"So wait…where are you staying again?"
"The Spring Blossom Resort." Mandy said bitterly to the man with the long red hair and the stupid expression. She had answered this same question three times now. Around her were various souvenirs, typical in design. Billy was busy playing with a wooden surfer man who he was apparently taking through a sea of coffee cups and an obese woman in a Hawaiian shirt. (The woman had hit him twice already)
"Is that on Fourth Street?" The boy said while adjusting his sunglasses.
"It's across the street, you idiot." Mandy said, losing her patience. The boy leaned to the side to look out the glass door.
Mandy rolled her eyes.
"You work here…right across the street…tell me what you do know."
He stared at her for a moment.
"Well…you're the one staying there…why're you asking me? I just work this shop while Juggo is out of town." Mandy sighed.
"But I don't know anything about it." She said through her teeth. "You've been around…maybe you've noticed something unusual about it?" The guy seemed to think for a moment, nodding to himself. Mandy had a feeling that there was nothing really going on behind his contemplative façade. After a few moments, when it appeared as though he had shut down entirely she was just about to grab Billy and walk out
"I do know something. My bro tried to stay there once for spring break…but they wouldn't let him in because they said he was a…let's see 'stone faced junkie' Then they made him leave and never come back because he started to make a scene" Mandy gritted her teeth and turned.
"Never mind." She was beginning to suspect that this person was even dumber then Billy…no…maybe almost as dumb anyways.
"Oh yeah…also I know it's usually closed around this time…during the spring for about a week…the big boss man comes in to you know…check that things are cool and stuff." Mandy's face went bank.
"Well, I'm staying there now." She said angrily. "So that doesn't really help me does it?" The red headed kid looked confused for a second.
"No…I guess not…do you want a piercing today…or a tattoo? I can draw a skull…well…it's kind of like a frog thing…but…"
"Come on Billy." Mandy said, interrupting him. "Let's find someone else to talk to." She grabbed the wooden surfer from Billy's always-sticky hand and threw it across the room.
When they were out of the shop Mandy sighed.
"Well, that's the last shop on this side of town…and so far all we've managed to acquire is a couple of cheap souvenirs and a lot of useless information." She looked at her watch. "Almost four o' clock. I wonder if Grim found anything. He should be back in the hotel room by now. Come on Billy." Billy followed her back to the hotel obediently, playing with a wooden toy and some string on the way
"What do you mean you haven't seen him for hours?" Mandy said, the rage clearly evident in her face. Gladys and Harold looked slightly downcast now that they didn't have the hotel room to themselves anymore.
"Well, you kids went down to the beach…we haven't seen him since." Gladys said. It was obvious she wasn't too dejected about this occurrence.
Mandy tightened her fists and plodded through the room. Once she got to her and Grim's hotel room she kicked randomly at something and sat down heavily in the chair by the window. She gazed at her watch.
"I said a half an hour." She said through her teeth.
A moment after, Billy appeared in the doorway looking cautious. He was stupid…but even he knew when to keep his distance.
"Hey Mandy, why don't we just go and find Grim." He said slowly.
"No Billy." Mandy said, as she glared at a wall. "I'm not going to waste my energy searching for that bag of bones. We'll wait till he gets back…and then he'll pay." She brought her fist down on the side of the chair. If it hurt her, it didn't show.
Billy stood a little longer, and then became distracted when he saw a tiny spider crawling up the wall.
After Billy's screams of terror had ceased, and the spider was small smear on the wall, Mandy was left to her thoughts. (Billy had run out of the room screaming in horror and rage about how he would kill any and all spiders that threatened to ruin his vacation) She sat back against the chair and looked out the window, a frown etched deeply on her face.
To pass time, she picked up Grim's book off of the end table and put her thumb in the page that he had marked. The pages folded over easily to reveal a picture of a serpent with a human head. A Naga. She started to read.
After a couple hours she began to fall asleep. In that time she almost finished the book. Grim's bookmark had fallen out (When she had accidentally dropped it and kicked it under the bed) so he had lost his place. It was a very small evil…but Mandy took pleasure in it. The last thing she read before she fell asleep was about a creature that apparently seduced young men to devour them. She wondered, lightly…and without any real conviction (Only out of bitter jealousy…but this was a thing she was not going to admit, even to herself) if Rhoslyn was such a creature. As she drifted into slumber she amused herself with the image of the beautiful woman turning slowly into a terrible creature and trying to devour Grim.
