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Garage: Alice and Meeker (cont'd) [Jun. 1st, 2005|10:59 pm]
X-Men: Genesis

aberrant_ez_x

[tex_maam]
Cross-posted to EZboard, because the black helicopters are everywhere.

Shoes, Shrews, and Seuss

Play on!
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[User Picture]From: borealis_belle
2005-06-03 04:47 am (UTC)
It was clear to her that the kid was as edgy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers. Surely she couldn’t have caused all this anxiety, could she? Nah, he was clearly the high-strung kind. The kind that could eat 10,000 calories a day and never gain an ounce. The kind that fidgeted no matter where he sat, the kind that talked like a machine-gun on rapid-fire. The kind that would actually lose weight if he started smoking.

Either way, he was moving toward the door, and that would not do.

Stepping up beside him as casually as she could, she attempted to speak in a careful tone, trying to send out as many calming vibes as her shrewish self could handle.

"Now, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. But this is one of those schools that they want to know every bump and bruise, I'm sure. It'll take just a jiffy, and you can be on your way afterward.

Standing beside him, she reached for the door at the same time he did, but also reached behind him to clap a hand firmly (but carefully) on his opposite shoulder, to insure he wouldn’t bolt anywhere. That red stickiness on the back of his head looked pretty bad.
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[User Picture]From: tex_maam
2005-06-03 07:50 am (UTC)
Harvey Birdman had apparently been tall for his age even at 16, and Alice was short no matter HOW old she was supposed to be, but the difference in height didn't reassure Meeker in the slightest. He tried to focus strictly on her voice, but the fact remained that she was very purposefully blocking the door, and her teeth, dear God...

"Now, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. But this is one of those schools that they want to know every bump and bruise, I'm sure. It'll take just a jiffy, and you can be on your way afterward."

No way around it: she was in league with the Cookie Monster. Meeker shook his head emphatically at that, blond ends a-bouncing, and opened his mouth to reply-

-and then, on his shoulder, a warm grip and the tingling- serious tingling! Meeker startled and looked over and the CLAWS, oh god, THE CLAWS WERE ON HIM! "NO!" he shrieked, jerking away from the touch and then lunging at the door, even grabbing the monster's wrist two-handed in an effort to wrench it off the doorknob and get out before it shredded him to bits. Too late! No good! Retreat!

Now hurling himself the other way, Meeker tore himself out of her grasp, fully intending to bolt straight back up to perch on the cab, but overbalanced- he hadn't been so top-heavy six hours ago- and hit the ground with the harsh sound of bare skin splatting onto cold concrete. Even then, however, he wasted no time, but frantically belly-crawled forward like a lizard on a hot griddle: under the truck! Under the truck! Under the-

Meeker wriggled and squirmed for cover, totally ignoring the fact that his broader-than-usual shoulders and his more-existing-than-usual wings did not especially want to fit under there, scarcely slowing down as his bare chest suddenly made contact with a patch of something slick and sticky and ICK, until it became inescapably clear that he was no longer making forward progress. Something was... well, if he could just get his wings to fold down properly so the left one wasn't all hung up in the... or reach back and pull it... no, that wouldn't work either. Curses!

"EW! Hard to port, Mister Sulu! Icky icky! I'll get the lubricant! We're losing power, Keptin- there's no time for lubricant! Abort, abort, abort! THERE'S ALWAYS TIME FOR LUBRICANT! Now I said MOVE, maggots!" Though he struggled and kicked and raved as fearsomely as possible, it became ever more obvious that he was well and truly stuck, stomach-down in an oil slick, bare and faintly fuzzy feet still sticking out behind. What to do, what to do? What COULD he do?! Take a hostage!

