|Alice Kennedy (rosemary_thyme) wrote in paxletalelogs,
@ 2017-07-27 18:59:00
|apollo, uke mochi
Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones
Who: Alice and Lucas
What: Alice goes to Lucas with tales of goddesses
Where: Lucas’s apartment
When: A few days following this
It had been a month since she had slept with Gus. A month since the weekly dinners had stopped, since she had last texted him, since she last saw him. A month since she really spoke to her best friend at all, finding it too hard to speak to Brittany--at least just yet--without immediately looking guilty. It had also been a month since Alice last saw Lucas.
She had intentionally stayed away from him, although he had done nothing wrong, because she felt it was necessary for her to truly get her mind wrapped around what happened to Gus and to start getting over him before she immediately talked to her other suitor. And she was getting there, little by little. Everything that had happened with Rafael--whether caused by him or he being present for--had certainly helped Alice to push aside her fling with Gus and focus on the present and future.
And that was what caused Alice to slowly approach Lucas’s apartment one afternoon. She wasn’t at all sure if he was home, knowing his schedule was never the same, but as she was coming home from work she felt it was worth while to just go and try his door. If he wasn’t home, then it wasn’t meant to be.
Raising her hand once, she paused and took a step back. She realized that approaching Lucas about what had happened to her--not the stuff with Gus but the stuff with Uke Mochi--would be dragging him further into this whirlwind of chaos that was living in this apartment, something that the last she had heard Lucas had managed to stay out of generally. But he knew about Max’s teeth and her own hair changing, he knew about BB’s arm turning different shapes, and he was a doctor--he could probably at the very least make sure nothing vividly obvious was wrong with Alice. With a nod, agreeing with herself that this was worth exposing him to further stories, she knocked on his door.
Lucas was cooking. He was wearing a flowery apron over a plain t-shirt and shorts and was busy tending to a homemade marinara sauce while at the same time chopping up vegetables - carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli - and packing them in large plastic containers for his lunches this week.
Not far away, on the edge of the counter, was a little dish that had, until this morning, held pieces of the baked fish that he’d had for dinner last night. After some experimentation, he’d learned that whatever it was that was cleaning up his apartment while he was gone would polish off whatever food he left out for it. He’d even learned some of its preferences, including the fact that it seemed to love fish. Currently, the dish was empty and washed, since he knew whatever it was would never appear until he was gone or asleep. He had plans to fill it with tuna later, prompting him to imagine that his invisible house guest was indeed a cat, one that apparently enjoyed cleaning up after him.
But that wasn’t the only odd thing happening to him lately. A sudden golden tan had graced every inch of his skin, seemingly overnight. His friend Percy was not only dealing with sudden bursts of speed, but some sort of hairy giant head hiding out in his closet and cupboards. And Max...well, at least she was starting to get used to her new teeth, even beginning to like them.
He heard the knock and wiped his newly tanned hands off on a tea towel, heading over to the door and pulling it open.
“Alice!” he said happily. He hadn’t seen her in a while, and whenever he went to the bakery for breakfast she was either not there or was busy, and he’d been served by one of her staff. He’d started entertaining the idea that she was avoiding him, but her appearance at his door said otherwise. “Come on in,” he said cheerfully, ushering her inside his oddly spotless and closing the door behind her.
Alice’s eyes widened and she looked over her friend as she stepped into the apartment. “Wow, you’re really tan,” she commented, closing the door behind her gently. “Have you been hanging out at the beach a lot? Or on vacation? Are you on vacation? I’m sorry if I’m bothering you…” She was getting herself turned around and nervous, a hand reaching for the doorknob to let herself back out if she had to and nerves arriving fully in her system. Seeing him there, she felt that spark of butterflies in her stomach, but they were immediately squashed out when in the next moment she thought of Gus.
