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Oct 20, 2019 2:58 PM
honeysuckle rose unboxes jeanne
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She produces a slightly worn sketchbook and a set of colored pencils from behind the bar and sets them in front of her.

“I can get some of it without seeing, but every little detail helps.”

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It looks rather like she takes a pencil at random. The reddish-brown of the pencil her hand lands on is just a shade too close to dried blood to make that entirely believable.

 

The way she draws is wrong -- less like a human draws, outlining shapes and filling in details; more like a dot-matrix printer, skimming up and down the page, putting down marks in order of proximity rather than logical connection. Features come into shape as white negative space carved out by dark hatchings as often as the reverse. Where the likeness is imperfect, it doesn't look like human clumsiness so much as like a photograph washed out by too bright a light.

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She looks it over and nods, then turns back to the wall of bottles behind her to choose one and set it on the counter.

She pours and mixes with precision — she doesn’t measure anything, but she seems to have a very defined point at which she stops — and shortly she has a white, cloudy drink in a tall glass with a slightly luminous sheen and a pair of mint leaves floating on top. She offers it silently to Jeanne.

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"It -- won't just make me ... look like her."

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“We start with the body. You’ll start acting closer to the way you think she would act — feeling a little differently, too — but really getting into your mental architecture is going to take some time.”

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She takes up the glass and drinks it in one long draught, like she needs it more than air.

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As soon as she takes her first swallow her skin starts to tingle and shiver — especially on her scalp — and by the time she puts it down her hand is a different color than it was before.

Her bones creak and groan as the structure of her body changes. Her whole face feels uncomfortably liquid for a moment as her features melt into new shapes.

It’s all uncomfortable and alien, but none of it hurts.

Honeysuckle Rose watches solemnly from across the bar, and when the pins and needles die down she produces a mirror and sets it on the counter.

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She doesn't like it when her shape changes. It's terrible; it brings back unscreaming horrors, memories of sharp things, unanaesthetized surgery, red blood, red iron, the stink of burnt flesh.

Terrible: so she goes very still, until the only motion in her is the changes the drink is working. She tries, very hard, to think about how this is everything she's ever wanted.

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The face in the mirror, when it's over, is ...

 

... well. It's familiar, at least.

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A few final changes set in when Jeanne looks at herself in the mirror, twisting into the right shape for Zari’s face.

Honeysuckle Rose takes a very deep breath.

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She's not sure how to move in this body. It's the wrong shape, the wrong musculature -- the height's very nearly what she's used to, but that's the only thing that hasn't changed. Her heart's too fast, her breath's too fast, and it's not only adrenaline, it's a doubled resting heart rate, it's less lung capacity. Ribcage narrower, teeth straighter, center of gravity higher -- her tongue finds an unfamiliar bump on her palate, she runs through an inventory of muscles only to discover she can't wiggle her ears...

"Oh," she murmurs, and "thank you," and then hearing her sister's voice makes her cry.

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She walks on the bar, not bothering to change, and puts her arms around Jeanne.

(She is very large and very soft. It's a bit of an enveloping hug.)

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Being hugged is one too many things. Something has to go.

What goes, as it happens, is steering the shiny new body. She goes limp and slack in Honey's arms, like a forgotten doll.

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It’s not difficult for Honey to support her anyway.

She strokes her hair and sighs.

“You try so hard, honey...”

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"Not hard enough."

Not even when this is done -- Honey said she wouldn't be perfect, she would just be better. It's never going to have been hard enough. But it can be harder.

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“Harder than any soul should need to.”

She carries Jeanne to the couch, again, and sets her down carefully.

“Do you need a minute, before we check you over?”

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"No, I'm all right."

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She nods.

“All right, hon. Just tell me the first things that pop into your head.”

She clasps her hands in her lap.

“What’s your name?”

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"Zari ... um ..."

She has to pause for the surname, and loses the immediacy of it, blinking at her own response.

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“All right, good start...”

Deep breath.

“When’s your birthday?”

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"September fourth. Mom always--"

She bites off the reply deliberately, this time; doesn't quite manage an alarmed expression with the unfamiliar face, but the tension in her body suggests it.

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“Feeling okay, hon?”

(She knows she’s not.)

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"I don't have the right to call her that. I killed her daughter."

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...sigh.

“Angel. You told me to make you into Zari. That’s part of being Zari.”

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"And you said you couldn't make her all the way me. Me all the way her. Whichever."

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