Title: Um...untitled, I guess, 'cause I'm a bloody punk.
Fandoms: TMNT, and Monsters, Inc., in a roundabout sort of way.
Rating: PG-13, for language and moments of nudity
Summary: Excerpts from a unique relationship between two very unique denizens of New York City.
Disclaimer: Raph is so not mine.
Notes: All right, this is going to be a pretty long note, I think, because I'm pretty hesitant about posting this. It's not really because I'm unhappy with it--not at all--but just because...I don't know, it feels very much like absolutely self-indulgent, wish-fulfillment fantasy to me. I'm worried that it won't make sense, or have any meaning, to outside readers (such that I have).
Part of this is that I was experimenting with a different style as I was writing this. I've played with a style like this a couple of time before, but this was the first time I made a concerted effort to write only in snatches, little vignettes. Reading this will show how I failed at that, in the last two segments, but the first handful are very abrupt, for a reason. I'm not sure it's successful.
Another part is that I don't actually name names in this, which means the 'he's and 'she's get kind of repetitive in places. I think it's supremely easy to tell it's Raph, though; harder about Corinne, maybe, but only because she's my character, and not an established one in any canon.
Finally, in the end, I was using this as a way to work out some issues with Corinne, issues that crop up in PI, but don't really get resolved. They'll be addressed farther in the sequel, should it get written, but I needed to work through them in some way here.
But I'm posting it. I'm posting it, because this has spun off an idea for a crack!sequel to "Peculiar Institution", and if that ever gets finished and posted, then I will need this for it to make sense. So.
Warnings: There's a couple of naked chicas in this, and implications of both lesbianism and incest! Weehee! Er...this story contains mega-heavy spoilers for the ending of PI, in terms of what happens to Corinne and her brother, but in all honesty, that ending is not too surprising. If you've been reading my journal entries about that story, especially the ones when I was just starting to rewrite it, there shouldn't be any real surprises. Um.
It was three o’clock in the morning. The side of the dorm building was pocked with lighted rectangles, showing the rooms where students were up late, studying or relaxing or perhaps engaging in more intimate pleasures. Had he been inclined, he could have had quite a peep show, watching college girls change in their rooms with no thought to privacy.
He wasn’t though; he was here for a specific person. Her window wasn’t hard to find—follow the fire escape on the left side of the dorm’s face down three floors from the roof, and that particular pair of lighted rectangles right there showed that she was still awake. Conscious of the particular need for silence, he opted to hit the dorm’s roof and take the fire escape down to her window, instead of leaping straight across the gap between the buildings. Three floors down and she had the blinds up, ragged, second-hand curtains drawn back. The windows were open to admit what was left of the day’s warmth.
From behind, as he was seeing her now, it was easy to mistake her for a boy, albeit a slim, effeminate one; the corded muscles of her arms and shoulders and shiny, hairless head were stronger identifiers than her narrow waist and wide hips. But when she turned—as she did now, hearing his tap on the window frame—there was no doubt that she was a girl, and a relatively well-endowed one, as he understood these things.
“Hey,” she said, smiling. “It’s you. Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Been busy,” he said noncommittally. “You gonna invite me it, or leave me out here on the fire escape?”
“Come in, come in,” she said, waving one hand expansively. She turned away from him again, detaching the doorstop and letting her dorm door swing to a close. She locked it with a snick, then turned around and leaned against it, crossing her arms over her chest. “I saw you on the news the other day,” she informed him. “Famous boy.”
He shrugged as he came in through the window, barely managing to squeeze through even sideways. “I do what needs to be done,” he said, loosing the drapes so they fell across the windows. He pulled off his helmet. “’S not my fault no one else does it as well as me.”
Her smile changed to a grin. “’I’m the best I am at what I do,’ eh, man?” she asked.
She didn’t know his name, and he didn’t know hers. There had never been a reason to exchange that particular information. When they were together, he was ‘man’ or ‘dude’, or some other generic masculine appellation, and she was just ‘kid’…or occasionally ‘baldy’, if she was annoying him.
“And if I am?”
She snickered. “Then sometimes you get on TV, and I get to see you without seeing you, which is somewhat outside of Wolverine’s sphere of experience, I’m sure.”