He was about to answer when she started convincing herself she was bugging him and turned to go. He reached out but stopped just shy of grabbing her arm. “Hey hey, no it’s alright,” he said with a smile, “You’re not bothering me, and I’m...I’m not on vacation,” he added, instantly deciding that he could tell her and she would get it. “I just kind of...woke up like this about two weeks ago,” he said with a bit of a sheepish shrug. “Percy was poking fun at me when it happened...I’m rarely out in the sun long enough to tan.” He didn’t have any strong feelings about it one way or another; he worked during most of the daylight hours, and didn’t really relish the idea of lounging in the sun and feeling his skin cook while he was on vacation, but he had to admit it did look nice in the mirror.
“Seriously though, you’re welcome anytime. I’m just doing some cooking for the week so I don’t have to do it when I get home from work.” He led her into the kitchen where he stirred his pot of sauce and turned the heat down to barely a simmer.
Alice followed Lucas and peered into the pot. “That smell delicious,” she said with a sigh and felt her heart tug again. She missed making dinners with Gus, and now Rafael was going to move out who she regularly cooked with and that somehow hurt all the more. She let out a sigh and her shoulders slumped as she stepped away, looking over Lucas’s tan once more. “A tan is a nice... side effect...to living here, I guess. That’s actually sort of why I wanted to come and see you. Ever since we met with Max and I told you about the wheat in my hair, I wanted to keep you in the loop and I sort of have a favor to ask…
“I’m obviously not a doctor but could you maybe just make sure I’m… I don’t know. Alive and well? I’m scared to go to a doctor who doesn’t know.” She frowned and found herself fidgeting with her hands. “Something weird happened and I just want to be sure my blood pressure isn’t crazy and my heart is normal. I don’t know.”
Lucas put the spoon down and gave her his full attention as she spoke, a slight frown creasing his brow. “Well I can safely say you meet the medical definition of ‘alive’,” he said, the corner of his mouth quirking in a slight smile. “And you look well to me, but I know what you’re asking.” He sighed and thought for a moment, and then reached behind him to untie his apron, loosely folding it and plopping it on the counter. With a tilt of his head he lead her out to the livingroom and sat her down, heading quickly into the bathroom and coming back a minute later with a small black bag with various medical items inside.
“I keep this around just in case; you never know when someone is going to yell ‘is there a doctor in the house?” he laughed, trying to lighten the mood a little. He took a moment then to really give her a good once-over. “Something’s happened, hasn’t it?” he asked her carefully, “I mean, something…strange…” he added, prompting her to tell him why she was suddenly so worried.
Alice frowned and offered her arm for the blood pressure sleeve which Lucas wrapped around her arm. “It’s kind of like all we talked about with Max… except it’s a lot worse,” she murmured. She had told Gabe what happened and he didn’t run away screaming--then again, Gabe had greater concerns to focus on--but it was reassuring all the same and surely Lucas would be alright with it. “Remember when we looked up Uke Mochi and we found what happened to her? That she was killed and her body decayed into grain? And that in all the dreams I have of her, she’s like this walking, talking grain lady.”
Lucas nodded, not interrupting her, but also focused on what he was doing. Once the cuff had been sufficiently inflated, he held up a finger to pause her story while he listened to the stethoscope pressed to her arm, looking at his watch and the cuff’s readout as he did, and then finally releasing the pressure on her arm, satisfied with the results. He ripped open the velcro and folded the device back up.
“No surprises there,” he said with a smile. “Go on,” he said patiently, wanting very much to hear the rest of her story.
“Rafael has been staying with me; I’m sure you heard about the person who committed suicide on the first floor. It was someone he knew and it was in his apartment. So I’ve had him sleeping on my couch and we’ve been having the same nightmares,” she continued, watching as Lucas put the reader away and sat up straight to allow him to listen to her heart and lungs. Lucas slipped the stethoscope just beneath her shirt, high on her back and listened as she spoke. “This past weekend I woke up from a nightmare, one that had these little kids in it with old faces that would run screaming at you and he had a similar nightmare. But when I woke up and I went to talk to him, he pointed out that I had wheat in my hair...again.”
He looked up at her, his brows raised just a little. “As a result of the dream, maybe?” he wondered aloud. Months ago he would never even entertain the possibility that that could happen, but now...things were very different. He listened for another two breaths on her left side, and then shifted the scope to the right.
