Notes and disclaimers: All characters property of large corporate entities, not mine. No profit garnered ever. Thanks to musesfool for beta action. Title from Bob Dylan.
THROUGH ALL THESE THINGS TWICE
"News guy's teeth," Max said. They were taking a very extended break at a coffee shop, just watching people walk by.
"Boo, you think that's whiter than those?"
"Yeah, I think so. If we're looking at these people here in front of us, the teeth might just win."
"Which news guy?" Cindy leaned back in her chair. She glanced between the scrawny legs of the people in shorts walking by and back at Max, like she was seriously considering the question. Maybe she even was. Sometimes you had to let the big things rest and cogitate on the small ones.
Max said, "Like I watch the news. One of them. Whatever. They all look the same to me."
"Snow blind white," Cindy said. She raised her cup and they banged theirs together.
Max didn't even try to not roll her eyes as Alec breezed in and sat down at their table. He said, "White?" And even faked looking concerned.
"White people, white teeth, white white legs in shorts," Max said. "That's all we're talking about. We, not you."
"It's crazy, isn't it? One good day and everyone goes nuts. Like the sunshine goes straight to their heads," Alec said. "There is no reason that woman there should ever wear a skirt that short."
"I'm not complaining," Cindy said. She leaned forward, smiling. "Some of us like some soft cream on top. And bottom. And sideways."
Alec made his thinking face. Something in Max wanted to snarl and rip his hair out. Nevertheless, she sat still as he said, "You're so right. I will never complain about women in tight skirts again. Everyone has something to offer someone." He clearly didn't mean it.
Cindy said. "It's all good."
"Like Herbal would say," Max said, enjoying the memory. "Hope, spring, everything's together, I and I will see it through, blah blah."
"Everything sweet and short skirted comes right back around no matter how screwed all the rest of this city gets. In April when it finally comes sneaking in and the rains stop for one whole week."
"I knew someone named April. She looked excellent in her tight skirt," Alec said, ruining the brief good mood.
They managed to have a vaguely civil conversation for next ten minutes, but it was mostly due to Original Cindy. Max told herself she was being nice now, she was realizing Alec was more than the most frustrating trouble magnet asshole without a shred of conscience in the world. He was at least a little more than her lowest opinion of him.
So she didn't say anything when Original Cindy got beeped and left, and Alec followed Max out. Not even a "Like I want to spend the rest of my afternoon with you?"
Alec said something about Joshua, and they even managed to talk to each other without snarling (her) or being a jackass (him). She was going to call that her accomplishment of the day. Maybe even the week. Screw escaping White and the minions of the breeding cult twice and saving two transgenics from being discovered and/or killed. She's topped all of that; she'd been a good person to Alec.
She almost laughed out loud at the thought but she didn't want to explain it to Alec. It would wipe out all the good karma she was stockpiling. Instead she said, "So this was nice. But we both have deliveries."
Alec said, "Oh, you're being serious. Sorry, don't let me stop you." He stopped his bike and stared towards the hills. "Remember all the woods around Manticore? It actually looked really pretty in spring. Not that I ever noticed back then."
"Right," Max said. "Best part of Manticore, the view out the window." She thought about saying more, about the missions Alec had been on and she mentally zipped her lips shut. Totally topped anything else she'd done this week, when she kept her mouth shut there.
"I was thinking of it," Alec said. "Because yesterday I was up in the hills with the really rich types, you know, like Logan used to be?" He glanced at her and then back somewhere west. "There were these trees with white flowers and a big wind came through, it was like it was snowing. Except it was all petals. It was pretty." He looked at her and, for once, she was pretty sure she had no idea what he was thinking. "And white, blinding white, like you and Cindy were saying back in the coffee shop. The good white."
"Sounds nice," she said. "Like when fall comes through and everything's that kind of yellow from the leaves."
"Yeah," Alec said. "And it comes back every year. No escape, no running away."
"Why would you want to, right? Spring and fall and the cycle of life."
Alec got back up on his bike. "Okay, we're stopping now. We are not cycle of life and the turn of the tides people, Max. They never put that in the test tube."
"Or appreciating foliage," she said, grinning.
"Calling it pretty," Alec said. "Don't tell."
"Promise," she said. "But I might tell Joshua."
"No, you won't. You wouldn't tell him about something he'd appreciate and couldn't ever see. You're the nice one."
Max said, "You're being nice! You just thought of that, about Joshua."
"Something is seriously wrong," Alec said. "I'm leaving right now before we both turn into people we don't recognize. Ones who might even like each other."
"I'm not worried about that happening," she said. But she got on her bike and headed the other way fast.
On the way home, she took the super long way to see the flowers all over. She told herself spring came around every year and nothing could stop it. It would be there next year, and she had things to do. Also, it was stupid to check it out just because it seemed like it actually made Alec feel something. But she biked up and up anyway and at some point when even her transgenic legs were pooped, she admitted she just wanted to see it.
It probably wasn't even the same neighborhood but there were trees and petals everywhere. And it was really pretty. She didn't even think about the ride back for a few minutes.
Back to StoriesSend feedback to k.