---OMG IT'S A DREAM SEQUENCE---
Mandy looked around her in disgust (And some awe…or at least that was what the dream would have liked her to believe) She was in a very large room. The floor, which was gold and red, was so clean that it was like a slightly fogged mirror. It reflected everything that was on it and which stood above it. From the ceiling, great diamond chandeliers hung. They glittered and sent a reflection of a thousand dancing stars across the room. In the back, great windows rose from the floor, revealing a large full moon and a balcony. The room was filled with people whose faces were concealed by more shadows then there should have been in the room.
Mandy took a few steps forward, slack jawed. She NEVER had dreams like this. Her dreams were evil and deliciously cruel. This was ridiculous…it was like some kind of world out of the mind of some love starved, drama queen, beauty contestant.
It got worse. She was wearing a dress. A big pink flowing dress. And oh god…it swished when she moved.
She raised her hand to slap herself as hard as she could in the face, but before she could her hand was detained in the grip of a gloved hand. She looked to her right.
"Grim?" He was wearing a sleek pinstripe suit. Clutched in his jaw was a crimson rose. Mandy tried to pull her hand away, but was unable to find the energy.
Grim removed the rose easily and in one elegant movement pulled her towards him and into a position to waltz. For a moment Mandy was awestruck. Then, as Grim extended the rose out to her, she snapped out of it and regained her composure. She attempted to pull away from him once again. This time, she succeeded.
"What the hell do you think your doing?" She asked, while taking a few steps back.
"What you want me to." Grim said as he attempted to lessen the space between them. "I always do what you want me to. You should know that by now." He reached out to take her hand again and she pulled away.
"Cut it out, Grim! I never said I wanted this!" She tightened her fingers into a fist and extended it threateningly. Grim looked slightly downcast.
"Well…it is your dream, Mandy." He crossed his arms.
"Maybe so but…" But what? He was right. It was her dream. It wasn't as though he were actually there. Perhaps this was a nightmare…er…no…those were okay…this would be one of those pleasant dreams she had heard so much about.
"Damn…I was hoping I could go through my life without experiencing one of them."
"So, why fight it?" Grim said, with a smile. He extended the rose. Mandy's hand reacted against her will and dangled in the air an inch from his. Around her, the party guests had paused in their affairs to watch her. They were faceless, glittery, horrible apparitions. Mandy pulled her hand away.
"No…this isn't supposed to happen. I don't have pleasant dreams…I don't partake in romance…I refuse to be a part of this." She grabbed up her skirts as though she were about to flee gracefully, and then, remembering herself, ripped the soft glittery material in one quick motion. She threw it down on the ground. The dress wouldn't swish anymore. She kicked off the shoes and headed quickly for the door.
"Mandy!" Grim called after her. She ignored him.
Like poison, the guest's trickled slowing into the center of the room and became a barrier in between Mandy and the large double doors at the end of the Grand Hall. Then glided like ghosts. Mandy stopped in front of a woman in red with no face.
"Stay lady, the dance should begin soon." Behind her, Grim had eliminated the distance between them in seconds. He placed a bony hand on her shoulder. Mandy reacted and without much thought, plunged forward into the crowd.
"Out of my way!" She said angrily. As she pushed through them, they crumpled like tissue paper, falling to the ground at the slightest touch.
Finally, she reached the end of the hall and the doors. She opened them and walked out into the night. The moon showed high above, swollen in this appalling dream.
She took a few steps and something red caught her eye. It was a rose, far too big and beautiful to be real. Mandy turned to look at it. Beyond it, there were hundreds of them, blooming, swelling…bleeding. All of them were bleeding. In the moonlight, the blood glistened. Instead of horror, Mandy felt relief. This was more like it. She could feel at ease with a nightmare.
Someone was trying to get inside the hotel room without being heard…XXX
They weren't doing a very good job. Mandy awoke when Grim entered quietly. He saw her, watching him, and froze with terror. For a moment Mandy didn't do anything, still confused from her dream. Then, slowly, she came back to herself and scowled at him. At that point the thought of leaving again did cross Grim's mind. Instead, he shut the door behind him and waited for things to go badly.
Mandy looked sideways at the clock, then returned her gaze to Grim, who would have been sweating, had he the glands to sweat with.
