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In which the pace of events continues to accelerate.



May 3, 1987

It says something about the way my life has been going lately that I consider the day just past a relative success. To pick up where I left off last night, very soon after I hung up the phone someone was pounding on the door.
    "You get it!" Chandler suggested from the next room. Lucky was still in the corner singing to herself, so I headed to the foyer.
    "Hey, start the party!" Phoenix Talon bounced inside, grinning hugely.
    "Phoenix!" Lucky slurred a little.
    He tossed his luggage into a corner and glanced at the two of us. "Hey, why's everybody look like somebody died?" He paused for second, his expression growing a little nervous. "Nobody died, right? Tell me nobody died?"
    "Hi, Dawn," Lucky greeted the former daemon. She looks pretty much as she did when she left, although she was dressed in a loose kimono. An elaborate tattoo now helps conceal the scarring the yndraegen left on her neck.
    "Is there any beer? You'd be amazed how much they drink in Japan," Phoenix told us earnestly. "I didn't know! I mean you think Japanese people, they're kinda stiff, but—it's not like I was going out drinking very often, but—" he backtracked.
    "We would never think such a thing. To answer your question, unfortunately someone has died," I told him seriously.
    He looked shocked for a moment. "I didn't know, it was just a figure—look, I'm sorry...."
    We spent most of the rest of the night updating them in on recent events, interrupting each other frequently and going back to fill in things we'd forgotten. It's been an eventful couple of months. Hell, it's been an eventful week. Along the way we made a concerted effort to make sure he understood just how precarious our position is right now. I think we managed to convince him of the need to be careful, but it's kind of hard to tell with Phoenix; his enthusiasm seemed undimmed regardless of our straitened circumstances.
    "This is weird shit," was his final summation. "This sucks so bad!" Then he showed us a new trick he's been working on, involving yo-yo-mounted mirrors that reflect his pinburst of light to blind his opponents. The yo-yos snap into little cases on the backs of his wrists. "This sucks more than anything has ever sucked before," he continued after we had agreed that his new trick was pretty cool. We all had to agree on that, too.
    "Phoenix, do you have any skeletons in your closet?" I asked hesitantly. "Ever kill anybody?" That we don't know about, I added mentally.
    "Like, were you caught masturbating at age seven?" Lucky inquired with a lifted eyebrow.
    "Ma just blew that all of proportion!" he protested immediately. "I didn't even know the fucking word! She starts screaming at me in the bathroom, I'm like 'Ma, what? It's an itch! Just an itch!'"
    "Okay, okay, I was thinking something more serious than that," I suggested, biting my lip to keep from laughing. I'd forgotten what having Phoenix around was like.
    "Living in your head for like six hours has got to be the weirdest experience I've had in my life," Lucky reminisced with a shake of her head.
    "The Globe is planning on doing little retrospectives on all our lives," I explained, "and you might come in for some scrutiny. If you have any secrets, hide them."
    "Hm... oh shit." He looked a little worried.
    "Now what?"
    "There was this kinda fire at the gym, at the university, a couple years ago... I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, they can't prove anything! It was an accident! Not that I was there," he added quickly.
    "You're an arsonist?" Lucky blinked.
    "You get drunk, you decide to go up on the gym at two thirty in the morning, you're showing off... with your electronic cattle prod... you hit a gas line..."
    Lucky and I exchanged a glance and groaned.
    "There was a big investigation, they never laid a finger on me," he assured us.
    "Okay, I'll take what I can get. That's good enough," I decided. Given the universe we live in these days, that doesn't actually seem that bad.
    Burned out as we all felt, either thanks to the night's strenuous action or to a very long flight and a vast amount of new information to absorb, we all decided to get some sleep, and tucked ourselves in the various extra rooms of Chandler's house.

[Perspective switch: The Cave]

    The front page this morning had a gorgeous, memorable, full-color photo of Promethean destroying the Citgo sign—just what I needed first thing in the morning. The print press, at least, continued to maintain a shred of a pretense of neutrality. The TV, as usual, told a different story. Depending on which media stream you paid attention to, we're all either barred from operating in a variant capacity in the city, or all wanted for questioning. The general mood and tone suggest that turning ourselves in would result in some manner of "unfortunate accident." After last night, I can't even really blame them for wanting to shoot first and arrest later. This page in the scrapbook isn't going to look pretty at all.
    I didn't wake up when Phoenix turned on the TV to watch RoboTech, or when Lucky snarled at him through her hangover, or at the sound of other people moving around. I believe the phrase "dead to the world" applies. I was not dead to the smell of food, however, which tends to appear wherever Dawn happens to be. I drifted downstairs on the wafting scent of coffee, passed Lucky, who had made it to the bathroom but hadn't quite closed the door and was making unfortunate noises, and found myself in the doorway to the kitchen before I was actually conscious.
    I paused for a moment to watch the two of them interacting. Phoenix seems to have conquered any lingering reservations about his "daughter," and the two of them act like people who have lived together for some time. Occasionally they would exchange talk in Japanese. Dawn appears more human now, still distant but it seems more like Japanese reserve than her former... blankness. Makes me wonder how much of their culture she absorbed during her stay.
    "Did I mention this sucks?" Phoenix remarked, glancing up from his rice.
    "Yes," I told him wearily, and poured some coffee.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson