(There is an extended author's note in the prior chapter which answers reviews. Please read if interested, thank you. :) )
Chapter Four: To Wally World and Back Again
"Whose car are we taking?" Dezzi asked, locking the apartment door behind everyone. After 15 minutes spent searching for a decent pair of shoes for Drizzt, the gang was heading out for a midnight run to get necessities for the displaced drow. Since the only pair of acceptable shoes that the girls could find for Drizzt was a pair of flip-flops, the girls had to take a moment to train the formally stealthy drow not to jump or flail every time he took a noisy step. Getting him to walk without cringing in anticipation of the slap on his feet was another matter entirely. He assured them it didn't actually hurt, but the sensation of something slapping the soles of his feet was not a comfort. Eventually Drizzt just took to shuffling his feet rather than lifting them up at all, much to the disappointment of Morgan and Dezzi who sat snickering unhelpfully on the couch the whole time. After another two minute crisis about whether they should cover Drizzt's ears or not, the women decided it really wasn't required and they were off.
"Mine, since I was sure you'd throw a shitfit about Drizzt being in your truck," Katie replied. "Not to mention your truck can't fit all of us and their car is…ummm…"
"Held together with duct tape, willpower and the steady mumble of prayers amongst all those who climb into the speeding deathtrap," Morgan supplied. "When exactly will we get to take Drizzt out for a spin, by the way?"
"We're taking my car." The brunette turned and gave the drow a very serious look. "Don't you EVER get into their car if Morgan is going to drive. In fact don't get into ANY car when Morgan says he will drive. I don't care if your only two choices are a drunk driver who can't even stand upright anymore or Morgan, you DO NOT get in the car when Morgan is driving. You don't even let your most hated enemy of all time get into a car when Morgan is driving. Have I made myself clear?"
"Oh, c'mon! I don't drive that bad. I'm at least better then the drunk driver."
"I call shotgun!" Robin yelled as she bounded down a flight of stairs.
"Actually, Robin, I wanted Drizzt to sit up front," Katie called as she chased after her.
"What?! But that puts me in the back with the boys!"
"I am better then the drunk driver. Just so you know. I would never endanger your life THAT badly, okay Drizzt?" Nodding because he didn't know any better, Drizzt shuffled his way towards the same concrete stairs Morgan and Dezzi were herding him. A large vast pool of black tar spread out at the bottom of the steps, just off the edge of a wide concrete walkway that seemed to encircle the entire encampment. Rows upon rows of metal carriages lined the tar closest to the dwellings. The girls were bouncing around a grey one in particular.
"Katie is making you sit up front," Robin said with a pout. "She's putting me with the wolves."
"I'm sorry, but you know how to handle them better then Drizzt would," Katie retorted. "Just get in; it won't be a long ride."
"If you are uncomfortable Robin," Drizzt said, stalling the others from climbing in right away. "I can switch with you. I really don't see what the problem is…"
"They will eat him alive, Robin." The leering grins on the male's faces told the smaller brunette that her friend was right.
"Alright, fine," she huffed. Turning toward the drow she added more sweetly, "thank you for your offer Drizzt, but unfortunately for me, I seem to be even more chivalrous then you. Sit in the front where it's safe. Morgan, you get the middle and if I am attacked…Just remember that I know where you sleep at night."
"You making kinky promises?" Morgan chuckled.
"No. I'm making terrifying threats. Get in."
The passengers in the front had plenty of roomy space, though the back was more hard pressed for elbow room. Katie promised she'd drive extra fast and ignored most of Morgan's under breathed mutterings about reckless driving indeed. He probably would have continued if Dezzi hadn't shouted "YELLOW CAR!" and decked him on the arm.
"DAMNIT!" Morgan cried.
"Janet!" Robin yelled shortly after.
"I love you," the humans all sang in unison. Drizzt stared at them like they'd lost their minds and wondered if there was still time for him to bail out of the carriage before they started moving.
Katie turned her hand behind a giant wheel and the entire carriage roared to life. By now the overall appeal of things surprising him was starting to wear a little thin, so the drow didn't jump nearly as high as he might have just hours earlier. He wanted to ask what magic made the carriage move without the use of a beast of burden but first he wanted to be assured his traveling companions weren't all a bunch of crazy nuts. Not that the drow had anything against traveling with nutcases, he'd done so for near seven years at one point in his early life after all, but he'd really rather be told up front about it. "Umm, what was that about?" he questioned, though Drizzt seriously wondered if he even wanted to know. "What is a janet?"
