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Quarantine, Day Twenty-Two


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#1 Guest_AlphaMonkey_*

Posted 23 August 2006 - 04:59 PM

Tasty Notebrains:

1. Ok, so... this one... was hard. I had some idea of what I wanted to happen, but as is always the case, you're working on something, and no matter what you come up with, nothing seems to flow properly. You know where you want to go, you just can't figure out how to get there. Parts seem stilted. Others are too campy. Some just don't get the right blend of scene description and characters thoughts.

Well, I went through all of that, and that's why it took me so long to get here. This is, I think, a fairly critical sequence, and I hope I didn't botch it. I'm happy enough with it to post it, at least. Do I think it could be better? Yeah, probably, but I hope it works well enough.

2. Anyway, it had to happen sometime. Those two can't fight forever, even though there was a time when they wouldn't have minded trying. Not everything gets fixed all in one shot, but finally, our hero and his adorable but obnoxious sidekick :twisted: come to some kind of understanding.

3. It's about time. :twisted:

4. Maybe it's just me, but I find Colleen's... paranoia kinda cute sometimes. I think it's endearing.

5. You might see some names being dropped in this chapter. Remember them. They may be important later. :twisted:

-----

Quarantine Day Twenty-two
November 28, 2005


“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Excuse me?”

We were having breakfast. Or, rather, Jeff was having breakfast. I was busy being that creepy girl who sits in the corner of your local coffee shop and stares at people as if she’s picturing what their insides would look like as a hat.

But there was only so much of him chewing that I could take before I had to speak up. “You know what I mean,” I said to him. “I’ve been acting like a complete bitch to you these past couple of days, and you haven’t once gotten up in my face about it. Not since-”

“What, you -want- me to argue with you?” He said, around bites of his granola bar.

“No. I mean… yes… I… I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Why have you been putting up with me when I’ve been giving you such a hard time?” I honestly wanted an answer to that one. I was having an extremely difficult time understanding it.

“Colleen, what else am I supposed to do?” He gave me a look. I was familiar with that look. I’d seen it on his face lots of times, but more than that, it reminded me of this look my father often gave me. It was a look of… stressed patience, I guess… maybe with some disappointment mixed in, too; it was a look my Dad always gave me when I did something egregiously stupid – like leaving my homework on the kitchen table as I ran out the door to catch the bus… or sleeping through my alarm because I’d been up late talking to Juni on the phone.

I fired a look right back at him. “I don’t know… get mad at -me-. Like you did before. Start accusing -me- of being the bad guy. Something. Anything. I’m… getting weirded out at how you’re just taking all this abuse and not giving anything back.”

And that was when he smiled. He actually smiled. It wasn’t a very big smile, almost more like a wince, actually… the kind of smile you put on when your brother brings home his newest girlfriend to meet the family, and you know for a fact that she’s a royal bitch. That “I just stepped in dog crap, but I can’t use any four letter words since there are children in the vicinity,” kind of smile. It was a brittle, fragile thing at first, but I could see it slowly widening into something genuine.

“Look, Coll,” he said to me. “You want to be mad, be mad. I made the mistake before of trying to push you into something you weren’t ready for. So if you’re still angry and you want to nurse it some more, then you can take your time and get it out of your system - get your head back together. And if you decide you want my help with that, I’ll be here. And if you decide you don’t want my help with that, but you still want to stick together and watch each others’ backs, I’ll be here. And if you decide that you hate me, want me to get lost, and take your chances on your own, well, then you’re shit out of luck.”

I shot him a skeptical look. There had to be some kind of catch. There just had to be. Only the utterly deranged would be so… forgiving. “So you’re just gonna tough it out, is that it? No matter what I say or do, or whatever, you’re just gonna take it in stride?”

“I draw the line at you discharging loaded firearms in my general direction, but other than that, I suppose that’s a fair assessment of things.”

“Ohhhh, I get it… veeeeery cute… it all makes sense now,” I said, waggling a finger admonishingly at him. “So, I’m supposed to spend the next couple of days, maybe even a week, or even more, being mad at you, trying to piss you off, trying to pick a fight, and not getting anywhere. And then, after all that, I’d be so frustrated and tired of being angry at you, that I’d just… stop… being angry at you. That’s the plan, isn’t it? That’s the diabolical scheme you’ve come up with, am I right?”

“Is it working?”

I didn’t answer him right away.

“Coll?”

