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Chapter 10: Moving
palladian23 wrote in superwebnovel
Author's Notes: Warnings for this chapter - Bad language, insulting and demeaning language, frank discussions of sex, breaking and entering

As always, a big thank you to my superhero editor gwoman for her work on this chapter!

Back to Chapter 9

As she made her way back to their table, Lex studied the drink Serena had ordered. It had a strong resemblance to blood and as it fizzed a little, Lex could smell the scent of fresh fruit. A long plastic sword sat on the edge and had a blood orange slice and a fresh cherry skewered on the end of it. Lex watched as a crimson drop spilled out from the cherry where it had been poked through. She laughed quietly to herself as she put the drinks down on the table, not having any trouble hearing her friends’ soft conversation, since the music sounded much quieter on the second floor.

“Casey,” Lex broke in, taking a folded-up wad of cash and the business card out of the top of one glove, “could you hold onto these things for me? I’m afraid I’ll lose them when I start dancing, since I don’t have pockets.”

Serena had been reaching for her drink, but her eyes widened as she spotted the business card. “What's this?” she asked, plucking it out of Casey's hand. Lex watched, feeling her face grow hot as Serena read the front of the card and then the back. She laughed delightedly, handing it to Lex. “You're a fast worker! We just barely arrived!”

Lex gave it back to Casey, still feeling the blush on her cheeks. “Yes, well, it seems like the people here aren’t very shy.”

“So, are you meeting him later or what?” Serena gave a conspiratorial grin as she leaned in Lex’s direction.

Lex sighed, looking at Serena as she reached for her drink. “I explained why I wasn't ready to start up anything new yet, but he gave me his number anyway.”

“Lex! Why did you do that? You could have just slept with him, you know. Wasn't he your type?”

Lex found herself rubbing the back of her neck. “He looked good enough to eat,” she said in a low voice, “But, well, I'm just not that way, Serena. If I slept with him now, I’d probably just feel worse.”

“What do you mean, not that way?” Serena asked, her eyes narrowing as she drew back.

Lex sighed again, feeling tired. “Look, I've had plenty of friends who liked to sleep with lots of different people. I even tried dating someone I liked a lot who was like that. It just didn't work out for me, though: he dated other people and I didn't. I came to realize that people are a lot like other animals—some have a mate they like to stick with, and some choose many different ones. I guess I'm more like a wolf or a hawk; I only want to be with one person at a time like that. You and my other friends are more like migratory birds and other animals; you choose lots of mates. I don't see anything wrong with it either way, but, well, I have to be who I am.”

Serena smiled again as she relaxed back into her chair. “My poor little wolf. Try not to think too much about your broken heart tonight, though. Even you have to admit that there's nothing wrong with enjoying the company of someone you think is hot, even if you aren't planning to do anything about it.”

Lex gave a shy smile in return and nodded. “I'll try to remember that.”

Casey had been sitting and sipping her beer as she listened to Lex and Serena. She’d also been suspiciously eyeing Serena's drink, and finally asked, “What the hell is that anyway, Serena?”

“This is a Vampyre's Nest original—Sweet Blood. Care for a taste?”

Serena curled her tongue around the cherry, slid it off of the sword, and then bit into it. A little juice beaded up where her lips met, and she licked it away as she pulled the pit out of her mouth. Casey watched with an eyebrow up, and Lex laughed into her glove. Serena took a sip of her drink and then offered it to Casey.

“What's in it?” Casey asked, skeptically.

“I’m not sure. It tastes kind of sweet, but there must be a lot of alcohol in here, because I've never seen anyone be able to drink more than a few of them.”

“No thanks, I'll pass.”

Serena took another sip, and Lex noted that they had done a good job with the drink; it seemed to move thickly, like blood in a glass might. The dark red color was also convincing and nearly matched the shade of Serena's lipstick. Serena licked her lips again and stood, drink in hand.

“All right, ladies, I'm going to see who’s here tonight. I'll be back later on to see how you're doing. Casey, please try to make sure Lex doesn't get too gloomy. If she does, we should probably try to figure out who this guy is to come and cheer her up.”

Casey shook her head slightly. “All right, have fun.”

Lex and Casey watched a moment as Serena walked away, and Casey shook her head again, an annoyed look on her face. “Going to sniff around, I imagine.”

Lex shrugged and smiled. “I'm sure she's going to be finding out who's around and deciding whether she's interested in anyone in particular.”

