|Smoke and Mirrors
Author: Crystal Rose of Pollux PM
When Balki finds out about the concept of Friday the Thirteenth, he finds out more than he bargained for about superstitions... and how his cousin might be in trouble, but refusing to believe it. Takes place in early season 3.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Friendship - Chapters: 3 - Words: 7,048 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 3 - Updated: 10-26-09 - Published: 06-06-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5117667
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: Well, this is my first attempt at writing for this fandom, so I hope it goes well… The scene with Balki and Gorpley was partially inspired by agtchill13. Many thanks to her and to Linda and LuckyLadybug for plot help! And, as always, the characters aren't mine, but the story is!
Larry Appleton was attempting to enjoy his morning coffee as he reflected on how quiet the apartment was this morning. Usually by this time, his cousin Balki Bartokomous would be preparing some sort of Myposian breakfast, singing all the while. But this morning, he was nowhere to be seen. Either he was having a lie-in, or he had stepped out for breakfast. And either way, Larry was hoping he'd hurry up; they'd just barely started this new job at the Chicago Chronicle. Showing up late was the last thing they could afford to do.
Larry had raised the coffee mug to his mouth when the apartment door burst open. Startled, he jumped, subsequently yelping as some of the hot liquid poured onto his hand. He didn't need to turn around and see who had just bounded in.
"Good morning, Balki…" he sighed, wiping the coffee off of his hand with a dish towel.
"Morning, Cousin!" the young former sheepherder replied, his face beaming as always. "I just had breakfast at a dinner!"
"You mean a diner?" asked Larry.
"…Well, I guess you could call it that…" the Mypiot grinned. "Whatever sinks your boat…"
Larry looked as though he was about to correct him again, but then decided against it.
"I had a very nice talk with the waitress," Balki went on. "She said that most likely, there'll be very little business tomorrow."
"Really?" asked Larry. His tone reflected that he was not very interested in the conversation, but Balki didn't pick up on it.
"Cousin…?" the Mypiot asked, pondering over something. "Why did you not tell me about the thirteenth Friday?"
"The what…?" Larry asked, puzzled.
"She told me there will be less business because tomorrow is the thirteenth Friday," Balki said. "But it's June, isn't it? I'm sure we've had more than thirteen Fridays… Or did some of them not count?"
Larry stared at his cousin, still befuddled, and then glanced back at the calendar. And then, it suddenly made sense.
"I think you mean Friday the Thirteenth," he said, understanding. "Well… People say that it's a day of bad luck."
"Get out of the city…" Balki said, his eyes wide. "You mean there's a day that celebrates bad luck?"
"It's not a celebration," Larry informed him. "In fact, most people don't even believe in it. It's just a silly superstition. Didn't you ever have a day that was considered to be bad luck on Mypos?"
"Well of course we did; don't be ridiculous," Balki replied. "It's the day we shear she sheep."
"But isn't that how you make your living?" Larry asked. "How is that bad luck?"
"Oh, it's not bad luck, Cousin; it's the day of baaaaaaaad luck," the Mypiot grinned, imitating a sheep. He promptly slapped his knee, laughing at his own joke. "Where do I come up with them…?"
Larry stared at him, his face deadpan.
"I'm going to work…" he said, at last, running a hand through his brunet curls.
And Balki was right behind him, all smiles.
"So you don't believe in the thirteenth Friday, Cousin?" he asked.
"No, I don't," Larry informed him. "I don't believe in superstitions. It's not practical… I'd be in serious trouble if I did believe in them. Have you heard about breaking a mirror? It's supposed to give you seven years of bad luck if you break one."
Balki stared at him wide-eyed.
"Did you break one, Cousin…?"
"Not on purpose," Larry said. "It got smashed in the box I had kept it in when moving to Chicago."
"Oh, po po…" said the Mypiot. "So that skiing trip was disastrous because of--"
"No, it wasn't," said Larry, hastily driving the memory of that excursion out of his mind. "It's just a coincidence."
"And when we went to Vegaaaaas," Balki began, elongating the second syllable.
"No, Balki, that's another coincidence," Larry said. He was beginning to wish he hadn't brought up the subject now. "Just forget I ever mentioned it."
Balki proceeded to lose himself in his own thoughts, not sure that he would be able to forget it so easily.
Larry wasn't the last one to hear about Balki's discovery of Friday the Thirteenth (and how it could be compared, however loosely, to the day of sheep shearing). Balki was telling everyone he met about it. His mistake, of course, was telling Mr. Gorpley while Larry was at a meeting.
"I don't suppose Appleton believes in this story, either?" asked the irate man.
"Cousin Larry says he don't believe in any superstitions," Balki agreed. "He even told me of the mirror he broke, and how it's not really bringing him bad luck, and all the bad luck he's had since then is just by chance…"
The older man paused. Here was an opportunity to push this kid's buttons… And such an opportunity rarely ever presented themselves where Balki Bartokomous was concerned.
"Of course he'll say that," Gorpley said. "You know how neurotic he his; he doesn't want to believe in any of that… at least, consciously."
"…His conscience won't let him believe in it?"
"No…" Gorpley replied, harshly. "He thinks about it, but he doesn't think he thinks about it."
Balki looked at him blankly for a moment.
"Let me put it another way," said the older man, rolling his eyes. "It doesn't matter whether he believes in it or not. It only matters how things are. You seem to think that bad things have happened to him because he broke a mirror, but he doesn't. How do you know that you're right, and he's not?"
"I don't know… All Cousin Larry told me was that the mirror was bustikoki when he moved to Chicago," said Balki, briefly slipping into his native tongue.
