She can’t sleep. Normally, that’s not a problem; a couple laps around the gym, a little gymnastic practice- and she’s out like a light. But she’s had no such luck tonight; Selina’s already spent an hour in the gym and she still feels so wired.
This would happen, back in Boston when she was little, and usually the solution would be to creep downstairs in the middle of the night for a snack. Of course, back then, the process usually involved waking Calvin to convince him to go with her. Selina slows to a halt as it dawns on her that Calvin is just a short run away, and that a snack- a real good one, is probably no more than a short drive away. And that gives her an idea.
So she scurries upstairs and comes to a halt outside Calvin’s door. Gently, she gives a few knocks before testing the door to see if it’s unlocked. “Callie?”
Calvin, on the other hand, passed out the moment his head hit the pillow.
It’s been like that a lot lately. Actually, it’s been like that pretty consistently since his incident in the tournament. He hadn’t been able to explain it, but things just made him so tired now. Maybe it was because running around all day felt more taxing. Maybe it was because he had a lot of things weighing on his mind all the time. Maybe it was just a little bit of everything.
Regardless, when he went to bed, it was because he was ready to sleep. Sometimes he was able to stay up, but for the most part- like tonight- he went to bed around ten. Then, he’d sleep through the entire night and wake up early, still slightly groggy.
Apparently that just wasn’t in the plan tonight, though, because he jerks awake suddenly when he hears tapping on his door. Groaning loudly, he shoves his face back into his pillow. He hears the quiet sound of his door creaking open and curls up under his blanket, trying to hide from whoever is seeking him out this late at night.
Calvin woke up early this morning to make himself breakfast.
Inside the box is a few items: three smaller packages wrapped neatly in purple wrapping paper with ribbons and a sealed letter. The largest of the three packages is a red cardigan, and opening the smaller two packages will reveal a hat/earmuff combo, and a muffler. Calvin’s presents are all the same shade of RED, with the exception of the earmuffs, which have come in a dark purple.
The letter is written on lavender colored stationary and, as always, is written in small, neat handwriting. It reads:
I hope this package reaches you in time for your birthday; post between international bases is unreliable at best, and downright untrustworthy at worst. Regardless, with luck this will reach you before summer, when the contents of the package will be utterly useless.
I would have sent you a cake or something equally as edible but you and I both know that would be entirely unpractical.
If I remember correctly (and I do) Barnblitz can get obnoxiously cold, and I’d hate it if you froze to death out there. Of course, you’re probably used to the cold, being from Boston, but I’m sure it’s not entirely the same. Or perhaps the fact that I’ve lived in desert climates for a large portion of my life is making me worry for nothing. You’ll have to forgive the rambling, it’s still rather early as I write this.
Anyway, I hope France is treating you well. I had hoped to join you and the rest in the move, but TFI is- well, you know. I hope to maybe visit in the near future and, if I do, I’ll be sure to get you a cake then. Give my love to Mrs. Fletcher and stay safe, Calvin, please.
-Calvin jerks awake when he feels something fall on to his bed. First, he’s petrified. But, when he hears Selina’s voice, it quickly turns to irritation. Groaning, he pulls his pillow over his head.-
I don’t wanna.
*Donny frowns. He has no trouble imagining that the new Administrator is every bit as awful as the past ones. He’s never known one that wasn’t. And it would be just like the Industries to restrict their movement outside the base, too.*
Well… either way. At least it isn’t so hot, that’s something.
*His attempt at cheerfulness seems rather hollow, though. Now that Ms Bathory has been brought up, his body stiffens. He doesn’t doubt at all that she’s responsible for Calvin being put in the box, and his stint in the desert. Being so sure only makes him feel powerless, though, because there’s nothing he can do about it.*
Yeah, she’s here. Guess they’re not done letting the horrible old bitch torture us.
That’s true. Weather’s nice enough. N’ maybe I won’t get fried t’ a god damn crisp every time I spend an hour outside. Heh.
-Calvin chuckles, but it’s lacking any real humor. He’s still too tired to put effort into much of anything.
He simply nods at Donny’s comment about Ms Bathory. If his time with TFI has taught him anything, it’s that things can’t just be easy. If you get transferred out of your shit base to go to a better one? Of course you’ll get shipped half way across the world with the administrator who made the base as shit as it was.
After a moment, he glances back at Donny and lowers his voice.-
…I’m gonna get her back fer what she did t’ us. T’ our friends. Dunno how, or when. One day, though.
I guess not.
*There’s still a good deal of resentment in his voice, talking about the Industries. He’s comforted being close to Calvin, however, though he still holds him rather gingerly. It’s been a while since the box but it doesn’t feel that long.*
Me neither. maybe we could… I dunno, try to get out and see some of it? Not that… well, all I saw from the train was uh, farms and stuff, but there’s gotta be a town or something nearby, right?
Dunno. Probably. I’m bettin’ it ain’t nearby. We could try askin’ around, though, see if anyone knows if there’s somewhere close. I ain’t sure how far off base we can go here… Or if we can even leave at all, fer that mattah. Fer all we know, this new admin might even be worse than Ms. B… hate t’ imagine, though.