After a few more seconds of frantic, purposeful jerking, Meeker managed to reach into his pocket and yank out his fork, and though he could not roll over nor twist far enough around to see the Wild Thing's feet, he nevertheless jerked it menacingly up to bang and scratch briefly against the metal guts above, just so she knew he was serious. "BACK OFF!" he hollered. "One false move and the carburetor gets it!"
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[User Picture]From: borealis_belle
2005-06-04 06:13 am (UTC)
The kid's reaction wasn't that unexpected, but the sheer intensity certainly was. For a moment, she'd thought that despite her careful grip, her claws had ripped into his shoulder. Or maybe she'd suddenly developed the ability to secrete acid, judging from his frantic zig-zagging. She stood with her outh open, just staring at him until the meaty thud of his bare skin hitting the concrete snapped her out of it.

"Now, hold on a min---" and he proceeded to low-crawl under her truck, stopping the words in her mouth. Unbelievable. Could this day get any more nutso? All she wanted was to cut some drywall, do a bit of fixing up. Instead, she was watching a fugitive from a chicken farm scramble under her beloved truck.

And then he got stuck. And stuck good, from the looks of it. And the sounds. For one horrible moment, she was tempted to open up the truck cab, turn on the radio really loud, and just drown him out until a couple of hours had passed. Maybe he'd wear himself down and be willing to listen to reason, then.

But that would be a bad thing, in the long run, she she sighed as he babbled on and on about lubricant, making her roll her eyes as she walked next to the side of the truck and sat down slowly. She peered underneath, trying to see what he'd gotten stuck on.

Perfectly reasonable.

Until.

After a few more seconds of frantic, purposeful jerking, Meeker managed to reach into his pocket and yank out his fork, and though he could not roll over nor twist far enough around to see the Wild Thing's feet, he nevertheless jerked it menacingly up to bang and scratch briefly against the metal guts above, just so she knew he was serious. "BACK OFF!" he hollered. "One false move and the carburetor gets it!"

Her eyes widened a bit, and then narrowed as she adjusted her glasses again. She wasn't truly worried about the undercarriage immediately where he was at, but if he continued to do that, he'd likely shove that fork into something that would either leak, or spark. Neither proposition was a good one. Her nostrils flared as she strove to keep her breathing under control.

"Son....Meeker, you can put the fork down. Nobody's going to hurt you, now. If you just relax, I'm thinking those wings of yours will lower some and you can get out from under there. What are you stuck on? Can you see?"

She made a promise to herself right then and there. Supper was going to consist of an entire bucket of the Colonel's Special recipe, extra crispy. Sometimes, dinner had to be cathartic as well as tasty and filling.

Maybe this was going to require two buckets.
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[User Picture]From: tex_maam
2005-06-05 02:09 am (UTC)
Expecting at any second to be hauled out by his feet, Meeker was nevertheless very little comforted when that didn't happen: far from taking seriously the warnings of a crazed and desperate man, the monster only came closer with its heavy shuffly-clodhopper footsteps-

"I said back off, sister!"

-stopping right in the peripheral vision of his left eye-

"Aroint thee, witch!"

-and shoved its face inside-

"SATAN, GET THEE HE-yIEEkh!"

Meeker threw himself abruptly to the right, a maneuver that ended with a small, scarcely audible snap and a considerably louder strangled shriek. PAIN. The first wave of pain from his left wing was stunning enough to actually shut him up for a few seconds: he stayed perfectly still, not even breathing, mentally acknowledging its extremely effective critique of his last maneuver and asking if it would not please go away now so he didn't have to throw up?

Negotiations continued for a very short while, during which time Meeker moved not at all, save to drop the fork and lie more comfortably, all but totally limp, on the nice cold floor underneath him. Eventually, as the pain faded to a sullen ache, he realized that he hadn't been snatched or eaten in the intervening time. In fact, if he moved his head just a little and screwed up his eyes this way, all he could see of the beast outside was some dusty blue denim and the underside of a workboot, complete with a round, blackened bit of gum on the heel.

