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Mar 21, 2013

In with a :toxx:

Gimme a question


Mar 21, 2013

Hidden Moon (1236 words)

Donna rolled her eyes, and took the mirror Nina was shoving in her face.

“I am positive you did a good job, Nina. How many times have you done this?”

“It’s been years,” her childhood friend insisted. “I’m not one of the professionals you’ve gotten used to, and this has to look natural. Without, you know, being natural.”

The anxiety on Nina’s features was a far cry from the confident girl Donna remembered. She suppressed a sigh, and looked at herself in the mirror.

Long black bangs had replaced her customary brown ponytail. That, with the black lipstick and thick horn-rimmed glasses, made Donna feel like she was looking at some goth grad student instead of Donna Rivers, platinum-certified pop star.

She smiled at Nina. “It looks great. Thank you.”

Nina gave a tight, small smile back, and watched as Donna pulled out the frumpy cardigan and sweatpants from the bag she’d snuck past Mark. By the time Donna finished putting them on, it had slipped off.

Donna knew exactly what she was going to say before a word came out of her mouth.

“Are you… sure about this?”

“Yes,” Donna said, and judging by Nina’s flinch, she’d failed to keep her tone even. “I know this is an unnecessary risk. I know Mark has my best interests at heart, and I know this isn’t going to be fair to him. But last time, he might as well have been a neon sign, and if I have to deal with the paparazzi for one more day, I am going to lose it.”

Nina looked away for several long moments. Then she stuck her chin out and said, “Fine. But I’m coming with you.”

Donna blinked. “But --”

“They don’t know me,” Nina said, cutting her off. “It’s not like we’ve hung out… recently.”

A brief, awkward silence followed. Donna watched as tension set into Nina’s shoulders, but she didn’t seem to be budging.

It was blessedly familiar. She smiled and said, “Let’s go, then.”

* * *

Donna’s not exactly sure how they ended up like this. They seemed to be having a good time in the coffee shop Nina had picked out for them. It had been a nice, rustic place, and the smile on her friend’s face had been much easier compared to earlier.

She’d settled down in a comfortable armchair, while Nina had struck up conversation with the barista.

The coffee had been quite good.

But then there had been rapid footsteps, an aborted shout from the counter, and Donna had looked up to see Nina running out the door.

So here they were -- in the alley right behind the shop, with Nina looking more like a trapped animal than anything else.

“What’s wrong, Nina?” Donna asked.

Nina didn’t meet her eyes and didn’t answer. Donna felt a sudden surge of irritation.

“Nina, I swear to--”

“Anne thought that you were my girlfriend,” Nina blurted out, then clapped her hands over her mouth as if she could take the words back that way.

The irritation came back, harder this time. Donna crossed her arms. “She has good instincts then.”

“We were never --”

“We were, even if it was for, like, a week!” Donna snapped. “And we could’ve been for longer, if you had --”

If you had tried, she thought, and instead of being bitter, the thought just hurt.

She did her best to breathe through the tightness in her chest, and asked, “Nina, you were the one who said -- who confessed first. And that was the happiest I’d been in high school, even though we didn’t last long before your father found out.”

“I remember the night before I moved,” Nina whispered. “You managed to sneak me your dad’s old cell phone so we could keep in touch.”

“But you never texted back,” Donna said. “I thought at first your father had confiscated it, but -- there were so many ways to reach me, even then. We didn’t move. You could have sent a letter. You could have called

Nina looked down. “I was scared.”

“Scared?” Donna echoed. “But you were always the one arguing with the assholes at school. Hell, you were the one who got sent to the principal’s office after Mr. Stevens decided to start spouting his bigoted mouth off!”

Nina flinched. Donna softened her tone, and asked, “What changed?”

“Dad told me that if it ever got out, it would spread like wildfire.You were just taking off -- the media would’ve pounced upon the tale of the American darling’s descent into sin, and --”

“So you were worried about me?” Donna demanded. “Why not just ask--”

“It wasn’t about you!” Nina shouted. She started to tremble. “It was me!”

Donna stared at Nina as tears began to run down her cheeks.

