#Besties

May 24, 2015:

Lynette meets Ronnie. The day starts with daydrinking and goes downhill from there.

Brooklyn, New York

Characters

NPCs: Cute bartender, two drunks, and one catcalling thug.

Mentions:

Mood Music: Start the Riot by Atari Teenage Riot


Fade In…

Its too hot to be wearing latex pants, but Lynette Shackleford doesn't give a flying fuck. She's punked out today, and that means latex pants, with mean-ass black boots that are, well, part of the pants. There are rips here and there, with fishnets visible beneath, the waistband high enough on the tights to be visible riding her midriff. The tank top is torn to hell and back, with the Misfits logo and skull framed by a pair of suspenders.

That's right. Suspenders.

With a studded leather jacket, a brown paper bag, and a burning fag in her left hand, the fiery haired Scottish hellion is walking down the streets of Williamsburg like the fucking music video for Bittersweet Symphony, shoulder checking those blokes who don't dodge out of her way. Big-ass skull candy headphones block the world from hearing the music blasting into her ears, which drives the smirk upon her face.

*

Here's the thing about the Bittersweet Symphony video.

At no point in the sections that they actually filmed — maybe there's an outtake somewhere in the band's archives which will get donated to a university or a museum someday — does Richard Ashcroft walk into someone with super powers. That someone with super powers is Ronnie Hautzig, and Lynette is our Ashcroft stand-in for that hypothetical outtake.

To explain: After getting back from the future and reuniting with Barry Allen, Ronnie's gone walkabout for a bit. He has work, and she just wants to soak up some of the ambience — after all, from her perspective, she was in the future for five years. She looks like her own older sister, wished into existence. So now she's in some clothes she scrounged from Goodwill (teal spring jacket over a white shirt, and a dark skirt down to her ankles) and she's looking around at all of this 21st-century Williamsburg shit like it's the lost city of Atlantis, and long story short, that's why she's not looking where she's going, and that's why when Lynette tries to shoulder-check her out of the way, it's like trying to shoulder-check someone's SUV. "Huh?"

*

The cans get knocked right off Lynette's face, clattering to the cement only to be stopped by the cord's yanking against the phone tucked into her jacket.

START THE RIOT! BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM (repeat)

Thats right. She's been listening to Atari Teenage Riot.

Staggering away, the redhead catches herself with wide eyes, and turns back to stare at Ronnie. "… OW!" She runs at her shoulder for a moment, glaring. "Well you got some cheek, you ruddy b— oooh!"

Lynette's angst immediately switched gears, and she peers at Ronnie up and down for a moment. "Christ, lass, it looks like some tosser drug you through the gutters of Glasgow. Someone clearly needs to take you shopping." She lifts the bag, unscrews the bottle, and snorts back a hearty pull of whatever swill she's carrying around inside, before shoving the bag into Ronnie's chest. "Drink."

*

Ronnie looks like she was caught off-guard, mostly because she was. Normally she's careful to avoid bumping into people, because the whole point of her cover identity (including the covering clothes) is to NOT let people know she can throw them an entire city block like a shot put.

The brown-haired woman is about to start apologizing when Lynette goes from anger to generosity. She knows that this is a patently absurd situation, and that every anti-drug commercial she saw as a child was warning her about this moment, right now, specifically. There's that half-step of hesitation as Ronnie takes the bag but doesn't drink. Her eyebrows are raised and she's still barely gotten a word in edgewise. She's using SHIELD agent training to make a snap judgment about this situation and right now that judgment says 'You've just been stuck in the future for five years, have a drink, stupid.'

"Thanks," Ronnie says, maybe with a question mark at the end, maybe not, kind of impossible to tell. Then she takes the bag and has a drink of whatever's in there.

*

Whiskey. Kentucky Bourbon, to be precise. Some home brew she ripped off a few days ago. Good taste, burns like hell, probably explains the lack of a label on the bag.

While Ronnie drinks, Lynette drags the headphones from the sidewalk, drapes them around her neck, and casually reaches into her pocket to withdraw the phone, switch off the music, and snap a photo of Ronnie and her bag. Give it about five seconds. The photo will be on Instagram hash tagged #newbestie and #daydrinking.

