Law found that in the days after talking to Lexi late that night, she was much more tolerant of instances caused by the engineers. Even when they started a small fire in the microwave by trying to heat up an entire bread loaf, plastic wrapping and all, she only laughed and doused the inside with some water from the sink.
The pirate wondered why that was, but never really got a chance to ask, as she was still busy finishing up her studying. With the amount of work she claimed to have, he wondered how any of the information managed to stick around in her memory for too long. Another problem he had with her world's education system. Knowledge wasn't memorizing things, it was experiencing them, especially with something as delicate as the medical field.
Still, he was left to wonder by himself. Bepo and the two engineers had decided to take a walk through the forest, on the one condition that they took Nana's cellphone with them, pre-dialed to Lexi's number in case of emergency. She didn't want another gas station incident happening.
So, Law found himself lounging on the couch for the fifth day in a row with nothing to do, and he was beginning to grow weary of the inactivity. Perhaps that's what he missed most, the never-ending events, something to occupy his mind at all times. Here, there seemed to be a lot of downtime to replace the constant threat of certain death.
Sighing loudly, he rubbed at his eyes in frustration. There had to be something he could do. Stretching out his arms and swinging his legs over the side of the couch, he stood, yawning deeply. Glancing around lazily, his eyes fell onto Lexi's purse, hanging on the end of the stairs banister. Curiosity getting the better of him, and with a cautionary glance to the top of the stairs, he approached her bag.
It was black with strange gold triangle patterns all over it, though what the symbol meant was beyond him. Shaking his head in dismissal, he opened up the flap and looked inside. Several pieces of crumpled up paper caught his eyes first. He couldn't quite understand what they were, but at the top they had titles like 'Wendy's' and 'Panda Express.' Shrugging, he set those on the nearby table and continued to rummage inside.
A few pens, a wallet by the looks of it, and a pair of sunglasses made up the rest of the contents. Nothing overall interesting, to his disappointment, moving to grab the pieces of paper and put them back, he noticed a small white square of paper left in the very corner of her purse. It was severely crushed and crumpled, hidden by the folds of fabric of the bag. Taking it out, he unfurled the crushed edges and read what it said.
'GAMMA SIGMA END-OF-SEMESTER KICK-OFF PARTY.' Ah, yes. The party that the gentleman from Lexi's university had spoken of. He was rather curious of what a party would be like in her world, and part of him wanted to know what kind of drunk Lexi was. He smirked to himself, imagining the brunette swaying on a barstool and ultimately falling over from an excess of alcohol. He couldn't imagine she wasn't a lightweight.
Stuffing the piece of paper into his pocket, he replaced the other ones and closed the bag once more, leaving it in a way where it wouldn't be noticeably disturbed. Returning to his seat on the couch, he folded his hands together above his head, content to propose his idea once Lexi came back downstairs.
Highlighting the last few words of the page, Lexi sat back with a deep sigh, beginning to feel that familiar cramping in her back from prolonged amounts of time hunched over. She stood, bending backwards to release the pressure temporarily. Groaning, she let herself go limp for a moment, feeling the urge to blackout as the blood rushed to her extremities. It was an odd feeling, but strangely pleasant. It would be impossible to explain, but something about it was refreshing, in a sense.
She heard her phone begin to vibrate on her desk, moving a centimeter or two to the left with each ring. Picking it up, she saw it was Brittany calling, and she swiped the screen to answer.
"Lex! So, I just got word of this party of Friday, and we are totally going." At the mention of the party, Lexi sighed deeply again. She hadn't forgotten, she just wished that someone hadn't informed Brittany. Because this would happen. Just what she needed. Another chance to run into Cooper.
"Listen, Brittany, I'd love to go-"
"No, you wouldn't, you hermit. You'd rather stay at home in the dark and watch Netflix on your laptop." Lexi said nothing, knowing that Brittany was right in her accusations. "Come on, you've only ever gone to one party with me and you left halfway through because you were 'sick.'' She could hear the sarcasm through the phone, and the brunette was willing to bet her friend was even doing the quotation gesture from the other end.
