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Over the Back Fence

Megan felt intensely awkward ringing the doorbell of the Wonderful House. She could see the camera mounted in the tree outside, aimed at her back. She hoped that it was tightly focused for the head of a person of normal height was was currently getting a nice view of the nondescript back of her jacket.

The door was flung open and the infamous Brandon was standing there, his uncombed hair pointing in six different directions, wearing a t-shirt that said Yes, that's my superpower and I'm also happy to see you and a pair of grey sweatpants. "Hi!" he said, managing to sound insinuating with just that one syllable. Her sense of familiarity faded abruptly, perhaps overwhelmed by the tidal wave of dislike.

She looked past him at the cameraman who was following him around, and very nearly staggered back a step. The white cameraman had the same huge photogenic grin as Brandon, the same jawline, nearly the same nose, similar build but better musculature, and gave her the same eerie sense of having seen him before. Above the nose, his face was shadowed briefly by a baseball cap (the Philly Phanatic goggled at the world from the front of it), and when he tilted his head back to aim the camera up at her, she could see that he had a large strawberry mark across his forehead and a pair of too-small, too-close-together eyes squinted her way. The sense of familiarity faded again.

"I was wondering if Simon was home," Megan said.

"Oh, hey!" Brandon said, a lightbulb unfortunately going on in his head. "You're Megan Amazon! You saved the city a couple months ago!"

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, I am. No, I didn't. Is Simon in?"

"Sure, come on in!" he said, backing up to let her pass.

Stepping in past him, she was struck by the truly stupid quantity of antiques furnishing the small foyer: a little walnut table, ceramic sculptures, and other knick knacks. She tried not to breathe too hard. Brandon squeezed past her and led her into the living room.

"Good thing you didn't get on the show!" Brandon said over his shoulder. "The place isn't built for big girls like you."

Sitting in Zoltan's living room after the last show, they had discussed whether Brandon could really be as obnoxious as they were portraying him. Now she had the canonical answer. "And I'm sure it isn't built for large women like me either," she said, being grateful for the high ceilings that allowed her to loom, just a little.

He turned back and gave her big eyes and an O mouth, waving his hands in mock-panic. "Oh, I'm sorry! Is that spelled with an 'i' or a 'y'?"

She glanced back, toward the camera that Brandon was mugging for, and saw the cameraman grinning. She looked back at Brandon and smiled icily. "Be careful," she said in a low voice, "because I haven't signed any contracts."

His silly expression intensified and she shoved past him roughly, sending him staggering. As she glanced into the empty kitchen and approached the stairs, she heard Brandon saying, "I should've known she was Simone's friend. Big ol' bulldagger, ain't she?"

Megan couldn't resist. She looked over her shoulder and said, "As they say, I am if you are the alternative." Then she climbed the stairs two at a time for fear that she really would turn around and knock Brandon's head off.

She knocked lightly on Simon's door and, in response to Simon's, "What?" she replied, in a high, singsong voice, "Siiiimonnnn, let me iiiii-iiinnn before I kill your houuuuusemaaaaate."

Simon threw open the door and grabbed her by the wrist to drag her inside. He slammed the door, then looked very closely around the doorjamb. He reached out and pressed a thumb against a spot, and Megan heard a crunching noise. "Damn bugs," he muttered.

"In this place?" she said, edging away from the door. The room really was very small.

"They're everywhere," Simon said. "Always trying to get into the bedrooms and bathrooms. Some asshole posted a video of Jeshri taking her shirt off the other day. I'm waiting for my crotch shot any time now."

"Oh," Megan said. "That kind of bug."

"Yeah, what'd you think I meant?" Simon said, throwing himself onto his bed. He was wearing a ribbed white tank top and black basketball shorts. "Did you bring it?" he said excitedly.

"Of course," Megan said, producing a brown paper bag from under her jacket. "Do you think I'd brave this pit of voles for fun?"