"Don't worry about it hun," Katie said, backing the car out of its parking space. "Why is it beeping? Who's not wearing their seat belt?"
"Don't look at us, we're buckled in back here," Dezzi said. "Is Drizzt?"
"Am I what?"
"Oh no, you're not buckled in." Katie reached over Drizzt's chest and grabbed hold of a band he hadn't seen before. "You take this and hook it here, okay?" She showed him the thick metal catch and where to clip it at his hip. "You ALWAYS do that when you get inside a car, okay?"
"Alright…" the confused drow replied. "Ummm, what is it for?"
"It's for keeping you safe in your seat."
"Yes but…" Drizzt looked around the inner cabin of this strange carriage. "I do not think I will fall out of the wagon of my own accord."
"It's for if we crash," Morgan spoke up.
"Yeah, those can be deadly, you know. The seatbelt will keep you locked to your seat instead of flying all around the cabin of the car while the crash is going on, ideally saving your life if you happen to crash under the right circumstances. It doesn't protect against shrapnel and decapitation, though. It's also not the best thing to be wearing if you crash into any body of water. Or if the car explodes in a fire."
"THANK YOU, Morgan, you are very informative, as usual." Katie glared at her friend from her rearview mirror.
The blond man just smiled at the semi horrified look on the drow's face. "You're welcome cupcake."
"These crashes," Drizzt turned toward Katie, "they happen frequently?"
"Only if Morgan is your driver."
"Baaah, lies and cancer. I only drive as awesomely as I do to avoid the crazyheads gunning to kill me is all."
"YELLOW CAR!" Whomp.
"I love you!"
"We aren't even out of the parking lot Dezzi, gawd!"
"The rules state as soon as you're in the car and buckled the game starts," Dezzi snickered.
"With all due respect, what are they doing?" Drizzt asked.
Katie rolled her eyes, but was now to preoccupied on the road to give him her full attention. Drizzt didn't mind in the least though, figuring that the more attention she gave to what she was doing the better off they all would be. He just hoped his inability to keep questions to himself right then wouldn't doom them all. "It's this silly road game, like Slug Bug."
"Oh, yeah, you don't know…" Katie sighed. "Ummm…it's basically a game that is only played while in a car, traveling from one spot to another, and basically they're just looking for yellow cars and beating each other up every time they see one."
"Drizzt if I knew why I'd probably be the reigning champ at that game."
"You threw off the groove!"
"I'm sorry but you threw off the emperor's groove. Out the window with you!"
"Ow! Frick Morgan! No! Oh, YELLOW CAR!" Whomp.
"I love you!"
"There! I got you're stupid groove back! Leave me alone!"
"YELLOW CAR!" Whomp.
Everyone now sang the "I love you" part in chorus, even Drizzt whispered it with touch of a smile despite not really understanding the joke behind it. Indeed the ride was short lived though as Katie turned the car into a large parking lot and pulled up to another edge of concrete. The four humans cleared out of the car and Drizzt tried to follow but was stopped by two problems. The first was that the seatbelt locked his hips firmly in place to the chair and didn't seem to want to let him go at all. No amount of tugging on the strap would let it loose. Was it….tightening? The second problem was quite simply that there was no wiggle room for Drizzt to try and slip out of the bondage and that included knowing how to get the car door open.
"Where's Drizzt?" Katie asked.
"I thought he was right behind me," Morgan said. "We walked like five feet into the store, how did he get lost?"
"Maybe he ran away. Wouldn't be the first time we've caused someone to go careening off into the night screaming in terror."
"Oh, I hate that. They always come back with a mob and the mob always has these torches and pitchforks…"
"He did not get lost, and we did not walk only five feet," Katie said marching back the way they had come. Approaching her car she found the drow was no less free from his captivity. He looked around sharply when she unlocked the car with a press of her key before opening the front passenger door. "Get yourself stuck?" the woman asked with a smile.
"Only a little," Drizzt replied sheepishly. "Please explain?"
"There's a red button on the seatbelt where it latched at your hip. Go ahead an—yeah, you press it like that to get free. See? Easy. And to open the door from the inside, the handle is down here. You would just pull like so, okay?"
"Okay," the dark elf sighed. He quickly climbed out of the car and tried not to look too embarrassed by the incident.
"If it makes you feel better, I got stuck inside that car when I first got it myself. The inside handles are really oddly placed."
"So I had noticed."
