relishing in the beautiful weather, taking a pleasant walk around the colony with her favorite notebook tucked under her arm. After scoping out the area, she selected a nice spot in the sun not far from Salem and took a seat, propping the notebook open in her lap.
After the branch turned out wrong the fourth time, Salem gave up, slamming his book shut and leaning his head against the trunk of the tree he sat under. He took a careful breath, and looked around. There was a girl where there had previously been no girl. She was somewhat familiar, he was almost positive he'd met her once or twice, but he couldn't see her face. Curiosity piqued, he scrambled to his feet and slunk over to see what she was doing.
Tapping her pen against the paper, Coraline bit her lip, trying to think of the right words. After a moment of leafing through her vocabulary, she gave up and set the pen down. She snapped her head up, suddenly aware of the visitor. A light smile crept onto her face as she recognized him. They'd met before, she was certain. At least once or twice.
"Hello," she said politely, "are you out enjoying the nice day, too?"
Salem started, he hadn't expected any actual conversation. He hastily collected himself, and shrugged, "I guess."
"You guess?" Coraline's smile slipped slightly, her brow furrowing in confusion. "Well, I guess not everyone has to enjoy sunny days." She smiled again. "So what brings you outside?"
Once again, Salem shrugged, "Dad sent me out."
"Oh," she said simply, looking a little disappointed. "As good a reason as any, I suppose."
Salem brushed his fringe away from his eyes. He got the impression he was failing some kind of test, but he wasn't sure what he was meant to be doing. He stared at her uncomfortably, until something clicked in his mind, "You're... Coraline, aren't you?"
"I don't know. Life, I guess." She frowned. "I think that made more sense in my head."
Salem chuckled, "A lot of things do," he observed, "So, um... what's up?"
"Not much. I was trying to start writing but...well." She shrugged again. "What's up with you?"
"Eh. I was trying to draw a scene from memory, but," he smiled wryly, "Well."
"Aha, so we're in the same boat," she smiled teasingly, "both tragically stuck in a bit of an artistic block."
"Something like that, yeah."
"Oh well. No sense dwelling on it." She snapped her notebook shut, setting it down beside her. "But how have you been otherwise?"
Salem thought about this for a while. Obviously 'okay' wasn't an acceptable answer, and he was going to have to revise his response. Possibly with more detail.
"Uh, I'm fine. Dad says I need to get out more, whatever that means."
"He probably means you should interact with people a little more. After all, I've barely seen you around the colony, and you've been here...How many years now?"
"Several. We moved here just before Aunt Nina..." he trailed off for a few moments, not meeting her eyes, before looking back, "But anyway, I don't want to interact with people more. I like my current amount of interaction!"
Coraline bit her lip. "Well, why don't you? We're not all bad, I promise."
Salem looked mildly frustrated, "It's not that you're bad, it's just... I don't know. I don't have anything to say to people."
"Then why don't we find something for you to say?" Coraline suggested. "After all, talking might not be necessary, but words can do wondrous things, when it comes down to it."
"Like what, exactly?"
"A lot of things. Words can describe something to someone who can't see it, or persuade someone to change their minds, or start a friendship, for example." She grinned.
Salem looked at her solemnly, "Well, I meant what would I say, but okay."
She laughed. "Sorry, I got a little carried away. But as for what you would say...Well, you're saying things right now, aren't you?"
He shrugged, "I guess so."
"If it helps, talk about things you like. That's always easiest."
"Nope," he shook his head, "It's amazing how indifferent people are about the different kinds of pencil lead."
"That's not quite what I meant. The thing about conversation is you have to keep it interesting."
"That," Salem explained, pausing for effect, "Was a joke."
"Ah," Cora stifled a chuckle, "Sorry, guess I just wasn't expecting it."
Salem shook his head slowly, "No one ever is."
"Having a sense of humor is good. It's just...No offense, on first impression you don't seem like the type to crack jokes."
He shrugged noncommitally, "I'm a Leijon. We sneak up on people."