Did monsters have gum on their shoes? Did they even WEAR shoes? Did they say helpful things like What are you stuck on? and wear clothes just a few sizes too big to belong to that insanely cute HGTV painter girl in the overalls? In fact, what if instead of a big claw-y furry thing in those jeans, there was just a plus-sized Debbie Travis? What had he just said to her? And how on earth had he managed to wind up wedged under her truck?

Tentatively mortified, Meeker turned his head as far as his present situation would allow, pulling out of character and acknowledging sanity and the accompanying sense of shame for at least as long as it would take to get him out of his present jam. "... how now, my boy? How dost, my boy? Were such things here as we do speak about, or have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner? Why, thou silly gentleman!"

Mumbling more to himself than anything else, Meeker let his mouth run independently as he occupied his reason with... reason, for a change. He was cold there on the floor, slathered with ick, and his head hurt, and he'd almost certainly broken something and he was STILL stuck, and worst of all he was beginning to think he'd been terribly bad to the monster- no, to Debbie Travis- no, to Alice, because... well, because he was an idiot, mostly. "Do you see what happens? Do you see what happens, Larry? This is why we can't have nice things. You have to sing the 'I'm very sorry' song." Of course, singing the song wouldn't do anything to get him unstuck.

Or maybe it would.

At any rate, Meeker was a man of very modest talents, and it occurred to him then that he'd be needing all of them to get out of this one... and to do right by Alice. He set to without more delay. "Oh yeah I’ll, tell you something, I think you’ll understand..." After a few seconds of strategic squirming, he snaked his left arm out, not brave enough to look but resolute in telling himself that she wouldn't rip his arm off, and if she did, it was no more than he deserved after this stunt. His fingers brushed against denim, then shirttail, which he followed in search of fur. "... then I’ll, say that something: I wanna hold your hand..."
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[User Picture]From: borealis_belle
2005-06-05 05:00 am (UTC)
This was turning out to be a lot like trying to take the cat to the vet clinic for annual shots.

She wondered briefly if this kid might need some shots. Rabies, to start with, as he seemed to be working himself up into more of a frenzy even as she bent down to try and speak to him.

And then it happened.

The barely audible snap was as loud as a gunshot to her, and she actually jumped a second before his scream. His scream cut right through her, and she clapped her palms to her ears, hunching with the pain slicing through her head like an ice-pick, and with the agony he's going through.

"Hold on, kid! I'll getcha outta there…."

Her tone went from annoyed to panicked as she paced frantically for a moment. Gotta get him out of there. His wing broke. Jesus, his wing broke….he was in pain---probably delirious pain, judging from the jibberjabber he was going on about now.

Now, on top of the firing she was sure to get after this, she'd been instrumental in maiming a special-needs kid. How much worse could this day get?

Her pacing stopped abruptly as she realized what she had to do. His words were more coherent now, and she stepped closer to the truck again.

"Hang on, now. I'm going to make it easy for you to get out of there, so we can get you help." Her voice was pitched in what she hoped was a soothing register, but there was a fearful tremble to it as well. What if he was hurt really bad?

The thought of what she had to do was yet more injury. But it could be fixed. bending her knees, she reached down and gripped the bottom side of the truck, fingers and claws wrapped around the underside, thumbs bracing along the edge of the frame. And she lifted with all her might, straining with frantic adrenaline and objecting muscles.

The truck shifted slightly. Not much, because although she was extremely strong, she was not a professional weightlifter. But the frame and underside shifted a crucial inch and a half, maybe even two. "Can you crawl out…" came the clearly-strained voice.

Oh, would she feel this tomorrow.

Her thumb-claws scraped along the paint as she could feel gravity winning the battle. "Hurry!"
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[User Picture]From: tex_maam
2005-06-05 09:31 pm (UTC)
((OOC: Retconning my last five paragraphs, because Tan ROCKS. Pretend I ended with "if it would not please go away now so he didn't have to throw up?"))

