t h a n k s: To everyone at the Corner, especially River, Lise, Jono, KG and Mel. Merci beaucoup, people!
d e d i c a t e d t o: River and Lise.
c h a p t e r _ f i v e
What day was it again?
I thought hard. What was on telly today? ...Spin City rerun. Okay. That meant Saturday.
My eyes widened. Oh bloody, frigging hell! Saturday! And Moric's birthday was tomorrow! And I had barely started the story. Damn, damn, damn.
Time to do some bleeding on paper and clubbing of inspiration.
I had to come up with some decent (or at least something resembling decent) Anya and Faith before tomorrow. I'd promised. I'd obviously been temporarily insane at the time, but still. I had promised.
I crawled out of bed, trotted yawningly into the livingroom, pushed the on button on my computer and continued into the kitchen to make myself some instant cocoa. Remember me telling you about my licorice and pineapple soda vice? Well, instant cocoa is another for the list. I'm not entirely sure why I'm so fond of heated water with a chocolate after taste, but I am.
One of my theories to that, is that I just got used to it after waiting one time too many for my father to finish working so he could drive me home. Where he worked there was this 'Clix' machine, you see, with free drinks. You push a button, and voilà, you get a hot beverage of your choice. Since I couldn't stand blueberry or heated orange juice, I used to pick hot chocolate. After a while, I even started liking it.
Another theory is that I'm just to damn lazy to actually bother to make real cocoa.
I glanced over at the watch while the water boiled. 11:18. Heh. Early. I'm usually not up until 1 on weekends. Unless of course I'm doing an all-nighter in which case I sometimes go to bed at 1...
I opened the cabinet and took down the instant cocoa, shook it and listened to the charming sound of the package inside being shoved from side. I ripped open the last package in the box, grabbed one of my many cups (I collect. I have around thirty) and poured the powder into the cup.
The water heated pinged a moment later. I poured water over the cocoa powder, grabbed a near by biscuit package, stuck a biscuit in my mouth, grabbed both the cup and the biscuits and made my way back into the livingroom.
As always when I was awake enough to notice, I was amazed by the amount of books, magazines and comics that had managed to accumulate during my seven month stay here in New York. Not that it was anything new, since I never could resist buying reading material no matter where I was. But I hadn't stayed at the same place for this long since before I started my gypsey life (so to speak), and I hadn't realised how much stuff I could collect.
Used book shops usually got my buyings when I moved on, or if I really wanted to keep something, I mailed it to my parents in Norway. They stored it in the attic for me. I didn't take much with me when I travelled. There are, after all, limits to how much you can stuff into a suitcase and a backpack before the seams rip. And I had to prioritize things like clothes. And my cups. Oh and yeah, my laptop.
Forgetting the laptop would be a pretty bad career choice for a graphic designer who works more in Paint Shop Pro than on paper. Not to mention that I'd probably go nuts if I had to go for long without scribbling on some story or another.
Speaking of stories...
I dropped down on the chair in front of my desk, carefully placeing the cocoa within my range, but away from the laptop. I took a sip of the cocoa, placed it back down, then clicked open a WordPad.
^ Anya embraced human holidays. They were often ridiculous, true, but there was something oddly safe about them. Like Christmas. ^
I munched at a biscuit and regarded the paragraph. A Christmas story? I gave a mental shrug. Well, why not? I finished the biscuit, took another sip of cocoa and continued typing.
When I'd come to paragraph twenty-three and Faith was threatening some demon to make him give Anya her powers back, I stretched and put the computer on wait modus. Enough with the clubbing of inspiration for now. I needed a break.
I picked up the now empty biscuit packet and the cup and wandered into the kitchen. What to do? Hmm. I pondered that as I washed the cup and threw the biscuit packet in the trash. My eyes fell on a Marvels comic book and I grinned. Comicbook buying. Oh yes. Always good for wasting a few hours.
Now I remembered that the last time I'd talked to Penn, she'd said something about a Felidae comicbook...
I pulled on my grey trenchcoat and black boots, wandered outside, locked the door and was on my way to Jamie's Comicbook Paradise.
One of the things I really like about living here is that there are entire shops dedicated to just selling comicbooks. Believe me, we have nothing like that in Norway. Well, there's Avalon, but that's only three shops in two big citys. And where I lived the book shops weren't much to write about either, so whenever I'm in a big bookshop or comicbook shop now, it's like letting a kid go crazy in a candy store. Complete with wide eyes and a never ending grin.
I walked inside Jamie's. Ahh... The sight of new comicbooks... I never tire of it.
I made a bee-line for the Dark Horse section to see if Felidae had been published. I couldn't remember what date Penn had said, so for all I knew it wasn't due for launch until February. Still. I had to check.
Heh. I grinned as I spotted the comic. As known from the books, the card game and the numberous collectors cards. Penn sure knows how to keep herself busy. I picked the comic up (nice picture of Chasa on the front) and flipped through it. The tale of the Sanctuary's origins, part one of three. Nice art. Not much surprise in that.
I curled the comic up to keep it with me while I went hunting for other comics. Or sci-fi books. I'm not discriminating.