"So I've noticed." Coraline picked up her pen and started twirling it between her fingers. "Of course, I would've thought the 'sneaking' would be limited to, say, pouncing."
Salem looked at her levelly, "I'm not my grandmother. And frankly, I'm not sure how she ever got away with 'pouncing' on people."
"Neither am I, quite frankly." She paused, grinning at him slyly. "See, you're not doing half bad."
He looked away, suddenly shy, "Yeah, well..."
"Aww, don't get all withdrawn on me again," Cora pouted, stopping the pen's motion. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you nervous."
"I'm not nervous!" He protested, "You just... drew attention to me talking and it felt weird."
"It felt weird?"
"Yes," Salem folded his arms defensively, "That's what I said."
"And you're positive that little weird feeling isn't nervousness? Shyness? Unwillingness?"
He withdrew even further, "Yes."
Coraline sighed. "Fine, I know where I'm not wanted." She picked up the notebook and tucked it under her arm. Salem watched her, confused. After a moment Cora rose to her feet and turned away from him.
Salem frowned at the back of her head, "Wait, you're leaving?"
She glanced at him over her shoulder. "Why, yes. Isn't that what you want?"
His confused expression became even more pronounced, "When did I say that?"
"Oh, you didn't say a thing," Coraline explained, turning to face him. "But you're certainly acting like it."
"See?!" Salem cried out, utterly bewildered, "People are confusing! Not talking is so much easier!"
Coraline frowned. "I'm not trying to be confusing. And weren't you having fun? At least for a little while? I know I was."
"Yeah, and then you went to leave and I don't know what I did!"
"You could ask, you know. I find questions usually get to the bottom of things."
"Fine. What did I do?"
"You didn't really do anything. You were acting like you wanted me to leave you alone, so I was going to leave you alone." She shrugged. "If you'd rather I'd stay, you should say so."
Salem looked at the sky for a moment. He seemed to be having some kind of internal battle. Eventually, he looked back down at her, "Please do."
She smiled pleasantly before plopping herself back down on the ground. "Alright then. If that's what you want."
Salem sat carefully next to her, "Yup."
Coraline leaned backwards until she was lying on the ground. "The sky's so pretty today."
Salem looked up obediently. It looked like sky to him, but he didn't want to upset her again, "Uh, yeah."
"You sound confident." She chuckled, sitting back up. "It's just so bright and blue. Open and inviting."
He nodded, "Okay."
"Salem Leijon, a troll of few words," Coraline quipped, rolling her eyes. "Ah, well."
Helena was laying back in her bed, watching the ceiling, muttering quickly to herself. Her eyes would dart back and forth, seeing things only she could see. After a moment she pulled the blanket over her head.
Startled from his dozing by the sudden movement, Jareth rolled over and looked across to the other bed. He watched the lump of blankets that contained his sister in mild concern. "'lena? Are they... Are they talking to you again?"
The covers moved as she shook her head. "Go back to sleep."
Jareth sat up, "Don't wanna. Are you okay?"
"I'm okay. They are not yelling or nothing." The cover shook again.
Carefully, Jareth climbed out of his bed, and sat on the edge of Helena's. He stared at the blanket pile, waiting patiently in the glow of their bedside lamp.
The girl pulled the covers tighter and ripped though them with her horn. "Oops..."
Jareth sighed a little bit, and pulled the blankets away from the sharp horn, "You sure you're okay, 'lena?"
Tears were running down her face, staining her cheeks red. "Jare, I don' wanna hear the yelling and stuff..."
Jareth hugged his sister tightly. She hung limply in his arms. "Did you ask them to stop?"
"So many... yelling... they hate us..."
"What did we ever do?"
"G-grandpa F-Ferris killed people..."
"What? But... You're not Grandpa Ferris! How come they won't leave you alone?"
"H-he can't hear them but I can but he knows b-b-but they don't care cause they're dead and fire and burning and-and-" Jareth cut his sister off, pulling her into his shoulder.
