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September 16, 2013

I Hraet You (92)

Beat 92: Romance Never Dies (Except When it Does)

Deirdre took note of Lloyd’s blank stare, and sidled up to him as fast as she could (if only to save face).  “Oh?  What have we here?  You look like a boy who has excellent taste.”  She sashayed her hips, and tossed a hand through a few bangs.  “So.  Do you like what you see?”

Lloyd pointed to her face.  “Your nose is running.”

Deirdre wore her sultry smile for as long as she could -- at least until a stream of snot dribbled down her bottom lip.  She ran a forearm across her face and leapt away, turning her back on Lloyd once more.  “Damn it, Sheila!  Why isn’t that spray working the way it’s supposed to?  I can be sexy, but not when I’ve got a nose like a broken faucet!”

Her ear wiggled, and she turned her head left.  “I gave you all the good stuff already,” said Sheila.  She pumped her fists up and down.  “By the way, that good stuff wasn’t cheap, so don’t expect to see too much of it again.”

Her ear wiggled, and she turned her head right.  “THAT was the good stuff?” Deirdre yelled.  She stomped a foot against the ground.  “That crap barely lasted for an hour!  And it burned the hell out of my nose!”

“You mean our nose.”

“Whatever!  Just do something about your nose already so I can work my magic!”

“I don’t think there’s anything I can do -- unless you feel like spending a half hour in the bathroom.”

“Doing what?”

“W-well, they usually have plenty of toilet paper…”

“Oh, screw you!  I’d rather clamp my nose shut than spend a second in a germy public bathroom!”

“Might I offer a solution, ladies?”

Lloyd strode toward her -- or them, arguably -- and gave a quick wave.  “I think I have a solution that can appease everyone…for a little while, at least.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pink handkerchief -- and with it, a small bottle with a picture of a grinning wrestler.  “Basher Kong Nasal Spray.  I’ve heard it can be quite effective -- and just barely legal, by the FDA’s estimation.  If you’ve the courage, you can try using these to soothe what ails --”

Deirdre snatched them up in a flash.  She blew a keg’s worth of snot into the handkerchief, and rapidly sprayed her nostrils.  “You can have this back,” she said a minute later, holding the soaked cloth between the tips of her fingers.”

Lloyd held up his hands.  “You can keep it.  I insist.”  Of course, he didn’t bother making any objections as Deirdre tossed it into a distant trash can; if anything, he wanted to praise her for making an awesome shot.  “So, the spray.  How is it?  Not too strong, I hope?  My father was the one that offered it to me, and given his constitution he --”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Deirdre.


Deirdre shook her head and grinned cheerily.  “Nope!” 

Her ear wiggled, and in a quarter second her smile vanished.  “Wh-what the…?  What are you --?”  Sheila would have said more, but she bclapped her hands in front of her nose instead -- and fell to the ground in a heap.  “Oh God!  IT BURNS!  IT BURNS!” she wailed, squirming and rolling across the ground. 

“Miss O’Leary!  Hold on!”  Lloyd’s eyes shot left and right.  “I’ll find some water and spray it up your nose!  I’m sure that will -- oh, wait, that would probably just drown you.  Never mind.  I’ll just have to --”

“Don’t switch back to me!” Deirdre shouted…but Lloyd was more likely to notice her continued screams rather than the changing of hands.  “You rotten little -- MY LUNGS ARE MELTING!  WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!”

Lloyd glanced at the trash can.  “Would it help if I gave you the handkerchief?”


Sheila poked her nose gingerly, hoping that a slight touch would keep her from feeling the sting.  It didn’t help; she recoiled as if she’d been stung by a bee, and she looked as if she’d start crying in the next nanosecond.

“Perhaps touching your nose isn’t the wisest idea at the moment, Miss O’Leary,” said Lloyd.  He took a seat next to her on the bench, all too wary of her injury -- a nose now swollen and bruised (and hopefully not broken), with its engorged size only contained by a wall of bandages as thick as the average riot shield.  “I don’t suppose you can pretend it doesn’t exist at the moment?”

“E-easier said than done…”  She sniffled, and Lloyd could almost feel the spasm of pain running through her.  “I guess that spray did help a little bit, though.  Either that, or punching myself in the face over and over.”

“I see you’re still more than capable of good humor.  That’s always a good sign.”

“That wasn’t a joke.”