"Hey Drizzt!" Morgan called from the entrance where the others were waiting. "They're called flip flops! They're SUPPOSED to flip and flop! Quit shuffling and PICK UP YOUR FEET!" Robin promptly punched him in the arm. She then also promptly made of scene about how the action nearly broke her hand.
"You can ignore him whenever you want," Katie said as they pulled up with the others again. "Okay, we're here for some basic personals. Let's start with underwear. Drizzt, hunny, stay close to us now…"
He took the offered hand and let the woman pull him along but the dark elf was much to fascinated by the sheer size of the building and all that was inside it. An entire marketplace was stuffed within four walls and although there were many goods presented he could see no single merchant tending to their products. True, the ranger had not many chances to willingly walk through a market but he was sure this was a strange way of doing business. There were some workers moving about, other humans carting more products through the isles where they unloaded it and filed it onto shelves or racks, and he supposed they were responsible for making sure nothing was stolen even though none of them seemed to pay the group any mind. Then another thought occurred to him and he had to ask, "Katie…in your realm…are there human slaves…?"
"What?" the brunette turned down an isle and the others followed. "I'm sorry, I was focused, what did you ask?"
"He wants to know about the slaves," Morgan smirked. "They're totally slaves, Drizzt. And their lives are miserable." Once more, Robin hit him.
"Don't tell him things that aren't true, he'll never trust you when you do tell him the truth!"
"Who says I was lying? I'm totally telling a version of the truth. You know, depending on your point of view."
"Slaves? What slaves?"
"He meant the workers," Dezzi pointed out the obvious. "They're not really slaves, Drizzt. You can ask them and they will probably tell you they feel like they are, but they are not held here against their will because someone owns them. They're paid for their work and have lives beyond this place. Slavery is illegal here."
"It very much is. I would know, I'm an upholder of the law."
Morgan snorted. "Hey, mister 'upholder of the law,' you're just a security guard at a hotel. Let's not get pious."
"I'm a protector of the innocent," Dezzi huffed. "Whatever you want to call it, I'm more then qualified to tell him slavery is illegal and it doesn't happen here."
"Doesn't happen here legally, anyway," Morgan put in.
"Hey Boys!" With a shake of some plastic wrapped cloth, the argument was put aside as Katie interrupted. "Which is better for your dangly bits, boxers or briefs? Or does it really matter?"
"Just go with boxer-briefs, it's the best of both worlds," Robin said.
"NO!" Dezzi cried and pulled away the package she tried to hand Katie. "No, ummm, boxers! Boxers are surly the very BEST for boy bits. Right, Morgan?"
The blond male gave his friend a peculiar and slightly horrified look. "Under the condition that we never mention this EVER and no one asks me how I know, I'm going to say the gayest thing I may ever say in my entire life by stating the following: dude, YOU wear boxer-briefs."
"I…Ummm…you know…maybe I…switched? To boxers….so you should agree with me, okay?" The girls exchanged looks with each other as Dezzi stumbled over his own words.
Morgan threw his hands in the air. "Noooo, sorry, this is already crossed into awkward turtle waters and I'm just going to agree with the girls and start paddling back to shore as fast as I possibly can."
"What are boxers? And briefs?" The four humans turned their attention to the confused drow. The males looked slightly mortified and the expressions of the females was more amused than anything. The dark elf couldn't decide if he should try to shrug away his words and abandon the conversation or plough forward in his own curiosity.
"Damnit Drizzt, don't go shooting holes in the boat!"
"They are each a kind of underwear," Katie filled in. She held up the package in her hand and pointed to the man who left very little room for imagination. "Underwear goes under your clothes. Remember the fight," the woman gave a pointed look at her roommate, "that Dezzi and I had about you wearing his clothes? He was upset because I didn't give you any of these to wear but considering the very personal nature of underwear, I didn't think you'd be comfortable with that if I had."
Drizzt frowned at the package. "I'm supposed to be comfortable wearing that at all?"
"Oh lord help us, he prefers to be commando."
Katie kicked at Dezzi and gave Robin an annoyed look as she snickered and eyed the drow once more in lecherous fashion. Off down the aisle Morgan had already stridden off singing a rousing round of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. "Well, ummm…I guess if you don't want to wear them—"
"Oh no, we're buying him the underwear," Dezzi interrupted. "And yes, he will wear them."
"Care to try and make me?" Drizzt challenged.
"Oh, don't break them up," Robin pleaded. "I want to see this happen."