She could be just as indecipherable as Mikey sometimes.
The window was closed, but the lights were on. Through drapes half-open, he could see that she was awake, alone, and that she’d noticed him. He pushed on the glass, but the window was locked.
She scrambled off her bed, hurrying over to unlock it. It was late enough to be early, and she was dressed in nothing more than a big T-shirt. He couldn’t help but notice her legs, pale and smooth, the muscles rippling strongly under the skin as she walked.
“Didn’t expect to see you,” she said, but she didn’t look displeased.
“Didn’t expect to be here,” he replied. It was true—he’d been only a couple nights ago, and hadn’t planned to come back for a couple more, but that punk on his cheap crotchrocket had led him a merry chase through the back alleys and shadowed places, and he hadn’t realized that he was in her neighborhood until the kid was strung up above the remains of his bike and he got a good look at his surroundings.
“You just get somebody?” she asked. He looked at her, eyes narrowed sharply, and she shrugged. “You’ve got that look in your eye, man. You had that same look after…well.”
She didn’t have to say it. He knew she was referring to the time they’d first met, four or five months ago now. Put simply, she’d been in trouble and he’d saved her, but had his helmet knocked clean off in the process. Instead of screaming, or freaking out, or running off, she’d picked it up and handed it back, a strange, wry expression on her face.
“Yeah, maybe I did,” he admitted.
Almost immediately she was on one knee, rooting in the refrigerator between the two beds. “You hungry?” she asked. “I don’t have a lot, but anything in here…” She craned her neck over her shoulder; he shook his head ‘no’. “Thirsty, then?” she asked, pulling out a water bottle and holding it out to him.
“…Sure,” he said, taking it. “Thanks, kid.”
“So…what, exactly, are you doing?” he asked. He pulled the chair out from the roommate’s desk and sat, ignoring the groaning protest it made at his weight.
She stood in front of the little sink by the door, bare from the hips up except for a bra and a towel around her shoulders. Her head was covered in white foam.
“What, did you think I was naturally bald?” she asked, brandishing a wicked looking straight razor as if it were a weapon. She turned back to the mirror, examined herself critically, and laid down the first stroke. “I can’t shave in the bathroom,” she said, rinsing it in the skin and shaking the water free before the second. “It freaks the other girls out.”
“I can understand,” he said, watching her methodically scrape the blade over her skin.
The windows were open as wide as they could go, the drapes pulled all the way, and the blinds up (though that was typical). He could hear music blasting from her room even as he climbed down the fire escape. He paused, just out of sight of the window, and listened, but he was pretty sure she was alone.
“What fun’s a party of one?” he asked, crouching in the window.
“Party of two, now!” she said brightly, smiling at him. She danced over to the window in time with the music and grabbed him by the shoulders. He had to fight the urge to jerk back, to throw her off—she rarely touched him, and never so concretely.
“Everybody’s gonna love today, gonna love today,” she sang along with the song, oblivious to his discomfort. “Anyway you want to! Anyway you’ve got to love, love me!” She released him and spun away, dancing across the floor.
“Jeez,” he said, reaching in the window and turning the volume on the stereo down, “what’s got you in such a good mood?”
“A good and glorious concatenation of events,” she informed him, with as much dignity as she could muster. “Met an old friend unexpectedly, getting good grades, saw a good movie, and Dav—my dad sent me a box full of cookies!” She flung out her arms and spun on one foot. “The weather’s good, the music’s good, and now you’re here, so that’s good, too!”
“Well, aren’t you just a little ray of sunshine?” he said, attempting sarcasm and not quite managing it. The last part of her little speech had thrown him almost as much as being grabbed.
“Can’t help it,” she said with a shrug. She picked up a box and held it out to him. “Cookie? I’ve got scads.”
“’Scads’?” he repeated. “Who uses a word like ‘scads’?”
“I do,” she sniffed. “Now do you want one or not?”
He took one.
There were lines on her head, bold black lines sectioning her bare skull into little, irregular boxes. “What the hell happened to you?” he asked.
For an instant, she looked puzzled; then the expression cleared, and she ran a hand ruefully over her head. “Aw, I incapacitated myself at a party yesterday,” she said, frowning and walking over to the mirror over the sink. She leaned close, looking at herself, and shook her head.
