Moon-Man Chronicles 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Part Six: Indifference and Apathy are two separate things.
Tommy had surprisingly recovered, almost instantly, taking a large load off Moon-Man's mind.
She had been worried for a minute there, for she knew next to nothing about the anatomy of a jellyfish. She knew for a fact that their gelatinous form made them quite durable to physical trauma, but she didn't know if that went for all ages, or if that was just adult jellyfish. Tommy however, showed that it was the former, and got out of her grasp as soon as he recomposed himself.
With the main worry out of the way, Moon-Man silently looked at Ross's damage, finding nothing but small scratch growing on her forehead where she violently kissed the pavement. Ross appeared to be more in shock at how her fellow inklings had turned on her for no apparent reason.
Ross told her that the group had walked in the park, looked at them, and then harassed the two just for being there.
Moon-Man simply nodded with a furrowed brow. She helped Ross stand, but said nothing, deep in thought.
She felt dizzy as her head throbbed. She couldn't remember during the fight if she had been hit in the head, but doubted it. She wasn't feeling pain, it felt more like her temples were suffocating her concentration. Her eyes kept focusing on one thing, then switching their focus point, giving her a massive head ache.
The migraine felt more as a distraction to her though, as if something was lurking deeper in her soul, yearning to break free.
She swallowed air, and looked at the two. Ross looked concerned, while Tommy just looked pleased with himself.
"Moon-Man?" Ross asked, "Is something wrong?"
She shook her head, and looked at the way the group had left. She didn't know if she should just hunt these people down and…
And what? What was she going to do?
Do what she did to Marauder?
Beat them until they're just a pile of crying flesh? Make them bleed?
Fighting to regain focus, she wondered how far she would go with them.
Eventually, she recomposed herself, calmed down, and was able to think straight.
She didn't have time to deal with those kids. Her time was better suited to anything else. This entire day had been a waste of time. She had spoken too much to total strangers. To people she didn't even care about.
Moon-Man decided to stop wasting time, and get herself together. Then she would go into the sewers and wouldn't leave until she found something down there.
"No. Let's go." She said bluntly, leading the way out of the park, and headed towards the train stop.
It wouldn't take that long to get back home, even if they would have to wait in the lobby for a little while.
The walk was horribly awkward. Moon-Man's silent attitude had even affected Tommy, who kept his tiny hidden mouth zipped. He held onto Ross, who was standing a few feet behind Moon-Man. All she did was keep walking and keep an eye on anyone else they passed by.
Eventually they returned to their apartment building. Ross and Tommy sat in the plastic chairs they kept on the first floor, while Moon-Man looked around the dark hallways. She never really explored the building's manager doors, but found them all locked. Moon-Man thought about breaking into them, but would have to force the door open. She really needed to get Catherine to teach her how to lock pick sometime, she figured.
It didn't take long for their rooms to be unlocked. Ross invited them in, and showed off a handheld game console to Tommy, who apparently took interest in it, as he kept pressing buttons and making the device make noise.
Ross eventually gathered the courage to speak, asking Moon-Man while shuffling her feet around the floor. Moon-Man looked out the window and saw Ross's roommates enter the building.
"Hey, Moon-Man." She said to get her attention.
"Mmm?" She hummed, to acknowledge the statement.
"This is going to sound weird." She said, without asking her question.
"What?" Moon-Man found herself saying.
"Are you a, uh, boy or a girl?" She awkwardly spouted.
Moon-Man turned and tried to look her in the eyes, but Ross apparently was too embarrassed.
Oh boy, she found herself thinking. We got a dumb one here.
"Isn't it obvious?" She said, messing with her.
"Ha, ha. Yeah I mean. Anyone could tell you're a…" She said, cutting herself off. "Okay, yeah I still don't know."
"I can be anything you want in a game of pretend." Moon-Man chided, then turned to the door as she heard someone key the lock.
"What does that even mean?" Ross said as her gaze met the floor in downtrodden anguish, and then turned to meet her roommates, all three of them entering.
"Yooooooooooooooooooooo'oooooooooooooooh, Hey Moon-Man." Joey said to her. Apparently realizing half way through his opening 'Yo' that she was in his apartment.
"Sup, Joey right?" She said, leaning on the wall a bit more heavily than she'd like.
That week of running through the streets seemed to have caught up to her. She watched Tommy completely ignore these new arrivals, as if they were beneath him. He would not be wrong.
"Joseph. And you know Chad and Pia." He casually spoke, as if talking to a stranger was nothing. Moon-Man briefly wondered how Joseph had been raised.
