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Sep 26, 2022 1:44 AM
sometimes you recruit a pretty girl to be a living weapon against the forces of hell and she's just. really into it
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The problem, fundamentally, is that he buys into it.  His heart - her uncle's, her uncle who she's been sent to live with in a little town in California in the absence of adequate parents - anyway, his heart is in the right place, but he buys into all of it when it is just transparently, obviously bullshit.  Her mom and dad are fucking vile and he is really genuinely a good guy, is the thing, he does talk to her like she's a person, is the thing, he loves her is the thing, but the problem is that she was hoping her entire life that whoever she wound up with after she got out from under her birth parents' thumb would not also buy into it, that buying into it was part and parcel with everything else that was wrong with them.  But no, Uncle Tag is still fundamentally a guy who believes that the thing to do with kids is, you know, all the normal stuff that normal people (who don't have weird radical off-the-walls ideas about how large portions of everyone's background assumptions about the world are transparently obviously bullshit) do with kids, who do those things with kids because they are the done thing with kids, and that everything would probably work out decently okay if you stopped following elaborate chains of esoteric reasoning through to their obvious conclusions and taking seriously the moral principles on which you claim you try to live your life and trying to work out what the implications of those moral principles are, and taking that reasoning process seriously, even if the conclusions look weird, and just be more fucking normal -

That's the problem.  Fundamentally.

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Her curfew is sunset.

Her curfew is sunset past the time of year when that makes any kind of sense, and she didn't think Uncle Tag sucked that much - it really is kind of out of character for him to suck that much, despite all the everything -

 

Fuck it.  She climbs out her window.

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So the first thing she notices is she's fucking sweltering.

It's California winter, of course, so it's not too cold, there's not snow on the ground or anything, but - she knows that, she's dressed accordingly.  And she feels like she could shuck all of it, be in shorts and a tee, and be more comfortable than this.  She's pretty sure it's in the mid thirties.

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She ties her jacket around her waist and heads downtown.  She knows about the Bronze by now; and it's not so much that going out dancing in the middle of the night is in her top ten things to do, as it is something to do that's not being in a fucking house with a legal fucking guardian.

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It's open.  They don't card at the door.  A local band called Dostoevsky's Arm is playing tonight.

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It's slow and syrupy and sexy, which she likes, and loud, which she needs.  She dances.

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(There's a man by the door who watches her as she comes in.  But he watches everyone as they come in.)

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She dances, eventually sort-of with a boy.  She says the band sounds like Kidneythieves and he says he's never heard of them.  He asks if she wants to get out of here and she says there's literally nowhere else other than this room she wants to be tonight.  He kind of wanders off after that.

She's telling time by how tired she feels and so - this is the second thing she notices - she's shocked when she catches the clock's eye and realizes it's three in the morning.  She doesn't feel that many hours of dancing worth of tired.

She ducks out.

 

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The third thing she notices when she climbs in her window, and it's that it's just about as effortless as opening the door.

She wakes up about two hours later, at five thirty in the morning, feeling bright and refreshed and focused, and this is the fourth thing she notices, and the one that convinces her that yeah something is definitely up.

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"You doing okay?" Uncle Tag asks as she comes down to breakfast.

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"Weirdly yeah," she says, and shakes herself.  "I mean, I couldn't sleep last night, so I was kinda expecting to feel like shit.  - bad."

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"I don't care if you swear, Syl," he says.

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Okay he doesn't buy into all of it, she has to admit, which she appreciates sometimes.  She starts in on breakfast.

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Breakfast: tasty.  School: Kafkaesque.

Between periods, some muscleheaded alpha dog (derogatory) is picking on one of the weird kids, and she's fed up, basically, at this point, with how horseshit everything about this environment is, and she marches over to him and grabs him by the shoulder and swings him around to face her, and he says something smug and snide whose semantic content doesn't actually matter, and she says, "Lay off."

"Hey, I'm not gonna hit a pretty girl like you, but - "

She slaps him.  She doesn't feel like she slaps him that hard, but the sound is louder than a firecracker and he actually staggers a few steps in the direction of her hand.  He stares at her, as baffled as he is angry.

"Next time, hit me," she says.

She sets her jaw and stares him down and he slinks off.

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Principal gives her some boilerplate about zero tolerance policies, and detention.  She stares him down until he dismisses her.

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Detention: she glares silently into space.

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There's a brief murmured exchange between Snyder and the librarian.

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Snyder looms over her.  "I'm going to my office.  Don't try anything funny while I'm out."

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He makes an irritated noise in the back of his throat and stalks off.

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The librarian sits down opposite her.

"I apologize for him," he says in a beleaguered sort of voice.

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"I think you behaved entirely reasonably today."

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"Mm," she says again.  "Are you gonna do anything about it, though."

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"I have given Snyder my opinion of you and of him and will certainly do so again in the future," he says.  "But I also want to - offer you a job."

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" - what?"

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