Casey grimaced. “That's what I meant when I suggested not taking the room next to hers. I think she takes people home. A lot, if what I hear in the hallway sometimes is any indication.”

“I guess her talent makes that pretty easy to do,” Lex said, nodding to herself.

“So, she showed you?”

“Yes. What a thing to be able to do!” Lex replied, unable to stop her star-struck grin.

Casey snorted contemptuously. “Yes, and she uses it to sneak people into her room!”

“So she knows what she likes. I don't think there's anything wrong with that,” Lex said with a shrug.

“You really think all of that is OK?”

“Sure,” Lex responded carefully, looking at Casey with a little concern at her angry tone. “Serena’s not taking food out of anyone's mouth and she's not hurting anyone, she's just doing what she likes to do. What's the problem?”

“She's a slut, that's what!” Casey’s expression clearly showed her frustration and disgust.

Lex looked at Casey for a moment, trying to ignore the familiar feeling of humiliation for her friend and pick her words carefully as she felt anger creep into her chest. “I'm sure she's heard that before. I've heard a lot of people’s opinions about what I am, too. I’ve been called a fucking dyke, a frigid bitch, a stupid cunt, white trash, a lazy, worthless piece of shit, and lots of other things. Do you think that's what I am?”

Casey looked hard at Lex, blinking in surprise at her intense tone. “Of course not.”

“I know you’re not like everyone else, either, and you’ve been called some names, too. Since I know how crappy it feels, I try never to do it to anyone else.” Lex glanced meaningfully up at Casey before dropping her eyes and picking at a spot on the table. “I don’t mean to be mean, but I know this is something other people have given Serena hell about. I can’t follow your lead on this.”

Casey looked at her then, head tilted as if really seeing Lex for the first time, and remained quiet for a few minutes before responding. “I guess you're right. There’s no reason to be harsh,” she finally responded. “Serena does seem to be fun to hang out with, now that we've worked out some things. I guess the rest is really none of my business.”

Their conversation moved to other topics with only a few moments of awkwardness, both of them obviously trying to bring things back to more comfortable ground.

As they paused, Lex was quiet for a moment, sipping at her drink, the limey fizzing under her nose and the fresh taste making her smile. She listened as a song ended and then a new one began. It was a familiar beat, and she listened for a second before she recognized it fully. It had been a favorite of hers at one time that was now mixed with a gothic dance beat, and she smiled, not having expected to hear the song in this particular club.

“Casey, I've got to go dance to this song. Do you want to come along?” Lex asked, feeling the wild grin of anticipation that split her face.

“I'll join you in a while, after I finish this beer. Go on down without me and have fun.” Casey smiled in return as Lex virtually launched herself from the table.

Lex hurried down the stairs and walked onto the dance floor. She liked the large, open space, even though not many people had begun dancing yet. Stepping out into the center, Lex listened as the familiar words began, and started to move.

Lex half-closed her eyes as she began swaying to the beat. Although she loved to dance, she'd never had any lessons, so it hadn’t surprised her when an old friend had assessed her dancing as “more energy than art.” It did surprise her to smell a sweet, musky perfume a little later, and Lex fully opened her eyes to find that dancing people surrounded her. Smiling at the girl closest to her who’d worn a short black dress to match her closely cropped hair, white face makeup, and a large ring through her nose, Lex leaned back, losing herself in the music and thinking maybe she wasn’t such a bad dancer after all.

She noticed one or two different pieces as the songs changed and smiled at Casey when she’d looked up at one point to find the other woman dancing beside her. She recognized some of the music but just kept going through each song, known or unknown. Lex stood straight for a moment at one point, shaking her leg muscles out as a faster song slid into a slower one, a piece she recognized well. She turned as she felt something to her left and looked up to see Brian at her elbow, grinning as he looked at her.

“You didn't mention earlier that you’re a dancer. Would you dance with me to this one?”

Lex smiled at him. “Yeah, I'd like that.”

Brian's grin turned into a big smile as she put her arms around his neck, the solidity there comforting. His arms slid around Lex's waist and they leaned into one another as the slow, smoky lyrics started.

Suddenly, Lex turned her head as she heard Casey's raised voice nearby. Lex saw her friend arguing with Vinnie, so she stopped dancing with an apologetic look at Brian and grabbed Casey's sleeve to get her attention.