The phone gets stuffed away again, and with a rueful smirk, Lynette takes her bag back. "Don't mention it, Switch. Really though. Shopping. You and me. Fuck this town though, I ain't paying douchebag prices for douchebag clothes." She drops back another pull from the bottle, before replacing the lid and crumpling it all up. "I'm Lynette. There's a bar down the road. Shit hole, but the tender's cute. Shots?" She turns her head with a twinkle of mirth. "Come ooooonnnnnmn. It's Sunday Funday, bitch."

*

The photo of Ronnie that makes it to Instagram is one that will probably haunt her for a while — it's not like some obnoxious glug-glug candid, but it does show the face she makes after the bottle parts from her lips, an expression that looks a little bit pained and a little bit like someone doing their best impression of a tugboat horn sound.

"Switch?" Ronnie says, a little bit raspy but not too worse for wear after the gulp of Uncle Jemima's. "I'm Ronnie. I mean, I'm not gonna say no to shops, I mean, shots — I guess I mean shops, too, but I'm…"

Ronnie gestures down at herself like a magician's assistant. "…a little light on funds at the moment."

*

"Oi. Sugar. Money is never the problem." Lynette winks, then grabs Ronnie by the arm and tugs her along down the street.

"The key to survival in this shit world? Know what you want. Know how to get it. Then? Just fucking take it. No one gives it to ya. Here, I'll show you the ropes." She points to the bar. It's one of those places with no sign on the door, which prevents it from becoming a tourist trap. "This place, for example? It's perfect. Why? Middle of the day and it's open."

*

Tugging Ronnie by the arm isn't really a problem. Despite her powers, she weighs, what, a hundred and fifty? Nothing too strenuous. But to touch her is to feel her density — she must be some kind of bodybuilder or something, from the way even a casual grip betrays her ultradefined muscles.

"Should I be taking notes?" Ronnie says as they approach the bar. She has no clue what she's in for, but she's reasonably sure she can handle herself. Parts of her brain, probably the SHIELD agent parts, are blaring at her and telling her that this is a bad idea. But the rest of her is curious and, more to the point, wants to burrow into that hoary old cliche of 'live a little.' "Is there going to be an exam?"

*

Leaning toward Ronnie dramatically, Lynette stage-whispers, "Not unless you want one." She grabs the door and pulls it open, smirking. "Giggity."

Inside, the bar is dark and divey. Probably the kind of place these Williamsburg yupsters like to go to because it's ironic, but during the day? It's the last bastion of the working class in this neighborhood. The bartender is, in fact, cute. All dark, tall, muscular and tattooed, and working the place by himself because fuck help. Lynette slides up to a chair, looking to the drunk on the left, then the drunk on the right. "Some balls are held for charity, and some for fancy dress," she starts, doing her best Bon Scott. "But when they're held for pleasure they're the balls that I like best. My balls are always bouncing to the left -" She winks with her left eye, and the drunk to her left passes out. "- and to the right -" Ditto with the right eye. "It's my belief that my big balls -" She turns to face the bartender and grins, adding seductively, "- should be held every night."

The 'tender laughs. "What're you having, Shark?"

"Two shots of Fireball whiskey, and a couple of beers to chase that shit with, awright mate?"

The bartender nods and gets to work.

*

As Ronnie looks around, it crosses her mind that to live up to her frazzled film-student identity, this is the kind of bar she'd be drinking in — if she drank much, anyway — but for the time taken up by her job, her other job, and her other other job. It makes Ronnie very briefly feel like a fraud, as opposed to an undercover agent performing their function. Though that might just be the sensation of Kentucky bourbon entering her brain.

While Ronnie has her existential crisis, Lynette is doing AC/DC, and the aggressively fit woman snaps out of it in time for the performance to end. She assumes a position to the left of Lynette, between her and Left Drunk, and watches the bartender work. "'Shark?'" she asks, looking sideways over at Lynette with a wry semi-smile. "Well, I guess you do kind of look like a 'Shark'…"

*

"That's because I made him promise never to tell anyone my real name." Lynette watches the bartender fondly as she speaks this, even going so far as to tilt her head and sigh dramatically. "I deserve that, considering what I gave him." A knowing look is flashed Ronnie's way.

"Now, about that money problem." She turns her head a bit, seeming to look off into the distance for a moment while the bartender brings over their drinks. "Alright, Sharkie, that's $25."

