Monday, December 12, 2016
Chapter 82: Gno-Mercy
When Lela asked him about being a werewolf, Carlos didn't know what to say... then it came out that Ceth was the reason she asked.
"Carlos, she's an alien! A freaking extraterrestrial! If you can't trust an alien to sympathize with your bizarre not-quite-human issues, who can you trust?"
"That is NOT the point and you know it!" he shouts, scaring her with pure volume and intensity.
Of course, yelling at Ceth will only ever get yelling in return. "If you didn't want anyone to guess you're a weirdo, why do you have those fangs?!" she screams back.
"Because I got STUCK this way, alright?!"
"You never told me that..."
"I didn't realize I needed to."
"I thought you were making a statement about inclusivity."
"Yeah, you and everyone else. Except Lela."
"Look, do you want an apology? I'm sorry. I thought I was doing you a favor."
Carlos throws on his coat and storms out, resisting the temptation to ask Ceth to not ever try to do him any more favors.
There is a small fishing pond up the road from the observatory. It's usually a good place to sit alone and think. Or a good place to sit alone and take a break from thinking.
"I'm sorry if I upset you," Lela says.
"There's no hiding from a PI, I guess," Carlos mutters.
"No." A twinge of shame creeps into her voice, "I have nothing better to do really. Since the heinous case of the stolen mouthwash, I haven't had much to do... just low level police work..."
"Well, I'm sure it'll turn out alright. It has to, since you're not giving up and moving back in with your parents."
"Ow," Lela says.
"I'm sorry. I'm not hiding from you. I'm just... sitting here."
She sits on the ground near him. "Can I see it?"
"Your second form. Unless you don't have one. But if you don't, why would you call yourself a-"
"The change is related to aggression. If I'm very angry, upset, or frightened enough that I instinctively want to fight for my life... but if I can keep calm, it won't happen. So no. No you can't see it."
"Is it awful?"
"Well I don't become a wolf. I just get uglier, and less reasonable, and my senses get better. I can smell more things. I can sense magic even in my normal state. I'm sorry, none of this is terribly exciting."
"Um. It's a lot more exciting than the ability to absorb space rocks..."
"Great. My purpose in life can be to make you feel less weird."
"How many werewolves are there?"
"No idea. Supposedly, if you cause any sort of scene as a supernatural creature, you disappear and nobody ever hears from you again. They probably use us for something. It's a waste otherwise, right?"
"Yes... the mysterious 'they'... you are speaking my language now," she quips.
He smirks. "Do you want to go get some coffee?"
Coffee seems to be their code for 'shut up about all the weird shit', but it also means he wants to spend more time with her, so Lela accepts.
With fatherhood impending, Milo spends most of his money on renovating the garage, turning it into a functional living space for himself so he can remake his old room into the baby's room.
"A Gno-Mercy poster?" Ceth scoffs. "Really?"
"Yeah, I figure you gotta start them early," Milo shrugs.
"It also doesn't escape me that the first person to hear your kid cry will be Carlos, on the other side of this wall. While you sleep soundly in another building."
"Ffffudge I didn't think of that! W-what do I do?! I can't put the baby in the garage!"
Ceth shrugs. "You're just the worst, what can I say. Own it."
"You're making fun of me..."
Carlos's lunch looks healthier than the narrator's.
Kirstin Law's house. Milo has never been here before.
"I told you never to just drop by here without asking," Kirstin says coldly.
"I'm sorry, it's just... you've dropped in on me for a booty call before, not that that is what this is... and... Kirstin, we're going to be parents. We should be... be... uhm... uh." Milo tries to keep his expression neutral. Kirstin's house is a disorderly mess. There are electronics everywhere, from old-style phones to stereos to television sets, several just sitting out on the dirty carpet instead of on stands. They seem so unloved.
"You just want to mock how I live!" she explodes.
"Kirstin! No!" Milo tries desperately to calm her down with flailing hand gestures and a hurt expression. "I just wanted to see you! I love you! I redid the garage into a small apartment kinda, and my old room is a nursery now... I thought maybe you'd want to see it and... you weren't answering my calls so... I thought I'd check on you..."
"I brought you these..." he finishes his defensive ramble with a nervous smile.
Kirstin's expression softens. "Oh, Milo," she says his name like a mother half-heartedly scolding a well-meaning child that has screwed up.
"Are you okay, Kirstin? You don't look like you've gained enough weight... I can take you out for a hamburger or something..."
"I'm fine," she stresses the word with obvious annoyance. "So is the baby. Pregnancy isn't fun."
"I'm sorry, Kirstin."
"Look, I'm having company here soon. You need to go."
"Company?" he inquires. Who is allowed to visit his girlfriend when he isn't? Maybe he should be expecting she's cheating on him, but he isn't that insecure. Maybe her family? He'd like to meet her family. That might be neat. Are they excited about the pregnancy? He can't ask unless she says it's her family. For all he knows she doesn't have a family. She inherited this house when her parents died, that's all he knows. She never mentioned siblings, or cousins, or aunts or uncles...
"Someone from work," she cuts his speculation short. She's told him before, she works in marketing at the Broad Street business tower, and her job could not possibly be more boring.
"Another project," Milo sighs.
Seeing her boyfriend feels neglected, Kirstin blushes and pulls him into a passionate kiss before she kicks him out. Her heart still beats fast to know someone actually cares about her.
"I don't think she will ever want to marry me," Milo whines.
"Well, now you know how Guadalupe Giordano felt," Ceths comments dryly.
"Ceth, are you trying to win some kind of award for unhelpfulness, or what?" Milo growls.
"Don't take this out on each other," Carlos tries to be the voice of reason.
"I don't have anything to take out," Ceth scoffs. "I'm not dating Kirstin."
"We're about to have a kid in the house and we're all nervous," Carlos reminds her.
"I'm-" Milo starts.
"Don't say you're sorry again," Carlos groans. "Just don't. Look, it's obvious Kirstin will not want anything to do with her child once it's born. She's keeping you at arm's length for a reason."
"But we love each other!" Milo protests.
Carlos quirks an eyebrow. "So? Kids could be a dealbreaker. I know you're waiting for her to change her mind, but what if that doesn't happen? You busting into her house wanting to show her a nursery probably just pissed her off."
"I worked really hard on it," Milo says, more dejected now than anything.
"Sometimes you have to face the music," Carlos says. "Try to prepare for the worst."
Etc.: OWL CRIB