“What's going on?” Lex asked, the concern in her voice audible.

Casey turned, her expression annoyed and edgy. “He says he wants me to dance with him. I’ve told him no, but he’s not listening,” she said, and then belatedly realized Lex stood half in the arms of someone she didn't recognize. “Who's this?”

Lex smiled, moving fully back into Brian's arms. “This is Brian. Brian, this is my friend, Casey.”

He nodded and smiled in response. Casey looked surprised and slightly uncomfortable.

“Why don't you dance with him, Casey?” Lex asked as she and Brian began to move again, trying to show by example that everything was OK. “It's only one dance, after all.”

Lex glanced back after a few minutes to see that Vinnie and Casey had begun dancing. Vinnie looked thrilled and even Casey appeared to be enjoying herself, despite her earlier reluctance. Lex smiled at Brian then and put her head on his shoulder as they danced. She felt acutely aware of his warm hands on her back, due to the low cut of the dress, and she smiled as she breathed in the scent of cedar wood. Despite everything that had happened that day, for the moment Lex felt happy and lucky and resolved to enjoy it, even though she knew it would be temporary.

It seemed the music ended too soon, changing to another fast song, so she reluctantly backed away from Brian. He held onto her waist for a moment longer, and then let her go.

“Thanks,” she said with a smile. “You're a great dancer.”

“You, too. You still have my card?”

“Yes,” Lex replied, her smile brightening.

“OK. I won't repeat what I said earlier, but I hope you'll call me sometime later.”

He didn't wait for an answer but walked across the dance floor, looking back with a smile to see Lex watching him go. She continued to smile in return, and then turned as Casey approached.

“Come on, let's get another drink,” she said with a frown, her tone clipped.

“What's wrong?” Lex asked, worried that maybe she’d given Casey bad advice.

Casey grumbled and scowled for a moment before responding. “Well, after the dance, Vinnie asked me out. I told him I already had someone, but then he got all persistent and wanted me to take his number.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, but I'm not going to call him,” Casey groused, frowning more deeply.

Lex laughed as they reached the bar. “Oh, come on, it didn't look like you weren't having any fun.”

Casey continued to complain, but good-naturedly, as they ordered more drinks. She lifted an eyebrow as Lex ordered a ginger ale. “You haven’t been drinking all night, have you?”

Lex looked up at her a little guiltily. “Unfortunately, alcohol seems to give me migraines.”

Looking startled, Casey replied, “Sorry to hear it. I had an aunt who got those once a month or so. They seem terrible.”

Shrugging in return, Lex said, “Mine aren’t really that bad. I can usually function during them, they’re just painful.”

They went back upstairs after their drinks came and sat at the same table as before. Lex watched with interest as Casey sat very carefully in the metal chair. “What?” her friend asked as she noticed Lex watching. “I weigh about half as much as a small car. Not all furniture can stand up to that.”

Lex’s eyes widened. “I guess not,” she replied, now wondering if most of the furniture at headquarters was specially made.

After a little while of quietly watching the dance floor, Lex craned her neck and stretched over the balcony railing, the bite of ginger fresh on her tongue as she sipped her drink.

“Isn't that Serena over there?” Lex asked, pointing to the opposite side of the club, where their friend stood under an overhead light.

Casey leaned over the railing, looking in the direction Lex had pointed. She smirked and said, “It looks like she's talking to some guy down there. I bet she won't be going home with us tonight.”

“Sorry, that's not a bet I'll take,” said Lex, with a smile, her thoughts suddenly traveling to the past. “So, tell me about the first time you danced with a boy.”

Casey smiled. “Bobby Dorsey asked me to homecoming during my senior year in high school. I usually didn't go to things like that because most of the boys in school were a lot shorter than me, so they never asked me to dance. But Bobby lived a few farms away from us, and he was almost as tall as me. He wasn't the smartest guy in the world but he was completely fearless. We had a great time.”

“So, what happened to him?”

“Well, he ended up marrying a girl who graduated a few classes behind ours, and the last I heard, he's still working on the family farm.” Casey sighed. “I did like him a lot, but he wasn't really…like me. I think it’s something that runs in my family, but I also think I got a lot bigger than anyone else ever did. I remember my mom telling me to be sure to marry someone big and strong like me, but that's the closest we ever came to talking about it.” She sighed again, then shook her head momentarily and turned to Lex. “So, how about you?”