The other brunette gave her friend an almost lethal glare. "Hey! Boys! I told you to keep it civil and that's just what you're gonna do even if it kills ya! Now, Dezzi, Drizzt will not be wearing your clothes forever so what underwear he wants, or doesn't want, is up to him. It's not like it really matters, you already know he's commando under those jeans, right?"
"Really?!" The drow took a large step back from the petite female when her voice hit a note that reminded him too much of the scream she emitted earlier that same day. She smiled up at him with a bit too much mischievous glee.
"Focus, Robin! You have a husband!" Katie sighed. "Now, I know men get all weird about their bodies and sharing personal things like this, but this is a really stupid thing to fight about and I will not tolerate it. If you guys start fighting again it had better be over something really important and not underwear. Understand?"
"Fine," Dezzi conceded. "But then I don't what him wearing any more of my pants. He can get his own."
"Would you like his laundry washed separately too?" Katie asked sarcastically. "And just for the record we are not making Drizzt wear a special bra so his nipples won't touch your shirts, you okay with that?"
"Do you want a truce or do you want me to hold a bloody grudge?" Dezzi asked. "I'm fine with sharing shirts. And jackets. And….clean socks….I would be fine with sharing pants as well if he would just wear the stupid underwear, but because Drizzt has to be difficult I don't see why I can't be too."
"Okay! So, no more pants swapping. Drizzt, are you okay with that?" Slowly the drow nodded his own consent to the agreement. Katie shoved the packages of underwear back on the shelf and marched off to find their lost companion. Sullenly, Dezzi and Drizzt followed suit and behind them skipped a little woman with a sly grin. Katie dragged them all across the store collecting basic necessities for Drizzt; a toothbrush, a few pants, basic sneakers, a hairbrush. After fifteen minutes of wandering they had collected four armfuls of things, but there was one thing they hadn't spotted.
Morgan was found in the toy aisle, staring down a wall of packaged dolls. When asked what he was doing his only response was to question how fast they'd get thrown out of the store if he were to start reenacting the Salem witch trials with Bratz dolls in the middle of said aisle. The girls made quick work of prying him away. A miniature squabble broke out amongst the friends, and like ever before Drizzt found his attention drifting away from the argument when he couldn't get a word in edgewise or even understand the topic. This aisle was one of the only ones he hadn't been dragged down yet, and curiously his eyes roamed over the toys. There was an awful lot of pink.
A small package caught his eye though and he stopped. There was a little purple unicorn smiling up at him from her plastic encasement. Bemused, he picked the package up and looked it over. There wasn't much to it, just a simple pony in a box. The back told him her name was Twilight Sparkle and she had five magical friends he could collect. Reverently, he put her back, but his hand lingered a while longer on the box.
He thought of his goddess, Mielikki, and of her unicorn form. Even back home in the world he knew much better than this one he had never seen one of these majestic creatures personally. Of course, Montolio had given him fantastic descriptions of their shared goddess so he was bemused by the toy. Clearly it wasn't his goddess but its presence gave a small measure of comfort, as if she were still with him. But the comfort was small indeed. The figurine also reminded him that he alone had come through to this world and suddenly he was worried for what might have happened to Guenhwyvar. He hadn't been far from the dwaven entrance to their home in Icewind Dale, so there was a chance the panther would be found by Bruenor or Cattie-bre. He worried though if the dwarves would attempt to hurt the figure, disliking and even mistrusting magical items they didn't understand. He very deeply hoped then the little girl that so sweetly befriended him would find and hide it until he could get home. It wasn't until Robin nudged his arm that he seemed to come back to reality.
"You get lost again, or what?" she asked, grinning at him.
"Sorry," the drow muttered. "I got side tracked."
"Happens to the best of us. C'mon, the others are starting to get cranky."
The car ride home was relatively quiet. Dezzi and Morgan where nowhere near as rambunctious as they had been on the way out. Not that Drizzt was complaining. He might've even been lulled to a kind of sleep by the rocking car, if Morgan's earlier words didn't keep his alert eyes roaming the road ahead for potential dangers. In the back Robin was humming an unfamiliar tune and stroking Morgan's hair. "That's a new one," Katie finally said as they pulled into their home parking lot. "Something you're working on?"
"Yeah, a little bit," the petite brunette replied. She stretched and jostled the boys out of their trances. "It hasn't got words, but Airy is a little possessive of that job and all. Speaking of, you guys are coming to the show tonight, right?"
"Have we ever missed a show considering that you can't play unless Dezzi is there?"
"Yeah but, now you have Drizzt to look after. Are you planning on bringing him out to our show?"
