It was night when Sarah finally crawled out of the basement room she called her own. She hadn't realized that. In the tunnels, a place without natural light, night and day had no meaning. You ate when you were hungry, slept when you were tired... the only clock that mattered was your own internal one. It had been strange to grow accustomed to eating at set times and sleeping during a specified half of the day rather than her usual cat naps.
But the night was good. It was late enough that most of the lights were off, and the darkness made her feel safe and at home. She stopped in the kitchen for a snack, the little refrigerator light making her eyes hurt, and she took her a moment to find her treasured strawberry milk. Closing the fridge, she shook the carton to make sure it sounded the same as when she put it in, just in case someone had stolen a sip. Satisfied that no one had, she took a swig and began to wander the halls with her beloved drink, singing softly to herself.
"Saturday night 'nd you're still hangin' around, you're tired of livin' in your one horse town..."
She quaffed another mouthful of milk and hummed her way through the next few lines before coming in again.
"...stare at the junkies and the closet queens, it's like some pornographic..." Another sip. "...Captain Jack will get you high tonight, and take you to your special island. Captain Jack will get you by tonight, just a little push and you'll be smilin'..."
She continued in this vein as she came to the rec room, just beginning the second verse as she stepped over the threshold. "Your sister's gone out, she's on a date, and you just sit at home and mast..."
That's when she figured out there was someone else in the room.
The singing stopped abruptly and she took a few steps back, trying to melt into shadows that weren’t any deeper than the ones she was just in. Shoot, shoot, shoot. That had been really stupid of her, to make assumptions and decide a darkened room must not be inhabited. She was getting too accustomed to the habits of the people around her, to classifying them all under surface-dwelling sun-lovers. She probably should have realized at least some of them were nocturnal.
And while she was on a berating sort of vein, she should have realized that person’s presence long before she did. If she listened closely, she could hear the faint emanations of the Three Stooges theme song, and a slight strain of her eyes showed the dim light of the TV reflecting against the far wall.
Now that she was looking, she noticed another light, too—faintly red and glowing in a horizontal line right above the TV. For a moment, she tensed, ready to do battle with some odd creature of the night before she realized just what she was looking at.
I was just singing Captain Jack.
...I just almost said ‘masturbate’ in front of Scott.
I think I might go die now.
But suicide was the coward’s way out, that’s what she’d always been taught, and apparently facing things was a virtue, so instead of backing away, she stepped boldly into the room.
Now that her brain had sorted out what the things she was seeing were, an obvious image was being formed. Scott was sitting on the couch, one arm slung over the back and the other cradling a bottle of beer, staring fixedly at the screen. Or maybe he wasn’t—with those glasses, Sarah couldn’t tell.
She could tell, however, when he turned his head slightly to look up at her. “Hey,” was his simple greeting.
“Hey,” she said back. She didn’t think to join him. Bone protrusions don’t mix with expensive upholstery. Actually, they didn’t fit with sitting sometimes, she thought grimly, as she reached down to yank out a small, curved extension from her coccyx. It didn’t seem right to put the blood-covered bone on the thick carpet, so as she sat, leaning her back against one of the rattier armchairs, she simply held it on her lap. Her blood had a tendency to clot quickly, and it wasn’t like her clothes weren’t stained red already.
Eager to fill the silence so she wouldn’t dwell on her almost-embarrassment, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “So... Jean kick you out?”
The gap between question and answer was starting to get a bit too long when he finally replied. “Yeah.” He took a swallow of beer, his gaze now definitely locked on the screen. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”
Her attempt at an ice-breaker had only served to solidify the hard surface, and now she was stuck sitting there watching The Three Stooges in silence with a stony team leader. It was like Discomfort had come along and decided to settle itself down in the middle of the room, grinning at them both as they fixedly tried to look away.
But either Scott was in a mood to talk or the beer was working its way through his system, because after a few beats he spoke up. “We haven’t been... sleeping together, for awhile.”
Sarah wasn’t sure if that made the silence more or less uncomfortable. After a moment, though, she was too busy thinking about what that statement meant to care.
Now that he had said something, she realized that Scott and Jean had been just that—rather than their usual ScottnJean—for awhile now. They no longed flirted at the breakfast table, gaining rolled eyes from the rest of the dinners; they were no longer caught in private moments in the hallways; in fact, Sarah couldn’t remember seeing them meet each other’s eyes except in the Danger Room, and that didn’t really count.
She pondered saying something, like she was sorry or whatever, but apparently Scott hadn’t really wanted to reveal so much and decided on a quick subject change. “Ahh, Sarah,” he grumbled. “Now you’ve got it stuck in my head!”
She looked up sharply, right in the middle of finishing the last dregs of her milk. “What?”
“That song,” he complained, and then started singing.
“Saturday night ‘nd you’re still, hangin’ around...”
He didn’t have all that bad of a singing voice, she thought. It was a little shaky, kind of hesitant, but it was in tune. It sounded the way good linen felt.
“You’re tired of livin’ in your white whore town...”
He stopped singing abruptly, and with good reason. Sarah had started laughing hysterically.
“What?” he asked, sounding kind of annoyed. “Come on. I don’t sing that bad.”
“No... you don’t,” she admitted, between peals of laughter. “But you... it...” She could hardly get a word out. One look up at his honestly confused face and she had definitely lost it. “Wh... White...” She took a deep breath, trying to steady her voice. “White whore?”
He frowned. “Aren't those the words?”
“Oh. My. God.” She was gripping her stomach, half from the force of her laughter and half from the tickling feeling of the start of something growing somewhere down amongst her lower, false ribs. “It’s one horse, Scott,” she gasped out. “One horse.”
“It is not!” he exclaimed. “...Is it?”
Her giggles had mostly subsided, somewhat from the sobering effects of pain. “Trust me on this. It’s one horse.” Then she laughed again. “Where in the world did you get ‘white whore’?”
“I thought... you know...” His voice had grown weak with a lack of confidence. “Maybe black whores were supposed to be more exciting?” If anything, this only increased her hilarity. “Oh, shut up,” he grumbled.
So he retaliated, not much more maturely than she had.
He threw a pillow at her.
The unexpected projectile startled the laughter right out of her. She blinked once, then grabbed the pillow and threw it back. He returned fire, and before she could retaliate had had chucked another three in rapid succession, followed by an afghan for good measure.