"I've got lots of studying to do." She tried, hoping that she could be let off the hook on this one. Though with each excuse, the chances seemed slimmer and slimmer.
"Who doesn't? You've been studying for days, and you need a break. I need one too."
Just for shits and giggles, Lexi pretended to cough a couple times. "I'm sick?"
"You are going to this party with me, even if I have to drag your antisocial ass out of your house. You understand me?" Figuring that there was no way out of having to go, Lexi groaned.
"Fine, but what am I supposed to wear? You and me both know I don't have fancy clothes." It was true. The nicest thing Lexi owned was probably the Sunday dress Nana had bought her a couple years previously for church. And even then it probably no longer fit her.
"Well, aren't you in luck? I've decided, being the dedicated and awesome best friend that I am, that we are going shopping for your early birthday present." The black-haired girl sounded pleased over the phone. "So get ready because I'll be there in ten minutes."
"What?" Lexi stood up straighter, not expecting this new development. "Wait, Brit-" But it was too late. By then, the line clicked, indicating that Brittany had hung up the phone. On purpose, no doubt, to prevent her from disagreeing.
"I would hate you if I could…" She muttered, grinning despite herself. Sometimes, it was good that Brittany was around. It made things interesting.
Resigning herself to the idea that this impromptu shopping trip would actually happen, she began getting dressed. Picking a random t-shirt from her closet and a nicer pair of jeans, she brushed out her hair so it wasn't tangled, then pushed out the door into the hallway.
Law was lying on the couch, watching tv, and Nana chose that moment to come out of her bedroom as well. She looked up and saw Lexi dressed up like she was leaving.
"Lexi, dear, are you going somewhere?" It wasn't often the brunette went out anywhere, so she was curious.
"Oh, I'm going shopping with Brittany. She's dragging me to this party on Friday and-"
"I'm going with you." Law interrupted. Before Lexi could interject that, no, he would not be coming along, Nana clapped her hands together in excitement.
"Oh, Lexi, you've got a date! Why if I'd have known that I would've gotten this out a long time ago." She scurried away back into her bedroom, and Lexi turned to Law with a glare, trying to ignore the way her face heated up at the word 'date.'
"Why do you always do this?" She whispered harshly, but he only smirked and crossed his arms. She could tell he wouldn't back down from his self-made decision, and that she was wasting breath telling him otherwise. Still, his attitude irritated her. Nana emerged a moment later, carrying a tin of some kind in her hand.
"I've been saving up some extra funds for something like this." She explained, pulling at the lid of the tin. It came off with a loud pop, and she reached inside.
"Nana, what-" Before she could finish asking her question, Nana pulled out a thick wad of cash, rolled up and secured with a rubber band. It was all in old, crumpled and faded twenty dollar bills. She took the roll gingerly, turning it over in her hands.
"Your mother and I both agreed to put some money into buying you a nice outfit for a party just like this one." Her grandmother smiled, placing a loving hand on Lexi's cheek. Giving it a gentle pat, she gave her toothy smile that didn't come around very often. "We wanted you to enjoy life a little, especially after all the hard work you've done towards getting your degree and helping to take care of me."
"I-" She started, but couldn't tear her eyes away from the large amount of money in her hands. She thumbed across the bills, watching as it quickly flipped through the stack. There must be at least $500 in the roll. They couldn't afford to just spend that kind of money willy nilly. "I can't take all of this…" She said quietly, holding out the roll. But Nana forcefully pushed it back.
"Lexi, dear, just take it as a gift from me. Who knows how many more I'll be able to give you anyways." She said, her voice growing more gentle. With one last loving pat on her cheek, Nana walked back into her room and shut the door behind her, ending the debate there.
Lexi's gaze returned to the money, suddenly speechless from this sudden development. She hadn't known about Nana's and her mother's intention to help pay for a nice outfit. She would have expected it to be for prom or a formal dance, but knowing herself, she never would have gone to one anyway. Maybe Nana was just taking what she could get.