“Yes,” I admitted with extreme reluctance.

He smiled faintly. “Good.”

“Ass.”

He laughed.

And then, unexpectedly, so did I. It wasn’t one of those full-on belly laughs… not by any stretch of the imagination. It barely got above “mild chuckling” level, to tell you the truth, but it’d been a while since I’d been able to actually laugh in any capacity, and I was quickly realizing how much I’d missed it.

We stood there snickering into our hands for a few moments, before both of us finally sobered up. I looked at him and put on my best “serious face.” I didn’t use that face much – for some reason there were very few instances where I found it both necessary and appropriate – but I’d practiced it enough to get it to look marginally genuine. At least, I hoped that’s how it looked. “Jeff?”

“Yeah?”

Part of me railed at the words that were threatening to spill from my mouth. But most of me was… relieved. See, the thing was, I always hated having to apologize… detested having to be the one to go out there and make amends. Abhorred having to be the one who was always stuck rebuilding bridges. The problem was… well… I tended to suffer from a chronic case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. Me chowing down on my Size 7s was a frequent occurrence. It was practically a biweekly ritual, or so it seemed… and that meant it was pretty much always me who was forced to get the ball rolling when “I’m sorry”s were required.

If not for the fact that what little sense of pride I’d ever possessed had pretty much permanently evaporated back in grade school, I likely would have been a lot more reluctant about always having to be the first one to extend the olive branch. As it was, I was mostly just accustomed to the whole messy business.

So, while a small part of me was still utterly galled by what I was about to do, I told that part, in no uncertain terms, to shut the hell up, and got on with the rest of my life. “Do you think we could just skip the ‘weeks of bickering’ part and put this one to bed? I’m… I… I don’t want to fight, anymore.”

And there it was. I’d said it.

He could have turned it around on me, could have taken my efforts at diplomacy and told me to jam them somewhere uncomfortable, but he didn’t. As much as I wanted this whole thing to be over, so did he. And I was pretty sure that as sorry as I was, he was, too. I saw his shoulders relax, days of built-up tension just bleeding right out of them. He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and nodded at me. “I know. Any time you want to call it quits is fine with me.”

“Now?” I held out my hand.

He took it. “Now’s good.”

#2 Guest_Theodur_*

Posted 24 August 2006 - 08:58 PM

2. Anyway, it had to happen sometime. Those two can't fight forever, even though there was a time when they wouldn't have minded trying. Not everything gets fixed all in one shot, but finally, our hero and his adorable but obnoxious sidekick :) come to some kind of understanding.


It was about time!

3. It's about time. :D


Stop repeating me! :D

4. Maybe it's just me, but I find Colleen's... paranoia kinda cute sometimes. I think it's endearing.


I wouldn’t necessarily look for it in a romantic interest, mind you. Yoiks! :D

“No. I mean… yes… I… I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Why have you been putting up with me when I’ve been giving you such a hard time?” I honestly wanted an answer to that one. I was having an extremely difficult time understanding it.


Well, we know why, but maybe he also feels like he screwed up a bit by pressing her too hard for the truth, previously.

And that was when he smiled. He actually smiled. It wasn’t a very big smile, almost more like a wince, actually… the kind of smile you put on when your brother brings home his newest girlfriend to meet the family, and you know for a fact that she’s a royal bitch. That “I just stepped in dog crap, but I can’t use any four letter words since there are children in the vicinity,”


I don’t necessarily let that stop me, though. :D

I shot him a skeptical look. There had to be some kind of catch. There just had to be. Only the utterly deranged would be so… forgiving. “So you’re just gonna tough it out, is that it? No matter what I say or do, or whatever, you’re just gonna take it in stride?”


That sounds like an approach that just might work. :D

And then, unexpectedly, so did I. It wasn’t one of those full-on belly laughs… not by any stretch of the imagination. It barely got above “mild chuckling” level, to tell you the truth, but it’d been a while since I’d been able to actually laugh in any capacity, and I was quickly realizing how much I’d missed it.


Aww, it is great to see them laughing again, indeed. :D

Part of me railed at the words that were threatening to spill from my mouth. But most of me was… relieved. See, the thing was, I always hated having to apologize… detested having to be the one to go out there and make amends. Abhorred having to be the one who was always stuck rebuilding bridges. The problem was… well… I tended to suffer from a chronic case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. Me chowing down on my Size 7s was a frequent occurrence. It was practically a biweekly ritual, or so it seemed… and that meant it was pretty much always me who was forced to get the ball rolling when “I’m sorry”s were required.