“When he said that, I just imagined -- walking to school one day. And everybody would know, and, and, I can take Mr. Stevens. I can take Mr. Stevens, by himself, when everybody else in the room thinks he’s an idiot, because he is. I can’t take the world.” Nina swallowed. “So when you texted, I couldn’t answer. And then it was a week, and you were asking if I was there, and then it was a month, and…”

Nina ran her fingers through her hair, and continued, in a very small voice, “I couldn’t take it anymore. I threw the phone into the river.”

Donna stood there, trying to think of anything to say. Finally, Nina turned to leave.

Donna’s legs moved, her hands reached out, and suddenly -- the two of them were staring at each other, with their noses separated by a hair’s breadth.

“Why, then?” Donna asked. “You didn’t have to respond to my message. Why help me sneak out, if you’re terrified of making the front pages?”

Nina’s red-rimmed eyes remained focused on her, as she sniffed once, twice, and said, “I wanted to see you again. I --”

Donna kissed her. Nina froze, and for a long, terrible moment, they stayed like that -- until she melted into Donna’s arms.

It was Mark’s shout that finally brought them back to reality. They looked over to see him stepping out of his car.

“Donna, what the hell were you --” His rant cut off as soon as he took in the situation. Then he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “-- thinking.”

Nina turned to face him, but didn’t pull away. She grinned sheepishly and said, “Sorry, Mr. Curtis.”

“I think you might as well call me Mark,” he said, and sighed. To Donna, he said, “Be back at the hotel room by four, or I will call The Sun Reporter myself and not even feel guilty.”

“Got it,” Donna said, and then linked arms with Nina. As they began making their way out of the alley, she took a calming breath, and then another, trying to put her buzzing thoughts to words.

Nina looked over. “What is it?”

“Are we -- are you okay with ...this?” Donna asked, and gestured to herself. “Because nothing stays a secret forever, and…”

“I’m not thrilled at that prospect,” Nina admitted, and but gave a reassuring squeeze before Donna could pull away,. “But I’m willing to try.”

They shared a smile, and Donna thought, I can live with that.

Mar 21, 2013

in, flash.

Mar 21, 2013

in :toxx:

Mar 21, 2013

Reclaimed Time (1200 words)
Horado couldn't catch the words at first, his mind strangely focused on the grip across his throat. The fingers were cold, but the palm seemed to be heating up. And there was no give of artificial skin, which likely meant this stranger wasn't an employee of Mariposa, contracted or otherwise -- the company liked to keep up appearances.

There was a reason his last shift had been a fortnight ago.

"Answer the question," the man growled, pressing him harder against the wall, and that was all it took to break the curious calm that had settled over Horado. He choked, sputtered, tried instinctively to pry off that unforgiving grip, even if his only working hand wasn't close to functional without him clocking in --

"Jesus! Alright, alright, calm down." The stranger backed off, letting Horado collapse to his knees. When he looked back up, he could see the dull gleam of charged plasma in the man's palm. Horado shakily raised his arms in surrender. The man's gaze flicked to the stump, then back to Horado.

"As I was asking, where the hell am I?"

"This is Mariposa's Levue facility, in the HD 100F star system," Horado said. He hesitated, then asked, "Who are you?"

"Someone who wants to get out of here. How do I do that?"

"A ship?" Horado said, and then jerked backwards as the man's palm began to whine. "Sorry! Sorry, wasn't trying to be smart. You can take the company shuttle to Levue Station for 400 credits, I think they might still be running?"

"That's not going to work for me," the man said. "I need to get off this planet now."

A fugitive, then. Horado swallowed. "They keep the key transmitters for the smaller craft in the overseers' office."

"Then you'll take me there," the man said, and at Horado's silence, he stepped forward, looming over him.

"Only, only if--" Horado started, and then was cut off.

"If I take you?" the man finished, and at Horado's nod, snorted. "Sure. Whatever. I'll drop you off at the station and you can take another connection from there."

The trip down the hallway went by in a flash, with Horado unable to concentrate on anything other than the thought that the man might just kill him after retrieving the ship key, the panic at what he just agreed to, and the mental image of what he was leaving behind. Then they were in front of the office door, and it obligingly slid open for them.

That seemed odd, but his captor -- temporary partner-in-crime, Horado supposed -- pushed past him. He motioned Horado to help him search with a glare.

It was barely a minute before the lights came on. The stranger spun, and then spat out, "Dylan."