"Exactly. Now since he won't believe in it, that means someone else has to spring him from that seven years of bad luck. Someone who contributed to that bad luck…"
"Well, the only one who…" Balki trailed off. "Why you looking at me when you say that…?"
"Well, think about it…" said Gorpley. "Appleton comes here, looking to make it on his own for the first time, with no one holding him back. But he broke that mirror. And then who should show up at his door but you?"
Balki stared at the older man in horror. What was he saying!? Was his coming to America bad luck for Larry? Was he only here because of the broken mirror!?
"But… I help Cousin Larry…" the Mypiot rationalized aloud. "I help him…"
"He never asked for your help, now did he?" asked Gorpley. "You just showed up. Even he wouldn't be heartless to turn you away…"
"Cousin Larry did say at first that I could stay until I got a job…" Balki recalled. "But then he never mentioned it again…"
"And I'll tell you why; you don't choose your family. He's stuck with you," the older man replied, unfeeling.
"So I must undo the seven years of bad luck that Cousin Larry brought on himself…?" Balki realized, sadly.
"Seems that way," Gorpley replied. "And since tomorrow is Friday the Thirteenth, well… You'd better do it before midnight. He's got enough bad luck from that mirror as it is; who knows what will happen if he gets any more…?"
"But I don't want anything to happen to Cousin Larry…" said Balki, distraught. He muttered something in Myposian. "Mr. Gorpley, please tell me what to do!"
"Well, I'm no expert…" said the older man. "But I think you need to take a piece of the broken mirror and touch it to a tombstone."
Balki went pale.
"You mean… go to a cemetery…?"
"What's the matter, Bartokomous? You aren't scared of a little cemetery, are you?"
"Well, of course not; don't be ridiculous…" he said. "I'm not afraid of the cemetery… I'm… afraid of what's in it… On Mypos, we have legends of the terrible zombiki that wander them… And then they throw jamborikis…"
"Here, we call them zombies," Gorpley informed him. "They're said to dance back-to-back… right before the grab you!"
He pretended to lunge at the Mypiot, who leaped backwards.
"But, hey…" the older man continued. "You want to save your cousin from tomorrow's curse of bad luck, don't you?"
Balki nodded, silently.
"Then you'll have to slip past those guys and complete the task…" he finished. "You caused the problem; you may as well fix it."
Balki nodded again, heading for Harriette and the elevator.
"Hold it, Bartokomous…" said Gorpley. "You fix that problem on your own time."
"But, Mr. Gorpley…" the Mypiot pleaded. "The zombiki don't come out during daylight… I thought…"
"Sorry, Bartokomous… Rules are rules, you know…" He flashed a rather smug smile. "Back to work."
He headed back to his office, leaving poor Balki standing there, stunned. The young man drew a heavy sigh, muttering something in his native tongue again.
"Balki…?" a voice asked, causing him to jump.
The Mypiot looked up to see Larry returning from his meeting.
"Oh. Good morning, Cousin…"
And right away, Larry knew that something was amiss with his cousin.
"You alright, Balki?" he asked. The Mypiot was certainly far less chipper than he had been this morning…
"Oh, sure. Your… Your meeting went well…?" Balki inquired.
"Well…" Larry sighed, reminded of his own troubles. "It could've gone better; I need to do another rewrite…" He shook his head in frustration.
Balki caught Harriette's eye, mouthing, "More bad luck…?"
The elevator operator shook her head in dismissal. Larry would be able to straighten things out, she hoped, as she closed the elevator doors.
"Uh, Cousin…?" asked Balki. "You… You don't like doing rewrites, do you?"
"Does anyone?" asked the curly-haired man. "But I guess all great journalists started this way." He stared off into the distance, clearly envisioning a bright future for himself. "Someday, Balki, I'm going to look back on all these rewrites and realize how much they made me grow as a reporter…"
Balki stared at him with an expression of pity.
Oh, Cousin, if you only knew… he silently said. Mr. Gorpley is right… You'll be doing rewrites until the seven years is up unless I do something…
"Balki?" Larry asked, seeing him space out again. "You sure you're alright?"
"Oh, Cousin, believe me. I'm fine," he promised. "I… I just was wondering where the nearest cemetery is…?"
Larry's eyebrows arched at the odd query.
"Do I want to know why you want to know…?" he asked.
"I want to know why you want to know I want to know?" Balki asked, confused.
"No, I…" Larry trailed off, running a hand through his curls again. "Never mind. You can look it up when we get back." Though he made a mental note to question his cousin about what was going on.
"Cousin…?" Balki said again. "You know you were telling me about the mirror on the way here…? About the one that--"
"The one that has nothing to do with that failed ski trip?" Larry finished for him. "What about it? It's history; there's not much to say…"
"Why you've never shown it to me…?" the Mypiot asked, trying not to seem too worried about the whole ordeal. It was a façade that wouldn't hold for very long…
"Well, I certainly wouldn't keep it, would I?" Larry asked, with a shake of his head. "I threw it out after I realized that it broke."
"You threw it away!?" Balki cried, far more frantic than he had intended. "Oh, Cousin, why would you go and do that…?" He moaned something else in Myposian.
"What else am I supposed to do with it?" Larry asked, concerned with his cousin's sudden change of emotion.
"Well, you could make reflective wind chimes…" his cousin replied, briefly sounding like his old self again.
"Balki, forget the mirror, okay?" said Larry, placing a hand on his shoulder. "The mirror has nothing to do with bad luck."
It's more me than the mirror… Balki thought, remembering Gorpley's words. Somehow, he knew he would have to find a way to break the curse of bad luck, even if it meant facing the whatever he had to…
But a lack of a mirror would complicate things very much indeed. Still, there had to be a way he could pull this off. And Balki Bartokomous was determined to find it.