"Hey... Garth, get it together, man. 'Cause if you hurl, and I catch a whiff of it, man... no, man... I'm giving you a no-honk guarantee..." Busy as he was negotiating with his internal unrest, Meeker didn't actually note the particulars of Alice's tone of voice, though he vaguely agreed that getting out would be a good thing. How she planned to go about doing that, however-

Suddenly there was a great big giant HEAVE, and it did not come from his stomach. Startled as whatever part of him he had hung up in the machinery was abruptly pulled upwards, Meeker squealed in surprise and looked up ahead of him- shoes... claws... Holy Mary, was she LIFTING the truck?!

"Can you crawl out…"

And from her voice it was clear that this was something of a limited-time offer- and good lord, why wouldn't it be?! "Yes, yes! Yes, yes!" Meeker squeaked anxiously, now alarmed on her behalf. He could no more reach up to free himself than he could have scratched that one annoying place right in the center of his back, but nevermind: he reached out with one hand to grab at her ankle, groping for fur in between denim and sock even as he fervently prayed that she wasn't ticklish, and did not wait for results but immediately began hauling himself forward with the other hand, hang-ups be damned.

Meeker had had quite a bit of experience with pain in his short career as a mutant, and whatever else might be said of him, he knew how to deal with it. In Middle English. "Whan that Aprill with his shoures so-o-OWta-" Meeker pulled forward, and then abruptly reached the end of his short leash as whatever he was caught on refused to permit him further progress, but obstinate- and tingly- as he was, that gave him no more than a moment's pause- "-the drocht of March hath pieeEEKHrced, to, to the rota..." He lunged forward again, shrieking as he was yanked back by his mangled limb.

"Hurry!"

Pain-stunned, he stayed still for no more than a few seconds, eyes narrowing as he felt the tendons straining in her ankle. She couldn't keep this up for long, and he was not ABOUT to disappoint her. Or be squished to death when she lost it. Meeker psyched himself up for one last big push- "-andbahthédeveryvyneinswichlicourofwhichverchuengenderedistheFLEWR-"

-and had no sooner launched himself forward again than his wings abruptly deflated, momentum and chest-lube sending him free and uninhibited all the way out to mid-torso. Out? Yes? Amazed, Meeker looked up from between her feet- not Alice's best angle, no, but there he was!- and proceeded to haul himself the rest of the way out like an inchworm on speed.

Dazed, he lay there panting for a moment: shorter, stockier, and pink with random patches of blond fur, the boneless remnants of his wings hanging like feathery flesh-rags from his back. He had very effectively tar-and-feathered his front with auto grease and pinfeathers, but Meeker had absolutely no thought of Burt Reynolds or avian chest hair as he stared up at Alice, newly-brown eyes as wide as saucers. He was simply... speechless.
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[User Picture]From: borealis_belle
2005-06-07 02:24 am (UTC)
The scientists were wrong. Time was never a constant. Not when it was filtered through a subjective screen. Times of love. Times of hate. Times when everything was working smoothly, times when everything was completely screwed up from the get-go.

But when every moment, every fraction of a second counted, time really slowed the hell down.

That was maybe a good thing for Meeker, if he was affected by the same filter she was. It was maybe not such a good thing for her. Every heartbeat lasted several days, at least.

ba-DUMP

For one thing, she could hear him babbling, and the panic in his tone and the little yelps of pain. All she could do was hope and pray that he could move, because she couldn't bend down to help him. Her fingertips were sending signals to her brain that they weren't meant for this kind of abuse. Her thumbnails were gouging deep into the paint, making scraping vibrations ring up the inside bones of her arms. She continued to exhale, bracing her legs as she felt his hand grip her leg. Good, kid. Use the leverage. Grab me and pull. You can do it.

Her arm and leg muscles sang with the warm joy that comes from lifting an especially heavy weight.

BA-dump. ba-DUMP.

