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[personal profile] wonder_city
No More Yielding But a Dream

Nereid had a terrible time getting to sleep.

She tossed and turned. She got up to pee and got up to drink water and got up to pee again, all with having to trot down the dimly-lit and echoing hall to the big dorm bathroom of the mostly-empty New Mexico compound dorm.

She rearranged the sandpaper sheets. She fetched a blanket. She tossed the blanket off. She fluffed her pillow. She got up and jogged in place for a while. She thought about going and knocking on Peacenik's door and making him exhaust her even more with drills and exercises and practice.

It took her until nearly 2 am to sleep, and when she did, she was surprised out of a dream of interminable train rides by a large, stocky, bay-colored, feather-hocked centaur. Lucid's face peered down at her from a great height.

"Hey," Lucid said. "You okay? It was a stone cold bitch getting in here."

"I think," Nereid said vaguely, "that I had trouble sleeping."

Lucid smiled. "A lot of people have that problem when they're anticipating me showing up." She shrugged, a mountain of woman and horse. "I suppose it's a natural response to the idea of someone barging into your dreams."

Nereid blinked and fought to clear her head of dream-fog and the driving desire to find her train ticket. "Thank you for coming for me," she said.

"No problem," Lucid said. "Want a hand up?"

"Up?" Nereid said. She was standing, and Lucid was still looming over her.

"Up here," X said, peering out from behind Lucid's shoulder. "It's been a very entertaining ride so far."

"Oh," Nereid said, "sure."

Lucid effortlessly hoisted Nereid onto the broad black horse-back, and Nereid settled in behind X, holding onto X's narrow shoulders in the crisp emerald-green suit jacket. "Okay back there?" Lucid said.

"Yeah," they said in chorus.

"Right," Lucid said, and Nereid could feel the massive muscles bunch and move beneath her. X was hot to the touch in front of her. Glimpses of things whipped past as Lucid galloped along: slices of lemon that dripped juice most suggestively, winged people who beat their wings but couldn't get off the ground, and skies like warehouse ceilings. They dazzled Nereid's mind and clouded her ears and made her dizzy. She closed her eyes and pressed her face into the smooth wool of X's shoulder.

It was hard to judge time on this wavelength. It seemed forever and was only a blink, and then Nereid was standing in the party, rubbing her eyes and smelling the good smells of the buffet table.

"Try eating something," Lucid, now human, said kindly, and stepped away into the party.

"I expect it would help," X said. "Are you all right?"

"I guess," Nereid said, looking at the long table and its mostly tasty-looking contents. "I guess I'll have some of those Swedish meatballs." X patted her on the shoulder, brow creased in a worried frown. Nereid smiled at X. "I'll be all right. I expect you're better at managing things like this, being all mystical and stuff."

"Or something," X said, straightening the black string tie with a grimace. "I'm going to go talk to the musicians, okay?"

Nereid nodded and turned to the table.

"Hi," a slender bearded man said from across the table. "You're back, huh?"

"Hm?" Nereid said, struggling against her numb fingers to get some of the meatballs onto her little plate. "Yes, I suppose so."

"I'm Dave," he said. "Lucid's husband."

Nereid blinked at him owlishly, and then her reason for being here rushed back to her. "Oh! Hi! Yes, I remember you. You were very nice to me."

"Thanks," he said. "Glad you came back."

"Oh," she said. "Thanks. I, um, came back because I'm looking for someone."

"Oh?" he said, helping himself to cheese and crackers and some kind of turnovers.

"Yeah, um, my friend, the one who brought me here the first time..."

"Oh, Sophie!" he said with a grin. "I thought you were close to her in meatspace." When she just stared at him, he said, "Real space? Like, you room together or something?"

"Oh, no!" she said. "We don't room together. We're, um, on the same team. Superhero team. And she's, uh, unconscious. In a coma."

Dave gave her a crooked smile. "So you hoped she was here while checked out of her body?"

"Yeah," Nereid said. "Kinda. Have you seen her?"

Dave popped a tiny turnover into his mouth to chew on while he thought. "We did see her a couple weeks ago," he said finally, then pointed at her plate. "You should eat up. It'll help you feel more grounded."

Nereid speared a meatball with a toothpick and put it in her mouth. The taste exploded -- sweet and savory and hot and acid -- and he was right, it did make her feel more present. She nodded at him.

"She came through," he went on. "Kind of... drifting. Not really paying much attention. When she comes, we almost always jam with her, but she didn't even stop to talk. I figured she was doing something important, so I just kept on keepin' on, you know? But now I'm thinking about it, it was kind of weird."