"It's eleven o' clock Grim." Mandy said through her teeth. "I said thirty minutes. Where the hell have you been?"
"Well…" Grim said, while moving his bony hand to the back of his skull in a typically masculine gesture associated with embarrassment or discomfort. "Me and Rhoslyn went to da bar but it was pretty empty aside from this one guy who was too drunk to talk to us, so we decided to check a couple of other places…I guess I lost track of time."
"You lost track of almost fourteen hours? Somehow I really doubt that." Her voice was calm, but laced with venom. She stood and approached him. Grim felt his bones trying to scuttle away from her despite his best effort to stand his ground. She was an inch away from him and he could see her furious eyes under the strands of her blonde hair daring him to stand up to her. He swallowed.
"Well?" She said sternly.
"Well what?" Grim replied, not able to conceal the unease in his voice.
"Did you find out anything? You had fourteen hours…you must have gathered loads of information." He knew that she already knew what he was going to say…she just wanted to torture him into admitting it. He hadn't found out a single thing all day.
"Well…actually…um…we…I…" He swallowed again. She was watching him carefully, with a steady gaze. Her eyes were burning with fury. It was hard to speak, let alone be brave under that gaze.
"I see." She said coldly. "I'm tired. I'm going to sleep. We'll discuss your punishment in the morning."
She turned away from him…and it was as if he unfroze. He had had such a nice day…no one yelling at him or making him do things he didn't want to. No one drooling on him or using his bones for a Frisbee or fishing rod or any other number of things they'd used his bones for in the past. He hadn't been degraded or stripped of worth, or forced to forget his pride to do some menial task that those wretched brats wouldn't do for themselves.
Grim suddenly felt hot anger rising in him. He was Death dammit. He had been alive for thousands of years and here Mandy was, barely a woman and treating him like he was a child…or a servant. It wasn't as though he had done anything wrong, either. He had spent the day with a rather nice…and admittedly good-looking woman. He had that right. He opened his mouth to say so but was pelted with a pillow.
"There, go sleep in the corner or something." Mandy said as she pulled the blankets over her shoulders. Grim sighed and let the pillow fall to the ground. After a few minutes, during which Grim just stood, brooding, until he heard Mandy snoring. He turned, nearly tripped over the pillow, and spent a long moment looking at the door, contemplating the idea of stealing away and…but he wouldn't…he couldn't. He didn't know why he couldn't. Surely he could just leave…maybe for the night, hell, maybe forever. Certainly he had thought about it before.
Instead, he kicked the pillow towards the chair and sat down stonily. He tried to position the pillow between his skull and the hotel wall so that he might find a comfortable position…but eventually gave up and sat back miserably.
So zey are friends ove yours?" Rhoslyn's voice entered his consciousness. He recalled a conversation from earlier in the evening, at sunset actually. They had been on the beach. It was…admittedly a lousy place to try and find information, but by that time they weren't really looking. Grim had been aware that what they were doing could have been considered a date…and it had made him a bit uncomfortable.
"Well…kinda…" he answered. The sunset was uncommonly perfect and the sea glistened beneath it. At one point she had taken his arm and he had found himself under the impression that he was blushing despite the fact that he had no skin or blood to do so.
"Ze blonde one is very…demanding…she is a friend of yours?"
"For lack of a better word." Grim had said, brought back to reality a bit when she mentioned Mandy.
"She does not treat you like a friend." Rhoslyn said quietly.
"No…not really." Grim had replied and he was surprised at the tone of his voice. It wasn't scornful or cynical, but honest and slightly hurt. He cleared his throat, suspecting that he was rather tired. The sun really was taking a long time to set.
"So vy do you hang out vith zem?"
"It's a long and complicated story." Grim said…well grimly.
"Perhaps it is time you find better friends." Grim opened his mouth to speak, but was unable to when she laid her head lightly against his shoulder. They had walked on in silence then as the sun finally vanished over the horizon.
Sorry…god…do I even have to say it? It's taken too long. I'll try to do better next time but I'm swamped with college work and regular work and other stuff…and blech.
In any case, I hope you all like this chapter and I appreciate your reviews. (Especially you people who review despite my lack of existence most of the time.) I'll update as soon as I can. NEXT time, I'll try to throw a little more GrimXMandy in it…although…I'd rather not over do it just yet…these things take time. :) Love you all:)