Lex went on to tell the story about her high school sophomore experience at the Sadie Hawkins dance, an event where the girls would ask the boys to attend, and the two had begun swapping stories about their first boyfriends by the time Serena arrived. Lex and Casey looked up at the couple in front of them with interest. The man had long, dark hair hanging loose over his shoulders, tight black jeans, a dark t-shirt printed with a red dragon that wound all over it, and a long, black leather trenchcoat. His face looked chiseled and model-perfect, set off by a collection of heavy looking metal rings in his ears and one through his nose, like a bull. Lex grinned at Serena as their eyes met, and Serena smirked back.

“Hey, ladies,” Serena said, “I'm going to let you find your own way home. Dan and I are taking off now.”

“Don't worry about us, we'll get a cab. Have fun, you two,” Lex replied, still grinning, while Casey nodded.

Lex and Casey continued to study the pair as they walked back to the stairs, at which point Lex took a look at Casey's watch and gasped. “It's nearly two! Do you mind if we go back home so that we can get some sleep for tomorrow?”

“Sure,” said Casey, taking a final drink of her beer. “That's fine by me. Let's get going.”

Lex found herself watching the streetlights and cars go by as the cab drove through the city. As they neared headquarters, the other cars and lights became less and less frequent, until the cab pulled up into the nearly dark street that passed by the M Agency. The squat grey building had been lit brightly enough to illuminate the sidewalk beyond, however. Lex paid the driver off, then got out and crossed over to the other side of the cab to open the door. Casey had dozed off, and Lex leaned down to her friend’s ear to call her name. Casey stirred and looked up at Lex, then smiled tiredly.

They made their way inside and up the stairs. As they each headed to their own rooms, Lex turned back to Casey. “Thanks for coming out tonight. I had a great time, and I’m glad you came.”

Casey smiled tiredly and waved goodnight as she looked back at Lex. “Anytime. I had fun, too.”

Lex felt a true weariness hit her as she stepped into her room. Carefully undressing, to protect Serena’s things, Lex quickly got ready for bed and set her alarm with plenty of time to get ready the next morning and get over to Kurt's condo before noon. She felt a stab of sadness hit her as she thought of what she had to do the next day, but once she snuggled into bed and turned out the light, everything ebbed away as sleep washed over her like a tide.

Lex woke too early the following morning and lay in bed for a few moments, blinking eyes full of grit. She tried rolling over and getting back to sleep, coughing at the taste of dust in her mouth, but after lying awake for a while, she knew sleep wouldn't return. A heavy blanket of sadness and reluctance had fallen over her during endless dreams in which she searched for something she couldn’t find, and she didn't want to get up or go to Kurt's condo. But I do want my things back, Lex thought to herself. Sighing, she got out of bed and dressed in workout clothes.

As she quietly made her way down several flights of stairs, Lex saw no one else up and about. She went to the martial arts studio and faced her opponent, the heavy bag, for a moment. After a mental note that she couldn't tire herself out here, Lex began working through some of her lighter forms. She started out making choppy and spastic movements, but eventually her breathing evened out and her limbs moved smoothly. By the time she touched her forehead and felt a sheen of sweat, Lex decided to stop for the day, her deep breathing seeming to underscore that call. After a long set of stretches, she headed back upstairs to shower and change before breakfast.

Later at the kitchen island, she munched cereal that she couldn’t really taste as she tried to distract her thoughts. Lex considered the fact that she'd need to get a bookshelf now, without dwelling on where the books would be coming from. She tried to ignore the lump pushing itself up in her chest to turn her throat into a tight knot as she made a travel cup of tea for herself, breathing in the grassy scent of the green tea she’d chosen, trying to calm herself. After drinking her first cup and staring at the wall for a while, Lex felt a wave of relief wash through her when Casey joined her in the kitchen, dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans.

Casey looked at Lex for a moment, and then put a big hand on her shoulder as she went to get some cereal out of a nearby cabinet. Lex swallowed with difficulty and asked, “Can I make you some tea?”

“Sure, thanks,” Casey responded, looking at Lex again, carefully. “So, how long have you been moping down here?”

“I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I hit the heavy bag for a while.” Lex busied herself by looking in one of the cabinets, feeling sad and a little guilty.

“Hmmm...well, let me finish eating, and then let’s go upstairs to see if Serena still wants to go with us. She may need some reminding,” Casey said, scratching behind her ear and grinning. “I don’t think she’s up yet.”