Yeah, I seem to have a similar problem. But then again, I hardly ever have any reasons to apologize to anyone in the first place. (smug grin) So maybe it’s the lack of practice. :D

So, while a small part of me was still utterly galled by what I was about to do, I told that part, in no uncertain terms, to shut the hell up, and got on with the rest of my life. “Do you think we could just skip the ‘weeks of bickering’ part and put this one to bed? I’m… I… I don’t want to fight, anymore.”


Put it to bed? Oh Gods, horrible choice of words, MG will be all over it with her Jeff and Coll make-up sex theories! :D

He could have turned it around on me, could have taken my efforts at diplomacy and told me to jam them somewhere uncomfortable, but he didn’t. As much as I wanted this whole thing to be over, so did he. And I was pretty sure that as sorry as I was, he was, too. I saw his shoulders relax, days of built-up tension just bleeding right out of them. He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and nodded at me. “I know. Any time you want to call it quits is fine with me.”


“Now?” I held out my hand.


He took it. “Now’s good.”


Woo! Excellent! Though I will miss Colleen’s harassment of him… maybe she will find another target? :D

#3 Guest_AlphaMonkey_*

Posted 25 August 2006 - 04:17 PM

It was about time!


Actually, I was worried it seemed a little rushed... but I was getting tired of drawing it out, and, in in-story time, they'd already been at each others' throats for several days. You can't really afford that kind of thing what with the situation being what it is. That was my justification for speeding things along a bit.

Stop repeating me!


-You- stop copying -me!- :D

I wouldn’t necessarily look for it in a romantic interest, mind you. Yoiks!


Well, maybe not, but I'm imagine there has to be -someone- out there who's crazy/stupid enough to put up with it. :D

Well, we know why, but maybe he also feels like he screwed up a bit by pressing her too hard for the truth, previously.


He does. From her little rant a couple of chapters ago, he now has a pretty good idea why she was so violently defensive about him asking her about it. He wanted to help, and inadverntantly, he hurt her, and that's going to make him feel like a jerk. He's been trying to make it up to her, and his idea is that the best thing he can do for Colleen is try to reassure her that he'll be there for her, but at the same time, not constantly be up in her face about it. Back off enough that she won't chafe too much about hm being there, but still close enough so that she understands he's still looking out for her and he still cares.

Colleen may act ditzy a lot of the time, but she's genuinely not stupid, and as we can see in this section, she eventually got the hint.

I don’t necessarily let that stop me, though.


Well, I do if, say, the kids' parents are in the room. :D

That sounds like an approach that just might work.


Right. Well, she's pissed off and she needs to work it out. She's angry and she wants to pick a fight with somebody. She -wants- an argument so she can yell and scream and feel angry and also feel justified for being angry. But by not giving her that opportunity, her only real option is to just let go of the anger, and that's basically what happened.

Aww, it is great to see them laughing again, indeed.


Not just laughing, but hugs. Next chapter. :D

Yeah, I seem to have a similar problem. But then again, I hardly ever have any reasons to apologize to anyone in the first place. (smug grin) So maybe it’s the lack of practice.


Yeah, well, I tend to be wrong a fair amount, so it's not unheard of for me to be the one who's angry and yet also still has to be the one to apologize first.

Put it to bed? Oh Gods, horrible choice of words, MG will be all over it with her Jeff and Coll make-up sex theories!


:D

No double entendre intended, there, but okaaaaaay... whatever. Commence with the jokes. :D

But let me reiterate... yet again... it ain't happening. Jeff loves Clara, and Colleen's still carrying a torch for Kari. (And no penis jokes, please. :D )

Woo! Excellent! Though I will miss Colleen’s harassment of him… maybe she will find another target?


Ha! Knowing Colleen, that's a given. :)

#4 Guest_VigaHrolf_*

Posted 28 August 2006 - 04:17 PM

Tasty Notebrains:


Mmm. Tasty Notebrains. I love em. Chock full of nutrients. ;)

Well, I went through all of that, and that's why it took me so long to get here. This is, I think, a fairly critical sequence, and I hope I didn't botch it. I'm happy enough with it to post it, at least. Do I think it could be better? Yeah, probably, but I hope it works well enough.


That it does me lad.

