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Committing to Sparkle Motion

"Just the person I was hoping to find!"

Angelica looked up from editing her manager's excuse for a budget spreadsheet and recognized the not-quite-elderly Asian woman standing in front of her receptionist's desk at the Queer Energy Community Center. "Oh, hey, Pearl," she said, briefly admiring the therapist's purple tie-dyed silk scarf and many-shades-of-purple crazy quilt jacket. "What can I do for you?"

"I need to talk to you about something that isn't business for the center," Pearl said sedately. Pearl did everything sedately, as far as Angelica could tell.

"Well, technically, I'm off the clock right now," Angelica said, saving her work on the spreadsheet and logging out of the computer with a few quick keystrokes. "We can walk and talk, if you want. I just have to fix my face."

Pearl nodded and followed her to the ladies room. Angelica looked at herself in the mirror and scowled -- she had a bad habit of chewing her lips while she revised Jed's chaotic documents, which played havoc with her lipstick, of course. She opened her purse -- noted to herself that she needed to switch purses, because this was her trusty winter bag, and she needed something lighter and brighter now it was spring -- and pulled out her makeup case. In the mirror, she could see Pearl glancing under the stall doors for feet.

"So," Pearl said, leaning her hip against the counter, "how are things with you?"

Angelica managed not to sigh. There was no rushing Pearl. "Same old, same old," she said, repairing her eyeliner. "Still going to classes when I can afford it. Still single. Well, mostly," she amended a little guiltily, thinking of Simon, and thinking of the date she was looking forward to on Friday.

Pearl nodded, watching Angelica's face, her back to the mirror. She had a habit of really listening to people, even when she wasn't "on duty." It made it easy to tell her more than one really meant to.

Angelica put away her eyeliner pencil and fished for her lipstick. "How about you?"

Pearl pursed her lips thoughtfully. "I'm busier than ever right now," she said. "I mean, yes, I'm glad to have a full slate of clients. But I'm frustrated. I like to be doing some good with my sessions, and people keep coming to me with the same problems, week after week."

Angelica shot a look at the older woman. "Yeah, I hear there are other businesses that are really booming right now," she said slowly, thinking of her friends and acquaintances who were sex workers. "People aren't happy."

"That, my dear, is an understatement," Pearl said with a raised eyebrow. "Water riots in LA, food riots in a dozen other cities, and general violence to self and others on the rise."

"Prices on everything on the rise too," Angelica said, applying the darker red lipstick and studying the effect in the mirror. "I know so many people who're out of work right now."

"How's your grandmother doing in all this?" Pearl said, and Angelica was touched that the therapist had remembered her grandmother.

"She's holding on all right," Angelica said with a little smile. "Tough old bird, my abuelita. She says I'm her only family left."

Pearl looked startled. "Did something happen to your mother and sisters?"

"Yeah," Angelica said, a sarcastic twist to her voice. "They went to one of those tent revivals for this 'Shining Brethren Church' and came out born again or some shit. Abuelita says that I'm the only one who's stayed in the Church, so I'm her only family, even if I've done some other things people might not think of as Catholic." She shrugged and put her lipstick away.

"Ah," Pearl said. "Look, Angelica, I'm not going to dance around the subject. I've got some friends who are... well, they're ex-superheroes, and we're trying to figure out how to make things better. But we're mostly... well, old people. It would be good to have a younger perspective."

Angelica examined her face in the mirror one more time, then turned to Pearl. "You know, in my neighborhood, there're these guys all in black who wander around 'saving' people," she said gravely. "They're government agents. They could mess up my life, the lives of everyone I know, really bad."

Pearl let her gaze drop, nodded, and stood up straight. "I understand completely."

"When and where?" Angelica said, snapping her purse shut.

Pearl blinked at her, startled. "What?"

"When do you people meet and where?" Angelica said, slinging her purse over her shoulder and adjusting the neckline of her blouse. "Because I'm tired of living in fear. Even just talking about it with some people who still have their minds would help."

Pearl smiled. "You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

"Yes," Angelica said, grinning down at the older woman. "I wanted to see if you'd jump to the conclusion."

"We're getting together this Thursday around 7," Pearl said, shaking her head. "Why don't you come over to my place and we can drive there together?"

"Sounds good. I'll be by around 6?" Angelica pulled her StarSeed out of a pocket in her purse and popped the appointment into her calendar.

"Excellent," Pearl said, leading the way out of the rest room.

Turning the corner to the main reception area, they almost collided with a massive wall of a man in faded jeans and well-worn leather who was clearly in a heated conversation. He was a light-skinned black man, so the flush of rage was clearly visible in his cheeks.

