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Probationer, (6/10), PG-15, W/R

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  • Alana Helbling
    Author: Alana Title: Probationer (6/10) Rating: PG-15 (For disclaimers, authors notes, etc. see previous chapters.) Time seemed to slow for the three of them,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2004
      Author: Alana

      Title: Probationer (6/10)

      Rating: PG-15

      (For disclaimers, authors notes, etc. see previous chapters.)

      Time seemed to slow for the three of them, until, finally, Hank turned away and closed the door behind him. Outside, they could hear him making some sort of excuse to Scott, something about just remembering an urgent file he needed to review with reference to… - his voice took on a droning quality that bored most people senseless as he began to go into detail on what he needed to do – which was not something he usually did, thought Marie. Hank knew most people didn’t understand his work, nor did they want to, so he usually kept his explanations short, and when he did take time to describe it properly, he sounded lively and excited.

      The realisation of what he was doing hit her.

      ‘He’s buying us time!’ She looked at Logan – and then realised that she had no way to explain it to him without hurting his feelings. Fortunately, it seemed it wasn’t needed, as Logan wore a look of comprehension on his face. They stepped away from one another, Logan bending to pick up the fallen boxes while Marie picked up the remnants of their lunch, and threw them into the bin on the other side of the room, their activities serving to keep their minds of what had just happened for both of them.

      They heard Scott walk away from the door with Hank, and then turned to look at one another. The silence in the room suddenly seeming incredibly heavy and claustrophobic. They both opened their mouths to say something, then closed them again, not knowing where to start.

      The door swung open, startling them both, as the other workers came back in. Almost guiltily, they returned to what they were supposed to be doing.

      The two children shook as they hid, crushing themselves as far behind the dumpster as they could, both ignoring the smell of rotten refuse that would have made many adults gag. The tension in their small bodies increased then fell as the footsteps they feared came closer, and then retreated without incident. But still they didn’t move.

      After about half an hour, the girl whispered quietly

      “D’you think they’re gone?”

      The boy snorted.

      “Not for long, they’ll come back with more, then they’ll find us if we stay here.”

      The girl nodded solemnly in agreement.

      “Which direction do we take?”

      The boy looked up and down the alleyway, almost as though he was checking for non-existent traffic.

      “Dunno.” His icy blue eyes were confused. “Stand out in Up and Downtown.”

      The girl’s hazel ones took in their shabby, dirty clothing as she nodded agreement. Then she brightened.

      “’Burbs.” She said happily.

      The boy looked at her. “Huh?”

      “The suburbs. That’s were people live, people with families, so there’ll be other children.” She looked proud of her idea. The boy took a moment to understand, then caught on.

      “And garden sheds, and playhouses we can stay in.” He said, becoming happier at the thought.

      “Maybe they’ll keep their freezers in their garages, so we can get food.”

      “Maybe some of them have gone on vacation, so we can use their house.”

      Neither of them addressed the idea of how they would gain entry to the house – they both knew in all probability they wouldn’t. This was an old game they played to keep their spirits up. At one point it had been ‘maybe someone will rescue us, and they’ll be…’ but even these children were now too jaded to dream of those ideas.

      “Maybe they’ll have a big bathtub, with rainbow soaps.”

      “Maybe their kids will have extra clothes the same size as ours.”

      “Maybe there’ll be a cat.”

      “Maybe they’ll have cookies.”

      “Maybe they’ll keep money in the cookie jar, and we can take it!”

      The girl looked scandalised. “Bobby! That’s stealing!” She scolded.

      Bobby looked contrite and defiant at the same time.

      “Sorry,” he said, “but we need it!”

      “Still wrong!”

      “Don’t care!”

      “Go to hell!”

      Now the boy looked scandalised. “Kitty! That’s swearing!”

      “No it’s not! We will go to hell if we steal!”

      “Oh,” Bobby said, understanding, “yeah, I guess.”

      “Anyway,” Kitty continued, “someone would only steal it from us later.”

      Bobby nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed, then he quieted. “Kitty,” he asked, after a while. “Did’ya hear what they were gonna do to us if we hadn’t gotten away?”

      Kitty nodded. “Yeah.”

      “Oh.” He paused, then decided he wanted to know. “What?”

      “Put us in a movie.”

      “That could’ve been fun.”

      “A bad kinda movie.”

      “Oh, it wouldn’t have been then.”


      There was a thoughtful silence. Then Bobby asked “D’you remember the first one that tried to grab us?”

      “The one that the police got?”

      “Yeah – he was scary. Those others, they’re just goons.”

      Kitty giggled. “Yeah, goons, in stupid shoes.”

      They both giggled at their daring – they’d never even dream of insulting these guys to their faces.

      “How come the police don’t catch’em anymore?” Bobby asked.

      “Dunno.” Kitty shrugged. “Come on, we hurry, we can make the subway by rush hour and sneak through the turnstiles again.”

      Bobby brightened. “Yeah!”