“Are you all right?” he said—quickly, too quickly, and the sharp way she looked at him showed that she hadn’t missed it.
Finally, she nodded. “Fine. I passed out on the couch, but my brother was there, and he found me…just not quickly enough to stop tipsy med students with markers from having their way.”
“What is it?” he asked—there were words in most of the boxes.
“You know what phrenology is?” she asked.
“It’s a crack science from the beginning of the nineteen-hundreds,” she explained quickly. “They thought personality could be determined from bumps on the skull. She stepped close to him and turned around, tilting her head forward. The zones were labeled things like “Chocolate Zone”, “Aberrant Sex Drive”, and “Love of Bunnies”. One particularly large block said, “This Space for Rent”.
Hesitantly, he raised his hands and touched his fingers lightly to the back of her head. She didn’t react, so he turned it, reading all of the little blocks.
“Smarty-pants med school bastards,” she muttered as he was looking at them. “Sharpie doesn’t come off for three days.” She rolled her shoulders and pulled away, going to the mirror again and staring at herself.
“It could be worse,” he offered. “At least drunk med students can still spell.”
He hadn’t realized where he was going until he was there. He’d only wanted to get out, get away from his brothers, from Master Splinter, from everything. It wasn’t until he was pushing the window open that he realized he was at her dorm—and that, for once, she wasn’t alone in her room. It wasn’t even the roommate; the roommate was never around. No, the stranger, whoever he was, was sleeping in her bed, and they were entwined together in a remarkably intimate way.
He froze, half-in and half-out of the room, and stared. He didn’t know which disconcerted him more, that she was with someone, asleep wrapped in his arms, or that this was the first place he had come when he needed to vent to someone.
He was on the verge of slipping away when she stirred, yawning and throwing back the covers and swinging her legs out of the bed. She was completely naked, and shuffled unselfconsciously over to her desk. Somehow, she managed not to notice him as she scrubbed at her eyes and reached for a half-empty bottle of water. Normally, he might have taken this opportunity to get a good, solid look at all of a female human, but he was too busy staring at her bedmate. He was not, in fact, a he—it turned out that the long arm and hock of blonde hair he’d seen actually belonged to another woman.
It wasn’t until she was halfway back to the bed that, she noticed him, and her surprise manifested in a yelp of surprise. She fell back, into the bed; her companion sat up, blinked blearily, caught sight of him in the window, and began to scream. She scrambled backwards and fell off the bed, into the cleft between bunk and the closet doors. The screaming continued unabated.
With a look in his direction, she rolled herself over the bed and dropped into the cleft after the other girl. Abruptly, the screaming cut off, and he took the opportunity to come all the way in, shutting the window and pulling the drapes for good measure. Cautiously, he peeked into the space between the bed and the wall. She had pinned her companion with the full length of her compact body, and had covered her mouth with one hand. “Shut up, just shut up, there’s nothing wrong, give it a rest,” she was chanting.
The other girl saw him and her eyes went wide. For a brief minute, she struggled more forcefully; then her eyes rolled back and she went still.
“Oh thank God, she passed out.” His girl—oh hell, when did he start thinking of her that way?—got up and dusted herself off. One hand reached out and groped for something at the foot of the bed. She didn’t turn to face him until she’d pulled the T-shirt on.
“I didn’t—” he started, but that didn’t sound right. “You—” No, that wasn’t right either. “That’s a girl,” he said finally, pointing to the girl on the floor.
Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. “What?” she gasped, her hands going to her mouth as she spun to look down at her companion. “A girl?! No way! I never would have—of course I knew she was a girl, you dolt,” she snarled, turning around again. “It’s kind of hard to miss the big squishies in the front.”
“But what?” she challenged, standing right in front of him and tilting her head back to look him in the eye. He was only a little taller than she was—a couple inches, at the most, but it was nice to be taller than someone.
“You never told me that you were…” He trailed off, hesitant to finish the sentence.
“A lesbian?” She smirked. “I’m not. I’m just…logical enough to know that if I can’t have the only man I want, it’s easier to turn to girls instead of trying to find him in other guys.” She didn’t look at him as she said it. There was a wistful expression on her face now, and a distant look in her eyes. Then her face cleared, and she looked him in the eye, and said, “Besides, it’s none of your business the gender of the people I choose to spend my nights with.”