He peered into the bag. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou," he said breathlessly. "I wouldn't have been able to make it home before meeting Suzanne and hitting the hotel tomorrow night. And the soft pack just isn't going to cut it for her."

Megan snorted. "I bet not. Will Excalibur there be enough, given her penchant for the Great Blue?"

"It'll be fiiiiine," Simon said fondly, and closed the bag, tucking it under his pillow. "How is the old homestead, anyway?"

"Everyone's pretty much the same," Megan said, sitting down tailor style on the rug. "G is a little crazier and a little more possessed, though. Watson and I finally staged a little intervention and, um, took her cats. Because they were afraid of you-know-who, and you-know-who seems... kind of scarily unpredictable."

"Oh, maaaaan," Simon said, wide-eyed, pressing his bare feet together and holding them there with his hands. "You took her cats? What did she say?"

"That was the most worrying thing," Megan said, remembering G standing in the doorway, watching the two of them carrying the last cats -- Evason and Uhura -- up the stairs to Watson's apartment, her eyes dry and bleak. "She told us she thought it was for the best."

"Ohhhh, I can't believe this shit is happening and I'm here," Simon said, rocking back and forth. "She didn't even argue?"

"Nope," Megan said. "Not even a token protest."

"Fuuuuuuck," he said.

"Yeah," Megan said. "Oh, and Watson and I went to Madame Destiny to ask for advice on how to deal with G."

Simon raised an eyebrow. "Did you get an answer from Madame or from the Oracle?"

"Both," Megan said, rubbing her face with both hands. "Madame hadn't really heard much about this place we're going to try asking next, this shop called Sator's, but she knew it had been there for a really long time. Like, a hundred years long time."

Simon whistled. "I guess that means that whatever they do works?"

"I hope," Megan said. "They offer 'ghost removal' so that sounds hopeful to me."

"Fingers crossed," Simon said. "What did the Oracle say?"

"Watson asked how to get Meteor to stop possessing G," Megan said. "The Oracle said -- let me see if I can get this right -- 'Seek the square's zero, seek the man of the west. Make her a hero, let that end your quest.'"

"Wow," Simon said after a short silence. "The Oracle is really shit at poetry, isn't it?"

"That's what X said," Megan said. "X is really interesting, isn't sie?"

"You mean 'sexy', don't you?" Simon said.

Megan reached over and gently thumped him on top of the head. He seized her arm and wrestled with her briefly, making adorable little growly noises. Megan got the idea that perhaps Simon was going a little stir-crazy in here.

After a few minutes of that, Simon flung himself back on the bed. "Well, I guess I don't have the market cornered on fucked up housemates."

"Speaking of that," Megan said, "can you tell me what the living hell happened with Lizzie? I feel kind of responsible for her."

Simon shrugged. "Jeshri and Tom and I followed her out of the room, and Jeshri threatened to fry every camera in the house if the cameras didn't get out. Lizzie was a mess, a total mess. Jeshri had to talk her out from under a table, and I had to keep Tom from going and trying to be all comforting at her."

"Tom? Comforting?" Megan said.

"I know, they don't show it, and he mostly doesn't show it," Simon said. "He's afraid that if he shows it on camera, they'll start playing up the effeminate Asian guy thing."

"Is that why he's playing uber-butch?" Megan said.

"No, he is that butch," Simon said. "He really is. He's butcher than your mom in the 70s. But he's a nice guy, too."

"Does somebody have a little crush?" Megan teased.

Simon gave her a shocked and offended look. "You have got to be kidding." Under her skeptical eyebrow lift, he melted a little. "I wouldn't call it a crush. I would call it 'wanting to lick him all over.' Happy?"

Megan snorted hard. "So anyway," she said, "you were telling me about Lizzie. Under a table?"

"Yeah," Simon said. "Jeshri got her to come out, and she was more like herself then, and asked us if she'd hurt Brandon. Tom had to remind her that the asshole was invulnerable, and the most she did was give him a really hot shower, which he probably needed, which made her laugh."