Lex smiled in return and felt herself start to cheer up a bit as she and Casey rehashed the previous evening, discussing the dinner (excellent), the club (a little weird, but fun), the men at the club (mostly gorgeous and mostly shameless), and the dancing. Lex liked the variety of music they had played, but Casey hadn't recognized a lot of it.

“I guess that just shows how long it’s been since I went to a club,” Lex sighed. “Most of the music I recognized was kind of out of date.”

“At least you recognized some of it,” Casey snorted out a laugh as she loaded her dishes into the dishwasher. “Come on, let's go find out about Serena.”

The hall upstairs stood silent until they knocked on Serena's door, the noise seeming to set off a commotion in the room beyond. The two of them heard something that sounded like a muffled request to wait and then Serena was standing in the doorway. Her hair was down, wild around her shoulders, with the little braids unraveling. She wore a short teal silk robe and looked a little tired still, but she smiled to see Lex and Casey, cocked her head in curiosity, and waited. Casey looked at her and then away with a slightly embarrassed expression as Lex returned the smile.

“Do you still want to come with us today?” Lex asked.

Serena’s eyes widened in alarm before she shook her head, looking annoyed with herself. “I didn't realize it was so late already. Can I meet you at the van in say, fifteen minutes?”

“Sure, that's fine,” Lex agreed.

Twenty minutes later, Serena appeared and stepped into the white van they’d been lent, getting into the back seat behind Lex and Casey. Dressed in perfectly fitting jeans and a tight black t-shirt, Serena had pulled her hair back in a ponytail. Neither of the other two women said anything as Lex started the engine, although Lex saw Casey turn her head to give Serena a hard look.

“Sorry, guys,” Serena mumbled. “I think my alarm clock fell off the nightstand.”

Lex and Casey exchanged a knowing smile, but when Lex looked in the rearview mirror to make sure Serena hadn’t thought they were mocking her, she saw that the other woman had lain back in the bench seat and closed her eyes. Lex smiled to herself and continued to carefully navigate the city streets, full of traffic on a Saturday afternoon.

Slightly after noon, Lex pulled into the loading dock behind Kurt's condo. She parked with the back of the van to the building and got out, her stomach clenching as she surveyed the familiar surroundings. Casey jumped out on the other side, then looked back at Serena and frowned.

“Do you think we should leave her here while we get things started?” she asked Lex quietly, looking doubtfully in the back of the van.

In response, Lex heard a noise inside the van. “I'm not that asleep, you know,” Serena said, sitting up slowly.

“Sorry,” Casey replied with a shrug and a sheepish look. “I didn't mean anything by it.”

“I know. Let's go on in.”

The three went up to the fifth floor by freight elevator. The closer they got to Kurt’s door the shakier Lex felt, but she took some deep breaths to steady herself once they arrived and got her keys out to open the locks. Her arms started trembling again a moment later when she realized that the locks looked different. Even though she knew they wouldn't work, she tried her keys, feeling her blood running alternately hot and cold in her veins with each failure. She stood there afterwards, her face turned down, burning with humiliation as hot anger pounded through her chest.

“Son of a bitch,” Lex heard Casey say behind her. “He changed the locks on you?”

She turned around, feeling half stuck in place as she struggled to think of what to do next. “I don't have a lot of things, but I would like to keep the few I have,” she said, feeling stupid and now wishing she’d taken more than her underwear.

Casey stepped forward and moved gently past her. Lex watched her pull the hem of her shirt out of her jeans to cover the doorknob with it. As she turned the knob, Casey leaned on the door. With a wrenching sound and a pop, the door gave way.

“What do you know? It was already open,” Casey said and Lex could hear the hard edge in her friend’s voice as she stepped inside and scanned the hallway.

All three of them froze when they heard a noise inside. “The bastard's here,” Serena whispered, her eyes narrowing.

They moved quietly down the hall towards the rest of the house then, Casey first, Lex in the middle, and Serena in the rear. When they came to the end of the hall, which was near the wall between the kitchen and the living room, Casey pointed to the kitchen.

“Lex, wait for us in there,” she whispered.