“Oh.”  Lloyd scratched his crown.  “Maybe I should have gone to the hospital after al.  Or we could go together; we could make a real date out of it.”

“B-b-but we’re already on a date!”  She leaned toward Lloyd and stared at him with moistening eyes.  “I-I’m sorry for getting things off to a bad start -- but I promise, I’ll try my hardest to make it go better!  Really!  So don’t --”

“Calm down, Miss O’Leary.  I’m not about to abandon you just yet.  Nor am I going to let this day turn sour merely because of a small mishap or two.”  He winked at her.  “I’ve got every intention of giving you the best day I can -- so let’s make the most of it, shall we?”

Sheila leaned back and jerked out a nod.  “O-okay.  But…um, are things really going to be okay?”

“What specifically are you worried about?  The date, or just life in general?”


Lloyd’s cheer flat-lined.  “I suppose you have legitimate concerns, all things considered.  But let’s sort through them at a steady pace; there’s no reason to overwhelm ourselves with all the nasty particulars.”  He glanced aside.  “Granted the thrust of my life the past week has been trying to unravel the mysteries and maladies plaguing this town, up to and including creating a sort of aegis against a masked malcontent bent on transforming this town into his own twisted vision of the perfect world, but…er…”

Sheila stared blankly at him.

“…I think I was going somewhere with that, but I seem to have run into a bit of a snag thanks to remembering the myriad problems I’m bound to face.  Anyway, have you considered joining my harem?”

Sheila stared blankly at him.

“I thought I might counterbalance the negatives with a bit of positivity.  I can think of few things more enticing than the thought of a bosomy paradise.”

“Um…I’m not sure I get it, but…”  Sheila pressed her fingers together, and kept her eyes locked on her prodigious chest.  “You just want me around because I’m busty?”

“No, of course not.  That’s merely a benefit -- a bonus, but certainly not the basis.  My intent is to make a comrade out of you…or to be more precise, a friend.  It’s true -- or likely, at least -- that this power of mine is one that offers you some manner of safeguard, however limited, against the forces that threaten our fair town.  And beyond that, our bonding together makes us predisposed toward taking on whatever troublemakers come our way, together.  But even if that wasn’t the case, I would still try my hardest to put a smile upon your face.”


“Why?  Well, why not?  Why wouldn’t I want to make someone happy?”

“You’d really go that far for me?”

Lloyd nodded.  “Farther than you could ever know, Miss O’Leary.  For if your noble heart willed it, I would break down even the mightiest of mountains with naught but my easily tenderized fists, and --!”



Sheila took Lloyd’s hand in hers.  “You…you can call me Sheila.  I mean, this way whenever I switch with Deirdre you don’t have to keep calling us by the same name.  It could get confusing after a while, you know?  And besides…”  She looked up at him and smiled -- a nervous smile made with a reddened face, but with a warmth and softness that Lloyd had never known before.  “We’re friends now.  So you shouldn’t have to be so formal with me.”

Lloyd smiled back at her.  “Of course.  Then from this day forth, I’ll be certain to call you ‘Sheila’ -- awkward as it may be thanks to my customs.”

“And I’ll -- I-I’ll try and work hard, too.”  Her eyes shifted to the left.  “I really put you through a lot, didn’t I?  I’m sorry about all that…i-it’s just that I was just trying so hard to change myself, and I wasn’t thinking straight, and I’m probably really dumb, and --”  She shook her head rapidly.  “Anyway, it feels like my head is a lot clearer now.  So I’m gonna do my best.  I’ll be the kind of person you think I can be…even if I need your help every now and then.”

“If you need my help, you’ll have it.  And soon enough, you won’t have to rely on me at…”  Lloyd’s eyes widened.  “Hold on.  What exactly did you mean by your head ‘feeling a lot clearer’?”

“Huh?  Um, I don’t know.  It just…”  Sheila pressed a finger to her chin.  “I guess looking back, a lot of the stuff I did seems kind of silly.  But the weird thing is, it feels like it was kind of hazy -- like I’m having trouble remembering stuff, even though it just happened not too long ago.  Like, I dunno, I was just moving along without thinking.  Like…”

“Like a puppet?”

“Maybe?  I guess?  I mean, I could still think and move, kinda, but…I dunno, it just feels weird.”  She looked up at the sky.  “Like…for some weird reason, I can’t help but feel like everything is more…colorful.”