"Yeah, we talked yesterday." Moon-Man said, followed by a very long stillness. Eventually Pia broke the silence after looking over Ross standing alone in their kitchen area.
"So how was your day?" the girl said, directing it to Ross, but eyeballing the jellyfish sitting on her floor.
"Yeah you guys didn't kidnap a kid or anything, right?" Chad asked, looking over at the jellyfish and the game he was playing.
Moon-Man looked at Ross, who was hiding in the palms of her hands. She didn't honestly blame her at this point. Her exhaustion was getting to her as well, to the point of not being able to answer seriously.
"Well I mean, their just so easy to take. We just sort of," Moon-Man sighed deeply at the stares being drawn onto her, and just stated, "He's your neighbor's kid. They asked me to pick him up today."
A collective "Oh," was said by the people out of the loop. To be fair, she hadn't even told Ross until they had met up earlier that afternoon.
Moon-Man cackled briefly when she realized the situation she was in was downright ridiculous. She could be doing much better things, like sleeping! What a shame, she thought.
She just sat down on their empty floor after that. She watched Joseph and Chad shrug then bring out their own hand held game consoles, and start playing with Tommy. Pia and Ross talked in the kitchen. She mentally remarked that this Pia character was a mother hen in the making.
Moon-Man waved Joseph over to her when she was able to catch his random eye movement. She watched him slink over without getting up from a sitting position which was somewhat impressive. He leaned over to her once he got close enough.
"So, is Ross blind, or did you just not tell her?" Moon-Man said, assuming Joseph himself wasn't a blind dork who couldn't tell girls who were incognito, and boys apart.
"Hey, I tried, if she's convinced you're a dude, I can't do anything about it."
She shrugged. Moon-Man didn't honestly care whether Ross thought of her as a he, or if Joey really did try to convince her. If he did, he was going above and beyond the call of duty. In the end she just nodded, as if dismissing the inkling.
He seemed to get the gesture, and went back to Chad and Tommy. Moon-Man blinked once, and closed her eyes. She might have fallen asleep if her phone didn't ring suddenly, surprising even her. When she checked the caller I.D. she saw that it was the mother calling. She crawled up with support of the wall, and answered the phone on the way out of the apartment. She couldn't help but notice Ross slink after her in the peripheral of her vision.
"Moon-Male! Where Thomas?" Li asked with a shrill cry that echoed in the hallway.
If she wasn't awake, she was now.
"Li, we're with the squids on the third floor."
"How Thomas?!" She asked.
Moon-Man thought about lying and covering up the fact that they had gotten into a tussle, however she thought better of it.
"Okay so," Moon-Man sighed more than said, "You won't believe this."
It then took a good fifteen minutes of nonstop talking on the phone, to clarify that Tommy wasn't actually hurt, and that the girl she had brought had been injured more than him. Li was rightfully pissed at Moon-Man and her failure of the day. Eventually she calmed down and told Moon-Man she'd be there shortly.
"Right, okay. Yep. Yeah. I'll see you in ten." Moon-Man stated, trying to hang up without just blowing her off. She wondered briefly if she could just leave Tommy with Ross, but decided against it, and waited in the hallway. She sat there quietly, before Ross coughed, stating her presence.
"I'm female by the way." She said eventually, "Moon-Woman just doesn't roll off the tongue."
"Oh…Oh. I see." A crestfallen Ross said.
"Sorry if I got any hopes up."
"What? Oh, no. I sort of overheard when you were talking to Joseph."
"Were we whispering?" Moon-Man said, somewhat confused.
"You were basically shouting in the silence of the room. A cricket would have deafened us."
"I would have still gone with you today, if that means anything to you." Ross said.
Moon-Man thought about it, and realized that didn't mean anything to her. Moon-Man's silence seemed to spur her on though, and she just didn't stop.
"I mean, not like that. I just mean… I don't know actually. You were just the first person I actually talked too, and you ooze strength, and everyone has some primal fear of you that I don't understand, and want to." She said, hiding her face in her palms again. "I don't even know anything about this place and here comes a big guy who took charge and knows everything. I just…"
Moon-Man got sick of hearing this halfhearted talk that was the figurative equivalent of trash. She raised a hand to signal her to stop, and tried to be a semblance of understanding.
"I get it." She said, and when she was begged to elaborate by the look Ross gave, she sighed, hearing a rapid pitter patter of steps coming from the stairwell. "I do, everyone gets somewhat attached to the person who brings them in. Then they grow up either mentally or physically, and you forget about them. Just remember, I'm not your friend, I'm surely not your lover, and I'm living my own life. Also, you're like what? Eleven? Twelve at most? The only relationships you're going to keep are those you are always with. I've been here for three years, and I only care to talk to two people."