Another glace at the DH section told me that I could move on to without missing anything. That didn't stop me from flipping through a few more comics though. Just for fun.
Did I have the newest 'L'Amitié?'
It got curled up along with Felidae.
I was eyeing a Vertigo TPB, wondering if I could afford it, when someone nudged me. I turned and grinned. "Cassie! Lin! What are you doing here?"
Cassie held up a couple of comics and smiled. "Shopping day."
Lin nodded. "Yup, me too. Ran into Cassie here over at the Blonds Are Us section."
"Why am I not surprised?" I sniggered. Cassie's fondness for blonds was legendary. Had she been at the Corner yesterday, John and Warren would probably been attacked imidiately. She makes no excuse for it either. Shameless, she is.
Cassie aka Cassiopeia-with-the-impossible-last-name grinned brightly at me and bounced. "Many, many blonds!" She waved her comics. "Oh and have you seen the newest Valhall?"
"Valhall...No, I don't... Hey, wasn't Declan going to have a series of covers for that one?"
"Yup!" Lin nodded, then looked at her watch. "Oh, I've got to go! Nice to see you, bye!" She rushed off.
I looked after her. "Is she always in a hurry?"
"Yes, I think so. Anyway, look!" Cassie held up a copy of Valhall. "Ennit gorgeous?"
I oohed at the painted cover. "It is indeed. Where can I get one?"
I wandered over.
I walked out of the shop with five comics. And a semi-decent Sci-fi book. I'd turned a used-comicbook case more or less upside down and managed to find an old copy of a Louise Glochester comic as well as an old Rose Inc. I liked Rose Inc. Marty and Kal have chemistry. A screwed up, based on hate sort of chemisty, but still. And Glochester art is always a good thing. Even if the Emperors of Dawn wasn't precisely my favorite comic book.
One day I'd probably write slash about Marty and Kal. Provided I could find something they had in common besides being really compeditative and having the same profession. I know people who can slash just about anyone and do it decently, but I just can't do that. I have to base it on _something_.
Well. Except that Ethan Rayne/Spike thing which I based pretty much only on the fact that they're both bad guys... But that one wasn't my fault. That was all Rick's fault. Honest.
See if you can have him nagging at you for two weeks straight without succumbing...
* * * *
Two paragraphs away from finishing Moric's birthday present, and the phone rang. I paused my typing and leaned over to check the caller ID. It was Mai Lee. I grinned and grabbed the phone. "Hey, Mai Lee!"
"Could you not do that? It freaks me out every time."
I chuckled. "Why do you think I do it?"
"Why are you calling?" I grinned.
"Oh that. Um. Are you doing anything today?"
"Have two paragraphs left on a story, but after that, I'm free. Why?"
"Oh, just this party I have to go to, and roomie has to study and I don't want to go alone, so I was wondering..."
"...What kind of party?" Yes, this was Mai Lee so the party was probably not that outre but one could never be too sure... I let Izzy talk me into going to a party once. I'm still not sure whether or not he knew that chains and leather was mandatory. And then there was that other time with the Hawaii theme, but, really, that one was... Um. Nothing compared to the chains and leather party. And while I'm on the topic, some people should really face up to their limitations and realise that black leather catsuits just isn't for everyone.
Iz hadn't looked that bad though. Despite being short, kind of stocky and cursed with eternal cuteness (old ladies pinches his cheek). I would've liked to see Rick in something like that. Him being tall, kind of skinny, and having a blue stripe in his hair. He claims it's a part of his mutation. Everyone else says he dyes it in. Goes well with his eyes at any rate.
Note to self; Mention this to Izzy when he comes back tomorrow. See how long it'll take him to convince Rick to wear leather.
"It's a school paper thing. At seven tonight. So. Can you?" Mai Lee sounded hopeful.
There goes my anti-social day... "Yeah, sure. You going to pick me up or?"
"No, I can do that. Six-thirty all right?"
"Yup. See you then!"
"Yes. And thanks!"
She hung up.
The phone rang again.
I looked surprised at it. Geez. Amazing how popular I had suddenly become. I picked up to phone. "Yeah?"
"This is Liz Braddock. I'm calling from the Xavier school?"
"Oh yeah. Yeah, I know who you are. Why're you calling?"
"Have you seen Jubilee? Today, I mean."
I blinked. "She's not appeared yet?"
"No. I take it you haven't seen her?"
"No, I haven't. If I do see her, I'll be sure to call the school, though."
"Okay, thanks." She hung up.
I eyed the phone.
It didn't ring.
* * * *
"I forgot to ask. There's not going to be any overly mutant-fobic people at this party, is there? Because I really prefer being prepared if that's the case."
Mai Lee frowned thoughtfully then shook her head. "No. 'Least I don't think so."
"Great. Let's get inside and kick some social butt," I suggested.
Mai Lee giggled, grabbed my arm and wandered inside the building. I looked around, spotted the buffet table and saw a brunette I thought I recognized. I stared at her for a bit hoping to jog my memory.
Mai Lee elbowed me. "You're staring."
"I know. I'm trying to remember where I know her from."
Mai Lee glanced in the brunette's direction. "The tv probably. That's Trish Tilby."