"Bloody New York prices," she murmurs, snapping back to it. Then, she grabs the Right Drunk by his shoulder, jerking him upright. "Oi, fuck face. You got that money you owe me?"

The drunk, startled, looks to Lynette and gasps, hands trembling as they go for his wallet. "Y… y-y-yes, yes, I do!" Out comes a wad of bills, which is promptly thrown into the bar in Lynette's direction.

"Thanks, Sugar." She looks to Ronnie mirthfully. "Go on." She nods her head to the Left Drunk. "You try it."

*

Ronnie is visibly uncomfortable with this tactic. Her first thought is 'what would Barry say about all this?' followed quickly by 'I wonder what Barry's up to at his job' and then she mentally chastises herself for being That Kind Of Girlfriend.

Ronnie gives Lynette a steely look for a second, like Marty McFly after being called 'chicken.' She purses her lips and takes just a moment to plot her course.

Part of her SHIELD agent training was in seduction — men and women alike sitting in a classroom being lectured, and made to take notes, on how to properly eye-fuck someone, with some field testing that in a general way resembles high-level Scientology telepathic rites.

Ronnie's hand rests on the Left Drunk's. She makes eye contact for a moment. "Buy a round for a girl who's down on her luck?" she asks, lightening her voice just a bit, careful not to convey her strength through her touch. She holds the eye contact as long as it takes for the drunk to acquiesce and push, not throw, some bills onto the bartop.

Ronnie turns back to Lynette, one eyebrow lifted, as if waiting for a letter grade to be delivered.

*

Lynette shakes her head in disappointment, sucking on her teeth while paying for the drinks and stuffing the rest into her jacket. "Wow. That there, was, some of the most amateur work I've ever seen." She turns back to Ronnie with a sympathetic look.

Suddenly, Lynette's shot glass goes soaring, right past Ronnie's face and into the Left Drunk's temple.

"OY! FUCK FACE!" She leaps from her bar stool and walks around, yanking the man up by the scruff of his neck. "You got that money you owe me, you twizzler-dick dobby-yanker?"

"Oh, oh my god! Jesus!" The drunk fishes out the rest of his cash and holds it out. "Yes! I do, I do! Take it!"

What Ronnie couldn't possibly know, and likely would never comprehend, is this. During her little moment of distraction, Lynette had entered the minds of those snoozing drunks, tearing apart their darkest nightmares until they were left believing some horrible, hyper-realistic dream that both started and ended here, in this bar, with the terribly powerful urge to come clean and pay a certain Scottish redhead the money they never really owed her. Nightmares, when lucid, merged, and entirely too realistic, have a terrible effect on people.

Lynette sits back down, offering the money to Ronnie. Confidently, and with a touch of liaise faire, she remarks, "Guess I'm the woman of their dreams."

*

Ronnie actually puts her hand up, blocking the money from entering her custody. "From the sounds of these two," Ronnie says in a sort of detached, jokey way, "you're not someone I want to accept a loan from."

Ronnie takes her shot glass and downs the whiskey. She's still not sure what she's gotten herself into. Tiny, fiery Scottish loan shark? Con woman manipulating the feeble minds of the drunk? Begbie from Trainspotting? She figures she can handle any/all of those options, and reaches for one of the beers.

A pleasant buzz is starting to form in the lining between Veronica's brain matter and her skull. "I think it might just be that I'm from California," Ronnie says. "People don't do so much throwing of shot glasses there. Well. Maybe the bikers."

*

"Oh. Babe." Lynette shakes her head. "I'm not lending this to you. I'm giving it to you. Come on, those worthless fucks drink here every day, they don't enjoy it anymore. But you and me?" She reaches over to jab at Ronnie in the ribs. "We're like the Robin Hood of drinkers. Rob from the derelict, give to the young and fashionable. Well." She looks Ronnie up and down, smirking. "Almost fashionable."

Her beer is snatched up and drank from. "Come on. Short subway ride to the real gritty part of B-town, where the really good shops are. Give me an hour and I'll have the men fawning over your rock hard arse. Or, if you have a special someone…" Her eyebrows waggle. "He'll be calling me to thank me."