3. It's about time. :roll:


11:50 to be exact. :D

4. Maybe it's just me, but I find Colleen's... paranoia kinda cute sometimes. I think it's endearing.


A little. A little scary too. :D

5. You might see some names being dropped in this chapter. Remember them. They may be important later. :lol:


Names. Names. Names. :D

“What the hell is wrong with you?”


Tommy: "Considering the person, we probably don't have enough time to go into the exhaustive detail required."

Inara: "I think Colleen was referring to Jeff."

Tommy: "I know."

Inara: "Oh. Heh."

We were having breakfast. Or, rather, Jeff was having breakfast. I was busy being that creepy girl who sits in the corner of your local coffee shop and stares at people as if she’s picturing what their insides would look like as a hat.


Inara: "Having seen what a shotgun at close range does to the human body, I'd have to say... exceedingly unpleasant."

“What, you -want- me to argue with you?” He said, around bites of his granola bar.


Inara: "That's a winning tactic."

“No. I mean… yes… I… I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Why have you been putting up with me when I’ve been giving you such a hard time?” I honestly wanted an answer to that one. I was having an extremely difficult time understanding it.


Tommy: "I don't know, maybe because for some strange reason he thinks you're worth saving?"

I fired a look right back at him. “I don’t know… get mad at -me-. Like you did before. Start accusing -me- of being the bad guy. Something. Anything. I’m… getting weirded out at how you’re just taking all this abuse and not giving anything back.”


Tommy: "That's because you think that maybe you're doing it a little unfairly."

Inara: "Or she just forgot her bitch pill this morning."

Tommy: "Could be that. Or it could be she's finally realizing she screwed up."

Inara: "True."

And that was when he smiled. He actually smiled. It wasn’t a very big smile, almost more like a wince, actually… the kind of smile you put on when your brother brings home his newest girlfriend to meet the family, and you know for a fact that she’s a royal bitch. That “I just stepped in dog crap, but I can’t use any four letter words since there are children in the vicinity,” kind of smile. It was a brittle, fragile thing at first, but I could see it slowly widening into something genuine.


Finally... ice breaking...

“Look, Coll,” he said to me. “You want to be mad, be mad. I made the mistake before of trying to push you into something you weren’t ready for. So if you’re still angry and you want to nurse it some more, then you can take your time and get it out of your system - get your head back together. And if you decide you want my help with that, I’ll be here. And if you decide you don’t want my help with that, but you still want to stick together and watch each others’ backs, I’ll be here. And if you decide that you hate me, want me to get lost, and take your chances on your own, well, then you’re shit out of luck.”


Tommy: "Smart lad there."

Good ol Jeff. ;)

I shot him a skeptical look. There had to be some kind of catch. There just had to be. Only the utterly deranged would be so… forgiving. “So you’re just gonna tough it out, is that it? No matter what I say or do, or whatever, you’re just gonna take it in stride?”


Ahh... a little of that paranoia, no?

“I draw the line at you discharging loaded firearms in my general direction, but other than that, I suppose that’s a fair assessment of things.”


Inara: "I think that's a very generous limitation. But a good one. Discharging weapons in my direction would not be met with a friendly reaction."

Tommy: "Remember kids, friendly fire... isn't!"

“Ohhhh, I get it… veeeeery cute… it all makes sense now,” I said, waggling a finger admonishingly at him. “So, I’m supposed to spend the next couple of days, maybe even a week, or even more, being mad at you, trying to piss you off, trying to pick a fight, and not getting anywhere. And then, after all that, I’d be so frustrated and tired of being angry at you, that I’d just… stop… being angry at you. That’s the plan, isn’t it? That’s the diabolical scheme you’ve come up with, am I right?”


Truly diabolical. A master plan. ;)

“Is it working?”

I didn’t answer him right away.


Yup. :)

“Coll?”

“Yes,” I admitted with extreme reluctance.

He smiled faintly. “Good.”

“Ass.”

He laughed.


Breach sealed. :)

And then, unexpectedly, so did I. It wasn’t one of those full-on belly laughs… not by any stretch of the imagination. It barely got above “mild chuckling” level, to tell you the truth, but it’d been a while since I’d been able to actually laugh in any capacity, and I was quickly realizing how much I’d missed it.


Inara: "It really is surprising."

Tommy: "You need to. Laugh, cry, or go mad. I chose option 1."