Another eternity passed.

Her thigh muscles were staring to protest, and she felt a distinct compressing feeling in her spine. Her biceps joined the fight against gravity, her knees and lower back started trembling and her fingers were suddenly going numb. Inhaling was difficult, for some reason, and his painful sounds made her grit her teeth and try to lift it higher again---she could feel the truck starting to slip from her grip. Her fur started to stand on end. Her feet and legs were telling her there were about a thousand better positions that she could have taken to do this. Her back muscles suddenly leaped right past the protesting point and into the sudden rebellion stage; she could feel them knotting up. His grip on her leg tightened again as he used her as leverage to pull, but it didn’t matter much because she could scarcely feel her legs or feet now. She had no time to waste on regrets for his broken whatever, because the truck was slipping; the frame scraping along her fingertips and claws with a shrieking metal noise as she clawed the hell out of the paint job in an effort to keep it from falling.

BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BADUMPBADUMP

He was out. She could see his legs now. She could feel a muscle in her chest suddenly tighten into an agonizing charlie horse, and she pressed her forehead against the side of the truck in a futile effort to let it down slowly. When did it get so heavy? She had to let it go; she had to she had to she had to, because she wasn't strong enough. Her slow brain caught up as time suddenly compressed again; the truck shook on its shocks slightly. She shook a little, too, panting and shaking with the rush of adrenaline to her system as she turned to look at him. Bracing herself to see a pathetic little broken wing, or even worse, a limb or wrist.

Something was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. He looked awful. What the hell happened to him under there?
She resisted dropping to her knees to look under the car to find the Killer Mange that apparently got to him---when did he get blonde fuzz? One saggy little wing drooped behind him. Oh, it was a pathetic sight.

God, she was exhausted. Knowing she couldn’t drop right there and fall asleep made her that much more tired, but looking at his stunned face, she figured he was going into shock. Which meant she had to move fast.

She wondered if she had what it took to pick him up and haul him off to the…wherever the first aid station was in a place like this. Frankly, she didn’t think she could lift her hand to scratch her nose right about now. Which reminded her, a stinging sensation on her hands told her that her claws had lifted from the nailbeds slightly. With claws that long, it wasn't the first time that had happened, but it didn’t make it any less excruciating.

"Meeker? Can you stand? Do you need help standing?" Her heartbeat was very loud in her ears. Be okay, kid. Please be okay. Was that blood, or grease on his front?
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[User Picture]From: tex_maam
2005-06-08 01:28 am (UTC)
Meeker stayed stock deer-in-headlights still.

At first, it was simply out of sheer amazement: she'd just picked up (and subsequently dropped) a TRUCK.

Then it was because her fur was all standing on end, which made her twice as frightening as she had been before, as if the neighbors' huge mastiff had just suddenly raised its hackles at him.

Finally, however, it was because she asked if he could stand up, and one didn't have to be a Meeker to hear the notes in her voice and understand that she was hurting. He stared blankly up at her from behind his mask, stunned by this earth-shattering revelation. Obviously, she was in pain because she'd picked up the truck. She'd picked up the truck because he was stuck underneath it. And he'd been stuck because -- BZZT, WRONG.

Somewhere behind Meeker's conscious mind, his rear-brain felt a terrible epiphany come bubbling up towards the surface. It acted immediately, took aim, and obliterated that thought before it could go any further. And although his conscious was sure that he'd been thinking about something important a split second previously, it knew better than to turn around and ask what the noise had been. Meeker's head jerked as if he'd been struck by a poltergeist, and he snapped back into the present: action, action! On with the show!