-He fidgets a little; he hates thinking about Bathory more than ever now. He’s fairly certain she had something to do with his experience in the box, though with no solid proof, he can’t do much about it. And even if he did, he has a feeling his argument would still go unheard.-
She’s here too, right? Ms. B? Shipped half way across the damn world n’ we still can’t get away from her…
Hmm, perhaps that’s why. Stronger numbers are always appreciated… You will like it here, I think. Everyone is much friendlier here, nothing like at that shameful excuse for a base. Mountain Lab. -She scoffs before frowning slightly at Calvin. She looks him up and down, as if noticing his presence for the first time.-
Chér, forgive me for saying, but you look terrible. So thin. -She pats a cheek softly and smiles.- Have they stopped feeding you entirely now?
I hope so. Ya oughta seen Upward, though, if ya thought the Lab was that bad. Imagine all them assholes in the blisterin’ hot desert. It wasn’t pretty, tell ya that much. Heh.
-At her question, his face falls a little, and he pulls away from her touch. He still doesn’t particularly like thinking about it. But for Marguerite, he temporarily swallows his discomfort.-
N-nah. Nah, it ain’t that. I, uh… well, I was kinda stuck in the desert fer a while. Didn’t get t’ eat a whole lot. I’m still comin’ back from it.
Me neither. *Donny closes his eyes and huffs into Calvin’s shoulder.* Kinda wish they didn’t have to send us all the way to France though.
It wouldn’t be TFI if they weren’t shippin’ us all ovah the damn world.
-He sighs and sets his hands on top of Donny’s.-
I ain’t evah been to anothah country before. Maybe it’ll be… I dunno, kinda nice? Probably nicer if the circumstances were different, but yanno.
Life after the Industries is hard; some say that, for the Mercenaries, life after the Industries is impossible. No one ever talks about Administration though; and so when Miss Pauling- Charlotte, now, had been released from her contract nearly two years ago, she’d had no idea what to do with herself. She hadn’t needed to work, of course, her time with TFI had seen to that. But without the work to keep her mind occupied, Miss Pauling just felt…lost. Directionless.
Nights are the hardest; the evenings when she can’t sleep because her mind is racing with memories of her old life. Mostly she thinks of old coworkers, the ones who she had grown close to over the years but sadly had lost touch with.
This particular night had hit her hard, and when no amount of reading or tea had helped to soothe her, Charlotte had opted to go for a walk. And that’s how she ended up here, in some dingy looking diner, at one in the morning.
Charlotte certainly looks out of place, as she sits in a secluded booth towards the back of the diner, thumbing through an old book and ignoring the cup of coffee quickly cooling in front of her. She’s read this particular one on more than one occasion, and she can’t be sure why she thought to bring it along; she’s certainly not reading it, her eyes merely skimming the pages. Mostly she’s listening; to the rain outside, to the clatter of dishes from behind the counter, to the occasional ‘ding’ of the door as someone enters seeking shelter from the weather, and to the soft murmuring of the other diner patrons. It’s oddly relaxing and so she closes her eyes for a moment and take in a deep breath, letting the calm wash over her.
Calvin isn’t sure when it started raining.
He’s been walking for… honestly, he’s lost track of how long it’s been. Maybe a few minutes, maybe a few hours. All he knows is that it’s raining and he’s far away from the lonely apartment he calls home. It occurs to him that he should have brought an umbrella, or maybe a jacket with a hood- but he’s already soaked to the bone by the time he notices the familiar feeling of water dribbling down his face, dripping off the strands of hair that hang in his face. In retrospect, it probably wouldn’t have mattered either way.
Lately, things had been better; he hadn’t felt the urge to take these late night journeys. Not like when he first left the industries and he was plagued with nightmares and his body struggled to adjust to living life as a mortal. Not like after Max and Donny left, when he just didn’t bother to sleep at all. No, life had eased into a quiet almost-normalcy. Calvin was thankful for that.
Still, tonight he felt particularly alone in that dark apartment. Too dark, too quiet. Even soaked, he preferred being out here, with the rain, the cars, the lights, the distant sound of life. Calvin turns and jogs across the street. There’s a 24-hour diner glowing in his slightly foggy vision; until the rain settles, he can sit, relax, get some caffeine- something he’ll sorely need for his journey back home.
As he steps inside, he reaches up to push his mop of wet hair out of his face and to wipe the wetness from his eyes. Briefly, he acknowledges the woman behind the counter, before wandering over to a booth and scooting in noisily. The waitress comes over and, almost knowingly, starts pouring him a cup of coffee without asking. He smiles up at her appreciatively.
-Calvin flinches, just slightly, from the unexpected touch. He recognizes the arms immediately, though, and he relaxes against Donny.-
I don’t miss the desert.
-She pulls Calvin into a small hug, briefly kissing both his cheeks- So nice to see you again, cher. I’m a bit surprised to see you here in France though.
You n’ me both.
-He hugs her back, genuinely happy to see a familiar face. He was afraid he’d never see her again, after she left Mountain Lab so suddenly.-
Mass transfer, I guess. Me n’ a buncha othah people from Upward got shipped out last week. Not sure why they’d wanna send us here… though, by the looks of it, ya ain’t exactly overflowin’ with mercs or nothin’.