Beside her, the pirate watched with interest at her apparent internal dilemma about receiving an apparently large amount of money. She gazed at it as if it were made of gold, but the bills in her hand didn't look like much. Deciding that she would probably stand there all day if he didn't do something, he rolled his eyes. Law cleared his throat, gaining her attention once more. "I believe my clothes may be too casual for what this party has in mind." He hinted, and she nodded absentmindedly.
"We can get you some new ones." She remarked, slowly placing the money in her wallet. Just then, the sound of a car horn caused them to turn towards the door.
"That's Brittany." Lexi said, moving to open the front door. Purse slung over her shoulder, she opened the door. Law followed, closing it behind him and descending the porch steps a moment after the brunette.
"Hi, Law!" Brittany called from the car, waving out of her rolled-down window. Law only gave a smirk in return, and Lexi rolling her eyes. "Let's get a move on! It looks like it'll rain soon!" She called, beckoning them over quicker.
With a sigh, she approached the passenger door, wondering what this shopping trip would have in store for her.
*A Basement Somewhere*
"Mmmph! Mmm!" The brunette tried fighting at the duct tape that bound her wrists behind the wooden chair, pulling and tugging against the bonds to no avail. A piece was taped across her mouth as well, preventing her cries from reaching a high enough volume for anyone to hear. Tears streaked down her face, wetting the edges of the tape and running down her slender neck.
She tried kicking, but a pair of shackled kept them secured to the concrete floor by a heavy metal ring under the chair. It clanked each time she tried yanking her feet against the shackles.
"Mmmmph!" She tried again, struggling to see into the darkened basement. Despite a single lightbulb above her, which only lit a few feet in each direction, there was total darkness. It was hot, almost leading her to believe that it wasn't a basement at all, save for the window wells she could barely make out along the other wall.
"Mmm…" Her cries were beginning to grow weaker, replaced instead by pitiful sobs as the realization that no one could hear her began to sink in. She sat there, uncomfortably restrained, in an unfamiliar place, with the fear that she would die alone and afraid at the hands of some-
The sound of a door opening somewhere behind and above her caused her to stop, stilling in fear as to who it might be. Heavy footsteps against stairs, that came next, and she swallowed thickly. Her eyes darted about, trying to determine which side he would come from, but it seemed to reverberate and was therefore impossible to pinpoint. The steps came closer and closer, slowly taking their time as if the wearer knew it was prolonging her torture.
There was some shuffling behind her, and then the sound of a button being pressed. She was confused for a moment, but then the opening chords of an unfamiliar old song began to play from the darkness.
"Hey, hey…what's the matter with your head, yeah…
"Hey, hey…what's the matter with your mind and your sighin' and a ooh-oh-oh…"
"You know," A male voice said a moment later, "I've always had a thing for brunettes."
Suddenly, a hand ran itself through her hair and she tried jerking her head away with a panicked cry. He chuckled at her newly-found strength to resist her captivity, waiting until she tired herself out again before speaking.
"You may not be her," He continued, "But you'll do for now." She tensed as his steps began again. She could feel someone in the room with her but she couldn't see them, and that made it all worse. She whimpered, wondering if this was all some twisted dream she couldn't wake up from. The music kept playing in the background, floating in and out of her focus.
"There's just something about them that makes them so…different, something that all others lack." The man began to circle her, and he now stepped into her field of vision. She stared at the ski-mask that covered his face, desperate trying to remember what he looked like from before, to try to place him, but in her fear her memory went blank.
"It's there but I can't quite place it." He started, seeming to ponder his own musings. She stared through her tear-laden eyes in confusion. She didn't know what this man was talking about but upsetting him may cause him to react, so she gave no indication otherwise. Then, he held up a finger in realization.
"No. Wait. I know what it is." Then, he leaned closer, his face inches from hers. She stared into his face, memorizing every small detail she could, but movement down below made her shift attention. He lifted up a small knife, held in a tight fist, the blade catching the light of the solitary lightbulb that swung above them both. Her breathing came rapidly, and she pushed herself as far away as she could from this man. He did nothing but smile.
"They scream the loudest."ns 184.108.40.206da2