"You don't bring this shit in here!" he bellowed. In one enormous hand, he held a stack of pamphlets, and in the other, a fistful of silver-colored rings.

The other man, a nervous white man in a black wool car coat and khakis, said, "I have every right to bring what I want to the community center!"

Angelica peered at the pamphlets. The title, in large friendly sans serif letters, informed her that "You too can be cured!" She glimpsed the outline of a white hand with a black cross in the center of it in the top corner of the front cover, and saw the word "homosexuality" in the line of text along the bottom of the page. She bit down on a curse.

The large man's biker jacket and keys jingled violently as he tore the entire stack of pamphlets in half. "This is private property, you little fucker. You do not bring shit like this into a queer safe space." He doubled the stack and tore it in half again. "You do not bring in shit like that and not expect to be called on it." He shoved the quartered mass of paper into a recycling bin, threw the rings on the floor, and brought the heel of his steel-toed boot down on them with a satisfying crunch. "And you do not expect to be welcomed ever again." He loomed over the man, fists bunched, leather creaking.

With an incoherent cry about a lawyer, the man fled out the front doors like his pants were on fire.

"Sorry, ladies," the big man rumbled to them. "Sorry, Angelica. I know I don't really have the right to kick someone out..."

"Pearl, this is Mel, one of our addiction counselors," Angelica said, "who has every right to throw someone like that out of our center, as far as I'm concerned."

"What a pleasure. Pearl Wong," she said, extending her hand.

"The therapist?" he said, his big fingers almost completely engulfing Pearl's hand. "One of my friends goes to you. He says you're great."

"Thank you," Pearl said. "That was admirable handling, and very cathartic to watch."

"Thanks," Mel said, stepping back and kneeling down to pick up the metallic mess on the floor. "Huh!" he exclaimed.

"What?" Angelica said, retrieving a dustpan and brush for him from the broom closet.

He picked up one of the broken rings, and held it up for the women to look at. Angelica and Pearl obligingly squinted, and Angelica said, "Is that... circuitry?"

He nodded. Then he bent back down and picked up one of the rings that escaped his boot's wrath. Standing, he opened his biker jacket. Angelica was delighted to see the purple silk lining was arrayed with an amazing number of pockets. Mel ran a broad brown finger over a row of pockets with cylindrical objects tucked into them, then selected one. He flicked his wrist and the cylinder extended into a sparkly pink wand about a foot and a half long. It played a few sprightly notes when it hit full extension.

Pearl watched him wave his wand over the ring for a few seconds. "Will that tell you what the circuitry does?"

Mel nodded again, and said, "In a general sort of way. It will tell me what it's doing right now." Rings of hot pink light appeared, moving toward the tip of the wand, and the wand played another little tune. "And it's a transmitter."

"A transmitter," Pearl said, peering at the ring. "Of what, do you think?"

Mel's jaw set and he gently collapsed the wand back into its pocket. "I don't know, but I'm fuckin' well going to find out." He bent and swept all the pieces into the dustpan, then dumped the contents into a paper bag he produced from another pocket. He nodded to them. "Good night, ladies," he said, then stomped out the front door, displaying the back of his leather jacket to them, where the name TINKERMEL was spelled out in purple rhinestones.

They watched him go, and when the door shut, Angelica said thoughtfully, "He might be another good one for your 'group therapy.'"

Pearl grimaced at her. "Don't call it that! I'm hardly the leader there."

Angelica raised both eyebrows at that. "Who is?"

"You'll find out Thursday night," Pearl said, heading for the door. "See you then. And bring Mel if you've a mind to."


I've been a little lax on new characters in this volume. I hope to make this up. :)

Date: 2012-08-09 08:02 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
It's good to see the conspiracy of opposition grow. I hope it flourishes!

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-08-15 09:27 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Thank you! The conspiracy is definitely going to grow. We shall see if it flourishes. :)

Date: 2012-08-10 12:45 pm (UTC)
akycha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akycha
Can I just say that I love the title.

Also Tinkermel. I want to actually know him in real life.

Date: 2012-08-15 09:27 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I'm so glad you like the title. I spent SO LONG coming up with it.

Date: 2012-08-15 10:07 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
+1 to Tinkermel and also to the title! And yay also for the conspiracy growing! CANNOT wait for it to all come together. :)

Date: 2012-08-11 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] interleaper.livejournal.com
+1 Tinkermel! (Magic gadgeteer? Seems like a fun powerset anyway!)

Date: 2012-08-15 09:28 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Yay people like Tinkermel!


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