It was clear that the noise had come from the bedroom, but Lex did as she’d been asked and went into the kitchen. There was a big pass-through in the wall between the living room and the kitchen, however, so she had a clear view of anything that happened in much of the rest of the house, down to the open bedroom door in the far wall. She found her eyes moving over the kitchen then, re-examining everything. Lex felt as if she stood looking at a stranger's kitchen, even though she’d seen the room many times before and the faint scents of coffee and fresh bread felt heartbreakingly familiar. Hearing a noise, she turned towards the living room, feeling her shoulders tense.

Kurt had emerged from the bedroom wearing only boxers. They must have caught him sleeping in, Lex thought. She stifled the urge to simultaneously laugh and retch. Casey and Serena followed close behind, both trying to argue with him.

“If she's here, I want to see her. Where is she?” Lex heard Kurt say. Then, he caught sight of her in the kitchen. “Who are these people? Why are you here?”

“These are my friends. I told you I’d be here now to move my stuff out, and I asked you to have the courtesy to give us a few hours to do it.” She met his eye as she spoke, refusing to give him the satisfaction of appearing cowed.

“How did you get in here?” he asked, throwing her an accusatory look.

Lex continued to meet his gaze evenly, feeling anger start to rise up her spine. “Since you changed the locks, you mean? We were fortunate enough to find the door open, so we came in.”

He gave her a harsh stare then, trying to shame her with his eyes. “I can’t believe I was thinking of putting a ring on your hand. You’ve always been white trash, and that’s what you’ll stay.” Lex tried to keep her face stony, but couldn’t help a small flinch. He continued, “These 'friends' of yours seem even worse than the ones you used to have. Did you make them feel sorry for you with your poor little abused girl stories? I’ve told you a million times, it happened years ago, get over it!”

Lex’s head snapped up and she glared at him, her body almost moving to launch itself at him over the kitchen pass-through, but out of the corner of her eye she noticed Serena walking towards Kurt, fire in her eyes, so Lex steeled herself to stay put. As he stopped for breath, Serena snarled, “Enough!” placing her hand on his arm and disappearing. Lex and Casey both blinked and looked at one another in surprise, then Casey nodded.

“I guess Serena took care of that. I was wondering if I was going to have to throw him out.”

Lex nodded in agreement, her heart still beating crazily but starting to slow. “Thanks. Do you want to go downstairs and get some boxes while I pile up the things that need to be packed?”

Casey nodded and left on her errand. Lex took a deep breath, then began pulling all of her books of the shelves and stacking them on the floor. After a few minutes, Serena suddenly reappeared. Lex blinked at her, trying to smile despite the intense shame and waning anger she felt.

“Thanks for all of that,” she said.

Serena shook her head, smiling softly. “No need to thank me. It was kind of fun.”

She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and opened it, then gestured to Lex. “Come here for a minute.”

Lex approached and watched over her friend’s shoulder as Serena scrolled through a few pictures. She gasped and held her hand in front of her mouth as she saw the first one, which showed Kurt, still clad only in his boxers, standing rather unsteadily in front of a dumpster behind a large building. Over his head was a large sign proclaiming “Wet” in flashy letters with an arrow pointing to the front of the building. The next photo also showed the sign over his head and Kurt shouting and shaking his fist, and the third showed a view from somewhere above his head, taken looking down. He appeared beside himself with fury, and Lex also spotted rats milling around his slippers.

“I explained to him that he could be an adult and allow us to pack your things and leave, or that all of the local papers would be getting copies of these lovely photos and an explanation of how his parents’ favorite son was found behind this notorious gay strip club sleeping it off in his boxer shorts. I pointed out that this probably wouldn't improve his chances for public office, should he be planning that, and I just laughed at him when he threatened to call the police again. I asked him who would believe him right before I disappeared.”

Serena laughed a little evilly, and Lex choked with surprise before breaking out into uneasy laughter as well.

“Did you really leave him there? Where is it?”

“If you ever went to Tracks, it was in the same neighborhood, just a few blocks away.”

Lex had been there, and although she’d loved the club and felt sad when it had closed, she didn't remember the neighborhood fondly at all. It seemed dangerous and always looked half bombed out. She gasped.

“Do you think he'll be OK?” Lex asked, biting her lower lip.

Serena snorted. “Oh, the first payphone he finds, he'll be reverse-charge calling mommy and daddy to get his ass out of trouble. He'll be fine; people like that always are.”

She looked a little grim as she said that and fell silent, looking at the floor. Lex tentatively touched her friend’s arm, giving her a small grin. “Thanks again for taking up for me.”

