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Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
I hate it when Muse is right...
I believe I did mention a while back that drafting #47 was involving some evil giggling...? Very well, then, if we're all sitting comfortably, let's begin:


I have to keep reminding myself that I do appreciate my flatmate's assistance in certain matters. "Well, if you were trying for 'Daniel Radcliffe's finally legal', then yeah," Jason says. "Otherwise I'd lose the sweater."

I pull the jumper back off and have another go into my wardrobe. This time my choice draws a thoughtful frown: "Nah, that makes you look like Michael Sheen and not in a good way."

It's my best shirt. "Don't suppose you have a constructive suggestion?"

Jason's mouth twists into a considering grimace. "You look good in the suit but she'd think you're gonna propose and that makes me get all... leghumpy."

At least he's straightforward about his anxieties. "Didn't know you liked the suit," I say as I begin to undo buttons, and he shrugs. I'd made the mistake of mentioning Savile Row and got a rendition of 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile' for my trouble, so we've not really discussed it since.

I'm out of time as well as options. I throw my least-tweed jacket over one of my favourite tops, to an amused little snort from the gallery; "Okay, that's just gone all hipster librarian. Which I guess is accurate, so if you're okay with going there on a date...?"

(We'll pass by that unspoken I wouldn't. I've seen his notion of smart-casual.)

The restaurant in a fashionably dodgy neighbourhood is a far posher choice than that coffeehouse, a year ago. Jill's got here first, sat making faces at her mobile to check her lipstick. It's a BYOB affair, where I won't be as fussed to divert the staff from considering my too-youthful references; I manage to get pleasantly tipsy, Jill conceding the greater share of the wine she's brought. She's amused when I insist on taking the bill though her wage is more than twice mine. My little brown bat.


It's gone dark by the time we wobble out into the cool evening, still laughing about finances. Just sell some of the antiques, yeah? The debate quickly turns into an assessment of whether I actually own anything that would pay for an evening out, settling as we arrive at Jill's parking-spot on a side-street upon the small vase Max gave me for a birthday because it was nearly as old as I am. "Hang on, I'm going to look that up." Jill bends to her mobile, flicking into auction-listings.

Sudden fingers in my hair and I'm smashed into cold metal, nose just missing the angle of the car's roof. Jill cries out. As I slip down onto a knee beside the car I catch a glimpse of her struggling to keep her mobile from the grasp of a man who's caught her about the neck. Leave it, I want to tell her, throat closing on the iron burn of my own blood.

I can't seem to get my feet under me. Jill lets go her mobile to wrap both her hands around the man's arm, trying to prise it loose --

No. Trying to pull it up.

The man howls and thrusts Jill away, staggering back on the pavement. Jill rebounds from the car and turns to face him, crimson fresher than lipstick bright round her mouth.




Frozen moment where the would-be robber simply stares at us, too shocked to do more than clutch at the gouge Jill's gnawed out of his arm. He's a child, no older than what my own papers claim me to be. I draw myself up on the stem of a pole, past a sticker says meter remains as a courtesy to cyclists, and turn the full force of a red-hazed gaze on him: "Piss off."

He pisses off. I find myself struggling to care whether he seeks proper medical attention. Jill leans against the car, blowing out a breath. "Shit," she says, smallest quaver of the delayed reaction.

Jill's mobile has vanished; I ring her number on my own phone and hear a forlorn echo down the storm-drain. We get into the car and drive in shaky silence. "We're probably all better off if they start telling each other the La Llorona stories," Jill says once we're sat in front of mine, delaying an exit from what feels like a flimsy bubble of protected space.

"Jason's home," I say. "I don't know if we should..."

"Yeah, no, I was thinking about just going home for a xanax and hoping this makes more sense in the morning. Will you be all right?"

From the wad of bloodied tissues I've left in the footwell I have my reservations about that, but I'm wanting my own bed too badly to argue. I lever myself out of the dubious safety of the car and hear a muttered expression of shock: Carlos, stepped outside for a cigarette. I nod at him wanly as he approaches and peers into the car. "It's not mine," Jill says, raising a self-conscious hand to her rust-rimed chin.

I'm not sure he's buying this, but he stamps out his fag-end. Dios, he says, reaching to touch the bridge of my nose. I must look like a panda. A stunned, blood-drunk panda. Jill mumbles a farewell and pulls away from the kerb.

Carlos marches me up past his landing to mine, taking my key from me when my hands start to shake and turning it in the lock with quiet efficiency. Jason swears and starts bombarding us with questions in two languages as I'm brought into the kitchen and insistently sat down in a chair. "He says it's not broken," my flatmate translates after a few moments of gentle prodding, and on a further prompt from Carlos he reaches into the freezer for a bag of frozen blueberries. Carlos mimes raising it to my abused face, and pats me on the shoulder:

All right?

Once our neighbour is gone I find myself blinking at Jason round the bag. "He knows first aid," I say.

"He was in the army," Jason replies, as if I'm supposed to have divined this somehow, and sits himself in our other chair. "What the hell, man?"

"Some bloke tried to take Jill's mobile, I think he meant to distract us first."

"Did you call the police? -- You've got papers now," he cuts me off as I begin to object. "And yeah, I see the irony in the black guy telling the white guy he's gotta report it," he adds as I blink at this new thought. "Anyway. I'm supposed to let you rest but maybe not sleep for a while," he continues, and hesitates: "Um, if you need anything... else...?"

I've swallowed enough of my own blood I'm a bit ill from it, I'm not sure that I could feed just now if I had to. Jason puts the kettle on to make me some tea, and sets about washing the crusting stickiness from my face and neck with a clump of damp kitchen-roll. He grunts when I explain how Jill had decided to give the evening up for a bad job: Yeah, maybe just as well. Y'know.

And he hadn't even seen the look in her eyes, as she savoured that stolen mouthful of flesh.

The joy.


moved to respond?
ashnistrike From: ashnistrike Date: April 6th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Yes, I can see where that would be disturbing to both of them.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: April 8th, 2013 04:55 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Yeah, I don't think anybody's happy about how this evening went...
moved to respond?