scifantasy: Me. With an owl. (Default)
scifantasy ([personal profile] scifantasy) wrote on November 21st, 2008 at 12:08 am
Lean On Me, or Head, Shoulders, Eyes, And Ears
No, the Case stories didn't go away, any more than the Mina stories did. They're just slow to come out when the authors get busy. And law school certainly qualifies. But as the third part of "Therapeutic Impulse" went up earlier this week, so too comes your next look at another perspective...

Only a few people ever get to see behind the mask Judy puts up. She carefully selects who gets to see her. And even with her friends, the ones who get to see behind the mask, she almost always tries to be upbeat.

I asked her about that, once. She told me that she didn't want to burden her friends, didn't want to put whatever problems she had on other people. I called that ridiculous; that's pretty much the definition of "friend," I said. But it didn't matter. She doesn't like even her closest friends to see her sad.

So when Judy showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep, near tears, I knew this had to be a bad one.

I brought her in and sat her down, then grabbed supplies from the freezer and the liquor cabinet. Judy doesn't like to admit it, but she's as susceptible to the healing powers of ice cream as the next person.

I got the story out of her in drips, sobs, and the occasional "I really did not need to know that." Oh. Nancy was gone. Here we go again. Hold on tight, everyone, time for the freefall...

Nancy was right about one thing: Judy's as straight-arrow as they come. Well, not literally. But still, she's definitely the settling-down type. Problem is, the person she wants to settle down with has a near-paralyzing fear of commitment which leaves her no choice but to run, very fast and very far, whenever it starts going that way.

I swear, the two of them have been on a sinusoidal wave for fifteen years now. Like the Great Maker said: "We meet, renew acquaintances, talk about old times, you ask about my aunt, I ask about your brother, we lie about not missing each other and we end up in bed together. And then you leave."

There really wasn't a whole lot I could do for her, and she knew that. All that could be done was to keep her from falling too hard, and help her get up again.

She crashed at my place. Not that I'd have let her leave, once we'd gone from the ice cream to the alcohol. I think we had roughly the same volume of each, actually...

------

When morning broke, with a crashing noise I /think/ was just in my own head, I rolled off of my couch and roused Judy from my bed. I went through my morning routine (email, newsfeeds, exercise, shower, webcomics) as she went through hers, whatever it was.

My eyebrows went up at step 1, today. Well. Looks like my little insurance policy was already reaping rewards...

Then, since we had the time, I headed kitchenward. I'm not a chef, by any means, but I can make decent eggs.

Judy showed up, dressed for work, as the eggs were coming out of the pan. She'd brought a spare change of clothes before she came by last night. I made a note that if this was going to be a regular occurrence, we should readopt the Emergency Clothes Stash protocol. /That's a throwback to the good old days./

"I think I'll tag along to work today," I told her, sliding her a plate, and she froze for a moment.

"Do you think I need minding?"

I snorted. "Even if I did--which I don't--I wouldn't dare say so. No, I just think it'll be an interesting day." She accepted this, as well as could be expected, and we headed for the campus.

When we arrived, we met a quite disturbing sight: a fan-in. We exchanged an eye-roll and cut a path through to her office. As she went inside, I looked around for, and found, Seldom, and jerked my head to a quieter corner.

We went to the section on the Golden Age. The crowd wouldn't know Heinlein if he walked up to them and began to declaim his views on the military and fascism; right now this was the least interesting part of the entire archive.

"Was that the kind of thing you had in mind?" he asked.

"You did perfectly. Thanks, kid."

"Any time--well, any time you can pay the piper." He held out his hand.

I sighed, pulled another card out of my pocket, and scribbled on the back. "This will be good for one night for you and two others."

"Pretty generous," he said, taking the card from me and turning it over and over in his hands.

"It's not like there's a formal pay scale for this," I said. "I'm playing it by ear. You know the rules, though--mention this to anybody, especially Silverman, Nancy, or Mina, and this goes poof."

"Understood. I can keep a secret, you know. One question, though?"

"Sure."

"So...who are you, anyway?"

I chuckled. "You haven't figured that out?"

He shrugged. "root@wintermute.org wasn't exactly informative."

"Sorry, no hints."

He nodded, gave me a little salute, and headed back to the crowd. He got back just as Judy's Mina arrived up the stairs. I found a quiet corner where I could keep an eye on as many things as possible, pulled out my laptop, and spent the day working on some coding projects. And keeping an eye on everything, as best I could.

Thankfully, the vampire people in the lobby didn't need to leave escorted by the cops. They eventually made their own way out.

Once they were gone, I didn't see any need to stick around. I swung by Judy's office to take my leave.

"Thanks," she said. "I really appreciate what you did for me."

"Don't mention it. That was relatively tame. You remember the last breakup JC had? She dumped him at the con? We found him drunk out of his mind, completely out of his head, belting out a Placebo song in the key of R Demented."

She laughed. "Yes, I remember. You had to miss out on some panels for that one, as I recall."

"And keep him away from the computers."

"Point taken."

I bowed my way out and headed home.

------

Late that night, when I was just starting to wonder what time I should sack out, I heard a knock on my door.

I opened it, and there was Judy again. Not crying this time, not exactly. More...bewildered, maybe? I wasn't sure. Difficult to read. Probably difficult to feel.

"Judy? What's going on?" I always ask that question, even when I shouldn't.

She told me.

"Oh."

I thought about things for a few seconds.

"Fuck."

She nodded.

"Come in," I said, "I'm too sober for this right now."

Edit: Oh, and the footnotes have been updated.
 
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