*

Even Ronnie's ribs are as armored as the rest of her. It's like poking a sculpture covered with some crappy Goodwill jacket. Still, she takes the money, probably confident that she can just headlock Lynette into submission if a shot glass gets thrown at HER.

"I prefer to think of myself as more of just a starving intellectual or whatever," Ronnie says with a smirk, "not really, like, the robbing sort. But, hey, I guess if it's good enough for Jean Genet…" Still not actually a commitment, but Ronnie has a swig of beer.

"The really good shops? I'm more beads and boho than ripped latex," Ronnie warns, though playfully. "But what the hell, it beats whatever this is."

*

"Well, you know, ripped… latex is only for Sunday." Lynette is, after all, a woman of many masks. She turns away and grabs the beer, downing it with a few long, weighty gulps. She did grow up in Glasgow, after all.

Slamming the bottle into the bar, the punkish redhead wipes her mouth with the sleeve of her jacket. "Beads and boho are good for one thing, Ronnie. Killing boners. Now, there's always a good balance between ho and hobo, the magic is finding that line. It's different for everyone."

She hops off the seat and motions to the door. "Awright then?"

*

Ronnie lets out an involuntary snort of a laugh at the killing of boners, which is fine except that she's in the middle of drinking her beer. She takes a second to recover, and then sets the beer down, only half-drained. She seems content to leave it so.

Ronnie follows towards the door, hands going into jacket pockets now lined with cash. "I dunno, being a hobo doesn't sound that bad. Getting a bindle, and an old bent stovepipe hat with, like, the top popped out like a can lid. Riding the rails, charging kids a dollar to see a dead body by the riverbanks, that kind of stuff. I could get behind that."

*

"Booooring!" quips Lynette in a sing-song voice. "No, I've got plans for you, kid. Evil, wicked plans to make you the hotness of New York County. Subway's this way.

It isn't long before the dynamic duo have reached a neighborhood far less glamorous than Williamsburg. This is where the starving artists and hoodlums live, but there is one thriving business strip where all sorts of shops can be found. There is a line of clothing stores, ranging from vintage resale to club wear and beyond.

Eyeing the shops, Lynette taps through them one after the other when she lands on the club wear. "Awright, sister. We're starting with a new skirt. In you go." She ushers Ronnie toward the shop with a mischievous smirk.

*

"I can't wear, like, pants or something?" Ronnie asks as she's ushered in, knowing full well that the first stop in the racks will be something that's known in medical terms as 'a belt.'

"I mean, I'd just kinda be more, y'know, comfortable with that, like, just as a general suggestion." Ronnie's California is showing as she eyes the selection of club wear, none of which comes anywhere near to what she'd select for herself to wear in any but the most bizarre circumstances. "Like, I don't know, I could go for just like Lululemon or something…"

*

With laughter, Lynette guides the girl around into a slightly darker area of the store, where she takes out the paper bag, swills back some whiskey, then shoves the bag into Ronnie's chest again.

"Pants," she says. "We can do pants. But if we're gonnae do trousers, then you need heels. Open toe, boots, don't matter, but until you're in heels, no trousers."

She all but drags Ronnie over toward the shoes, which just so happens to match up with the bodysuits. "Now, these are bodysuits. Don't be afraid. You can wear one with, oh, tights at the club, or cammo shorts in the hood, or as a base beneath your jacket, t-shirt, whatever. But your job, today, is to match one of these -" She points to the racks of bodysuits "- with a pair of those." And she points to all of the shoes.

Lynette stands back, arms folded.

*

Ronnie's brow furrows slightly — she knows what bodysuits are, but the furrowed brow is as far as the protest goes. She has another gulp of bag-whiskey (even more wretched than box-wine, on a sheer nomenclature level) and hands the bag back over. "No problem," she says, cracking her knuckles as if she's been given the task of picking up a truck.

Minutes later, Ronnie has made her selections. The bodysuit is a conservative cut, offering zero decolletage, and has a print on it that is best described as 'what if an Aztec type motif had some sort of congenital brain disease,' and wedge heels that aren't colored quite as freakishly but still stand out for willful earthiness. The pairing works on a gut level, as long as one's gut is located at the Coachella festival. "These feel like 'me.'"