“I think so, well, maybe. Rafael didn’t have anything strange happen to him, but for me it was more than just wheat in my hair.” She found her hands twisting at the bottom of her shirt, nervously. “I kept changing. All my hair turned to wheat, and then my hands…” her voice cracked and she realized her hands were quivering from the memory. “They became covered with seeds and the seeds spread...I couldn’t get them off me, they were a part of me.”
Satisfied that her lungs were clear (of seeds or anything else), he removed the scope and gestured to her with it, silently letting her know he wanted to slip it under her shirt over her heart, which he then did after she gave a small nod. “Well, they look and feel like flesh and bone again now,” he said encouragingly, gripping one of her hands with his free one. He was eager to hear what happened next, though he thought he had a pretty good idea.
Slowly, Alice returned Lucas’s grip and gave a small nod. “I haven’t changed or anything since that night but I’m terrified it’s going to happen again,” she said softly, looking at her pale hand in Lucas’s bronzed one. “After my hands went, it traveled up my arms and it started on my legs.” With her free hand, she moved the tip of her finger up her other hand, passing it over the arc of her wrist bone and up her arm. “It went from the limbs to my torso and then up my neck. When it overtook my face, I could see for a moment and then everything was lost. I just fell apart, my entire body couldn’t hold together anymore because I wasn’t made of muscle or bone, I was made from seeds and leaves of grain. And what’s worse is that I could feel myself fall apart. I could feel myself crashing to the floor and spreading out. I could feel each seed and leaf and grain rolling away. A part of me ended up in the dining room, some under the couch, other parts were in a pile on the rug. I could feel it all. And then it stopped and I didn’t feel anything.”
Alice’s hand slowly tightened in Lucas’s as she squeezed his hand. For a moment she closed her eyes, trying to find purchase with the moment she was in and convince herself that all of that was in the past. “The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bed. Rafael had put me there. Uke Mochi arrived after I fell apart and put me back together.”
He listened quietly, both to her heart beating in his ears, and to her description of what happened. He found himself imagining it as she spoke; the woman before him changing into various grains, taking over every inch of her body until finally she broke apart in a swirl of seeds, scattering all over the floor. It would have been frightening to watch, but that was probably nothing compared to the experience of it.
His hand tightened when hers did, and he pulled the scope from her shirt, settling his other hand on top of theirs. He was quiet for over a minute, just processing what she’d said. “I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you,” he said quietly. “But...there’s a bit of good news in there, I think,” he said, looking at her with what he hoped was an uplifting smile.
“Uke Mochi...she put you back together. It sounds like she cares for you, so I don’t think this is something she’s doing on purpose.” He paused and looked at their hands, noting the stark contrast in colour between them and thinking about his own experiences. “In some ways you’re lucky...I can only guess as to what’s happening to me, but you have a name.” He also had a name, from a half-remembered dream, but unlike the others, Apollo didn’t seem to be in a hurry to contact him.
After a moment he took a breath and smiled at her. “Well, I can’t find anything immediately wrong with you,” he said, hoping it would relieve some of her fears. “I don’t know how or why it happened, so I can’t tell you if it will happen again, but,” he paused and squeezed her hand, “at least you have Uke Mochi in your corner, so if it does happen again, at least you’ll be okay.”
Alice forced a small smile, but she knew Lucas was right, Rafael had conveyed as much as well. “She’s always treated me well, from what little interaction we’ve had. She told Rafael that she cares for me, and she doesn’t want me to be frightened or think she wants to hurt me. I think she said she hadn’t intended for any of that to happen either, that maybe it was beyond her control?” She glanced away and frowned. “That’s what concerns me, if this wasn’t Uke Mochi’s choice, who’s doing this? Who is forcing the gods and goddesses to change us beyond either of our control?”
Then Alice sighed, her shoulders slumped, and it seemed the wind was taken from her sails. She was tired, exhausted even, and only wanted things to be better. “But it’s good that you don’t see anything odd going on. It’s comforting.”