"Eryl," Overseer Arnall replied from the doorway. "I told them a simple inhibitor clip wouldn't be enough to keep you. I'd advise you to stand down."

Eryl's only response was a growl, and Arnall shrugged. Then he glanced over at Horado, and sighed. "And you've roped Mr. Marin into helping you, I assume?"

He waved a lazy hand over at Horado, "I don't hold you responsible for this, just so you know." His lip curled. "Eryl cuts a remarkably threatening figure, wouldn't you say?"

"Cut the crap," Eryl snarled. "You sold me out, you bastard --"

Arnall cut over him and continued talking to Horado. "I imagine you haven't gotten another shift since that dreadful accident. If you don't try anything funny, we can cut the cost of a replacement prosthetic by, say, thirty percent."

Eryl snarled again and lunged at him. Arnall stepped out of the way, then reached out, fingertips sparking -- and Eryl shuddered, then slumped to the floor. He looked down at him, disdain clear on his face, then back at Horado. "Anyways, Mr. Marin, it's a good deal. On top of the discount we give for subsequent operations, you could even relinquish your deposit, so it'd only be an extended work period of two more years by my estimations. What do you think?"

Overseer Arnall held his other hand. Horado reached back, stiff fingers slowly opening, and when they finally clasped hands, two things happened.

Sparks jumped off of Arnall's hand. Horado dimly noted that if his prosthetic had been fully operational, the feedback would've been agonizing. As it was, it still made his teeth clench.

Horado pulled in and kicked out, and Arnall's eyes bulged. He crumpled to the floor, nearly dragging Horado down with him. By the time Horado managed to get free, Arnall's palm was facing him, power gathering, face twisted in a vicious sneer --

and then he slumped to the ground, shuddered once, and then stilled.

Eryl stood up, and he glared at Horado. Then he started searching through Arnall's pockets, and as Horado stared, he finally stood up and showed a fob to Horado. "This the key transmitter?"

"Yes," Horado managed. "I'll show you to the hanger, then."

"Hang on," Eryl said, hesitated, then continued. "Do you know where your enforcer chip is?"

Horado blinked, and Eryl shook his head. "Your right hand's a contracted prosthetic, right? If you leave this star system as you are right now, it's not going to be pretty."

"Oh," Horado said, and he realized what that meant. "Were you just going to let me go off and blow myself up, then?"

Eryl gave him a look, and then sighed. "Not anymore, no. Give me your hand."

Horado reached out, fingers hanging limply, and Eryl clasped them between his two hands. After a second he said, "Well, I guess that bastard did one thing right. The internal reactors got fried by that stunt he pulled, so you're safe."

"Oh," Horado said, again. "Should we head to the hanger, then?"

Eryl hesitated, again, and then asked, "Do you know where the contract deposits are kept here?"

Confused, Horado replied, "They're in a room just past where we first met. Why?"

Eryl turned and started walking. Realization struck Horado, and he hissed at him, "You're going to set off every drat alarm in the facility if you break into the deposit safe!"

"Not if I do it right." Eryl stopped in front of a unmarked, nondescript door. "This it?"

"...Yes," Horado said. He watched as Eryl pressed his thumb to the security lock. It began to smoke.

A couple minutes later, Horado was staring at that engraved, silver disc for the first time in years. The designs were barely visible under all the tarnish, but the reflective grooves and bumps of the pocketwatch still caught the light, the same way it first had, when he'd found it in Father's desk after the funeral.

He swore he could still hear it ticking.

Eryl coughed, and then Horado remember where exactly they were, and how important it was that they be somewhere else very soon. He tried to speak, and the words caught. He cleared his throat, and tried again. "Thanks."

Eryl hunched his shoulders. "Let's just get to the hanger."

As the facility disappeared in the rearview, Horado looked down at the watch in his lap.

"Thanks," he said, again. Eryl grumbled at him to shut up, and Horado couldn't help but smile.

Mar 21, 2013


Mar 21, 2013

in :toxx:

Mar 21, 2013

Here's my toxx receipt:

I will try for a redemption later

Mar 21, 2013

In, gimme a song


Mar 21, 2013

Okay I would like to get roasted
in with a :toxx: because i failed last week, please assign me a week

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