Moon-Man realized this was probably the most words she's ever uttered in succession, and wondered why she'd spent so much effort on something so silly.
"But," Ross tried to say something, but Moon-Man cut her off, planning on this to be one of the last things she was going to say to the girl.
"Not to mention, you can find almost anyone in this city as a better role model than me. Wasn't there a saying for this? More fish in the sea? I don't even know." Moon-Man rose from her sitting position, and started walking to the stairwell. She heard Ross take a few more steps, before correctly choosing to stop. She saw Li, and pointed with her thumb to the apartment's door. Li didn't even bother to say anything to her, either still mad or just focused on seeing her son for the first time in who knows how long.
Moon-Man silently rose to her own floor, stewing in the last fact she didn't tell Ross about.
She didn't deserve to have anyone look up to her.
After Moon-Man had left the third floor, Ross had talked to Li, who thanked her multiple times. She wasn't exactly sure why, but she accepted the thanks anyhow. After their brief chat, the mother collected her son, and headed upstairs as well.
Ross was incredibly tired, beat up, and had just been rejected. She didn't know whether to cry, or just go to sleep. When she walked in, she was face to face with her roommates. Pia apparently sensing her discomfort, went in for a hug.
"Poor baby," Peebs cooed passionately.
Ross didn't even try to fight the embrace, and just slumped against the comforting body. She put her hands over her face to hide her reddening eyes from the two boys in the room.
"What happened?" Chad asked innocently enough, but might as well have been the latest punch in her emotional and physical beat down.
"Everything was going fine until," she hesitated, inhaling deeply trying not to break after getting this far and failing. "It just went horrible at the end."
"I couldn't help but notice the bruises, she didn't hit you right?" Joseph asked, which Ross immediately shook her head, signaling a 'no'.
"No, no, no, no. It wasn't her. A group randomly showed up and decided to crap on my day. They only showed up when Moon-Man wasn't there."
"I see." Joseph said, as if he was deep in thought.
Ross decided to just not admit that she lost the bet that had been made yesterday. She just didn't see the point, and Joseph didn't look like he was about to bring it up.
"Are you okay?" Chad asked, to which Ross couldn't actually answer. She almost wanted to hit him due to his ability to ask the big questions.
"Dude," Pia said, turning her head to face him. "Chillax."
"Right, I'll just go to my room." Chad said, picking up on chance to run away from any emotional problems.
"Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebs, you can let go of me now." Ross said, wiggling her arms in her grasp.
"Oh! Right. Do you feel better now?" She asked her, releasing her embrace on the tired Ross.
"Yes, thank you. But I just sort of want to go to my room too." Ross said, stepping lightly to the back of the living room, opening her door, then locking it behind her. She stumbled through the empty room in the dark, finding her bedding, and collapsed face first into her pillow. Her brain refused to give her respite into the dark oblivion that was sleep, and her thoughts drifted to home.
It had only been a week, and she was already home sick.
Ross wondered how her parents were dealing with having no children living with them anymore. She hoped her mother was doing okay with Ross's father. She was most worried about her father becoming depressed, as he spoiled them non-stop when they were growing up. She wondered what he did as a profession as he never out right told them what he did, but it didn't seem that he lacked any thing financially. If she had stayed home, she would probably have found out, Ross thought. Maybe she would have followed in her father's footsteps instead of being…whatever this lifestyle was.
She wondered whether Monica was okay. She really wanted her to be doing well. Ross constantly worried about her younger sister, even though Ross knew Monica was the more talented one between the two. That's why she had been picked to come here first.
The thought of being here a month alone scared Ross. However, the idea that Monica was having her own adventures with her own friends or roommates made her happy. Ross had met some really cool people, and Monica was bound to have met her own cool friends.
Lastly, she worried about Moon-Man. Some of the things she said to Ross were pretty pathetic. She wondered how this reserved creature that lived two floors above her came to creation, and why it distanced itself from her.
She sighed heavily into her sheets, before turning to face the alarm clock on her end table. She came to terms that it was out of her hands at this point, and that Moon-Man probably only thought of her as a babysitter for a child, and nothing else.
Ross looked on the bright side as she drifted off to sleep. Hey! At least she made some progress.
That's all she wanted anyways.
Editor's Notes: The author really doesn't care for the nickname "peebs" executive override decision:448-ex32 on grounds for immediate exterminatus