      Hand in hand, the two grubby children in filthy clothing made their way out of the alley, and back into the temporary sunshine.

      Back at the shelter, it was 5 minutes before the ‘volunteers’ were due to finish and go home, and Jubilee, once again, was hanging around the rack that held Logan’s coat.

      This time, however, she was putting something into it, rather than removing an object.

      “Right, ya big doofas,” she muttered, slipping a folded piece of paper into his pocket, “if you don’t get off your big ugly-” she paused, seeming to consider something, “off your big, not-quite-ugly arse and make a move, you don’t deserve her.”

      Seemingly satisfied with herself, she walked away, a picture of innocence, quietly humming to herself.

      “Marie! Hurry up - we’re gonna be late!” Scott shouted up the stairs. He had tickets to the opening of a new ballet in town, and, as Jean was working, was taking Marie. He hoped to get there early so they could go for dinner and he could use the time to talk to her about her inappropriate interest in this Roberts fellow. Marie, however, had not known this, and so was still in the shower.

      “Well, if you’d told me we were gonna go for a meal, I’d have been ready!” she yelled back, annoyed, and made up her mind not to be rushed into going without completing her beauty routine. Scott would be Scott, and would have built in plenty of extra time to get there. She reached for her razor.

      Logan was happily enjoying a beer in his back garden and watching the sky dance in different colours, each darker than the last as the sunset faded, while he mulled over what he should do about Marie. ‘I’d love to have something with her,’ he thought, ‘but I can hardly take her out to a nice restaurant.’ He shivered as the night became cold, and went to get his jacket, turning the problem over in his mind.

      ‘Maybe the kiss was a pity thing,’ he thought trying to make sense of it. ‘She can hardly see anything in me worth looking at twice.’ Slipping the worn brown bomber jacket back on, he picked up his beer again, and went back outside. ‘And it’s hardly as if I’m gonna get anywhere near her with that boy-scout brother of hers watching me.’ He thought, infuriated. He raised the bottle to his lips to take another swig, only to find it empty. It had been his last one.

      “Damn.” He said out loud, and threw it at the garbage can, smiling in satisfaction as the sound of it hitting the target echoed through the night. He jammed his hands into his pockets, huffing.

      Then he frowned and withdrew his right one from its pocket slowly. In it was a little piece of white paper.


      “Scott!” Infuriated and half-dressed, Marie stomped to the top of the stairs and glared down at him. “How long until we have to be there?”

      Scott almost seemed to wilt a little under her narrowed eyes. “An hour.”

      “An hour? And the drive there is only takes half an hour?”

      “Yes, but,” Scott bristled, “we need to find a parking space, and…walk there.” He finished lamely. Marie huffed. “I’ll be ready in 15 minutes, that still leaves us with a plenty large margin for error.” She said, her southern accent reappearing in her exasperation. “Go watch TV, listen to the radio, amuse yourself, just let me get dressed in peace!” She slammed back into her room, and so his yelling wouldn’t make any difference, turned her music up to full volume.

      Logan stared at the bubbly writing on the page. It was Marie’s home phone number and 2 words: ‘Call her!’ Logan stared some more. ‘I could cook for her’ the thought sprang into his brain. In truth Logan could cook rather well – he just didn’t bother to, when it was only for himself. He blinked as he found himself suddenly inside, his hand reaching for the phone as if drawn by a magnet. He pulled it back, and stared at the writing again. Who had given it to him? It wasn’t Ororo or Marie, their handwriting was amazingly similar, willowy and narrow and leaning to the right. It must have been the yellow one. He closed his eyes, not knowing how to react. Then they snapped open, and he decisively reached for the phone and dialled. In his mind one phrase rang out;

      ‘Nothing to loose.’

      Scott started when the phone began to ring.

      “Marie?” he yelled, staring at the handset. The sound of her base shaking the walls seemed to be his answer. He sighed and ran for the stairs. “MARIE!” Still no answer. Then the ringing stopped as the answering machine kicked in, and he mentally shrugged, hearing his sisters voice sing out on the outgoing.

      Logan had to steel himself not to put the phone down when her answering machine came on the line. At the tone, he opened his mouth to say something, and his voice came out as a croak. He swore mentally, and tried again. “Uh, hi Marie,” he growled out, his voice suddenly sounding ridiculous to his ears. “This is Logan Roberts, uh, from the shelter. Uh, I was just wondering, I mean, I wanted to ask you, uh, would you maybe be interested in, uh, coming round to dinner sometime. Um, so I’ll see you at work then. Ok, bye.” He hung up and looked at the phone in disbelief. ‘Man,’ he thought wryly, ‘did I ever sound like an idiot.’

      Scott stared at the phone in disbelief. Upstairs the music stopped and Marie’s door opened.

      “Scott?” She called, sitting on the stairs to put on her shoes. “Was that someone on the phone?”

      In the lounge, out of her sight, Scott walked over to the answering machine. “Yeah,” he said, firmly pushing the ‘delete’ button. “Wrong number.”


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