He couldn’t say anything to that, because she was right, it wasn’t any of his business, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t—hell, that it didn’t hurt to find her like this. He looked away, clenching his fists around his belt, and tried to think of something to say.
She moved away from him, to the door. Someone began to knock on it, in short, perfunctory raps. He backed away, towards the window, but she only opened the door enough to stick her head through.
The person on the other side, a man judging by the deep voice, said something. “No, I know,” she said hastily, “and I’m really sorry.” She waited as he said something else. “No, no! Nothing like that.” She chuckled. “I rolled over on the remote in my sleep. Apparently, there was a slasher on.” The voice said something else. “I assure you we’re fine,” she said firmly. “There’s no one in here but me and Angie, and she managed to sleep through it.” She nodded in response to the stranger’s questions, and finally shut the door. “Jerk-off,” she muttered, locking it.
He had backed all the way to the window during the interchange, and now he turned to push on the glass. “I should go,” he said tightly. He couldn’t stay.
“I’ve never seen you like this,” she said, as if she hadn’t heard him, remaining by the door. For a minute, he thought she was referring to his anger, and wondered if he was really that transparent. But no, her eyes were tracking up and down his body, and he realized that she simply meant it was the lack of the suit. She was right, he realized—all the other times he’d visited her, it’d been as the Nightwatcher. He hadn’t planned to come here, hadn’t actually thought about what the end of his time as the vigilante would mean in terms of…this.
“I always thought you looked like a turtle in all that metal,” she said, stepping closer. “Never thought you really were one.”
“What the hell else would you expect?” he asked incredulously.
She shrugged. “I’ve known green people who weren’t turtles,” she said in a small voice. She was closer now, close enough that she could touch him if she wanted. Her eyes had gone distant again; he was struck by the sudden, strong feeling that he was seeing something here he’d never even had a hint of from her before. Her hands came up. “May I?”
He remembered her head under his fingers, turning it to look at all the lines and words written on her skull. He nodded.
She was brisk as she put her hands to his shell, not emotionless, but—detached. There was a neutral expression on her face as she ran her hands down his plastron in the front, fingers dipping into the grooves that separated the plates. She ducked around behind him and rapped on the carapace, ran her hands around the scutes of the marginal shield. She curved one hand over his shoulder, and with a surprisingly powerful yank, pulled his shoulder down so she could better examine the boundary between shell and skin.
“All right, that’s enough of that,” he said gruffly, pushing her away. The last thing he needed right was her running her fingers where he could actually feel it. A fleeting look of disappointment crossed her face, and then she shrugged. She backed off and went over to the bed, disappearing down into the gap.
“Hmm.” She straightened up, her arms around the girl’s torso. “If she gets a cold ‘cause of lying on the floor naked,” she informed him at his look, “she’s gonna know something went down.” He watched for a minute as she tried to wrestle the girl into the bed, but there wasn’t enough room for her to get the leverage she really needed. Finally, he moved over and picked up the ankles. They hefted her—not entirely gently—up onto the bed, and she twitched a blanket up to the girl’s neck.
“There,” she said. She walked across the room, squeezing past him, and propped her hands on her windowsill. She tipped her head against the glass, and then pushed it open with a stiff arm. “I’m going out,” she said decisively, and climbed out onto the fire escape, bare feet and bare bottom and all.
He followed. What else was there to do?
“I’ve never actually been up here before,” she said when he caught up to her at the top of the escape. To keep students from getting on the roof, it had been truncated—boarders on the top floor could get out, but they couldn’t get to the roof without a little strength, a little agility, and a lot of bravado.
“I can tell,” he said, and then he picked her up, slung her over his shoulder, and made the short climb one-handed. Wisely, she was still after the first surprised flail, though she did slug him on the arm when he put her down again.
He slugged her back, the blow making her stagger. “Why don’t you let your hair grow in?” he asked. “Then we can make it real authentic.”
She laughed. “Yeah right,” she said dismissively. She crossed her arms and tilted her head back, looking up at the night sky. There wasn’t a lot to see, between the intermittent cloud cover and all the light thrown up by the city’s inhabitants. “God, what a night.”