*

Lynette grins. A big grin. "Well then they're perfect. Go on, try them on. And don't show me! Find the right size, pay for your shit, and meet me outside. I'll be smoking a fag and eyeballing the hood boys and hipsters."

She turns away, smirking as she heads for the door. Hey, it's a good thing for the Dreamraker to be entertained by something so mundane, for the alternative is far more terrifying.

*

Ronnie emerges a few minutes later with a bag. She opted not to wear the outfit out of the store, still dressed like her favorite boutique is the lost and found at the YWCA. "I miss anything fun or exciting?" she asks, with just a little wee bit of sarcasm. She looks up and down the street, as if expecting a state fair to have spontaneously come into being like a flash mob.

"So what's next? I've got a top and shoes, but no tousers or whatever. You're, like, the guru on this whole thing so I'm following you. Like Fitzcarraldo going over the mountain or something." Ronnie's clearly telling some kind of joke, but it's probably a nerdy one, so.

*

Smoking her cigarette, Lynette just looks at Ronnie dumbly for a moment. Nerd joke does not register. "Trousers," she answers. "And a good jacket or shirt to go over that bodysuit. For that?" She snaps her fingers and points across the street. "Lazy Kid Vintage."

Leading the way, Lynette jaywalks and enters the store. "Okay, now this place is all sorts of disassociated. Like, the owner is ADD and doesn't know how to organize shit, so, start digging, lass. I'll help."

Eventually, the Scot finds a classy pair of high waisted trousers, with a slight bell bottom. She squeaks and comes running over, handing them to Ronnie. "Found the trousers! Oh my GOD. These will make those wedges look fucking boss!"

*

Ronnie is pawing through a differnt pile, and is holding up a shirt with 'LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT' embroidered in cursive on the back, which appears to be part of a male stripper uniform. Possibly. "Huh?"

Ronnie looks at the trousers and bites her bottom lip gently, eyes widening slightly in thought. She doesn't dislike them, but. "I'd have to try them on. I've got, uh, big legs. I guess. I don't really know how to phrase it." 'Muscular thighs, not quite Chun-Li levels but close' would be one way, but she doesn't think of that. "What about this?" she says, holding the faux-LAPD shirt.

*

"Oh, you'll squeeze into them come hell or high water," answers Lynette. At the brandishing of the shirt, though, she squeals again. "Oh my GOD! We can cut it all up and make it look super punk. Okay, okay. You go try the trousers. I'll buy the shirt and do the cutting. When the trousers work, you're changing out of that horrendous outfit, and we're gonna show these men what a real woman is!" She snatches up the shirt and rushes off to the cashier.

*

Ronnie is startled by the suddenness of the squeal, and stands there for a second like 'buh' holding the trousers. She heads to the changing room and, after a few moments, calls out to Lynette: "I think they're good, as long as I don't, uh, run, or eat anything ever, or probably breathe…"

*

"Well, that's the way it works, love. Heads up." The shoes, bodysuit, and properly cut up LAPD shirt are tossed over into the changing room. "Suit up. We're about to turn some heads, baby."

*

Thock! "Ow! Careful! One of those got me in the head!" Presumably the shoes, since a cut up shirt doesn't make a 'thock' when it hits a woman's head. There's the requisite zipping, rustling, stepping, and other sounds one would associate with a quick-change montage in a cartoon show or a video game.

Then, it's over, the door opens, and Ronnie Hautzig steps out. She looks good — like she's ready for a concert, or at least to hang out outside a concert smoking cigarettes. Perhaps the biggest shock is that with her arms now mostly bared, the gun show is in town — she has bodybuilder arms, not excessive in size but so shredded that she could probably pinch quarters into place between individual muscles. "Well?"

*

Blink.

Blink, blink.

"We should be at a fucking music festival," Lynette hisses, before clapping her hands and reaching to usher Ronnie out. "Also, holy fuck where did you get those arms?? Can I hire you as my personal bodyguard? Good Christ, woman."

Lynette promptly turns and bolts for the door. "Come on, Ronno. We got some boy brains to melt. You have no idea how easy it is to bend those meatheads to your every desire."

THEME MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: http://open.spotify.com/track/5LgiqEgpK54OfXC6947wbU

The moment Ronnie and Lynette step out onto the street, heads begin to turn. The screenplay calls for slow motion, and with every step, the redheaded Scot lays her sass on thick. To the cute ones, she gives something between a smile and a smirk. To the dorky ones, a little wink. To the hoodrats, a narrowed eye and a little kiss of the lips.