"That's great!" Nereid said, then covered her mouth. "I mean, it's not great that she didn't talk to anyone, but it's great that you saw her. That means she did come through here and she's not..." She stopped abruptly, and looked down at her plate.

"Not dead?" he said gently. "Yeah, dead people don't tend to come here. It's all right. Maybe if you ask around, you'll find someone who saw her leave."

"Thanks," Nereid said earnestly. "Really."

"Good luck," he said, heading back toward the musicians' corner.

Nereid, pausing now and then to take a bite of food from her plate and remind herself why she was there, started to make her way through the crowd. She spotted X, who was deep in conversation with a pretty young man and a small blue dragon (who looked a little familiar, though Nereid couldn't recall why), and started to forge her way in that direction.

The young man was Asian, and he was wearing a little white hat, a bra, a half-slip, fishnets, and heels. He was clutching a white purse and seemed acutely uncomfortable. He blushed furiously when he saw her looking at him, but he managed a sheepish smile, even as he adjusted his bra strap. "Janet, from Rocky Horror," he said. "It was even more embarrassing in the original dream."

X turned toward her when the young man spoke. "This person," X said, indicating the blue dragon, who had feathered wings and an extremely intelligent look in its eyes, "says that zie saw Sophie leaving the party a few weeks ago. What door did she take again?"

"That one there," the dragon said, inclining its head toward a very plain door. After a moment of study, Nereid realized it was a very plain door... made of gold. "I understand that direction is quite doomful, though."

"Oh?" X said. "Why?"

The dragon looked (Nereid thought) like it was considering how to respond for a long moment, then said, "I am told the door leads to a plane of existence that is... capricious and constructed of illusion."

Nereid glanced at X's face, which was (Nereid thought) a perfect example of what people refer to when they say that someone's face is "a study." "What?" she said to X.

"Thank you very much, o Zi Ri," X said (or Nereid thought X said). "That information is very helpful. I hope I'll be able to give you good news when I see you again."

The dragon (whose name, Nereid guessed, might be Zi Ri?) made a casual gesture of (Nereid thought) farewell, and turned to the pretty young man. X, meanwhile, turned to Nereid. "We're in trouble," X said.

"Why?" Nereid said. "I mean, do you know where she went?"

"I do," X said. "Or I think I do. And I think that, when you get back from New Mexico, we need to talk to the Equestrian."

"Why?" Nereid said.

"Because I think that door," X said in what Nereid thought might be a doomful voice, "leads to Faerie."


From the Author:
A reminder: I'm posting twice weekly during the month of December as a [fill in holiday here] gift for you all. If you like getting WCS twice weekly, then please comment on anything -- how I dress your favorite character funny, situations you'd like to see more of, discussions of whether the Canis family are obligate carnivores, whatever. :) If I get 50 comments over the course of December, I will post twice weekly all through January as well. If I get 75 comments, I'll post twice weekly through February. If, by some amazing work of you wonderful folks, I get more comments than that, I will come up with some even better reward.

The arm is much improved and I have moved to rebuilding my muscles as well as increasing my range of motion.

Vote for us at Top Web Fiction! We're up in the ratings! Help us stay there!

Date: 2010-12-06 08:24 pm (UTC)
contrarywise: Glowing green trees along a road (Default)
From: [personal profile] contrarywise
Ooh, the plot thickens! I'm excited to see what else is in store for us in Vol. II, as if a possible murder and Sophie (maybe) in Faerie aren't enough.

Good luck with the PT, and thanks for the holiday goodness of more WCS!

Date: 2010-12-07 01:45 am (UTC)
sythyry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sythyry
I squee a dignified squee! I look and sound like myself, even in someone else's dream!
-- S

Date: 2012-05-10 01:33 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Gaw, I hope one day I may have the honour of a cameo. I certainly enjoyed yours, Sythyry!

Also, I love that moment where they go, "Oh fuck. I think Faerie is involved." because you know that nothing good can ever come of that. :D

Date: 2010-12-07 02:43 am (UTC)
settecorvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] settecorvi
Go Nereid! I'll confess, I didn't like her as a person so much when she was first introduced. As a character I could see how she helped give us insight into both the universe and the interaction of different privileges or non-privileges, but I still found her annoying in an clueless kid-sister way. Seeing how she reacted in a crisis really made me warm up to her, and now I'm unabashedly cheering her on as she goes all white knight after her damsel (though hopefully Sophie is causing as much distress as she's in.)

Date: 2010-12-07 04:15 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
"Janet, from Rocky Horror," he said. "It was even more embarrassing in the original dream."

I have HAD that dream. *cringes at the memory*

Date: 2010-12-08 02:47 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
hee hee hee hee hee...


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