"Joe!" he said, staring up at her as he clapped a hand to the top of his head in astonished gratitude. "You- you saved my LIFE! No human being has EVER saved the life of a cockroach. This is a breakthrough in interspecieal diplomacy!" And with that he leapt to his feet, aware of no pain at all- least of all his own- and came forward to take her hand, very carefully avoiding its claws. "O queen! O mistress! O thrice-noble lady!" Meeker could not actually kiss, of course, but tenderly pressed the back of her hand first to the mouth of his mask and then against its white-plastic cheek in adoring worship. "O, she's warm! If this be-"

Oh, but she was more than warm- she was HOT; he could feel it in his fingers, and pulled back in genuine puzzlement and growing worry. "-But stay! O spite! But mark, poor knight, what dreadful dole is here! Eyes, do you see? How can it be? O dainty duck! O dear!" Meeker looked at her paint-scratched claws, and felt at her forehead, and shook his head, barely even shivering as the rest of his wings were sucked up into nothing, leaving only a few last feathers floating to the ground behind him. "Alas, alas, oh I shall die, for this will never do. So, let's go into the closet and bring you something new!"

And with that he set about fetching his fork from under the truck, and his sheet from where he'd dropped it nearby, snagging it on fingernails that now seemed in dire need of a trim. He was back with Alice in a jiffy, however, folding his sheet in half, flapping it once or twice for a nice breeze, and then sweeping it around her shoulders like a royal stole -- or a hospital gown. "How now, my lady? How dost, my lady?" He sniffed, shook his head again since he couldn't rub at his appreciably greater nose with the mask in the way, and set about combing the fur of her arm with fork and fingernails. Meeker groomed with the lightest of touches and the utmost gentleness, babbling on without a thought for his shortening stature, the haphazardly darkening tufts of body hair, or the unaccountable tremble in his voice as he felt the exhausted muscles underneath her coat. "Art sick? Pray, be not sick, for you must be our huswife..."
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[User Picture]From: borealis_belle
2005-06-10 01:40 am (UTC)
Had she thought time would once again catch up and go normal speed, now that the crisis was over?

She'd been wrong. Or else things weren't back up to normal yet (as if any of this could be referred to as 'normal').

For one thing, he looked at her as though never having seen her before. Maybe the trauma of that hit his internal "reset" button?

Her grandmother had a dog, back when she was a little girl. Some sort of spazzoid poodle mix. Cute dog, but it had the shortest memory of any creature that walked the face of the earth, and when you left its sight, it forgot you existed. You were sure to get barked at when you walked into the room again, and had to endure the sniffover routine as though you hadn't just done that ten minutes ago.


Maybe he bonked his head on the undercarriage, and was now suffering the affects of short-term memory loss? If that was the case, she was just going to throw herself out into traffic now, and get it over with. It'd be quicker.

Instead, he surprised her by the sanity in his eyes, dawning realization of…oh, there it went. He blinked and Little-Orphan-Annie eyes reappeared from behind that ridiculous mask. Which was being oddly displaced.

He started talking again, but he was also moving, too, rising to stand and take her hand…was that her hand? She felt so strange. As thought she were simply a passenger in her body. he took her hand and pressed it to his mask. That was slightly disturbing. What made it moreso was that something was clearly wrong with her glasses because his fur was getting darker. Continuing to babble as though afflicted by some Elizabethan Tourette's Syndrome, he touched her forehead, her hand, and then sort of shook himself. Only his wings and feathers weren't there anymore.


"What's…" a feather drifted from his back; she captured it in her hand as he went to get his fork and sheet. She stared at it, holding it as proof that she wasn't going insane. He wasn't acting injured at all now, he was acting somewhat sane. Or at least more lucid.

She could still feel the deep phantom grating through her claws.

Her eyes followed his progress as he came back, and draped the sheet around her shoulders. One part of her wanted to simply rage because she didn’t understand what was going on. Just that he wasn't hurt and she thought he was hurt. The other part of her is so exhausted with relief that he wasn't hurt, that she really didn't care that he was somehow suddenly shorter and furrier. She'd try to figure it out later. Preferably after a few beers.

"Art sick? Pray, be not sick, for you must be our huswife..."