“Yeah, it’s been…something,” he said.
She perched herself on the edge of the parapet ringing the roof. The intermittent clouds were accompanied by an intermittent breeze, and she shivered. “I never wanted to come here,” she said finally. “This damn city—I hate to admit it, but it scares the hell out of me. All those shows on TV, every other report on the news…it’s all violence and mugging and murder, and worse things.”
“Why’d you come here, then?” He was not exactly in the mood to be a sympathetic ear, especially not if she was going to whine about college, which he couldn’t attend even if he’d wanted to, but he figured he might as well play his part. She obviously had something to say.
“This was the only damn school that my brother and I both got into,” she said, “and there was no way I was getting separated from him again.” She sighed, started to hitch one leg up on the edge, stopped. “Used to be,” she continued, “I’d only feel really, truly comfortable when he was around.”
Then she fell silent, and after a minute was on her feet again. “Can’t sit still,” she muttered, as much to herself as to him, it seemed, and paced away across the roof. The wind snapped the hem of her shirt against her thighs. She raised a hand, let it trail along a ventilation shaft protruding from the roof. Abruptly, she turned and punched at it.
It was a terrible punch—no form, no grace, only power. Immediately she drew the fist back and cradled it to her chest. “Ow,” she hissed between clenched teeth.
He rolled his eyes and walked over to her. “Let me see,” he demanded, holding out his hand. Without hesitation she gave the injured appendage over, stretching it out and letting him examine the knuckles closely. She might not have had any idea how to punch, but she’d still managed to split the skin in a couple of places; the back of her hand was oozing blood sluggishly.
“You’ll be fine,” he said briskly…but he didn’t let her go. Her eyes were distant, her sound of acknowledgement very noncommittal. She didn’t notice that he hadn’t relinquished her hand until he lifted it and kissed the blood on her knuckles. It left a sharp, wild taste in his mouth.
With a bizarre slowness, she turned to look at him, her eyes widening and her lips parting, as if in preparation to say something. He didn’t give her the chance; he shifted his grip from her hand to her wrist and yanked on her arm, hard enough to make her stumble into him. His other arm wrapped around her, pinning her to his plastron.
For one brief, terrible moment, she stiffened, and he was sure that she was going to try and get away. Don’t—don’t you dare push me away—don’t you dare, he warned her mentally, and then she was rising up on her toes, pushing against him, her free rising and pulling his face down to hers.
They kissed, and it wasn’t anything like the movies had led him to expect.
Then she was pulling away from him. She stared up at him, and her eyes were even wider now than they had been before. “No,” she whispered, and it was the absolute last thing he wanted to hear. “No, this is—” She backed up a step, and then another, and she would have backed away farther if it weren’t for his hand, still latched around her wrist.
“What?” he asked, his voice low. “‘This is’ what?”
“It’s not you,” she said, her free hand going to his fingers but her eyes never leaving his. Her voice was breathy and frantic. “If it were anyone in the world other than who it is, it would be you, but it’s not!” She was trying unsuccessfully to pry his fingers off her wrist. “I’m so sorry,” she said with desperate sincerity, “but it’s not!”
He took a step towards her, and she scrambled back. She tried to yank her arm free and only slipped on the rough tar paper covering the roof; her feet went out from under her and she fell. He knelt over her.
“Who is it?” he asked.
Her eyes filled with tears, and that freaked him out. He’d never seen her so discomposed as she was right now, not even the first night they’d met. Several minutes passed where she didn’t say anything—she only panted shallowly and stared at him through the tears. Finally, just when he’d decided he had to do something to break the impasse, she turned her face away. “My brother,” she whispered. “I’m in love with my brother.”
That he hadn’t expected.
He released her immediately, stepping away from her. She didn’t try to explain, didn’t say anything—she only propped herself up on her elbow and dragged the back of one hand across her eyes.
He didn’t say anything either. He didn’t trust himself to say anything, or even, for that matter, to stick around and see if she had anything else to say to him.
It had been almost a month since he had last been here. He’d been through the neighborhood a handful of times, yes, with his brothers, but this was the first time he’d come, of his own volition and with a very specific intention in mind.