"Hang on, 'lena. I gotta go get something." He let her go, and clambered back across to his own bed, rummaging behind his pillow. He pulled out a worn, well-loved plush turtle, and carried it back to his trembling sister, placing it in front of her. "Look, 'lena," he murmured, focusing on the turtle.
The turtle, slowly and stiffly at first, began to crawl closer to Helena's knee. Trying not to shake, she petted it on it's head. The turtle looked calmly at her with beady plush eyes, pushing itself onto its hind legs off her knee. It began to sway clumsily to an unheard rhythm. Jareth grinned at his sister excitedly. Helena followed the movements, mesmerized.
Slowly, keeping his focus on the little turtle, Jareth shuffled up the bed, and snuggled up next to Helena. He gently pushed her down onto her side, so she could still see the turtle dancing between them. Helena yawned and wrapped her arms around her brother, who leaned his head against hers, making sure to not poke her with his own horns.
As the pair drifted off to restful slumber, the turtle danced the night away. In their dreams, at least, and that's where it counted the most.
Last edited by SilverKunama; 05-19-2011 at 10:58 AM.
Salem wandered idly about the colony, sketchbook in hand. Aunt Nina had been released from the hospital, and with no other pressing family issues, Felix had insisted that Salem leave the hive for once. So here he was, circling the lake and staring at nothing. There was a faint melody in the air, and for lack of anything better to do, he followed it to its source.
On the other side of the lake, a troll about his age was completely absorbed in playing the trumpet. Salem watched him curiously for a moment, then seemed to come to some kind of conclusion. He found a soft patch of ground to sit on, and plonked himself down, opening his sketchbook and giving the scene in front of him a calculating stare. His pencil began scratching against the paper. The trumpet-playing teenager finished his song and started on another one, cheeks puffing out. Salem, completely engrossed in his sketch, barely registered the change in song. Suddenly the music was replaced with the sounds of footprints heading in his direction.
"Hey, who're you?"
It was a few moments before the words registered to Salem, and he finally looked up, "Salem Leijon. Who are you?"
Apollo ran his hand through his bouncy, curly hair. "Apollo Zahhak. You're great-auntie Nepeta's grandkid from San Francisco?" Salem pushed his fringe away from his eyes reflexively, and nodded. "Oh. Well, nice to meet you! What are you drawing?"
"You," Salem explained simply.
"Can I see?" Apollo grinned eagerly. Salem looked him over, and then nodded, handing over his book. Apollo looked at the lastest sketch and started to snicker, covering his mouth. Salem watched him, face carefully level.
"This is a really good sketch!" Apollo was openly chuckling as he handed back the book. Salem took it quickly, and snapped it shut, expression still flat. Apollo continued talking, unaware of Salem's mood. "I mean, I always crack up when I see my trumpet-playing expression, and you got it down pretty much perfect!"
Salem blinked, and quickly checked the sketch he'd done. Despite himself, he snickered quietly. Apollo pointed to a specific part of the sketch. "Look, chipmunk cheeks!" Salem grinned at him.
"Your mom's nickname for you?"
"Nawwww, although I do have the tendancy to get called Apple by my baby sister. Lessee, and Poyo by my girlfriend. My family nickname is Paulie." He rolled his eyes. Salem just laughed. "Could be worse. I could have been named Endymion." Apollo glanced around nervously, as if he could see his grandmother without her robot body.
Salem stared at him, "Named what?"
"Endymion. He was, like, the boyfriend of the moon goddess in roman mythology. The original one, not the huntress one. My grandmother picked that name for my little brother, but we just call him Endy. Or Snail. And my little sister is Phoebe, which is another name for the moon or something. Apollo was a sun god, but also the god of archery, and both my parents are archers but I'm a pacifist." Apollo paused, considering. "But he was also the god of music, so that works for me."
"I feel sorry for your brother. But then again, I got named after a really old TV show character."
"Yeah? Which show?"
