Tuesday, May 31, 2011
When he lifted himself from the bed, a poignant buzz in his ears nearly caused him to fall all the way in the opposite direction; Travis had experienced hangovers before, but this one trumped nearly every other one he'd ever had. Combined.
The floor sent spikes of sore pain through the pads of Travis's feet as he dangled them over the edge of the bed he clearly didn't recognize. He sat there for a moment, trying to absorb his surroundings, get some sort of a bearing where he was... and why.
At least the clothes on the floor gave him a pretty solid reminder what had happened.
'You're getting too old for this,' Travis grumbled to himself as he futilely tried to work away the pain in his temples, which seemed to throb so hard he could feel it in his fingertips... Or was it his fingertips that were doing the throbbing? 'You're still in deep either way,' he sighed.
After a few more long, deep breaths, the adventures of the night before finally seemed to come alive in his mind--memories he quickly wished he could wash away.
Lisa. That was her name. Lisa... Lemon? Something like that. Her name really didn't matter, much--she didn't seem to have much interest in talking about herself last night, anyways--but the fact that she'd lured him here when she must have known he had a wife was particularly puzzling. Was she just a rabid fan, or was something else going on?
However, looking at her sleeping face led him to decide that there was only one thing for certain...
... he had to get out of there, as fast as possible.
'Jade's probably wondering where in Plumbob's name I am,' Travis groaned, but as he began to tug his clothes on as quickly as he could without making any noise, he realized that if after all this time she still hadn't even called him... she actually probably wasn't.
A flicker of guilt caused Travis to pause at the beginning of the stairs, looking back over his shoulder at where the young woman still laid. It was unlike him to love and leave in such a way, but of all his options, this was the only alternative that didn't automatically include feeling more shameful than he already did.
He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, giving only one sigh as his parting sound to the sleeping girl. Last night, he'd made a mistake... and even Travis wasn't stupid enough to believe he wouldn't have to pay the price for it.
DING DONG DING DONG!
"Come on, those dolls can't be that interesting," Amelia said with a smirk as she impatiently peered through the glass in her brother's front door, where she spied that strange walking-talking tin can he'd built playing around in the nursery with her niece. Wasn't that thing supposed to be cleaning or something?
"Finally," she moaned when, after her fifth pounding of the doorbell, the simbot finally stood up from the playset and began to head towards the door.
"Took you gosh-darn long enough," Amelia drawled when Lilobot came out to meet her with little Margo in tow on her hip. "I was starting to think Brad didn't give you ears or something."
"Technically, I do not have ears," Lilobot replied in a perky voice, her metallic eyes blinking quickly in a rather cute manner. "I do however have an auditory relay that functions similarly to capture soundwaves by--"
"That is SO fascinating, really, Lil," Mia groaned sarcastically. "But can you explain it to me after you find Brad for me?" There was a sense of urgency in her voice that definitely wasn't faked; she seemed antsy and tense, things even Lilobot could tell just by the way Amelia's eyes kept flipping around, looking over her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Kane, but your brother is currently unavailable--he left several hours ago for the hospital."
"Th-the hospital?!" Amelia's eyes went wide. "Is he okay?!!"
"He is, ma'am--he merely went in order to keep Ms. Alesha company as she gives birth--"
"Alesha's having the baby?! Right now? Gaaaah, why didn't you tell me!"
"... Didn't I...?"
"Uuugggh, you are so irritating." At this point, Amelia was ready to turn around and head home, but realizing that Brad was going to be occupied for so much longer was already making her nerves run hotter. Why, why did Alesha have to choose this particular day to go into labor?!
Sensing Amelia's distress, Lilobot took her time formulating a response; she didn't want to react to Amelia's unintentional insult, because--according to her Logical Deduction Relays--Lil was likely not the actual cause of her irritation.
"If there is something that you need, Ms. Kane, I would be more than happy to help you with it in your brother's absence. Is there any way I can assist you?" Lil finally asked, her mechanical voice still perky and positive.
"It's... It's sort of personal," Amelia began slowly, fighting the impulse to leave without an explanation. "I don't really feel.. comfortable..."
"That is fine, Ms. Kane--I just thought I would offer. If you'd like, you can come inside and have something to eat, perhaps try to get your mind off of things? Any sister of Mr. Kane is family of mine, you know."
"That's--" Amelia paused, clearly taken aback by the suggestion. "That's real' nice of you, Lil, but... I should probably--actually." A bit of a smile began to grow on Mia's face as she continued, "Can I... Can I hold Margo? For just a wee bit?"
"I would gladly let you, but unfortunately Margo has been acting rather misanthropic, this morning."
Amelia scrunched her nose. "Misanthropic? What the buttons does that mean?"