Leo would kill him if he knew he was here. Splinter would probably kill him if he knew he was here. It wasn’t even where he was, really, it was when. He couldn’t risk waiting for nightfall, though—he knew that today was the last day of the semester, and that all the students were packing up and moving out.
He didn’t want to risk missing her.
The tall, blond guy in her room finally turned and left, and she shut the door behind him. That was his cue, especially since the road was clear of cars and most of the pedestrians were at the far ends of the blocks. He made the jump, so easy, and the climb, so familiar, and perched in the half open window.
She had her back to him; she was elbow deep in a pile of laundry. The near side of the room was already cleared out, and her packing had spilled over on her roommate’s bed and dresser. He watched her, for a minute, and then tapped on the window frame.
“Go the hell away,” she said coldly, not even turning around. She added another folded t-shirt to the pile.
“No. In fact, I’m coming in, ‘cause I shouldn’t even be out during the day, much less visiting punks like you.”
Suiting action to word, he climbed in the window, pausing to latch it and pull the drapes. The room got darker, but not much cooler. It was muggy in the early summer heat. She didn’t turn around, but she’d stopped folding the clothes.
She wasn’t saying anything. He figured, since he was the one who’d dropped in, he probably should. “I’m guessing tall and blond is this brother of yours?” he asked, leaning against the radiator under the window and crossing his arms.
She froze. “Yeah,” she admitted softly, and then he saw her shake her head and laugh.
He scowled. “Something funny?”
She shook her head again. “No,” she said. “Not really. No.”
“What’s he like?” he asked, interested almost despite himself. Her voice whispered through the back of his mind—“ If it were anyone in the world other than who it is, it would be you”—and he really needed to know what this brother she loved so much was like.
“He’s…sweet,” she said. “Shy, quiet. Smartest guy I know—he’s a miracle worker when it comes to electronics!—but he’s capable of such outstanding moments of stupidity that half the time I wanna beat him.” She still hadn’t turned around.
“Sounds like someone I know,” he said, without thinking about it. Then his mind caught up with his mouth, and he realized it was the first time he’d ever mentioned anything about his rather unique home life to her.
The fact was not lost on her. She finally looked up, tossing a crumpled T-shirt aside and half-turning. “Does it?” she asked with a smile. “I was beginning to think I was the only person you knew.”
He snorted, but he wasn’t stupid enough to let anything else slip. Instead, he said, “Semester’s over.”
She nodded. “I’m leaving in a couple of hours.”
“I figured.” He looked away now, his eyes focusing on a scuff mark on the wall. Last time he’d been here, there had been a poster there. Apparently, it had come down with a fight.
At his silence, she turned back to the laundry pile. Desultorily, she folded a few more shirts, setting them aside. Abruptly, she walked over to her desk, which was bare now, except for some papers in a messy stack and her computer. She picked the papers up, and turned around, leaning back against the desk’s edge.
“We need to talk about something,” she said seriously. She drummed her fingers against the papers, tapping them into a neat sheaf, and asked, “Do you know what these are?”
“I have no idea.”
“They’re transfer forms, for a school closer to home,” she said. “My brother has a matching set. He’s not happy about leaving, but he said he will if I really want to.” She planted on palm on the desk’s surface and leaned nonchalantly, the other hand holding the papers out in the air like a flag. “There’s only one thing I can think of that would keep me here, and I need to know if it’s even a valid reason anymore.”
He stared at the papers, and then at her; he thought he understood what she was saying-without-saying, but he wasn’t sure. She stared back impassively. She was unrelenting, and she wasn’t giving him any clues. He uncrossed his arms and crossed the space between them, reaching for the forms.
She let him take them, and then grinned as he deliberately ripped the papers into increasingly smaller pieces. “You go to a different school,” he said with supreme nonchalance as he did it, “how am I supposed to save your sorry ass when you go around picking fights with gutter punks?”
She reached down without looking and snagged the wastebasket, holding it up for the remains of the forms. “You make a compelling argument,” she said. “Now, there’s one thing I need to know—one single thing that you have to say to convince me to stay.”
He stiffened and stared down at her, wondering what the hell else she could want.
“One thing,” she repeated, holding up a single finger. “Tell me your name.”
...So there. >.>