That she understood, and she shook her head. "No. I'm not sick. Just tired, kid. Are you all right?" She shoved her glasses up on her nose, looking at him with careful suspicion. Uh-huh. He was actually looking a lot different. A lot…like her. She didn’t know how.

Maybe…maybe this whole thing was an illusion. A…whatchacallit…a hallucination? Yeah, that was it. Maybe it was some horrible sort of drywall accident, and she'd just brained herself good on something, and was having a weird dream. Like they did in those TV shows.

Only, her muscles told her differently. Maybe it was time to get some aspirin.

"I think maybe it's time to take a little break." She gestured to the door of the garage, this time offering him egress first.


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[User Picture]From: tex_maam
2005-06-11 04:39 am (UTC)
"No. I'm not sick. Just tired, kid. Are you all right?"

Just tired? Not dying, or livid with rage, or terminally weirded out? Meeker's respect for Alice ratcheted up a few hundred notches at that, and he nodded rapidly until the bump on his head began to protest. "YES, yes!" he said, with more cheer than would otherwise have been necessary, still diligently combing and smoothing away. "He's alive, he's alive; hallelujah he's alive! Everything is..."

WOW. Meeker paused in his grooming as the world suddenly went fantastically blurry around him, as if somebody had just twisted a lens WAY out of focus. He hadn't been paying much attention to his various prickles and tingles- he had a good number of sensations set on 'mute' just then- but that caught him by surprise. "Everything is... " What the devil? He pinched at his eyes with a couple of expertly-placed fingers and looked around the room. What... OH. Glasses. Yes. And good God, did she ever need them. What else did he have? Was he very strange? Meeker looked down at himself, but at this point it was hard to tell- was his hair turning dark, or was he just dirty? He hadn't actually thought about the metamorphosis in progress, although he DID feel a lot better now that his broken parts were gone, and...

"I think maybe it's time to take a little break."

What? Oh, now THERE was a plan. Now they were talking sense. "Yes, yes!" he said again, anxious to agree before the subject of doctoring came up again. "Everything is fine; nothing is ruined. Life is beautiful!" She was letting him go first? Did that mean he was off the hook? Or... did that mean she'd had enough and wanted him gone? "The girls... are beautiful." Well, and why wouldn't she? What must she be thinking? Did she understand, was she all right, did she even think the same way non-furry-scary-friendly people did? "Even the orchestra..." Meeker's brow wrinkled invisibly behind his mask as he stared, fixated on the place where her eyes should be, but everything behind those mirrory glinty glasses was an impenetrable mystery. "I think maybe it's time to take a little break," he said in a voice much like her own, very precisely repeating the inflection of the words in a vain attempt to read the feeling behind them. All he got was the 'tired' impression, but she sounded so different, hardly at all as she had when he first came in, and of course that would be-

Bzzt! So what? Meeker pocketed his fork, swept off the sheet- silly thing, what on earth made him put it on HER?- and tied around his neck as a cape. "It is assuredly so, Socrates!" he agreed, abundantly cheerful once again. "Have you had your break today? We love to see you smile! Shake it, baby, don't break it. Break a leg!"

With that, he bowed low to her with a flourish of his floral cloak, twirled once, and then began marching off in what he estimated was the direction of the door. "Gimme a break, gimme a break; break me off a piece of that-" Too late, Meeker discovered that he'd chosen the wrong light-colored-square-shape, and slammed straight into the drywall. "-NOSE!" he exclaimed, appalled at how easily and effectively one could smush this new proboscis with just a mask and the right application of force. Didn't matter!

Meeker turned at the doorway, looking back at what was hopefully the correct blobby blur, and pointed down the hall. "Follow your nose, wherever it goes!" he said warmly, which might have been an invitation, a farewell, a friendly piece of advice, or just nonsense. He didn't wait, but went marching blindly on, singing the Kit-Kat song without a care in the world.
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