"Antisocial, ma'am. She was rather unhappy about all the doorbell ringing--she usually is when she doesn't want anyone unfamiliar around. Unfortunately, she's still rather shy around those she doesn't know well, especially when Alesha isn't nearby--perhaps when she returns...?"
"Maybe I'll come back tomorrow with Naomi, she's always talking about how cute Margo is..." Amelia paused for a moment, and then, with a mischevious grin, lifted her fingers to put on a goofy face.
"Please, don't--" Lil began...
"Perhaps it is better if you leave, Ms. Amelia--I believe Margo is now... unhappy about your presence." Though any normal person would be frustrated, Lilobot's voice merely began to coo, trying to soothe Margo's sniffling sobs into her metallic shoulder.
"Uuuggh, I am so horrible with children!" Amelia groaned, burying her face into her hands. "I'm so sorry, Lil--I'll... I'll go."
Even though Amelia's face was still shrouded behind her fingers, Lil reached out and quickly patted her shoulder as she turned and, quickly, carried Margo back into the house. "There there, goooossfraba!"
"Can't even get a little freaking toddler to like you... so lame," Amelia spat shamefully at herself as the heels of her cowboy boots clonked down each wooden step, stomping heavily under the pressure of her slowly failing temper. "Stupid robot, stupid baby--what do they know, anyways? Guess she just can't handle a little bit a--"
♫ "I'm just an oollld jukebox junkie spendin' mah time, spendin' mah money, feedin' this habit with hardcore country..." ♫
Great, just what she needed--some lousy phone call to top off all the joy today had been.
Still, a bright pinch of light seemed to appear in Amelia's tunnel when she saw the name on the caller-ID. "Hey Mom--what's up?"
"Hey sweetheart! Are you busy? There's something I wanted to ask you... Can you meet me at the Bottega in say, 20 minutes?"
"I'll be there in 5."
"You have no idea how good it is to see you after the day I've had," Amelia grumbled into her mother's ear as she squeezed her between her skinny little arms. "I swear, it just keeps getting worse and worse..."
"Mmm, I'm sorry dear--unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to add much of any good news onto it."
Ohno. "What... What is it?"
"Well," Meredith began, looking at her daughter with the straightest face Amelia had ever seen. "You heard about the... the uh..." Her lip began to quiver just thinking about it. "The incident, right?"
Amelia's heart sank. "Yeah... I did. W-what about it?"
"Look, Amelia, I really hate to put this on you, but--I've been losing employees. Customers have been calling in saying they won't be coming back. It was all just a fluke, but between all the things that've been hitting the newspapers and floating around on those computer widgets... I'm afraid I'm going to lose it all before it even has a chance to take off."
Amelia tried to smile. "Mom, I'm sure it's just a passing phase! Bad things like this happen to people all the time! Granted, not a lot of people have a murder on their property, but..."
"Sweetie, I'm not just going to 'bounce back'. Not without your help."
"And what exactly am I gonna be able to do?" Amelia couldn't help but laugh; she didn't know the first thing about businesses... Heck, she barely even knew how to paint. How was she supposed to help flounder art studio?
"You're going to put on a show!"
The sullenness faded from Meredith's voice at the chance to explain her idea to her daughter. "Show everyone that we're still alive and kicking! Draw a crowd, make people too afraid to miss your performance that they forget all about what happened--all you have to do is what you love to do the most, Mia: music! I'll do everything else!"
"I... I don't think this is such a good idea, Mom. I've been doing some short stuff at the Stallion, but this... I don't think I'm ready for it!"
"Amelia--you don't know if you're ready if you don't even try."
"Mom, just... no. I can't do it."
"That isn't the Amelia I know," Meredith stubbornly uttered, dropping down to look into Amelia's lowered gaze. "The Amelia I know is a strong, courageous, takes-no-prisoners kind of girl. You can't let this fear rule you forever, sweetheart. You can't run away from your dreams."
"I'm not trying to Mom, it's just... It's just hard."
"I know, Mia, I know." With a deep sigh, Meredith took her daughters shoulders into her hands and squeezed. "Look. Amelia, I have never asked you for anything, before. But right now... I'm afraid, too. And I don't think I can do this without you. You know I wouldn't ask unless I didn't think I had any other choice."
How could she say no to that face? To her mother? To the person who'd held her hand every step of the way, supported her, selflessly given everything she ever wanted? And in the end... What was a few songs? A small crowd? Maybe it would help her... Maybe she was ready, and she just couldn't see it, yet.
"Al-alright," Amelia muttered softly, her voice cracking from nerves already. "I'll do it." She just hoped she wouldn't regret it.
She gulped down her pride and tried to smile as her mom's arms flew around her in a strangling hug; Mia really did try to be happy, but this wasn't easy, especially after everything else that just seemed to keep happening. At this rate, this day couldn't possible get any worse...
... but, in the very least, at least someone was having a good day.