He saw her slump a little and took a chance, letting her hands go and instead wrapping his arm around her shoulders, pulling her to him in a half hug and lightly leaning his cheek on top of her head. “I don’t know who’s doing this or why, but I do know you’re not alone in this. You have Uke Mochi looking out for you, and Rafe. And Max. And me,” he added after a beat. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable, but he wanted her to know that he did care about her.
“I hope you know that you can come here whenever you want, to talk or...just do nothing if that’s what you want.” Somewhere, deep inside, he got a sudden feeling of amused annoyance at those words that he was sure wasn’t from him. He frowned just slightly at it, but then pushed it aside. No, he thought firmly as if to dispel that foreign emotion, I’m not trying anything with her. We’re friends.
Alice sighed, allowing Lucas to give her the one armed hug. To feel his arm around her, solid and real and human, against her solid and real and human back, was a comfort all on its own. “Thanks, Lucas,” she said after a moment, sitting up and pulling away so to look him in the eye, to truly express how thankful she was. “It’s nice to have people know what’s going on and not think I’m crazy, and I’ll definitely take you up on visits.”
She internally cringed, was she ready for that? She still held a torch for Gus, although it was fading now, but she also had one for Lucas. Still, just getting to know him couldn’t hurt--although that was how everything got started with Gus. A laugh escaped her lips as she attempted to hide any uncertainty in her face. She looked down as a hand reached to tuck hair behind her ear. “So, have you had any weird changes yourself? You know, other than this great tan.”
He let her go when she shifted, and moved himself so he was almost facing her. “Well, aside from currently looking like a beach bum, I seem to be unaffected by all the physical changes everyone else seems to be experiencing,” he shrugged, though he was definitely grateful he only had a tan and not something more dramatic. “Now weird things in my apartment...that’s completely different,” he said with a chuckle.
Hoping to amuse her after their somewhat heavy conversation, he shifted on the sofa again and grinned. “So, I’ve heard from a few people lately that their apartments - specifically their kitchens - are getting messed up by some sort of critter prowling around in there making a mess. But I’m having the opposite ‘problem,’” he said, making air quotes with his fingers. “I don’t always clean up after I make my breakfast in the morning, because I usually get to it when I get in after work. But lately...well, I get home and everything is already cleaned and put away. Even other things I hadn’t thought to clean up are tidier than I’d left them!” he laughed.
“So I’ve been experimenting. Leaving out bits of food to see what would happen. And I don’t know for sure, but I think whatever it is doing this is eating what I leave out. It’s almost like having a pet I never see,” he added, “one that really loves fish.”
While Alice didn’t smile, at least not away, there was a familiar glimmer of excitement in her eye. “Maybe it’s a fairy,” she murmured then smiled fully. “My family’s Irish, there were always these old wives tales that you could leave milk out for the fairy folk. It made them like you and they were less likely to pull any tricks. But I’m not so sure about fish.”
Lucas smiled, happy to see Alice’s face light up. “Maybe I’ll try leaving out a saucer of milk tonight then,” he said. “I had been half-convinced that I just had a stray cat living here, but I doubt cats would be inclined to clean up my kitchen for me,” he chuckled. He paused, and then his smile softened. “I’m glad you’re smiling again,” he said, “I guess my work is done here.” He smirked with that last, and then shifted in his seat, glancing towards the kitchen. “So, I know I said I’m cooking for the week, but...how would you like to stay for dinner? The sauce is ready, I just have to cook some pasta and throw together a salad.”
Alice’s eyes widened slightly and she turned to glance towards the kitchen. The sauce smelt good and she was eager for company, but was it smart to hang out with Lucas? Turning back to the man in question and seeing the smile on his face, she felt a twinge in the back of her mind and a quiet voice urging her to do it, to stay, to enjoy his company. Slowly, Alice realized she was nodding her head, agreeing to stay, and the little voice in the back of her head smiled happily. “Sure,” she finally voiced. “That would be really nice. Can I help make the salad at least? Or I could run downstairs to my apartment to get more stuff.”
“Ohh no, I have more than enough vegetables in my fridge,” he said happily, getting up and leading her to the kitchen. “Come on, I’ll show you where everything is…”