Casey came back just as Serena smiled in return, so she had to show off the pictures and tell the story again. Lex couldn't help but laugh for real this time.

Then the three of them began collecting the rest of Lex's things. Casey ended up packing Lex's clothes and books while Serena worked on Lex's stuff from the bathroom and kitchen. Lex piled up her belongings and helped everywhere while she pulled all her files off Kurt's computer onto a USB drive. After a few hours’ work they had several boxes of books and miscellaneous kitchen and bathroom things, and a few garbage bags full of clothes. Lex did a final sweep of the house and found nothing else, but had a sudden thought about something she wanted to leave behind. She dove into the trash bags with her clothing in them, eventually pulling out the pink dress that Kurt had picked out for her.

“This is the dress he got me last Christmas. I think I told you about it, Casey,” said Lex, looking at it rather glumly, picking up a sleeve and then dropping it.

Serena snorted derisively. “Oh, it's hideous. So not you.”

“I think he only liked it because it covered my scars,” Lex replied with a frown.

“Where's the trash?” asked Serena, holding out her hands.

“There's a bin under the sink in the kitchen,” Lex answered, throwing her the offending garment.

Serena silently went to the kitchen, pulled out the trash can, and dropped the dress into it, stuffing it in further with her shoe. Casey laughed softly while Lex smiled a little and tried to hold back a chuckle. Serena rejoined them in the living room with a satisfied grin.

“OK, let's get everything out of here and get back,” Casey said, hefting a few boxes.

The van was packed and Lex found herself driving back to headquarters by 4:30. As Lex watched the building disappear in the rearview mirror, she found she didn't feel sad to see it go.

When they’d finished the slow drive back, Lex signed the van back in and Serena and Casey helped her carry the boxes and bags upstairs. Once everything was settled in a corner of Lex’s room, Serena turned to the other two.

“OK, ladies. I'm going to get ready to go out for the evening. Anyone else want to come along?”

Lex sighed and looked at Casey out of the corner of her eye. “I don't know. I'm feeling a little tired and was thinking that staying home and watching some movies sounded good tonight. What do you think, Casey?”

Casey smiled down at her. “Sounds good. I want to check out those martial arts films you told me about. Serena, how about another time?”

Serena smiled in response. “OK, just don't let Lex get down about breaking things off with that toad. Have fun, girls!”

After all of the moving, Lex didn't feel much like unpacking anything, so she and Casey made dinner, then changed into their pajamas and spent a long evening watching films in the open room overlooking the water that Lex had mentally begun calling the living room. They popped popcorn late that night and took turns trying out some of the more outrageous moves, laughing at each other’s attempts. When they both started getting tired, Lex put the films away and Casey cleaned up before they both trooped upstairs, saying their goodnights at the head of the stairs.

Lex had thought she might have difficulty getting to sleep, but she had barely fallen into in bed before sleep came. She’d also assumed she’d have bad dreams, but the only one she remembered featured her sitting with her uncle on the rocks along the river leading to Niagara Falls, the two of them almost touching as they silently sat together watching the sunset.

Sunday slipped away as quickly as the river had in that dream, and it seemed a short time of studying strategy books and working out found Lex back in bed again, moving into the next week.

Forward to Chapter 11

Comments about anything you liked or that you thought could be improved are extremely welcome!

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Well! Kurt = definite asshole.

Biscotto Amico

Hey, cookie friend!

Hmmm...yes, he sure didn't end up looking too good in this chapter. I've noticed when some people get hurt they can get really angry and will sometimes say and do things just to hurt back. That's usually why I try to duct tape my mouth shut when I get too angry, so that I don't say any BS thing that comes into my mind, but I guess Kurt never learned that lesson. If I had to hazard a guess, I don't think he's ever been on the receiving end of a breakup before...

Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting!

Great chapter!

Stumbled on to Super this morning and very happy I did. Long time DC native and remember Tracks very fondly and it brought a big smile to my face to see it mentioned! :)


Mike (Also known as Neil back in the day, driver of the Sloth)

:D So glad you've been enjoying the story, and I'm ecstatic to hear from another former Tracks-goer! I, too, have many fond memories of the place, and was very sad to see it go. And I have to say, although your name sounds familiar, your car's name sounds more so! Thank you very much for coming by to read, and thanks very much for your great comment!

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