We stood there snickering into our hands for a few moments, before both of us finally sobered up. I looked at him and put on my best “serious face.” I didn’t use that face much – for some reason there were very few instances where I found it both necessary and appropriate – but I’d practiced it enough to get it to look marginally genuine. At least, I hoped that’s how it looked. “Jeff?”


Inara: "Why am I not surprised?"

Tommy; "Hey, she's apologizing... let her mend her fences."

Inara: "Good point."

Part of me railed at the words that were threatening to spill from my mouth. But most of me was… relieved. See, the thing was, I always hated having to apologize… detested having to be the one to go out there and make amends. Abhorred having to be the one who was always stuck rebuilding bridges. The problem was… well… I tended to suffer from a chronic case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. Me chowing down on my Size 7s was a frequent occurrence. It was practically a biweekly ritual, or so it seemed… and that meant it was pretty much always me who was forced to get the ball rolling when “I’m sorry”s were required.


This is often the problem with being a wiseass and a troublemaker. You either lose a lot of friends, or end up saying a lot of apologies.

If not for the fact that what little sense of pride I’d ever possessed had pretty much permanently evaporated back in grade school, I likely would have been a lot more reluctant about always having to be the first one to extend the olive branch. As it was, I was mostly just accustomed to the whole messy business.


Inara: "Along with her wisdom, good sense, and her sense of humor."

Tommy: "Ooh. Biting."

So, while a small part of me was still utterly galled by what I was about to do, I told that part, in no uncertain terms, to shut the hell up, and got on with the rest of my life. “Do you think we could just skip the ‘weeks of bickering’ part and put this one to bed? I’m… I… I don’t want to fight, anymore.”


*applauds*

And there it was. I’d said it.

He could have turned it around on me, could have taken my efforts at diplomacy and told me to jam them somewhere uncomfortable, but he didn’t. As much as I wanted this whole thing to be over, so did he. And I was pretty sure that as sorry as I was, he was, too. I saw his shoulders relax, days of built-up tension just bleeding right out of them. He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and nodded at me. “I know. Any time you want to call it quits is fine with me.”

“Now?” I held out my hand.

He took it. “Now’s good.”


And the breach is well sealed, for now.

Good chapter Alpha. Very well written. :)

VH

#5 Guest_AlphaMonkey_*

Posted 28 August 2006 - 05:10 PM

Mmm. Tasty Notebrains. I love em. Chock full of nutrients.


Brains are brain food. Literally. ;)

A little. A little scary too.


Well, sure... she's kinda like Max from the Striptease comic... though, apparently, he's got good reasons for being a paranoid whackjob. ;)

Tommy: "Considering the person, we probably don't have enough time to go into the exhaustive detail required."

Inara: "I think Colleen was referring to Jeff."

Tommy: "I know."

Inara: "Oh. Heh."


JG: ;) "Aside from the fact that I willingly call this insane woman my friend, I think I'm pretty normal. And if you ask me, I should get bonus points for managing to -stay- normal even when I spend so much time around her."

Tommy: "I don't know, maybe because for some strange reason he thinks you're worth saving?"


CN: (Shrugs) "I guess. Suppose I'd be just as stubborn if -I- found someone I felt was worth saving." (Shrugs again)

Tommy: "That's because you think that maybe you're doing it a little unfairly."

Inara: "Or she just forgot her bitch pill this morning."

Tommy: "Could be that. Or it could be she's finally realizing she screwed up."

Inara: "True."


CN: "We'll go with Derlin's explanation: I'm off my meds." (Shifts awkwardly from foot to foot) "Yeah, um. Yeah."

Breach sealed.


CN: (Sheepish smile) "He's still an ass." :lol:

JG: :roll: "Of course I am."

Inara: "Why am I not surprised?"

Tommy; "Hey, she's apologizing... let her mend her fences."

Inara: "Good point."


CN: "Yeah. Stay outta this one, Wide Load." :)

This is often the problem with being a wiseass and a troublemaker. You either lose a lot of friends, or end up saying a lot of apologies.


This is true. But, thankfully, Colleen is the type who, honestly doesn't mind apologizing when she's wrong. Well, ok, maybe she minds a little, but she doesn't let that stop her.

Inara: "Along with her wisdom, good sense, and her sense of humor."

Tommy: "Ooh. Biting."


CN: "Your vibrator ran out of batteries, huh? That would explain the crankiness, yeah."

:)




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