“Colorful, huh?”  Lloyd’s brow tightened, and he covered his mouth.  Is this the effect of her reaching a four-star level?  Or could it be Deirdre’s doing -- or merely her presence?  Perhaps it’s because I came so close to losing her in the audition room?  No, that can’t be it; presumably, she’d been in dire straits long before I met her; my presence could only do so much prior to completion.

There are so many variables and mysteries.  By JP’s estimate it would be wise of me to start figuring out all I can about my powers and their effects via Sheila’s testimony, but…I wonder if it’s really all right to make a test subject out of her.  Especially since this is supposed to be a date.  I’m here to treat her well and make her feel welcome; I shouldn’t probe her for my own gain.

 I’ll avoid pressing her too heavily for now.  As a potential comrade, we have all the time in the world to sort this mess out.  For now, my top priority is --

“Did I say something weird?” Sheila asked.

Lloyd shook his head and smiled.  “I was just over-thinking things.  I do that every once in a blue moon.  But enough of that; we’re here to have fun, and I intend to do exactly that!”  He leapt off the bench and pointed brazenly at the sky.  “Prepare yourself for a day full of merriment and heartwarming -- so let us venture forth to…!  To…!”

Sheila tilted her head.  “To?”

Lloyd’s finger sagged.  “Er…I was going to suggest a place, but that would have required me to think of one first.”  He stroked his chin rapidly -- and in a flash of brilliance, he snapped his fingers.  “I’ve got it!  Let’s go bowling!  If ever there was a sport that embodied good times and the warming of hearts, it would have to be bowling!”

“Don’t even THINK about taking a hottie like me to a smelly-ass bowling alley!” Deirdre roared, standing up in a huff.  “Do you have any idea what you’re supposed to do on a date?  I can tell you right now that it doesn’t involve bowling!”

“It doesn’t?”

“Hell no!”  Deirdre clasped her hands together and stared wistfully at the sky.  “A date is supposed to be all about romantic dinners!  Moonlit, horse-drawn carriages!  Violinists playing in the background as our emotions and passions swell up from within us!”

“That sounds like the sort of thing you’d want to do at night, not before it even strikes noon,” said Lloyd as he glanced at his pocket watch.  “Also, I suspect I barely have the money for a honey bun, let alone a gourmet dinner.”

“What?!  You agreed to a date without even having any money?  Are you some kind of idiot?”

Lloyd grinned sheepishly.  “I would have guessed that was obvious.”

Deirdre snorted and shook her head, but kept a smirk on her face regardless.  “Fine.  I guess I’ll just have to comp you just this once.  But let this be a lesson to you -- if you want to treat a lady right, you’d better have a fat wallet.  Like so.”  She started to reach down her shirt -- but before she could even touch it, her hand froze.  “Oh crap.  Oh crap, I just realized -- I can’t do it!”

“Eh?  Can’t do what?”

“Isn’t it obvious?  I can’t grab my wallet from between my breasts now!  I’ll ruin this ensemble!  I don’t think you know how hard it is to find a button-down collared shirt for a girl that’s smuggling a pair of watermelons!”  She shook her head furiously.  “Damn it, it’s even worse than that -- any more stress on this shirt, and I’ll ruin that super-sexy secret technique I had in store for you!  It’s a miracle it’s lasted this long!”

Her ear wiggled -- and her hand started moving back toward her chest.  “It’s fine, Deirdre,” said Sheila.  “It’s better to have money than to try and seduce Lloyd.”

Her ear wiggled -- and her hand snapped away at the speed of sound.  “You just don’t get it, Sheila!  I want to be sexy, so I’m gonna be sexy!  Don’t try and get in my way!”

“But our date --!”

“Screw the date!  If I’m gonna be a total hottie, I’ve gotta act the part!  And I can’t do that unless I make all the right moves!”  Deirdre clenched her teeth.  “This is your fault, anyway!  Why don’t you carry a purse?”

“I don’t know!  I just figured my breasts were a good place to keep it!  And it’s not like I wear makeup or anything!”

“That’s beside the point!  Hot mamas need purses!  That’s just the way things work -- it’s nature!  And I swear to GOD, if you ruin this for me --”

“YOU’RE the one ruining it!  Just let me get the money and --!”

Deirdre took control once more, and slapped a hand atop their nose.  The result was predictable.  “OH GOD, WHY DO I HAVE TO FEEL THINGS?!” she wailed as she rolled across the ground.

Lloyd offered her a hand.  “So did you want to go bowling, or…?”


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