Salem leaned back, looking up at the sky, "According to Dad, Mom was a big fan of this old show called Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She like, had it all on DVD and stuff. Anyway, she always really liked how Grandma was really into cats, and Dad says when she found out she was going to have me, she decided to name me after the cat from the show. Salem. When I was a kid I watched some of the show, it was... weird."
Apollo plopped down next to him, lounging. "Old shows usually are. But that's a good way to get a name, I guess."
Salem shrugged, "I just like that my Mom named me."
"Oh. Yeah, I can see that. But I'm going to warn you now, Endymion isn't remotely the weirdest name in the colony. Have you met Shiny? His mother is named Squirrel."
Salem stared at him for a minute, before managing to speak, "Uh, no... You're the first person I met apart from Grandma. And Aunt Nina, Uncle Ferris... And Lori."
"Well, see, Auntie-Empress Rel's mom is kinda...excitable, and Auntie Rel likes shiny things. But they go by Rel and Shin."
Salem shook his head disbelievingly, "This place is crazy..."
"But hey, it's home!" Apollo laughed. "You get used to it."
"San Francisco was home."
Apollo paused. "...yeah. I guess you maybe don't want to get used to this."
Salem stared at the dirt under his feet for a while, not speaking. Eventually, he found his voice, "I might as well. We're never going to move back."
"You can. When you get old enough."
Picking up a stick, Salem began tracing swirling patterns into the ground in silence.
"...did I say something wrong?"
"Huh?" Salem looked up, "Did you say something?"
"...naw. I'll see you around?"
Salem smiled weakly, "Yeah. See you 'round sometime."
"So, where should we jet off to?" Arthur asked his friend as they walked out of the doors of Beatty High School.
Jane shoved her hands in her pockets, and looked around the town speculatively, "I... don't know."
The troll pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and pressed a button on the remote attached to them. A pair of lights attached to an old blue moped in the parking lot flashed. "Why don't we go to your house?" he asked. "I've never been there before. Could be interesting."
Jane paused, "Uh... you can't."
He turned to look at her. "It's not like I'm going to blow it up or anything." His finger pointed upwards as he argued, "And in my defense, the chemistry teacher shouldn't have left that cesium sitting out unless they wanted something to happen to the lab, and further in my defense, nothing was ever proven."
She didn't meet his eye, "No, um, that's not why."
"Oh." The wind taken from his argumentative sails, he frowned, puzzled. "Then why not? Is there some kind of forbidden temple buried under your house you don't want me to know about? Oooo, I hope that's it, I've always wanted to explore a forbidden temple. Traps and cultists and so much fun stuff. Please say that's what it is."
She rolled her eyes, "Only you would jump straight to something as crazy as that. No, um... It's just that I kind of... told my parents you were a girl," she rushed the last line, hoping she wasn't about to start an argument. Again.
"Why would you tell them that? Did you think I was a girl then? It's my haircut, isn't it? It's kind of androgynous. I got mistaken for a cosplaying lesbian once. That was interesting. That whole day was interesting. Lesson for you, Jane, never, ever, ever ever ever, let yourself get cornered by crazy fans of the animes. Especially not the ones who've had eye surgery to make them take up half their face."
There was a moment of silence as Jane processed Arthur's speech and removed all the unnecessary babbling, "Because if they'd thought I was going to be with a boy, they never would have let me out to go investigate the janitor that one time."
The expression on his face grew ever more confused. "Why not?"
"Because I'm not allowed to date until I'm sixteen."
"But it wasn't a date."
"It doesn't matter, my parents would have thought it was anyway. So I told them I was going to visit a girl from school."
"Oh. Well, as long as it got the job done..." he trailed off, then shrugged. "So, back to the original question. Where should we go? I just got Ol' Terry here out of winter storage, and I'm itching to take her out and show her a good time."
Jane looked from him to the moped, "Are you sure you want me along? I can't help but feel I'd be intruding on your special time together..."
"Oh, don't be silly, Jane, there's always room for one more."
"On that thing? I'm not so sure. Why do you even have a moped?"