"Good boy," Megan said. "Did she say what he did? It looked like he just touched her arm or her lower back -- Zoltan rewound it and ran it like six times for us."

"Oh, geez, you guys are all watching down with Zoltan?" Simon said, covering his face. "Even Mr. Hammer?" he squeaked.

"No, Jack hasn't been down," Megan assured him. "Apparently, he and the 'toy boy' have a standing appointment that night."

"Thank god," Simon said. "You do know his latest toy is Citizen Pain of the Young Cosmics, right?"

Megan blinked. "Um, no. You mean, the android that Nereid confessed to having the hots for?"

"One and the same," Simon said. "But no, Lizzie didn't tell us. Jeshri took her off to her room and asked me to make some tea. I did -- Jimmy Bo Bob and his shadow had cleared out -- and put a lot of sugar in it. Good for shock. Or so Agatha Christie says."

"And then she didn't want to talk about it," Megan said.

"Yep," Simon said. "And when Maria -- the interviewer -- tried to ask her about it, she refused to answer. Flatly. She had a little conference with the producers after that. I think she got a warning."

"She got a warning? What about the shithead?" Megan said, outraged.

"Nothing, as far as I know," Simon said. "The director isn't happy about that. She thought he should get as much talking-to as Lizzie too."

"Fucking assholes," Megan said. "Has anyone checked to see if deJong's daddy is bankrolling the show or something?"

"I don't know," Simon said, shrugging. "You hungry?"

"Sure," Megan said. "You wanna go out? Even though we're going to be followed?"

"Unless you're worried about anything you say or do being shown on national television," he grinned, hopping off the bed. "I'm used to it."

Megan smirked. "Oh, it's about time for a new salutary horror for Mom," she said, and watched with interest as Simon stripped and dressed in street clothes. His butt continued to be admirable. And his back. And his shoulders. "I hope Suzanne properly appreciates the sacrifices the rest of the world is making on her behalf," she said after a few moments.

Simon looked down at himself, then at Megan. He blushed slightly. "I, um, sorry, I forget..."

Megan waved away his apology. "Don't fret. I'm, um, engaging in dubious judgment right now. I don't need more potential drama."

Simon's gaze sharpened. "What sort of dubious judgment?"

"A... um... Watson sort of dubiosity," Megan said, avoiding his eyes.

"Oh, giiirrrrirl," Simon said. "You... you know about her and G, right?"

"Yeah," Megan said. "She... Watson... said it was over a while ago. Probably around the time Meteor showed up, she thinks."

Simon buried his face in his hands. "You both want G, so you're sleeping together? That has got to be a disaster waiting to happen."

"It didn't shock my therapist," Megan said, a little defiantly.

"And you have a therapist?" Simon said. "Let's go get a couple of pizzas and a case of beer and come back here. It sounds like you have more to tell me than you thought you did."


From the Author:
TOMORROW is the last day to vote for the Best Fiction category for the Rose & Bay Award! Please take a moment and go vote for your preferred finalist! WONDER CITY IS CURRENTLY TIED FOR FIFTH PLACE.

Vote for us at Top Web Fiction! We're falling! We're falling! Auggggh!


Date: 2011-03-16 08:32 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
"Siiiimonnnn, let me iiiii-iiinnn before I kill your houuuuusemaaaaate."

Been there, said that! Love it.

Re: *laugh*

Date: 2011-03-19 12:07 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
It's okay. In my observation, most shared living situations have one housemate who is a jerk. You learn to deal with it, more or less. Sometimes by threatening the offender with permanent personality damage.

Date: 2011-03-19 12:58 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Bringin' Simon his toys. That's friendship!

Date: 2012-01-28 05:55 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Megan and Simon are my favourite friendship I think. Just like Suzanne and Ira are my favourite family.

Date: 2012-05-10 03:19 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
And also can I just say, his "Oh giiiirrrrrrrrlllll" makes me happy on the inside.


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