"Well, yeah. I mean what's the alternative? Keep him locked up inside?"
"You don't both have to be there," Robin said as she climbed out of the now parked car. "I'll tell Airy you couldn't make it because something important came up and you can stay home with your tall, dark and handsome." Another of the woman's signature lewd grins finished off that sentence and Katie found herself blushing with the unspoken implications.
"Drizzt is coming to the show," Dezzi said, his tone leaving very little room for argument. He waved off help from Katie in collecting the shopping bags and started up the stairs.
"What crawled up his butt and died?" Robin retorted.
"He's tired," Katie defended. "Look, we'll see about taking Drizzt later okay? You guys go get some rest and we're gunna do the same. Night guys." She hugged each of her friends in turn, though Drizzt was a little less comfortable reciprocating the same farewell when Robin tried it on him.
Already Dezzi had retired to his room, so Drizzt made due helping Katie unpack the bags. Like before he could sense that she was putting off sleep for him and he felt bad for imposing upon her. "Thank you," he gently told her, "for everything that you've done. I'm not sure I can ever repay you for being so patient with me."
The woman blushed a bit and handed him a neat stack of clothes. "Don't worry about it. I figure this is the least I can do for attacking you."
"I don't mean to be rude, but I do have concerns about getting home and doing so relatively soon."
She sighed and ran her fingers through the loose locks of her hair. "Oh, right…"
"They are pressing but I don't think much can be done if we are tired. May we speak of them first thing in the morning?"
"I can do that, yeah." Katie chuckled then and added, "Might not be up until the afternoon though, is that okay? Because technically it's three in the morning now and all…"
"That would be fine. I just want you to get some rest first." He tried smiling at her for reassurance but she glanced away too quickly.
"Oi!" Dezzi called from his doorway. "Are you coming to bed or what? I'm tired and would like to go to sleep now."
"So you are going to let Drizzt sleep with you," Katie teased. She lead Drizzt down the hall and lingered outside the three doorways that lead to either bedroom and the guest bathroom.
"Well he's NOT sleeping with you," the human male countered. "If it turns out he really is some psycho and he tries to kill us in our sleep, I want first dibs on cracking his skull open, okay?"
Katie opened her mouth to retort but black fingers brushed against her lips in a gentle way and she turned to look at her drow houseguest instead. "I understand your concern," Drizzt spoke somberly. "And I accept your hostility toward me, but may we please leave it for the morning? I think we are all a little tired and I would sleep better if we could just be in agreement to stay away from each other's throats until then, at the very least. My head really doesn't need to take any more beatings so I promise to behave and concur with any requests you have." Tentatively he offered his free hand. "Truce?"
Green eyes stared down at the offered appendage in a mild scowl. "Any requests?" Dezzi challenged. He ignored Katie's glare as the ranger agreed. With a final nod he slapped the pale palm of his hand against Drizzt's waiting hand and said, "fine. But the requests will be made behind my closed door and Katie doesn't get a say in them."
"Now wait just a—"
"I agree." The two humans fell silent at this simple utterance. Dezzi hadn't expected it to be that simple and Katie could not believe the drow would be so trusting.
"Drizzt, he's being irrational," the woman started. "Let me talk to him, I'll make sure he won't—" Once more she was silenced by gentle dark fingers.
"You've done a lot for me, and I am thankful for it make no mistake. But earning Dezzi's trust and friendship is something I must do on my own. I do not feel that he is capable of hurting me in intentional cruelty, so do not worry so much about us, please." He smiled soothingly at her worried expression and patted her head, a gesture of comfort that he would often showed young Cattie-bre when her own emotions tried to get the better of her.
"Fine…." The young woman sighed. "You'll do what you're going to do regardless of what I say anyway. Just know this, Dezzi: I'd better get Drizzt back in the same condition as now, when I gave him to you, okay?"
"Okay, I promise I won't murder him without good cause."
"I mean it!"
"I do too."
Katie huffed indignantly, and she huffed again when Drizzt calmly stepped through the bedroom door. She didn't smile back at her roommate's attempt at looking reassuring, and for a long moment after the door shut she didn't move from standing right outside in the hallway. But when the minutes ticked away and no blood curdling screams were heard, when neither Drizzt nor Dezzi tore from the room looking for her help, when all she could make out standing there were soft incoherent murmurs, she had to admit defeat and turn around to head back to her own room. Before shutting her own door she yelled for the boys to hear, "The Same Damn Condition, Dezzi!"