I snapped my fingers. "Oh right! Izzy likes to spend time following her around with his camera!"
"Isn't that his job?"
There were no overly mutant-fobic people at the party.
I mean, I did get stared at. Hey, I'm green. I've gotten used to it. But no one started talking about 'registrating mutants' and 'camps'. Yes, I've actually heard people talking about mutant camps. In the States that is. If it was mentioned in Europe, it would lead to a long discussion on Hitler and the Nazis two seconds later. It might have been over fifty years since the war ended, but believe me, it's not even close to forgotten. Just look at the schools in Norway; The kids get force-feed information about the war from day one. When I finished the Norwegian equiqualent of High School, I was so sick of the whole war I was tempted to start one of my own just to give the school's history books something else to go on and on about.
Anyway, nice party. Entertaining Mai Lee. I didn't regret giving up my anti-social day all that much. Besides I could always have it later.
It wasn't more than ten when we left the party and Mai Lee drove me home (pausing for a moment at SilverShoe so I could rent a few movies. They know me by name there. I hardly ever need to show my card). I stepped out of the car and bent back in. "Want to come up?"
"No, I can't. I still have a paper to write," Mai Lee smiled.
I shrugged. "Okay."
"And I think you rented Dead Man on Campus. Again."
"I like that film!"
"Yeah, I know. Believe me, I know."
I grinned at her and waved goodbye before I went upstairs. Maybe I had gone on and on about Dead Man quite a few times... I grinned wider. This would be the what? Fiftieth time I saw it?
I like this movie. Can you tell?
I climbed the stairs up to my apartment, whistling merrily on 'the Bridge over Kwai' (which isn't the official title, I don't think, but I don't know any other name for it). I fished the key out of my pocket, put the key in the lock and discovered a yellow raincoat balled up in the corner. I blinked at it.
There was something familiar about that raincoat...
I left the key in the lock and went to poke the raincoat cautiously with my foot.
It moved. And yelped. "Hey! Where do you get off--"
"Jubilee?" I broke in, incredulous. "What are you doing here?"
The raincoat was twisted around, and now I could see her face. Since I find it vaguely disturbing to be talking to an inanimated object, I welcomed the change.
"I wasn't sure where else to go."
"Eh, excuse me, but does 'Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters' ring any bells what so ever?"
She gave me a Look. "I can't go there."
"Why not? No, wait, don't answer that. Let's get into the apartment so I can lock the doors and not invite to being robbed blind."
Jubilee seemed to agree to that plan. She got on her feet and followed me into the apartment, eyeing the bag with the film in curiously.
I locked the door behind me and turned to look at Jubilee. I wondered which hair-colour he'd had this time and whether or not the CIA wanted her for questioning. Well, the school probably knew how to deal with this. Provided I could get her to the school, that was. She didn't seem all too eager to return.
"Want to sit down?"
She nodded and dropped down on the floor.
"I do have chairs..."
"I'm fine, thanks."
I left her sitting on the floor, looking curiously around, and walked into the kitchen to put a frozen pizza in the stove. I came into the livingroom again carrying two pineapple sodas. I handed one over to Jubilee and sat down across from her on the floor. "So. What are you doing here?"
"I need a place to crash." She gave me puppy-dog eyes. "I'll be out of your hair tomorrow, honest."
"And back at the school?"
She hesitated a bit, then gave me a bright grin. "Sure!"
"Why am I not believeing you?"
"You listen to rumours too much?"
"Nah, don't think that's it." I looked at her. "Why won't you go back to the school?"
Jubilee looked down at her soda. "Got something I have to do first."
Okay, that lifted something off of my shoulders. I would've hated to call the school and tell them that, yes, I did in fact see Jubilee today, only she didn't want to go to the school and made a run for it before I could do anything. Where she's now? ...Well...
See, that wouldn't have worked at all.
"But you're going back to the school eventually?" I asked for confirmation.
She looked surprised. "Of course. Where else would I go?"
I didn't reply to that. I didn't want to be giving her ideas.
We sat in silence, sipping in our sodas until the buzzer I'd set for the pizza went off. I got on my feet. "Want some pizza?"
"Sure." She got on her feet as well. "This mean I can stay?"
"Yeah, I suppose. You can crash on the couch. I'm going to call the school and tell them about it though."
"You have to?"
"Yeah. Otherwise I'd blow my cover as a responsible adult."
For some reason, that just made her laugh.
* * * *
"My parents are dead, you know," she said.
I looked away from the screen and Josh and Cooper's photography snapping. "They are?"
"Yeah, me too. Some bastards ran them off the road."
"It'll be five years since they were killed next April."
"I know who did it."
I arched my eyebrows at her.
She didn't notice. She stared intently at the glass in her hand. "I'm going to make them pay."
"And by pay, you mean..."
"Just dying is too good for them."
I made a mental note to have a little chat with Ororo Munroe about a certain homocidal student of hers.
We finished watching the movie and went to bed.
clubbing of inspiration =
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
-- Jack London
bleeding on paper =
Writing is easy, you just sit down at the typewriter, open up a vein, and bleed it out drop by drop.
-- Red Smith