Everything is going nicely, until some dumbass has to catcall across the street toward the two.

"Hey girls! Heyyyo! Can I get two handfuls of that luscious ass over here?"

Lynette looks toward the catcaller, daggers shooting from green eyes. "Ronnie, luv." Her jaw clenches. "You want to have a bit of fun?"

*

On the arms, Ronnie looks at them and then just gives a look of 'what, these?' It's easier than it should be, because after months she's gotten used to her new(ish) physique and has settled into the body image that comes with them. "Yoga, lifting weights, and good genetics, I guess," Ronnie says. "Not sure which one dominates the others. And, uh, I might not be good for bodyguard work." Says the woman who knows how to kill people with SHIELD-level efficiency.

Then, the walk of triumph. Ronnie isn't as outrageously flirty. She lets the stares come to her, and returns shy smiles and 'aw shucks' type good-girl appreciation. The dynamic is clear, and Lynette is the bad cop.

Not that Ronnie can't be tempted. Such as when Lynetteclenches her jaw and asks about that bit of fun, and Ronnie rests her hands on her hips and stares over at the catcaller. "I'm not getting arrested for THAT bozo," Ronnie says, firmly and with anger showing from behind her laconic Californian stylings, "but yeah, some fun sounds good."

*

"Don't you worry." Lynette turns and looks toward Ronnie with a mischievous look. "Nobody will get arrested."

Across the street she goes, headed right for that catcaller. "Hey, shithead," she greets. "It's 'arse', not ass. That -" She points to some disproportionately big-bummed woman walking down the sidewalk. "- is 'ass'. This…" She turns and bumps out her own rump. "… is 'arse'. And no. You can't have any."

Now, at this point, Lynette closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. The vulgar and lude advances of the thug become a blur in her ears, as she draws upon her metahuman power.

Eyelids flutter, then dash open. Just like that, the catcaller and Ronnie are both captured into a waking dream - a form of hyper hallucination that merges a dream state with fine motor control and full contact with the five senses. The transition does seem a little odd, but the hyper-realism of the dream is entirely believable. The smells, the sounds, they are all still there. Their bodies move in the real world as they do in the dream, for now. It's… virtually seamless.

*

Oh, not this again, is Ronnie's first thought. First the future. Then that weird… vampire… dream… thing?… from the other night. Now this. She feels that flutter of transition into the dream state, and knows something is wrong. She can't put her finger on what — the real world still seems to be there, as opposed to a neon crazytown — but she knows something is off. Good SHIELD-honed intuition, this one. Ronnie's actual first words, though: "Lyn — wh… what the fuck was in that whiskey we drank?"

Ronnie actually does keep 'dosed with LSD' on the table for the time being for the disorientation she's experiencing, but knows it's probably something far more sinister than that.

*

"Oh, just good old fashioned home brew, Ronnie," answers Lynette. "You didn't drink anything sinister." She walks forward and puts her hand on the thug's shoulder, guiding him around a corner and into an alley.

"Judging by the general filth of this place, I'm gonna guess this is where you squat at, handsome," she says to the man, before hauling back and kicking open a door.

Inside, one might expect to see an old, worn down apartment building. Side entrance into a stairwell or something.

Nope.

Instead, the door opens into a massive warehouse, like from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The place where the U.S. Government squirreled away the Ark of the Covenant. An exact replica, in fact, the inside much larger than the outside, like a TARDIS.

Lynette gives the thug a good above. "Into the garbage chute, fly boy."

*

Ronnie mostly just stares open-mouthed as Lynette does the work. Her brow is tensed into a stare that looks sort of angry in its non-comprehension. "Wait," she says, and then waits a second before continuing:

"What the fuck?"

*

"You're dreaming, luv."

Lynette looks fondly toward Ronnie, before swiveling back around to look at the thug. He's just standing there, staring off into the warehouse, dumbly. "We're all dreaming."

There is a moment where all is still. Then, one of the boxes starts to rattle. Then another. Then another still. Soon, the sound grows until two dozen of the boxes are rattling about, as if something were alive inside each one of them.

