Beast’s eyes burned as she stumbled up the stairs to their apartment. It had been a long night, Fridays and Saturdays always were, but with that report that what’s-his-toes wanted this morning, she’d been up for way too long. Unhooking her key from the hiker’s clip on her purse, she jammed the key in the deadbolt and twisted until the door lazily swung open. Sighing she yanked her key out and clipped it back to her purse. She lost way too many of them already.
She shut and locked the deadbolt and the bottom lock, then put the chain on for extra measure. Not that she thought there was anybody going after them, but…. She tried not to give into the temptation to just flop on the crappy sofa and sleep in her clothes. But if she didn’t shower now she’d feel even worse in the morning.
Slowly she trudged through the living room, dodging Beth’s easel, now set up on the coffee table and the books stacked as an impromptu stool. By the light from the windows she made it to the door of Theo’s room. Cracking the door she glanced in.
He looks so happy when he sleeps. A smile ghosted across her face, but she was too exhausted to put in the effort. With the faint light of the streetlamp coming through the window, she could just make out a small smirk on Theo’s sleeping face, his arms under his pillow. She was almost tempted to pull the blankets up to his shoulders, keep him in this comfortable state despite the recent chill. But he always said he ran warm, and if he was still sleeping without a shirt it must be too warm for him yet. And she was exhausted.
Shutting the door as quietly as possible she tiptoed to her room and opened the door softly. Beth was curled up under the covers, a lump with blonde hair poking out from above the quilt. I wonder why Theo prefers no covers and Beth burrows under them? In almost a slow motion she dropped her bag on her bed and stood at the end of the bed pulling out her phone and plugging it into the charger snaking over the dresser by the door. 4:12AM blinked up at her briefly before she turned the screen down to the dresser.
Too exhausted to bother unpacking her purse, she turned and sat at the foot of the bed by the black leather bag and began untying her boots. Pulling her feet out of the shoes and stripping the damp socks off her feet she stood slowly, still unsure if she’d bother with a shower. So sleepy. I could just go to bed. No. You need to shower, get the alcohol off your skin and wash your makeup off, else you’ll feel awful in the morning. Unzipping her leather vest and dragging the lace shirt over her head she snagged the large black t-shirt from the bed where she had thrown it this morning in her rush, she dragged herself to the bathroom.
Now that I’m here, I’ll have to shower, no point in not. Shutting the door and turning on the shower to hot she stripped out of her black jeans and underthings. Stepping into the hot shower Beast felt all her muscles relax, her shoulders drooping as the tension that was keeping her awake quickly melting away. Moving on autopilot, she snagged her face cloth and pumped a few pumps of face cleanser onto it, rubbing the cloth so that suds appeared.
Why do I wear makeup? It sucks. Such a pain in the ass to get off. She scrubbed her face, especially her eyes. Men are so lucky, they aren’t expected to wear makeup. Though sometimes it isn’t so bad. Theo didn’t look too bad in it back in high school.
“This is a new student,” said Mr. Coyote (pronounced with two syllables as he reminded her twice). The classroom collectively swivelled towards the front where Mr. Coyote was introducing her to the Newspaper Club. How embarrassing, this seriously didn’t need to happen. “This is Helen-”
“Beast,” she corrected immediately. “I go by Beast.”
Mr. Coyote gave her a look from the corner of his eye, reassessing her. “Beast,” he said, “She’s new to this school and has decided to join our club, please make her feel welcome.”
She almost cringed outwardly at the cliche introduction by the old professor, but managed to keep her composure as she worked her way by the desks clumped into groups. Popular kids who think newspaper writing is all gossip. Looking for another club to put on the college apps. Shut-ins forced to ‘socialize’. Here to avoid detention. Ticking off the groups at each table she walked to the corner of the room where four students sat deep in discussion. Actually care about writing.
“Hey,” she said once she approached. The three girls and boy looked up, all trying to deduce what the pierced girl wanted. “May I join you?”
“Sure,” said the boy, scootching his chair to the middle to make room at one end for her to lean on his desk.
Swinging the bag off her shoulder and onto the ground next to the end of the table she turned and grabbed a chair from the nearest desk. It clattered loudly on the linoleum floor when she set it down and plopped down into the seat.
The three girls introduced themselves, though their names have been mostly forgotten; Mary? Margaret? and J….Janice? Jessica? Can’t even recall a bit of the third girl. “And I’m Theo,” said the boy next to her. She turned, about to offer her hand to him now for his handshake, and immediately saw what she had missed before.
His hair was cut military short, almost a buzz-cut, and his uniform was starched stiff. The light blue shirt had been ironed crisp and his tie was pulled right up to the buttoned collar of the shirt. But when you looked at him, not the clothes and the haircut…. His warm olive skin tone worked nicely with the black eye liner he used (lightly though, not the heavy hand of a ‘goth’) and made his almost golden brown eyes pop. Good job. He smiled brightly, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
“Theo?” she asked as she shook his hand.
He nodded and released her hand, turning towards the other girls who had begun discussing the articles for next week’s political column. I’m going to remember you.
Holy shit, how long have I been zoned? Beast jolted, realizing that she had been just standing under the stream of water, her thoughts barely coherent. Did I finish my hair and scrub down? Yah, is good. Twisting the handle she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower drying off quickly. Gotta get to bed before I zone out again. Throwing on her t-shirt and gathering the clothes she left on the closed toilet lid she braced herself for the cold waiting outside the steamy bathroom.