Monday, February 17
6:14am Anna - Babe, what's your fav bird?
6:14am Eugene - What? Why?
6:15am Anna - Because 'babe' is cliche and you don't look like a 'chickadee'
6:15am Eugene - Starling
6:15am Anna - Those loud ugly sky rats?
6:16am Eugene - They're loud, yeah, but they're super smart and affectionate. They don't take any shit
6:16am Eugene - Did you know they can even talk? Pretty rad
6:16am Anna - You know a lot about them
6:16am Eugene - You asked for my FAVORITE bird, Anna
6:17am Anna - That I did lol
6:17am Eugene - I gotta head into the station for work Love you!!
6:17am Anna - Let's have dinner when we both have off, my Starling love
6:17am Anna - Ok that does have a ring to it XOXO
I exit the elevator and get a few steps into the courtyard before I hear someone shout, "OH SHIT!"
The noise, I find, came from Thunderskull. He's still in Basic, a Latino man, about my height, wearing a gray hoodie that's designed to look like armor instead of actual plate steel. The sweatshirt is over-sized which probably works well for the cast his arm's presently stuck in. He's also wearing medieval looking leather boots over dark denim jeans. Aside from the broken arm in a sling it's not a bad look. I respect him sticking to a theme.
"Afternoon, Thunderskull," I say as I pass him.
He quickly rushes over to me and follows. "Look, man, I am so sorry about Sunday night. I didn't mean to piss you off like that. No more parties, ever again."
I stop walking. He flinches when I turn. I shake my head.
"Just be more considerate about people needing to sleep," I say. "I mean, the party's a security risk to the entire complex. I've heard y'all've had problems with vandals and shit, right?"
"Well, yeah," he nods. "No more parties, got it."
I rub the bridge of my nose between my eyes. "That's not what I said. Just be more careful with who you let in and end the party a bit earlier so people who have to work can get some sleep."
"You..." he freezes up.
I wonder if him punching me in the face somehow injured his brain rather than just shattering his arm. There was a lot of recoil that hit him.
"Are you okay, Thunderskull?" I ask. "If you need help with your medical bills I am willing to do that. It was my face you broke your arm on, and all."
That snaps him out of it. "What?"
I gesture to his cast with an open hand, he flinches again.
"I said I can help pay your medical bills."
"Why would you do that?"
"Again, my face, your arm."
He shakes his head. "I've got it covered. I just don't understand. I thought you hated me."
"You didn't know what you were getting into," I say. "I can't hate you for that. I should've held back more."
"You just stood there," he replies in disbelief.
By this time several other people from Little Asgard Heights have noticed our conversation. A few folks watch from balconies while others linger a little more closely in the courtyard, still keeping their distance. I spot a couple mermaids gazing at us from the pool while trying to pretend they aren't.
I'm sure everyone's heard about Thunderskull's last party. They probably all know I'm a Class S by now as well. Who knows, maybe they know I'm Book too. If things get too annoying I'll just move back to the country and live in anonymity shelving groceries.
That would be fun.
Except everyone there knows I'm a CoL now. Oh gods, Karen probably knows. Shit. I'll have to pick a new small town and find a new grocery store where no one knows me.
Why does the thought of going back to my old life make me feel like I'd be losing something incredibly important?
"I didn't just stand there," I say. "I hardened myself way more than I should have because I could tell your punch was coming. I was fully aware that it could hurt you but I did it anyway. That's my fault, not yours." I shrug. "Do you mind me asking how long you've had your powers?"
"A year last month," he says quickly.
More people have turned up around the area to listen in. I feel their eyes on me. There's more people in Basic now than before, like they've shifted to watch. I wonder if this is the most exciting thing that's happened lately then I realize what it is.
They know it was me at the club.
I shut my eyes and take a deep calming breath. I could speak louder but everyone in the complex is a CoL. The ones listening have probably modded themselves out to hear better or see better or something. Even most of the more common lower classes of CoLs can modify their ears. I don't want to blow any eardrums.
"I've had my powers a lot longer," I say. "I'm sure a lot of the people here have already figured out who I am. What I can do. If anyone has a problem with me staying at Little Asgard Heights just let me know. I can move if you'd like."
Everyone watching seems even more tense than before now that they realize I noticed them watching us and wasn't just addressing Thunderskull. I shut my eyes again and take another breath.
"In fact, just, write on a piece of paper if you'd like me to stay here or move. Slip it under my door. I'm in unit 221." I say. "Probably going to be out all day. So, you wont have to worry about running into me for a while."
Thunderskull stays silent, as does everyone else, as I leave. I'm surprised my eyes get watery after I exit the building. I could use my powers to stop them but I don't. I just wipe away tears with my sleeve cuff.