"Because mopeds are cool."
"... Sure they are. Where are we going?"
"I don't know, that's why I asked you."
"I don't know either, so why don't you think of something?"
"I'm always the one coming up with stuff for us to do. Start carrying your weight."
"That's because you're always the one who wants to do stuff. So think of something."
"I can't! That's why I asked you in the first place instead of just coming up with an idea! If I had one, I'd have said it already."
Jane rolled her eyes in exasperation, "Well, I can't think of anything either. Now what?"
"Now we sit here until you either think of something or admit you've got a forbidden temple in your backyard for us to explore."
"There is no temple, Arthur. Give it up already," Jane growled, plonking herself down on the concrete.
"I'm sending Nina to your house disguised as me someday, and then we'll see about that."
"There. Is. No. Temple."
"It's okay, you can tell me. I've got experience with the whole 'cult' thing." His arms danced around in the air as he said the word "cult".
Jane glared at him, "You're just nagging me about this because you're bored, aren't you."
"Mostly. I'm still not entirely convinced there's not a temple of some kind under your house. There might be some ancient Native American religious site underground or something."
Arthur raised an eyebrow as he folded his arms. "Have you actually dug down deep to find out for sure?"
"No. No I haven't. It's not something normal people do."
"There's no such thing as normal. It's a made up concept."
Jane scowled, "No way, I am not arguing about philosophy with you. Change the subject."
"Fine. What do you propose we talk about, then?"
"I don't know. Think of something."
"Okay then, forbidden temples. There has to be one somewhere in the area, because there's a depressing lack of them nearby. A conspicuous lack. The kind of lack that sticks out and you know there has to be one hidden there because there's no way there can be this conspicuous of a lack." He stared at her. "And I think I know where its located."
"There is no forbidden temple, cultist or otherwise, hidden under my house!" Jane snapped, glaring up at the boy in front of her.
"Well, if you're sure," he replied lightly, giving no indication he'd realized how irritated she really was. The troll spun around on his heel, then swung his leg over the moped. "Hop on."
She regarded him suspiciously, slowly clambering to her feet, "Where are we going?"
"I don't know yet. All I know is that Terry's tired of just sitting here."
"I don't think I want to leave the decision up to an inanimate object..."
"She's got a magic eight ball built into her, she knows the right answers. Usually."
"That's not a comforting answer."
"Only part of the time." He kick-started the moped's engine. The device groaned and tried to die twice before finally coming to life in a gentle purr. "So, you coming or are you going to walk all the way to wherever it is you're going?"
She paused for a moment, then climbed on the back, grumbling quietly to herself.
"Don't forget to put your helmet on."
"Shut up, Arthur," she muttered, strapping the item in question on her head.
"Just looking out for you."
"Sure. Let's just go already."
"Alright, hold on tight, because this baby's been cooped up all winter and she's ready to cut loose!" The throttle turned all the way back in his hand, and Terry lurched forward, before slowing down to an even puttering pace as it headed down the road.
"Ahhh," Arthur sighed, smiling. "Just feel the wind in your face, going through your hair. I've got the need for speed and Ol' Terry delivers, reliable as ever."
Jane watched the scenery slowly drifting by, "Perhaps she'd go faster if I just walked alongside you..."
"Oh, be quiet."
"Or I could get out and push?"
"Okay, you've evened out my earlier comments about the temple, now hush and enjoy the ride."
"Well, I would be watching the view but it gets pretty boring, staring at the same building for ten minutes..."
Arthur glanced down at the top of his moped. "Are you hearing this? Can you believe what she's saying about you? Are you just going to sit there and take it?"
"Oh great, and now you're talking to the moped..." Jane sighed, "Have you figured out where we're going yet?"
"Nope!" was the cheerful reply.
"Then can we go somewhere with food? I'm hungry."
"Sure. Dough Haven?"
"I have no money, you know..."
"I'll just add it to your tab." And with that, the slowly-moving moped and its passengers began the long trek to the mystical land known as Dough Haven.