A wicked grin spreads across Lynette's face.

*

Ronnie rubs the back of her neck. She expected some kind of crazy adventure, but not really one into a literal dreamland. "Well," Ronnie asks, like someone asking how the remote control works for their new TV, "can I, like, wake up?"

"I mean, this is cool, but like, uh, I don't usually dream about, you know, boxes of… things." Ronnie seems to realize how dumb the sentence is about halfway through it but commits to finishing it nonetheless. "Like, I kind of feel like this is the part in the movie where someone's head gets eaten by, like, vampire babies."

*

"I have something better in mind." Lynette suddenly rises from the floor, floating on an invisible wind. One by one, the boxes open, and a score of serpents begin slithering out. Varying sizes, shapes, and colors, some of them very real and others entirely fantastic.

"I'm sorry, Ronnie," she says, and turns about in the air to look at her new bestie. Her clothing has changed, replaced by a purple skin-suit with strands of black flowing about in the invisible wind. No longer red, the hair is ravenous black, her eyes a similar emptiness, even her face seems to have changed.

"I have misled you, about my name. I am called…"

She turns to face her victim, lips curling into a wicked grin. "Dreamraker."

The snakes, hundreds of them, suddenly move upon the thug. He lets out a terrified scream, raising arms to cover his face as the swarm moves upon him.

*

Ronnie's eyebrows rise. She's not making any sudden movements, mostly because she doesn't want to get dream-snakes flung at her by the fistful. She licks her lips, visibly thinking over how to handle this dilly of a pickle.

"Okay — Dreamraker," Ronnie says, lifting her hands, palms out, as if to show that she's not carrying a gun or something. It's hard to look explicitly non-threatening with arms like those. "This — this isn't like the whole, if you die in a dream, you die in real life thing, right? Because, I mean, he definitely peed, or, I guess, dreamed he peed, maybe he really peed, I don't know, but I don't think he's gonna catcall anyone anytime soon."

*

Ronnie's question draws a bout of laughter, absolutely gleeful laughter. "Well, it could!" she answers. "Or this could be a dream within a dream. Inception!"

The appropriate BWWWOOOMMMM! fills the warehouse, shaking the walls and the floor and busting out all of the windows like that one moment in mother fucking Highlander.

"You're right, Ronnie. He's not gonna be catcalling any time soon."

The snakes swarm, bringing the thug to the floor. There's a whole lot of blood. Through the writhing, one might glimpse a few snakes coming from a nostril or mouth. It's pretty disgusting.

When the snakes are done, there's a bloody corpse, clothing torn, lying in a pool of blood and shit.

Dreamraker turns to face Ronnie. She slowly comes down to her feet, and sighs. She looks… sad. "Ronnie…"

She looks up.

"Does this mean we can't be friends anymore?"

*

Ronnie swallows.

"Is that guy really dead?" is Ronnie's first question. She gestures at all the cabinets, and some of the snakes. "Show me the real world. Like, the really real, not dreamy dream world. And let me see that this guy is alive." The kind of loopy 'um like yeah' California drawl she usually speaks in has hardened into an actually pretty commanding tone.

"If this guy is alive, we're friends. If he's not, then, well."

*

The sad expression softens, and Dreamraker gives Ronnie a smile. The black tendrils of fabric lift into the air, and she waves goodbye, then blows a kiss to her new bestie.

The waking dream unravels. The warehouse fades, replaced by the dirty stairwell one may gab expected to see. Lynette is… gone. Nowhere to be seen.

The thug is lying face down against the stairs. Blood has seeped from his nose and ears, but his chest rises and falls. He's very much alive, but the mental trauma has taken its toll. His eyes are wide open and terrified, because he's found himself an unfortunate, one way trip to psychosis.

*

Ronnie rests her hands on her hips, staring critically down at the bloody mess of a man, but it's not clear whether her criticism is directed at Dreamy or at him. She looks around, but she knows Lynette — or Dreamraker — or whoever — is gone. Then she sets about making an anonymous 911 call to make sure that this guy isn't just… left there.

*

A few minutes later, a post goes out over the '@DreamyScot' Instagram feed. It's a photo of Ronnie, taken while she was still locked into a merged, waking dream. It is… whatever expression may have been on Ronnie's face.

'Still #besties <3'

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